Saturday, September 22, 2007

U of R Free Knowledge Day

It took little guessing which room Free Knowledge Day was being held in. A paper 'carpet' with the words Free Knowledge brightly painted on it stretched out into the halls at the U of R Ridell Centre. The room was not as full as I expected it would be, but it was lunch time. The speaker for the What is R.P.I.R.G.? workshop was still setting up. I took the opportunity to look at the various booths around the room.

A lady from the Tetra Society of North America explained how they built custom designed assistive devices for people with disabilities. These products are not available commercially. Volunteer engineers and technicians make the devices to suit the specific needs of those with disabilities. Their representative at Free Knowledge Day, Terri Sleeva, is having a page turner built for her because she does not have use of her hands. What an innovative and useful organization! Terri is trying to get a Regina Chapter established, but she needs volunteers. If you are interested, please contact her, or if you happen to know anyone with a disability that could benefit from their services, please pass on Terri's contact info:
Terri Sleeva
Regina Chapter Coordinator
I continued around the room and picked up a pile of handouts on nuclear energy, The Council of Canadians, and Fair Trade. It will take me a while to read through my trip to this 'political candy shop'. The Fair Trade booklet was made by a Grade 8 classroom, and it is surprisingly loaded with great info on our local Fair Trade scene. The handouts definitely made Free Knowledge Day worthwhile for me.
But wait! The speaker hadn't even started yet! I saw a familiar political science face in the crowd and took a seat. The sound system had more echos than perhaps it should have, and the speaker could have pulled the audience into his presentation a bit more, but the essential info I came for was certainly delivered.
P.I.R.G.'s started in 1970 with Ralph Nader advocating students to take a more involved role in public affairs. The initials stand for Public Interest Research Group, and the first R in What is R.P.I.R.G.? stands for Regina. The Regina group is the first in Saskatchewan and are new as of last spring. They are looking for volunteers who are interested in making a difference in their community. They have funding available for research projects. This would be a great group for students interested in positive social change in the environment, labour, human rights, equality, and democracy.
The R.P.I.R.G. also needs students interested in being on their Board of Directors. Elections will be held mid-October. Since last spring, they have lost four of their eight board members. They have also changed their name form S.P.I.R.G. to R.P.I.R.G. with Saskatchewan changing to Regina. They are now seeking a new logo. There is a contest, and if you are good at graphic design, you might be the lucky winner of a gigantic compost box! This is certainly a unique prize!
If you are interested in learning more about the R.P.I.R.G., there is a meeting at the U of R at 4:30 p.m. this Monday. As a political activist, I would love to get involved. I hope many others do.
Free Knowledge Day is a worthwhile event at the U of R. I wish more students would take a half hour out of their busy days to take part. I was glad I had the chance.


Saskboy said...

I've spent some time trying to get involved, and have thus far been spurned by rpirg.

Quanda said...

This is great info to know.