OPIRG as an Organization:
“… To me, OPIRG teaches people “this is how you run an organization”: that’s not natural to people when they get into the world and haven’t been a part of that. I think it teaches people really valuable life skills and work skills.”
– Jillian Ritchie, OPIRG Peterborough Coordinator, 1995-1999.
“…they were providing a service to people, and I think a lot of social justice organizing… like focusing on educating people and realities like that and different types of organizing, that is important, but I personally haven’t been involved in so much of like the hands-on, day-to-day providing service. And also I guess a lot of my experience of other PIRGS hasn’t been like that, hasn’t been so focused on those services, and so to me… that was some way that OPRIG provided something to the community. Kind of different from some of the other work that they do where it is more high-end thinking like organizing and that kind of stuff.”
– Ben Kapron, former board member (2010), on how OPIRG Peterborough not just educates, but provides valuable services to the community.
OPIRG’s Consensus Model:
“Out of all the different boards and meetings I’ve ever been to, I love the OPIRG model. Consensus, like letting everyone have a turn to speak, and see how they feel and that it’s not just a… vote majority rules. If you don’t agree with it, you get to explain yourself and why. So I think that’s very good, and that’s a great model for OPIRG just based on what their values are and how it operates.”
– Natalie Guttormsson, Canadians for Mining Awareness Working Group and former board 2010-2013, on the conensus model.
“I think that it’s one of the foundations of the PIRGs. If the PIRG is a tree, it’s built on that idea of doing anti-oppression work, and doing it in a consensus model… I think it forces you to listen to other people, which is a life-long useful thing. It’s challenging, and I think it’s one of the ways that you get pushed to listen to other perspectives… The challenging part is, is that it’s a skill that you have to learn, you don’t just walk into a room and do a good job. But it’s a valuable skill to learn, and I really believe that in a consensus environment, you would come out with ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise.”
– Marnie Eves, former OPIRG Peterborough Coordinator 1999-2004, on the importance of consensus to the OPIRG model
“So certainly OPIRG’s perspective on social justice and on poverty, and having access to Trent students, and me having been very recently a Trent student and meeting a lot of people, and going down to the Kawartha World Issues Centre which just… you know, Linda Slavin was the executive director in those days, and she still continues to be very active in the community, and so they all just played very important roles… helping to create a project that had some staying power.”
– Cathy Dueck regarding OPIRG’s support of the Rogers Street Ecology Garden, 1990-1993
“…it was just an amazing experience and it was great to have that collective initially with OPIRG and Kawartha World Issues Center which really were the 2 organizations that were kind of sponsoring this and the shared expertise, how to design a project, and how to access funding and all of that, which was very new to me in those days. So an incomparable learning experience for me, really.”
– Cathy Dueck on OPIRG’s administrative influence on the Ecology Garden, 1990-1993