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At the All-Candidates-Forum on October 5 we were asked a lot of great questions, but time did not allow us to answer all. Here are my answers to most questions asked.

  1. There are probably no issues today that have not been addressed in the past: swimming pool, lagoon, snow removal, dandelions, infrastructure (roads, sidewalks) and many more. What do you propose to move Morden forward on these issues?

The first step is to secure our wastewater solution, as discussed at the forum - a “bio-kidney” that separates solids from liquid waste, burns the solids at high heat while releasing the liquid through a bed of natural filtrate back into the environment. I strongly support this cost-efficient and environmentally sound solution, which we are planning on building for a population up to 35.000. Construction costs a far under 50% of a chemical treatment facility, while operating costs will run around ⅙ of the mechanical plant. It is in stage 3 (of 4) at the provincial government and will hopefully pass all reviews by the end of this year. With the anticipated green light from the province we can break ground in spring 2023. This system will support a population of 35.000. In case of denial, we need to start lobbying the federal and provincial government for financial support for an astronomically priced chemical treatment plant (approx. $65 mio). If this becomes our only option, we will not be able to afford it without sufficient government support. The problem is that cities like Winkler and Morden were never anticipated to exhibit the growth rates we are experiencing now - therefore federal and provincial infrastructure planning for the longest time did not pull this into account - the focus for wastewater was purely on bigger centers like Winnipeg, Brandon and Portage.

After this, freshwater supplies need to be secured so we can manage the next drought with more ease and safety. This is already being planned by our current council, which is working so diligently on getting water rights to tap into the Pembina river, a few miles west of Morden. This river will then supply a second reservoir upstream of the lake and act as a second holding tank. Additionally we need to create by-laws for a more responsible use of water in Morden (we have the highest per capita residential water consumption in Manitoba). We also need building codes for mandatory greywater recycling systems in new developments. 

Thirdly, if we want to grow as a community, a society and an industry - we need to invest in all year recreational facilities. This will ensure that newcomers and existing residents will remain in Morden and choose our community to spend their lifetime in. This step includes capitalising on year-round recreation at the lake, a network of safe pedestrian- and bike paths throughout Morden, groomed ski trails and an aquatic recreational centre. This will be a large capital project for the city of Morden - with proper planning and financing, it will not only serve us as a place of community and be beneficial to our physical and mental health and safety, but it will also act as an economic engine which will draw tourism and new businesses to Morden. Morden is the recreational gateway to the Pembina Valley and an aquatic multi-use facility will cement this image and strongly increase our recreational revenue. 

Dandelions are not a priority for me (and they taste great in salad and tea).

2. What involvement have you had in regard to municipal government? What was the most valuable lesson learned from your experience?

I have been auditing all city council- and committee of the whole meetings in Morden since October 2021 (except onei n July of this year because I was in rehearsals to be the fiddler on the roof with Candlewick Theatre). Listening attentively, I think I have learned a good deal of municipal governance, administration and procedures - that’s why I feel fully prepared to step up, roll up my sleeves and get to work. I am really looking forward to leading our community through the challenges and into the opportunities ahead. 

The most valuable lesson I have learned is that being a councillor is a constant process of learning, listening and implementing what the majority of the population wants and agrees with. Although some people will always (sometimes loudly) disagree with any decision made, it is the majority of people we must make decisions for. 

On Diversity and Inclusion

3. How do you show support to the 2SLGBTQIANB+ community? Now and in the future.

I attend LGBTQ+ events as much as I can and have not missed a Pride parade in Southern MB yet. Our rainbow flag flies proudly in May and June. As parents, we raise our children to accept all humans as they are, not judging on skin color, heritage, dialects, spiritual beliefs or sexual preferences. My business was one of three official sponsors of the first Morden Pride Parade in 2019. 

In the future, I will continue showing my support by attending LGBTQ+ events as a city official, and I hope that all councillors would join and show Morden’s support in being an inclusive, welcoming and safe community for people from all paths of life. As a councillor I would love to connect to the Pembina Valley Pride organizers, listen to their ideas and see what our city can do to further support them. 

4. Do you support access to books that showcase diversity within your community?

Diversity is the only way to grow sustainably and in unison with nature. Nature shows us that monocultures wreak havoc on ecosystems, because they are not natural. A lack of diversity eliminates all the functions nature provides to achieve a balanced ecosystem, and this law holds true not only for agriculture, but also for our community.

Yes, I support access to all books that talk about diversity in our community. We obviously don’t have enough of them, otherwise this would not be a question anymore. 

5. Do you have a message for the 2SLGBTQIANB+ community?

Diversity is the only way to grow sustainably. As your councillor it will be my responsibility to ensure that Morden is a place that is safe for you, a place that will welcome you with open arms, respect you and treat you well. You will have my full support, as I hope you would have the support of every single council member, as well as your friends and neighbours. Make Morden your home - we hear you, we support you and we love you. 

6. With only 1 potential female to be elected, what will you do to ensure the female perspective/voice is being heard?

We are very lucky to have Nancy Penner. She has balanced many discussions where testosterone levels were a little on the high level and she has mediated many misunderstandings by communicating a compassionate, wise and calm point of view. A way of ensuring that female points of perspective will be heard could be a female advisory panel for larger community decisions and investments (until we reach equal representation on council). Rest assured that Nancy Penner is and will be a voice well heard and respected at council. I would have wished for more female candidates, and in the upcoming four years of service, it would be my intention to invite and encourage more female council potential to come forward. 

Another important solution to this issue is transparency and communication. I really think that council meetings should be video-recorded and made available online. This will ensure a higher standard of communication in meetings, but it would also enable everybody in our community to follow council challenges, decisions and opportunities - it might stimulate listeners to come to council meetings or present an idea to council. This might also stimulate more female citizens to get interested in municipal leadership.


7. How do you feel the diversity of this panel reflects the diversity of our community?

The diversity of this panel only partially reflects our community. The amount of people interested in municipal governance is small and in itself doesn’t reflect the diversity of our community. This is partly caused by the large time commitment and poor financial remuneration of the position, as well as some political fatigue in the public. It might also be a lack of encouragement or invitation from the council’s side to come and listen. This might be improved if we’d establish better communication channels to the public, for example by video-recording council meetings, establishing quarterly newsletters to all households and communicating the status of capital projects to citizens in various forms (posters, signs, e-media, newspaper, etc.). 


8. With so much growth in the City of Morden, and with all the great new development, how do you see Morden maintaining a unity between and across neighborhoods in order to prevent neighborhood disparity?

As mentioned in our discussion on October 5, community-encouraging measures like creating cultural spaces (i.e. a Market Square) and block-party bylaws that encourage neighbourhoods to mingle and get to know each other in common space (on their own street block) are a great way to bring together neighbours, locals and newcomers. I’m all for it!


9. Have you read the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions 94 calls to Action? If yes, how do you think Morden can work towards implementing these actions?

I have read the final report of the TRC a few years back, thanks to our public library. I have also read the Calls to Action. As a city, we can make sure that aboriginal culture is represented at city hall, in whatever form possible. Since we unfortunately have no aboriginal council candidates yet, an aboriginal liaison to city council would be a great step to open and maintain communication between cultures. Not only could the liaison report on the challenges and needs of our local aboriginal population in Morden, but they could be a channel to help implement skills-based training in cultural competency, human rights, conflict resolution and anti-racism for all councillors. City hall should also display a statement of aboriginal land acknowledgement beside the historical documents of our founding members of Morden. 

For the representation of aboriginal society and culture I’d like to see local aboriginal artwork displayed either in front of or at city hall.

On Affordable Housing


10. Immigration is necessary for the business community to keep up. There is an affordable housing shortage – what role can the city play in addressing this?

Yes, this is an affordable housing shortage. Currently the Province of Manitoba (Manitoba Housing) is conducting a three different project studies, which should be concluded in December 2022. The reports of these studies will be showing values, lifecycle costs, but also ho affordable housing should be managed (locally vs. centralized from Winnipeg). It's a bit of a grey field to me, because on one hand we have a shortage and on the other hand there are vacant properties in Morden, sitting there idle... and I don't understand (yet) how this can happen. 

Another interesting avenue is the affordable home ownership program. This downpayment-assistance program is being released later this fall - I'm looking forward to details on this. This would enable those who would under normal circumstances not be able to get into the ownership market.

11. City of Morden & Councillors have talked about “affordable housing” for many many years. With lots of developers building what they wish. Can Council give direction to developers to have affordable housing really happen?

Affordable housing is an important and complex issue. While our province has been very generous with support in affordable housing, there are no clear rules what happens with houses that were built with affordable housing substitutions and later on sold for a sold market price. So what can we do to prevent people from buying up affordable housing and then selling it at a higher price? My hometown, Vienna (Austria) has a long history of bold supports for affordable housing. There called "social housing", the city provides city-owned housing units to low-income residents. The city also indirectly controls units that are built and owned by limited-profit private developers, which were developed through a city-regulated process. Vienna decided in 1980 to collaborate with the private sector to build affordable housing, rather than developing and owing more public housing. Affordable housing in Austria is basically only built in apartment units, not single family homes. The city buys the land and retains control over the nature of development. It then solicits proposals from developers, which will build and retains ownership of the housing units. Proposals are chosen based on architectural quality, environmental performance, social sustainability and proposed levels of rent and costs. After a developer is chosen, the city sells the land for an affordable pice. In addition the city gives the developer a loan with favourable terms (low interest rates, extended repayment periods, etc.). Half of all rental apartments have to be available for low income residents, while the rest can be occupied by moderate-income residents. No resident pays more than 25% of their monthly income (in Canada 30%). Residents do not need to move if their income levels increase. This assures mixing of residents with different income levels and therefore better social integration. Creating ghettos of low income units or areas must be avoided. 

12. Is there plans for affordable senior housing? There is no ‘affordable’ housing for seniors or seniors with disabilities. 

We currently have 30 units in affordable housing for seniors. I am not sure about the disability access part.

On Business Community and Stephen Street


13. What challenges do you feel that small business owners face in Morden and how could our city help them?

This topic was discussed at the forum. Small business owners need to feel supported, they need to feel that the city is proud of them. Some might need help with tax incentives, while others might just need an open ear to hear their worries. Others might just need their storefront cleared when snow hits us hard. All in all, we need to show pride and support in our small businesses, especially in the downtown core. I will be asking small business owners on Stephen street what they would like to have help with. 


14. What do/will you do to support local businesses?

I always promote our local businesses and I personally try to support them by buying local as often as possible. This has saved me many trips to surrounding communities and Winnipeg. But we need to boost downtown, create more commercial real estate, more shopping and entertainment right in the core on Stephen Street. To achieve this, we need to make Stephen Street more pedestrian friendly, with downtown being a destination where people want to gather and spend time.


15. Where has our downtown beautification gone? Businesses are doing their best, but the city is lacking. What is happening with the tree wells, as trees die they are not being replaced.

I agree, downtown needs an overhaul. From ugly (recently purchased) grey flower pots that cover up old empty tree wells to all trees suffering - we need to look into saving the aesthetics downtown. Tree wells might be able to get enlarged for better water supply and then covered up by cast-iron grids. We also need more garbage receptacles. A market place / town square on 8th Street is on my list as well. Dead trees should be replaced - but I am not an arborist, there might be a reason they aren’t being replaced.


16. Speed limits downtown. Stephen Street is a 50km zone, should it be 30k, or maybe pedestrians should have the right of way?

I am very confident that Stephen Street will be a 30 km/h zone very soon. It only makes sense. Current council has talked about this just recently, but has decided to table this issue. The new council is going to revise speed zoning for the entire city - all in one, and make sensible decisions towards pedestrian and cycling safety. On Stephen Street we need marked crosswalks on every intersection, and all downtown intersections in the business core (approx. 5th-10th Street) should have a neck-down approach, which is a physical barrier close to the intersection, narrowing the intersection for vehicle traffic while widening pedestrian space at the intersection. This neck-down intersection also prevents vehicles from parking too close to the intersection, therefore decreasing visibility for other vehicles that try to cross Stephen Street. I live and work downtown, and I see this every day - people are parking at the yellow line and others have a hard time crossing. This physical barrier will make crossing Stephen Street safer for pedestrians as well as drivers. 


17. What is happening with the lighting downtown? The new lights do not give off much light. It feels unsafe.

Again, this is where city meets province. Highway 3A, also known as Stephen Street, is under provincial regulation. Through a special permit acquired many years ago, the city of Morden does have some permissions (for example changing speed limits), but if you are referring to the blue lights, as far as I know, they were installed with a manufacturing defect across Canada. They will be eventually replaced by MIT (Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation). The long term plan on Stephen Street is to overhaul the old black intersection-lights (there are four on every intersection, but most of them aren’t working anymore) and replace them with new high efficiency light standards, but in an “old style” to compliment the feel of Stephen Street. 


On Recreation

18. With the population between Morden – Winkler – Altona – Carman, what are your thoughts on having an indoor swimming pool, such an important thing for our residents’ health. 

As someone who works in health care I can only agree. Although it’s been in discussion for 35 years and I can understand how some people are tired of it, but this needs a new attempt. Aquatic Recreation Centres (ARC) aren't just for kids. And they aren't just about swimming either. Pools benefit all of us:

- Seniors: Joint, muscular and organ health

- Community: Post-surgical recovery (physiotherapy)

- Children: Swim Safety

- Youth/Young adults: Swim and diving competitions

- Community: Mental health benefits

- New Parents: Mom/Dad & Toddler Time

- Community: Multiple-day events / swim competitions

- Adults: Recreational swims, Swim Clubs, Group Fitness


Aquatic Centres are an important contributor to the wellbeing of citizens and they are of economic significance because they are a booster to the local economy. Pools provide us with an escape from the pressure of daily life and they inspire us to live healthier lives and enjoy the benefits of physical activity. It is proven that people who use pools have fewer sick days and are more productive at work and in life. Pools yield a strong social capital gain because they strengthen communities and bring people together, be it with group fitness, swim clubs or other community swim programs. The most important programming for a pool are year round aquatic education, recreational swim hours, group classes and swim clubs. 

Leisure benefits of pools include personal benefits (self esteem, fitness, health, leadership), social benefits (community connections, pride, decreased medical expenses) and economic benefits (employment opportunities, sponsorships, economic development choices). Besides swim safety for all ages, moving in water provides benefits to physical health (i.e. arthritis, surgical recovery, organ health, musculoskeletal mobility) and mental health (anxiety, depression, autism, stress). According to the WHO (2010) pools yield health care savings of 350US$ for each person under 65, and 700US$ for each of us over 65 years of age.

With a pool, we can finally enjoy aquatic education, aquatic fitness classes, sports clubs, health clubs (hydrotherapy), childcare, recreation swims, steams and saunas, specific population programs, facility rentals, health services (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, athletic therapy), school aquatic education (swim safety) and school aquatic programs (i.e. diving clubs) all year round.

Morden already is the recreational gate the Pembina Valley and we should capitalize on this strength.

An ARC will make Morden a prouder community and will attract more regional tourism.

Now is the time to start planning - within the next four years we are entering a unique window of time where we could stand out and build the image as the recreational capital of the Pembina Valley.

I will work as hard as I can to get us a pool. I will be honoured to lead this committee and get our community the recreation it deserves. Once we have our wastewater under control, we are due for a large capital project and I think an ARC would be the right way to invest for our community.

19. The city purchased land for soccer fields years ago, is this still in the plans. Soccer in Morden continues to grow and we don’t have any decent soccer fields.

If you read the city budget, our city has reserved $600.000 for 40 acres of sports fields in 2023. Looks like a soccer field might be on the horizon? There are soccer fields south of 3M that are used in the spring, summer and fall season. Since I don’t play soccer, I don’t know what would be considered "decent".


On Community Groups and volunteering

20. Tell us about the importance of volunteer organizations in our community and your experience in this area.

The services that volunteer organizations provide are essential to any community. Thinking of our new community centre at 500 Stephen Street and all the work, space and service these fine people provide, my experience as a volunteer for many hands at this community centre is nothing but a great experience. I help out with drop-in on Thursdays and have met so many great people I would have never met otherwise. It’s my second family. 


21. Which community groups are you most excited to work with?

Children and young adults. I am so excited to go to schools and ask children about their dreams and hopes for Morden. I am also excited to read book to kids at school and answer questions about being a councillor or municipal governance. 

I also love seniors, because they don’t beat around the bush. They have put in a lifetime of work- they deserve our best. 


22. What can the city do to attract tourism?

We could build an aquatic centre and host multi-day sports events. We could capitalize on winter tourism at the lake with year-round yurts, skiing, hiking, fat-biking and snow shoeing trails. Explore Morden-Winkler is doing a great job in promoting regional tourism. We can add to this by marketing Morden for what we are known for - character and a unique geography - the recreational gateway to the Pembina Valley.


On Transportation


23. I worked for MIFT. I did a traffic study at Gilmour & Mountain (PR432). I saw 2 kids under 12, almost got hit by a car. My question is the city of Morden going to put standard lights, which is red, yellow, green at the intersection!!!

This question has been answered at the forum. Again, this is where city meets province. The installation of a light standard here is a provincial matter, since Mountain is a provincial Road. I’d send a request the day I’ll get into office, but it might take until the next election is around the corner before something changes. I will always be on the side of pedestrians and cyclists when it comes to regulating traffic. 


24. What are your plans for active/public transportation?

Two questions in one! For active transportation I am proposing a network of unidirectional bike paths throughout Morden that connect existing parks with each other, but also allow us to use bicycles more commonly as a means of transportation within Morden. We need a network of pathways that enables all of us to safely use our bikes, because not everyone is comfortable biking on streets. This could be achieved by creating a grid of one-way single lane bike paths, without sacrificing too much parking space. Specific streets would have a designated one-way bike path, which would be located on one side of the street. This way parking is still available on every street, and not every street will have a bike path. Active transportation also includes pedestrian traffic, and I’d like to see new bylaws that mandate mulituse pathways (pedestrian and bikes) in all new developments, which must connect to existing pathways (if present).

For public transportation, the idea of an affordable public bus system within Morden has been in discussed at previous councils, but without finding traction. More and more people are meeting mobility restrictions, finding it difficult to access essential services. This is the direct result of past urban planning that focussed on sprawl and decentralization, building out instead of up, with the car being the centre of attention. This way of thinking and planning is unsustainable in the long run for multiple reasons - gas prices, road maintenance and loosing access to driving with increased age, to name a few. Personally I think a bus system would only work if its a regionally funded and collaborated project. Connecting the larger factories in both cities so employees could get to work by bus is something we should definitely start planning, with access to the hospital. We need to start thinking about our strength together, as a region - both cities, Winkler and Morden, are distinctly different. With open communication between both city councils, an on-demand bus system could be a capital project that benefits all. 

25. With all the development happening on the west side of Morden, how is the present Council addressing the traffic increase and what can residents look forward to?

So far I don’t know of any traffic density issues in this area. I would need to know which streets this questions refer to. 


26. What can be done to improve the intersection at 1st street and the highway.

An application for a left turning light on Thornhill has been submitted to the province of Manitoba some years ago. The first reaction of the province was to install a left turning light on Mountain and Thornhill. Nobody really knows why. After a day this spring, when three accidents happened on the same day at the intersection of Thornhill and 1st Street, council made the province aware again of the initial application and the need for a left turn signal. If you have read previous answers, you know what’s coming now. This is where city meets province.

On Water and wastewater infrastructure


27. How will taxpayers get sewer backup insurance when the sewer system is not being addressed or fixed. Not much sense fixing your home when the real problem is not fixed by the city.

Our sewer system is capable of transporting all sewage to the wastewaster site (lagoon). The problem arises when additional water is added to the sewer grid. This can happen, as we saw, during the last storm in spring this year. A big part of that problem is that many property owners still “secretly” redirect their sump-pump hose directly into the floor drain. This means massive amounts of water are added over a very short period of time to the sewer system, which overwhelms its capacity. There is no fix for this -it is a mentality issue, because people think “it’s  only me” who redirects the sump water to the main drain of the house, but in reality it is still the overwhelming majority. Our city engineer will confirm this. It is impossible to monitor who still drains the sump back into the floor drain. I would invite you to talk to your neighbour if you know they are doing this and explain that this is what causes the sewer to back up.


28. Does the city have the capacity to grow?

Yes, Morden has the capacity to grow, but it is within limitations (staged expansion) until we have approval from the Province for our wastewater solution. This answer will hopefully arrive in early 2023. With a positive outcome in our study, groundbreaking for the new wastewater project could be as early as spring 2023. After this, we will have full capacity to grow our industrial as well as residential areas. 


29. The water and sewer system seems to be an ongoing question? When will the community see results?

This question has been answered in question #1, but hopefully in January 2023, all fingers crossed.


30. What would you do to improve the roads and sidewalks/pathways in Morden? Many of the pathways require repair. 

We should apply for more provincial and federal funding for the support of an active lifestyle in rural communities in order to create, maintain and repair a functional network of active transportation pathways. We need all pathways to be in good condition if we want to encourage people to be active. As our community is expanding, active transportation pathways will have to be at the forefront of our planning if we want to prevent traffic density.

On Other concerns

31. MORENET. A million dollars gone with nothing to show for it. This should not go unanswered for. What will you do to get restitution for the taxpayers and what will you do to prevent something like this from happening again?


The current council has worked diligently on the nightmare of Morenet, which is now at the Court of King’s Bench. The city is counterclaiming for the full utility reserve. It will take until 2024 to see the outcome of this process. 

To prevent something like this from happening again, a balanced team of councillors and communication to the public about major projects would be key. I promise you to communicate with all Mordenites on a regular basis about council’s challenges, opportunities and states of operation. 


32. With part of the reason for tax increases being City donations to organization, using taxpayers’ dollars to do so, what is your view to reducing taxes by stopping City donations and allowing property owners to donate directly, allowing for tax donation receipts to those who donate?

I am not sure what organizations this refers to, but I assume it is about donations to community centres? Donations of the city to organizations are not anywhere near an amount that would affect even a partial tax increase. On the other hand, organizations like community centres would constantly appear and disappear without municipal support. Tax increases are triggered by greater economic events, like inflation, and major capital investments (all of which add assets to the community in return). I suggest giving your organization(s) in question a visit to see where they actually draw their supporting funds from, it might be eye opening.


33. What is the vision to attract and keep new family doctors locally?

With two new fulltime doctors and two doctors on a term contract, we are lucky to get four medical practitioners back to Morden! But the work is not done. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on our medical system and burnout is ever more present. 

What we can do to attract and retain family doctors and medical staff locally is showing them our appreciation for their valuable work. We can also show them that Morden is a community that believes in evidence based medical science. This is how we can stand behind our doctors and show them our appreciation and full support. 

Having year round amenities that make Morden a more attractive place to live and work is another way to ensuring that family doctors feel safe, welcome and appreciated. There aren’t many other Manitoban cities that have a lake, hiking trails, hockey arenas, outdoor skating rinks, a curling rink, hopefully soon a network of safe active transportation paths, and maybe in the near future an indoor aquatic centre. We need to provide year-round amenities if we want people to stay in Morden. 

34. What do you think about post-secondary education? Would you support a post-secondary institution coming to Morden?

As a father of two kids and someone who went to college and university for many years, post-secondary education is at the core of my life. We cannot expect our youth to stay in town when there are limits to local education and therefore limits to our job market.

Most of our young will try Winnipeg-living to get their educational needs met. Many of them fail - often because the city is too overwhelming for them. 

Our current council and our economic development office has worked diligently to get the Assiniboine Community College to open a nursing program in Morden. This is the first step in making Morden attractive to community colleges, not only for trades, but sciences. With a hospital that will be, after the expansion, the third largest outside of Winnipeg, medical sciences and also agricultural sciences will always be in high demand in Morden. Let's make Morden attractive to community colleges for young people to study and live right here at home.


35. Thinking back on the past few years, floods, record weather events, and the impact of a pandemic, how would each of you improve Morden’s emergency preparedness?

I think our emergency plans are well designed and functioning great. From Code Red to our local fire department - my only worry is the next drought. With current national and international climate forecasts our prairies will experience more heat, more extreme weather and therefore more drought. Not only do we need to look at decreasing water usage (altering building codes to grey-water recycling systems, etc.) but also securing water supplies for the future in a sensible and sustainable way: There is potential to increasing our lake's holding capacity by building a second holding “tank” to the West. We would be tapping into the Pembina River to add water to the second holding area. 

Additionally, we need to teach our fellow Mordenites and our children, at home and in school, the scientific proof of climate change. Misinformation about climate change must be replaced by scientific evidence and an honest look at our reality. Education plays an important role in this - climate change should be incorporated into all courses: science, geography, but also math. In math we could incorporate graphs that demonstrate climate change instead of using a graph about ho many dogs Susie has. Climate education, for young and old, should be taught in a way that incites hope and change. 

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