Written by Denise Deby.

There’s a cool new initiative to foster healthy, sustainable, prosperous and liveable cities. It’s called We Are Cities.

We Are Cities is gathering ideas on how to improve and support cities, given the significance of urban centres to Canada. The campaign invites people to get involved in identifying what’s needed, and will bring the diverse perspectives and creative ideas together into a national action plan for cities.

Everyone is invited to participate, by submitting ideas online, voting for ideas online, and/or participating in local roundtables. There’s a roundtable in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, at the NCC’s Capital Urbanism Lab, facilitated by Citizens Academy.

So far, ideas range from building bike-friendly neighbourhoods, making cities physically accessible and expanding urban agriculture, to supporting inclusive decision-making, increasing investment in municipal infrastructure and establishing a national water strategy. Have a look at the ideas posted so far, and think about what an inclusive, resilient and sustainable Ottawa would look like to you.

We Are Cities is led by Evergreen CityWorks and Cities for People. A number of other organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, are also involved.

Written by Denise Deby.

Take advantage of some upcoming opportunities to support the transition to a sustainable energy future:

1. Carbon pricing: One way to encourage businesses and households to lower their greenhouse gas emissions is through taxes or other measures that increase the cost of emissions (and better account for the long-term environmental damage that emissions cause). Price Carbon Now is hosting Making sense of carbon pricing options – a panel discussion on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at McNabb Community Centre (180 Percy St., Ottawa). Whether or not you can attend, you can find out more about carbon pricing on their website.

2. Ethical investing: Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op is holding a session on investing in renewable energy on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 at the Dovercourt Recreation Centre (411 Dovercourt Ave.), 7-9 p.m. Register through the Westboro Brainery.

3. Climate change strategy: The Ontario government is developing a strategy to address climate change. They’ve released a discussion paper, and are inviting people to provide input into ways to reduce carbon emissions and deal with the effects of climate change. They’re also holding public consultations around the province including in Ottawa on Wednesday, Mar. 11, 2015 at the RA Centre (2451 Riverside Dr.), 6-8 p.m. Check the website for more information about the strategy and how to get involved.


Guest post submitted by David Rain, USC Canada.

Run for Biodiversity banner

For the 7th year running USC Canada’s Run for Biodiversity team will be going the distance as part of the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend (marathon, half marathon, 10km, 5km and 2km), May 23-24.

Our amazing team of R4B Runners and Walkers will be fundraising to support USC Canada’s work with seed-saving farmers in Ethiopia. So why not join us?

All R4B-Ottawa runners and walkers who commit to raising at least $100 will receive a specially-designed Run for Biodiversity t-shirt, as well as ongoing support to help them achieve their fundraising goal.

As a special thank you, USC Canada will refund the registration fees for all R4B-Ottawa fundraisers who raise $250 or more!

Don’t be disappointed – as races are selling out fast – so REGISTER TODAY.

Contact me at r4b@usc-canada.org for details. Feel free to help spread the word too.

PS  Looking for a Half Marathon bib for the sold out May 24 Ottawa race?  Contact my colleague Marta at 613-234-6827, ext 232, or marta@usc-canada.org.

A note from Green Living Ottawa: For more information on USC Canada’s great work, check out their website.

Biodiversity is all about food and farmers. It is Earth’s life-support system and nature’s brilliant insurance policy against disaster. If something fails, having a diversity of options means there is always a backup plan. When you run or walk, you help USC Canada support the farmers who plant the seeds of our very survival.”



Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Jacqueline Littlewood for the information.

Every Leaf Counts logo by Julia Escott Albert (via Hopewell Yard Campaign)

Every Leaf Counts logo by Julia Escott Albert (via Hopewell Yard Campaign)

Hopewell Avenue Public School has big plans for its yard: to create a vibrant space for kids to play, with shaded green space and welcoming play structures. Unfortunately, right now the yard is mostly asphalt. A number of large trees were cut down last summer due to damage from the emerald ash borer. The aging play structures have to be replaced. As is the case with most schools, there’s no budget for these changes. The school community has launched a campaign, Every Leaf Counts, to raise funds for new trees and new play spaces. One of the fundraising events is a screening of the documentary Project Wild Thing. The film is about a dad in the UK who, frustrated by his kids’ focus on screens and consumer products, creates a national marketing campaign to get kids outside.

Project Wild Thing is the hilarious, real-life story of one man’s determination to get children out and into the ultimate, free wonder-product: Nature.” http://projectwildthing.com/press

Project Wild Thing will screen as a benefit for Every Leaf Counts at the Mayfair Theatre on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. You can buy tickets here. Find out more about the film here: www.projectwildthing.com/film For more information on the Hopewell campaign and how to help, see www.facebook.com/hopewellyard. They’re hoping to raise $200,000, the estimated cost of yard renewal, by March 1, 2015. http://vimeo.com/68072823

Written by Denise Deby.

Bidonville poster

Ottawa-based non-profit Inter Pares is starting up a Film Nights series to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

Inter Pares (which means “among equals”) is an impressive organization that works with groups around the world, including in Canada, to advocate for and bring about food security, women’s equality, health, peace and justice.

The intention behind the film series is to “showcase thought-provoking documentaries for free to inspire, inform and galvanize action for more equal societies” (from Inter Pares February 2015 E-News).

The first in the series is Slums: Cities of Tomorrow. The film, by Quebec filmmaker Jean-Nicolas Orhon, takes us to several informal settlements around the world to meet people who’ve created housing and homes for themselves.

The film challenges stereotypes about “slums,” and shows residents’ creativity and resilience as well as the difficulties they face.

The screening takes place on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Inter Pares (221 Laurier Ave. East). (The film will be subtitled in English.) RSVP before Monday, Feb. 9.

Written by Denise Deby.


For a couple of years now, there’s been a campaign to get universities, colleges, religious institutions, pension funds, local governments and individuals to withdraw their investments from companies that produce fossil fuels.

The idea of divestment is to stop supporting unsustainable energy through stocks, bonds and other investments, and re-invest the money in renewable sources and technologies. (Here’s more about divestment, and here’s a list of companies and organizations that have already committed to divestment.)

The Go Fossil Free movement has designated Feb. 13-14, 2015 as Global Divestment Day of Action. There are at least a couple of things happening here in Ottawa around the day:

On Tuesday, Feb. 10, the Glebe Community Association Environment Committee is hosting a public talk with Paul Beckwith (Dept. of Geography, Carleton University) on Climate Disruption and Wild Weather: Global to Glebe. It’s at Ecclesiax (2 Monk St.) at 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday, Feb. 12, the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op, along with Bullfrog Power, 350 Ottawa, Smarter Shift/The Energy Mix and the West End Well Co-op, are holding a World Café Discussion on Divestment Strategies. People are invited to share information and ideas about re-investing in sustainability. It’s at the West End Well (969 Wellington St. W.) from 5-7 p.m. (RSVP here.)

Added: On Friday, Feb. 13, Fossil Free UOttawa is hosting a “Break up Booth” where people can write Valentines to university officials with messages about the university’s investment strategies. It’s from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

The divestment movement is modeling what governments need to be doing: withdrawing funds from the problem and investing in solution. That’s the best way to ensure a brighter future for both people and planet.” – Payal Parekh, 350.org Global Managing Director



Written by Denise Deby.

Copenhagen Square photo from The Human Scale http://thehumanscale.dk/press/

Copenhagen Square photo from The Human Scale http://thehumanscale.dk/press/

Several organizations and individuals in Ottawa have come together to form the Healthy Transportation Coalition. They’re combining their efforts to bring about improvements in policies and infrastructure for healthy, sustainable and accessible transportation.

Coalition members are sponsoring a screening of The Human Scale at the ByTowne Cinema on Thursday, January 29, 2015.

The Human Scale is a Danish documentary focusing on cities that encourage people to interact with each other. It’s based on the ideas of architect Jan Gehl about people-centred planning and inclusion.

From the film synopsis:

…What is a good city? Is it made of highways, gated communities and highrise structures? Or is it made of bikeways, parks and walking streets? Can architecture meet our human needs in the face of future challenges?”

After the film, there will be a panel discussion about what’s happening in Ottawa. Speakers are Catherine McKenney, Somerset Ward city councillor; Alain Miguelez, City of Ottawa planner; David Sweanor, law professor and active transportation advocate; and Inge Roosendaal, Ottawa Public Health program development officer.

The event runs 6-8:45 p.m. and is free, thanks to support from the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Action Sandy Hill, the Healthy Transportation Coalition, EnviroCentre, Ecology Ottawa, Sustainable Living Ottawa East, Ottawa East Community Association, Lowertown Community Association, RightBike, Green Communities Canada – Active & Safe Routes to School, and Citizens Academy.

See http://www.healthytransportation.ca/ for more information about the event, as well as the Healthy Transportation Coalition and its work.


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