Betty Krawczyk: Great-Grandmother, Activist, Ex-Con and Now a Mayoral Candidate

By Max Lindberg

bettyk2.jpgShe moves from one challenge to another, always keeping in mind her passion for righting what she sees as environmental wrongs. 78-year-old Betty Krawczyk was released from the Alouette correctional center in Vancouver, BC, Canada on September 26th, to a welcoming party of supporters and the press, and proceeded to hit the ground running.

Then, as she told me in our latest Green Options interview, she headed for a nearby restaurant for a breakfast of bacon and eggs. Even though she professes to be a vegan, every once in a while she likes bacon, a food staple that goes back to her childhood on the family farm.

As you may know from my previous interview with Betty, she was imprisoned for ignoring a court order that forbade her from further demonstrations at a road building project at Eagle Ridge, a pristine area near Vancouver slated for development and the upcoming summer Olympics. She spent seven months in prison for her action, and came out of jail swinging.

Betty vowed to go ahead with an appeal of her conviction, and also plans to sue the contractors who helped implement her arrest, Kiewit & Sons, for damages to the environment. Then, at a welcome back rally on the steps of the supreme court in Vancouver, Betty announced her candidacy for mayor of Vancouver in the upcoming 2008 elections. Quoting from a release, she “underlined the importance of understanding that social problems and environmental problems are closely intertwined, and that one cannot be solved without addressing the other.” In our interview, she talked about Vancouver’s problems with more vehicles on the road and insufficient public transportation, crime, drugs and two housing alternatives for citizens, the rich and the very poor, and the growing number of homeless people wandering the streets. But I continually get from Betty her passion for the forests and waterways that surround the city of nearly 600 thousand. I suspect she’ll be out there again, physically protesting actions that others deem progress.

And whatever the outcome of the mayoral race next year, Betty’s message of sustainability and environmentalism will be heard over and over again. Some will listen, and after all, isn’t that what we’re all about: getting people to listen to common sense? There is one caveat: Betty cannot be a resident of the prison system on election day, for that would nullify her candidacy.

There are several sites that feature Betty: her blog site, Betty’s Early Edition, her book site, Betty’s Books, the Facebook group “Betty K for Mayor of Vancouver,” a more personal look at her life at ABC Bookworld, and a recent article in The Tyee, “Betty Krawczyk’s New Battles.”

Not everyone agrees with Betty Krawczyk, and there are those who’d rather not hear her name again. That’s to be expected when you step out front and bow to no one. But that won’t stop her at all: she’ll be in the faces of the big and small until her final day.

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