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Letter to the Editor: Boomers have a constructive legacy too

Editor:

I object strenuously to the column titled ‘Shedding the destructive legacy of the boomers,” (PG Daily News Oct. 23, 2020).

It wrongly tars all members of a large generation with the same broad brush.

The trick of some mainstream media – such as Time, Newsweek, and, until about five years ago, Maclean’s – was to follow the careers of then-young people in Palo Alto, the exurbs of Washington, D.C., resort areas in Colorado, in North Vancouver and the Rosedale area of Toronto and extrapolate from their increasingly upper-middle-class lifestyles the fortunes and career trajectories of a whole huge generation.

The October 2020 issue of Sagebrush Chronicles, the newsletter of Grasslands Naturalists in Medicine Hat, show that baby boomers played key roles in establishing, or greatly strengthening, environmental organizations in Medicine Hat, Manitoba, and, I’m sure, over much of North America.

I was founding president of Grasslands Naturalists in Medicine Hat and continued in that role until I moved to my job in Prince George in 1990. The current officers on the executive of such organizations are beginning to have to step down because of health problems and no one from younger generations are stepping forward to take their places. I don’t mean to criticize member of these subsequent generations.

Since the decline of unions and regular full-time jobs with pension plans, younger people have to work two or three jobs with irregular hours just to put food on the table and pay off student loans.

Many boomers, far from walking into fabulous six-figure jobs on graduation, had to settle for poorly paid, long-hour, non-union jobs in interior communities or agricultural regions of the the U.S. They were luck to buy a house at all, let alone in an upscale neighbourhood. Yet they found time for volunteer work with naturalist organizations, service clubs, charitable work, or their political party.

In no way am I engaging in self-congratulation but pointing out what many member of my generation did when I say that, at 27, I formed a group called Reno Citizens for Controlled Growth in that city. I was called a lazy graduate student, a Marxist sympathizer, and a no-growther. I received threatening phone calls and challenges to fights at the public meetings of the organizations.

Then there was my involvement with Grasslands Naturalists, while working in Medicine Hat during the 1980s. I was recording secretary for the union where I worked in Prince George for 11 years during the 1990s and early 2000s, and I was on the board of the local labour council for about the same period.

Other people of my generation made similar donations of their time. They wanted to give back to their communities.

I’ve only briefly owned a handful of shares of company stock. I didn’t go for ‘greed is good.’ Most people I know didn’t. I’ve never owned a home to pile things up in. Most boomers didn’t get in on the real estate price increase in Vancouver and Toronto.

Thank you for considering my views.

Paul Strickland

Prince George

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