"The PIRGs are state-based advocates for the public interest. When consumers are cheated, or our natural environment is threatened, or the voices of ordinary citizens are drowned out by special interest lobbyists, the state PIRGs speak up and take action."

American PIRGs at www.pirg.org

"The Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs) were launched by citizen activist Ralph Nader in the early seventies as a means of harnessing the energy and talents of students to help solve pressing social problems.

"Today, there are over 200 PIRG chapters across the U.S. and Canada. PIRGs bring together students, staff, faculty and community groups to organize around issues of public interest, such as the environment and social justice. We promote and conduct research, education and action in these areas. We believe that change is possible and worthwhile."

Canadian PIRGs at www.pirg.ca

In Canada there are PIRGs at Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, and the University of Toronto that I know of, part of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group, or OPIRG for short.

I came into contact with OPIRG at Carleton University years ago. No longer an undergraduate, I wished there had been such organizations when I was. When I was an undergraduate there was no real infrastructure for protest and action; it had to be built every generation--and we could hardly rely upon the whims of student government, as helpful as it sometimes is.

As a researcher for OPIRG-Carleton, I was able to learn about, and publicize pesticides, a morbid, fascinating, and essential issue. I met, and worked with committed, intelligent, eloquent people involved in many issues--but all driven to doing right, and good.

It was an experience that has left its mark upon me.

A list of Canadian PIRGs, links, and other information, can be found at www.pirg.ca. American PIRGs, links, and other information can be found at www.pirg.org.

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