Author and Commons team member Heather Menzies receiving Order of Canada

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Sounder News

Tuesday, July 9 2013

Award-winning writer, sought-after public speaker and inspiring activist Heather Menzies can now add Member of the Order of Canada to the list of her accomplishments.

The part-time Gabriola resident is one of 74 Canadians receiving the appointment this year.

“It’s a huge honour,” Heather said over the phone from her home in Ottawa. “It means that I’ve made a contribution to my society.

“That’s what motivates me,” she said; “and from a very early age I’ve felt engaged in my society.”

The Member of the Order of Canada recognizes a lifetime of distinguished service in or to a particular community, group or field of activity. Heather is being recognized for her contributions to public discussion on Canadian social trends.

Heather learned back in May that she was being recognized while checking her messages at the phone booth at Twin Beaches. After accepting, she was sworn to secrecy until the official announcement was made at the end of June.

“It was kind of nice to be able to walk the beach grinning like mad,” she said.

As a writer, she has found a subject she is passionate about. 

“I’ve always trusted my inner voice,” she said.

She’s been writing about technology and its effects on society for over 30 years, and was one of the few voices writing about the shift to the online world, writing “Fastforward and Out of Control: How Technology is Changing your Life” in 1989.

“My first concern was about job losses and growing inequality [and] computers taking over our intelligence,” she said. She continued to write about the subject writing the bestseller “Whose Brave New World? The Information Highway and the New Economy” in 1996.

In “No Time: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life” (2005), she wrote about people’s disconnect from their bodies, friends, families and the earth. Her new book, out next spring from New Society Publishers, is about reconnecting and reclaiming the commons. Her 10th book, it is both a memoir and manifesto, she said.

Heather, who recently turned 64, is a member of the Gabriola Commons covenant team. While not writing or speaking at conferences, she teaches at Carleton University. She is planning on moving to Gabriola full time within the next two years.

“The great sandstone rock that is Gabriola is a place that I ground myself,” she said, the beaches her “thinking place,” adding she’s completed the major drafts of her last three books on the island.

“The spirit of co-operation is very alive on Gabriola.

“It makes me that much more interested in contributing to the global commons – it’s a real model of how we can reorganize society differently.”