Speaker Series – Ken Melamed on Whistler’s Conservation History

A mallard duck enjoys some of Whistler's prime wetland. Photo: Bob Brett

A mallard duck enjoys some of Whistler’s prime wetland. Photo: Bob Brett

It is easy to take Whistler’s natural splendour for granted. A closer look, however, reveals that it is only thanks to a number of thoughtful, committed people that so much has been preserved for future generations. One of these figures is Ken Melamed.

Ken moved here in 1976 to live the ski bum’s life as a young patroller. Since Ken has called Whistler home since before the village was built and we became a global destination, he’s witnessed first-hand this valley’s massive development in the intervening decades.

Meanwhile, the environmental movement was gathering momentum around the globe, and so did it gain prominence in Whistler as well. Sustained, and, at times, reckless development throughout the 1980s increasingly galvanized residents around the need to fight back to protect our local environment.

One of the many wetlands that AWARE has helped protect over the years. Photo: Bob Brett

One of the many wetlands that AWARE has helped protect over the years. Photo: Bob Brett

Ken was at the forefront of this grassroots awakening, helping found the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment (AWARE) in 1989. AWARE soon took on several key habitat protection initiatives such as the Emerald Forest, Fitzsimmons Fan, and, most controversially, old-growth forest stands in the Elaho Valley.

Ken Melamed

Ken Melamed

It was Ken’s environmental advocacy that raised his profile in the community and led him into municipal politics as a councilor in 1996, then mayor in 2005. Throughout this period he continued to champion principles of sustainability and leveraged Whistler’s growing profile to extend our community’s environmental influence well beyond municipal confines.

Always an engaging speaker, for his presentation Ken will return to his environmentalist roots, providing an insider’s perspective on the major conservation campaigns that he contributed to over the years. This evening presents a chance to learn the back story of our local environmental movement and engage in a discussion of what the future might hold for our region’s natural spaces. Please join us for this enlightening session.

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Mar 2013 SS Poster - small

When: Wednesday, March 20th; Doors at 6pm, show 7pm-9pm
Where: Whistler Museum
Who: 19+
Cost: $7 regular price, $5 for museum members
Saving the forest and the trees (and the marshes, and the meadows…)

To purchase tickets (seating is limited), call the Whistler Museum at 604.932.2019, or visit us at 4333 Main Street, just behind the library.

There will be a cash bar featuring the Whistler Brewing Company and Jackson Triggs Wines, as well as complimentary coffee served courtesy of the Whistler Roasting Company and teas from Namasthé.

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Presenter’s Bio: Since 1976 Ken Melamed has been active in the mountain resort community of Whistler. Ken was a founding director and president of the local environment group AWARE, municipal councilor, and mayor. He led the community through a period of intense strategic planning and rigorous pursuit to sustainability principles, guided Whistler 2020, the community’s long-term sustainability vision, for which he was a principle champion. Ken was born in Philadelphia, became a Canadian in 1971, is married and has two sons. He is an avid mountain biker, skier, speaks French and plays guitar.

About Whistler Museum’s Speaker Series: More than mere repositories of old stuff, museums are institutions of ideas, venues where communities share, debate, and explore their thoughts on the world at large. To that end the Whistler Museum hosts regular Speaker Series events featuring presentations on a diversity of subjects: from the usual suspects of mountain culture and adventure travel, to the environment, design, current events, and beyond. These events are hosted on the third Wednesday of the month, October through April (minus December), and present the perfect opportunity for locals and visitors alike to encounter compelling stories in a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. All Speaker Series events have a cash bar and are 19+.

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