People and groups have stories to share. Stories about social justice. Stories about peace. Stories about environmental sustainability. People want to share those stories, hear those stories, and take action on issues that matter to them. The Ottawa Peace & Environment Resource Centre (PERC) helps people and groups in the greater Ottawa area do just that.
Starting in the early 1980s as a a few volunteers putting together the Ottawa Peace Calendar – which helped local activists find each other and coordinate their efforts, PERC grew from there. Over the years, the Ottawa Peace Calendar grew into the Peace & Environment News (PEN), one of the region’s longest running independent community newspapers. Publishing the PEN is still our main program, and through it we try to support individuals, groups and events that fit under our broad mandate of working locally for a greener and more peaceful world.
So why do we have the Peace and Environment Resource Centre, and what does it do?
The PERC exists to address several community needs:
- The need for alternative local media that address Peace and Environment issues;the mainstream press usually doesn’t, or covers issues very superficially.
- The need for a resource centre where alternative publications are available to the public. Local libraries carry a few of these, but not very many.
- An outlet is needed for local groups to communicate with the public. Most groups are too small and financially poor to advertise, and they are ignored by the media.
- The public need to be involved in finding solutions to environmental and social problems.
To address these needs, the centre has set some goals:
- To create an informed public on Peace, Environmental and Social Justice Issues
- Community involvement in these issues
- Provide assistance to local groups in getting their information to the public
In order to meet our goals, the PERC has many activities, and provides several services:
- The Peace and Environment News (PEN), published four times a year, in which local groups can print articles and place free ads for meetings, events and so on.
- Working with and supporting Ottawa area non-profits and place-based community groups through partnerships, web hosting, promotion, and cooperation
- A resource centre with books, periodicals, and multimedia resources on environmental, peace, and social justice issues.
- Holding “PERCshops” on various topics, often in partnership with other groups
- Acting as a network hub for people and organizations who want to take action locally on issues that matter to them