04/03/2012 03:40 EDT | Updated 06/03/2012 05:12 EDT

How to Get Off Your Butt and Do Something Useful

Polls show that more Canadians now feel our country is heading in the wrong direction. According to a study that appeared on in March, 44.7 per cent of Canadian's think this country is going in the wrong direction. So, continue to shout at your television, or get out there and do something about it?

This past weekend, I witnessed first hand how it's done.

On Saturday, about 180 university and high school students joined with concerned citizens and fanned out across B.C. Premier Christy Clark's constituency. They called it "Storm the Riding" after UBC's annual "storm the wall" contest.

These people were in turn inspired by a core group of university and high school students and faculty who built outwards.

Pairs of canvassers were given a route map to go door knocking to ask voters to ask Premier Clark to take a stand against the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, which would single-handedly ship more carbon than B.C.'s entire annual emissions, totally wiping out the actions that British Columbians are taking to reduce their carbon footprint.

So far, Premier Clark has refused to take a stand on the project, but it's exactly this kind of wishy-washiness that has gotten her in trouble at the polls. It's exactly those polls the Storm the Riding event took direct aim at by going directly to her voters.

A great short video of the event, well worth watching, can be found here.

If anyone tells you youth don't care as much these days, this event proves that wrong. Young people are increasingly concerned about the irresponsibility of so-called "grown-ups" and the stupid decisions they are making with regards to the future, in full light of science that is telling them just how wrong those decisions are.

When this concern is channeled into smart organizing -- like targeting a riding that is in play between political parties -- the result is a model for change that could and should be scaled up if we are to get Canada back on the right track.

Existing environmental and social change groups need to pay attention here. Too many of us activists are seated behind our desks instead of getting out there and talking to voters. And, no, social media isn't a replacement for the face-to-face conversations we need to build the necessary relationships to get change from decision makers.

Today we storm one riding. Tomorrow we storm dozens of them.

Key Learnings:

1) Rally at least a core group (a few is enough to begin) around one focal point activity;

2) Do something that politicians really feel (hint: they care most about their direct voters);

3) Do something face-to-face to build new relationships for change.