Written by Denise Deby.


Layoffs of thousands of federal government scientists, cutbacks in program and research funding, weakening of environmental legislation, restrictions on communication of scientific findings–there’s plenty of evidence that in Canada, science is being undermined.

Those changes affect our health, our lands and waterways, our capacity to monitor and respond to problems, and much more.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has been speaking out about this through its Getting Science Right campaign, which calls for a return to support for science in the public interest.

On Thursday, November 27, 2014 CAUT is hosting a discussion in Ottawa on “A New Direction for Science Policy in Canada? Get Science Right!”

The focus is the federal government’s approach to science policy, and alternative approaches. Panelists are Béla Joós, University of Ottawa physics professor; Diane Beauchemin, chemistry professor at Queen’s; Christina Muehlberger, PhD candidate in sociology and political economy at Carleton; Tim Powers, vice-president of Summa Strategies; Ted Hsu, Liberal MP and Science and Technology Critic; and Kennedy Stewart, NDP MP and Science and Technology Critic. Investigative reporter Mike De Souza will moderate.

The event is 6-8:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel, Ontario Room, 11 Colonel By Dr. Admission is free.




Written by Denise Deby.

Sara Stem Saves the Bees book - D. Deby photo

A children’s book with a strong female character who faces an environmental challenge and takes charge with a science-based solution—that’s Sara Stem Saves the Bees.

Local author Julia Cieslukowska created the story of Sara Stem, a girl who realizes something is happening with the bees. Sara uses her knowledge and the resources around her to find and carry out a solution. The book, written for two- to six-year-olds, illustrates that individual actions can make a difference for the environment.

I had the chance to meet Julia Cieslukowska at her book launch on November 16. Julia, who’s also doing a masters’ degree in international affairs at Carleton, wanted to write a book to empower kids, particularly those who don’t see themselves often represented in literature. You can read more about Julia’s motivation for writing the book here.

Julia has set up a Kickstarter campaign where people can purchase the book as well as make copies available to kids in Ottawa who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford the book. She needs to raise $3500 by November 29, 2014—the campaign is getting close to that goal, but if you’d like to check out the book or help out with the campaign you can check it out here.

(To find out what you can do to protect bees and other pollinators, check out the David Suzuki Foundation’s suggestions here.)


Written by Denise Deby.


If, like me, you have a hard time adjusting to winter—or if you love winter and can’t wait for it to arrive—you might find inspiration at MEC’s Snowfest on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014. They’ll be offering information sessions on skiing, snowshoeing, winter running and more, a gear swap and other activities. Among the highlights:

At 11 a.m., Michael Napiorkowski of the wonderful Ottawa Bicycle Lanes Project will lead a winter cycling clinic. Michael, who bikes with his family all year round, will share tips on equipment and tires, bike maintenance and winter attire.

At 4:30 p.m., catch The Future of Snow in a Warming World, a discussion on how climate change is affecting Ottawa’s winters and prospects for our continued enjoyment of snow sports. (According to discussion organizer Ecology Ottawa, a University of Waterloo study for the NCC indicated that by 2050, skiing in Gatineau Park could be a thing of the past, due to increasing temperatures.) Panelists are Dr. Stephan Gruber, a mountain environment and permafrost scientist at Carleton University, and Gatineau Park manager Renée Bellehumeur. (I caught a Feb. 2014 Ecology Ottawa event on the topic, and it was an eye-opener.)


Written by Denise Deby.

Sun http://pixabay.com/en/sun-star-bright-light-sky-158027/ Creative Commons Deed CC0 (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

Sun http://pixabay.com/en/sun-star-bright-light-sky-158027/ Creative Commons Deed CC0 (CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication)

The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op brings people together to invest in solar and other renewable energy projects in the city.

OREC is hosting a couple of events this month, so if you’re interested in learning more about alternative and community-owned energy, check them out.

On Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014, OREC hosts a brunch on green impact investing and insights from Germany’s co-op energy transition. Guest speaker is Dr. Andreas Wieg, Head of the German Office for Energy Co-ops. It’s at the West End Well, 969 Wellington St. West at 10 a.m. (drop in between 9-11 a.m.)

On Monday, Nov. 17, 2014, there’s an information session and discussion with Dr. Wieg about community ownership of energy systems and Germany’s experience. It’s at 1125@Carleton Innovation Centre, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Further information on both events is at http://ottawarenewableenergycoop.com/category/all-orec-posts/events/.

If you’re interested in what OREC membership is all about, or in supporting solar projects in Ottawa, check out OREC’s website.



Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Deepak Sekhri of Causeway Work Centre for information.

Step-through bikes used in RightBike's fleet of shareable bikes. Photo courtesy Causeway Work Centre.

Bike share RightBike uses donated, refurbished bikes in its fleet. Photo courtesy Causeway Work Centre.

Here’s a different kind of harvest: Cycle Salvation and RightBike are holding a “Bike Harvest” on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014.

You can bring in bicycles that you’re no longer using, and Cycle Salvation and RightBike will refurbish the bikes and put them to good use.

Both groups are social enterprises of the Causeway Work Centre, which supports people to find employment when they’re facing physical and mental health and other barriers.

Cycle Salvation trains and employs people as bike mechanics, while keeping used bikes out of the landfill. RightBike’s community-based bike-share service provides active and sustainable transportation in neighbourhoods around town.

At the Bike Harvest, Cycle Salvation is looking particularly for adult road/racing and hybrid bikes, while RightBike needs three-speed bikes with step-through frames.

You’ll find the Bike Harvest from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 in the parking lot at 1520 Caldwell Ave. off Merivale Rd. between the Queensway and Baseline. It’s hosted by Ottawa Community Housing. Rain date is Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014.




Green roof of the Canadian War Museum looking toward Parliament Hill - D. Deby photo

Green roof of the Canadian War Museum looking toward Parliament Hill – D. Deby photo


Written by Denise Deby.

Musician and activist Vela has released a music video called #TarFree613.

“The goal of the video is to raise awareness and inspire action on the proposed Energy East pipeline,” she says.

The video, featuring Vela, Kevin Guerette and Rebecca Lantz, was shot around Ottawa, including (according to the credits) at Britannia Beach on the Ottawa River, and at Kemptville’s TransCanada pumping station near the Rideau River.

(Did you catch the “Parody Product Placement” at the start of the video? Vela says the stickers on her laptop show names of local ethical businesses that supported the video and groups working to stop Energy East.)

For background on the proposed Energy East pipeline and information on actions people can take, see Ecology Ottawa or the Council of Canadians.

Vela has written songs about the South March Highlands, climate change and other concerns. You can find out more about her work here and here.


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