Written by Denise Deby.

Crocus Family by Mike Gifford on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgifford/2429513347/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0

Crocus Family by Mike Gifford on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgifford/2429513347/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0

Earth Day has become many things: a day of celebration, a series of global events, a marketing ploy, a call for individuals to take action.

Back in 1970, the original Earth Day saw millions of people standing up to demand attention to the environment. Those initial demonstrations are credited with prompting stronger environmental legislation and helping launch the environmental movement.

To get back to that original spirit of individuals coming together to make public, private and community action happen, I’m proposing a few things that people can do for Earth Day, or any day:

1. Sign up for a Community-Supported Agriculture share—get to know your farmer, eat more healthy, locally-grown food and support a sustainable food system.

2. Ask your city councillor to do more to support alternative transportation and green buildings.

3. Register for the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge and spend 30 minutes a day outside in nature for 30 days in May.

4. Invest in renewable energy, for example through the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op, or sign up with Bullfrog Power.

5. Become a member of Just Food, which is actively creating a just and sustainable local food system in Ottawa and sharing information on food-related initiatives in town.

6. Sign Ecology Ottawa’s petition asking elected officials to say no to the Energy East pipeline that would carry tar sands bitumen through Ottawa.

7. Help MiningWatch Canada celebrate its fifteenth anniversary of supporting communities around the world whose homes and environments are affected by mining, by purchasing “Solidarity Shares.”

8. Write your MP and tell them you want stronger environmental legislation and investment in scientific research.

There’s lots more that needs to be done, so please share your suggestions in the comments.

 

Written by Denise Deby.

North American Porcupine, sleeping in tree, Ottawa, Ontario photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:North_American_Porcupine,_sleeping_in_tree.jpg on Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

North American Porcupine, sleeping in tree, Ottawa, Ontario photo by D. Gordon E. Robertson http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:North_American_Porcupine,_sleeping_in_tree.jpg on Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

“You have to give animals their space.”

My family often uses those words when we encounter wildlife while camping, hiking or even in our backyard. They’re wonderful words, because they convey a relationship with animals that’s based on respect, without creating unnecessary fears.

The words come from Chris and Martin Kratt, also known as the Kratt Brothers. When my kids were young, we watched the Kratts’ energetic and informative TV show, Zoboomafoo, which introduced preschoolers to wild animals and their habitats. The Kratts have gone on to create Be The Creature, Kratt’s Creatures and Wild Kratts—all on the theme of helping people understand and appreciate animals and nature.

I’m excited to see that Martin Kratt and Chris Kratt are headlining this year’s Kidsfest in Ottawa, appearing on Saturday, April 5 at 2:30 p.m. to talk about their Amazon adventures and answer questions. It’s a great opportunity to learn from and share in their enthusiasm.

There’s a lot more going on at Kidsfest, including the Junkyard Symphony and Little Ray’s Reptiles. Kidsfest is April 5 and 6 at the EY Centre (which you can get to on OC Transpo Route 97).

* * *

On the theme of wildlife, the City of Ottawa is running a Wildlife Series and the next session is “Backyard Biodiversity: Welcoming nature into your yard, not your home,” featuring Nature Canada conservation co-ordinator Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl and Bill Dowd of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control. It’s on Friday, April 11, 7 p.m. at City Hall (Andrew S. Haydon Hall). From 6-9 p.m. at Jean Pigott Place, representatives of the Canadian Wildlife Federation, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club and the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will be on hand, and Ontario Electronic Stewardship will accept used electronic equipment for recycling.

All this coincides with the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s National Wildlife Week April 6-12Check it out for ideas about living alongside and protecting urban and other species.

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Laura Mueller, Jane’s Walk Ottawa organizing committee, for the information.

Nanny Goat Hill Community Garden Mural by Anastaz1a on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/madomaratzki/5701195302/in/photostream/ Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Nanny Goat Hill Community Garden Mural by Anastaz1a on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/madomaratzki/5701195302/in/photostream/ Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Jane’s Walk celebrates cities as places created by and for people. For one weekend every May, individuals lead walking tours of their favourite urban places, sharing their knowledge, interests and stories.

Jane’s Walk Ottawa is looking for volunteer walk leaders for walks that will take place on Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4, 2014.

If there’s a spot you know of in Ottawa or Gatineau—an intriguing section of your neighbourhood, an area with a lot of character or history, a green or wild space, a place where residents are doing something interesting—consider helping others get to know it by leading a Jane’s Walk.

Last year in Ottawa there were over 50 walks (and a few biking events). You can see a list at the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website.

Jane’s Walk Ottawa also needs volunteer marshals to help with walking groups. See http://www.janeswalkottawa.ca/tips-tools/volunteer for information.

If you’d just like to walk, keep an eye on the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website later this month for a list of planned walks.

Jane’s Walk is a global event that pays tribute to the work of the influential urban thinker and writer Jane Jacobs. Last year, 800 walks were held in more than 100 cities in 22 countries. It’s a great opportunity for people to get to know their city and each other.

Written by Denise Deby.

april-13th-ottawa-poster (2)

TransCanada’s proposed Energy East pipeline would carry crude oil from Alberta through Ottawa to New Brunswick. (It’s one of several pipeline projects in North America–have a look at A\J’s interactive map of pipelines.)

Many people have been expressing concerns about adverse environmental effects of the pipeline, including risks of spills, and climate and ecosystem effects of expanding tar sands oil production.

There are a couple of opportunities coming up to learn more and speak up about Energy East:

1. The Ontario Energy Board is holding hearings into the potential impacts of the project, and is coming to several communities along the proposed pipeline route, including Ottawa, to hear from resident and community organizations. There’s one on Monday, April 7, 2014, 6:30-9 p.m. at the Johnny Leroux Community Centre, 10 Warner Colpitts Lane, Stittsville (following a meeting with First Nation and Metis communities in Kanata on the same day from 12:30-4 p.m.).

You can get details about the community hearing on the OEB website. Ecology Ottawa is encouraging people to attend, and you can contact them to get more information, or let them know if you’re interested in speaking.

2. On Sunday, April 13, 2014, the Council of Canadians’ Energy East: Our Risk Their Reward comes to Ottawa. Speakers are Council of Canadians’ chairperson Maude Barlow, Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Fort Chipewyan First Nation and Graham Saul of Ecology Ottawa. It’s at the Mayfair Theatre from 7-8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30). More information on the tour is here, and information on the Ottawa event here.

TransCanada is holding its own open house on Energy East on April 3, 2014, 4-8 p.m.

You can find links to additional suggested actions at Ecology Ottawa’s Tar Free 613 site and on the Council of Canadians’ Energy East page.

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Katherine Forster of the Ottawa Bird Count for sending along this information.

White-breasted nuthatch, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Brent Eades on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/59355637@N00/7054709181/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

White-breasted nuthatch, Mud Lake, Ottawa by Brent Eades on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/59355637@N00/7054709181/ Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Katherine Forster alerted us to this opportunity to learn to recognize native bird songs:

Chirps, tweets and trills: Learn your local bird songs

Offered by the Ottawa Bird Count, a volunteer-based, scientifically rigorous survey of birds in an expanding city.

Free course open to all to learn about Ottawa’s native birds. By the end of the course, participants should be able to quickly recognize the songs of at least 70 common species that are encountered within the nation’s capital. Opportunities to volunteer with the organization after training is complete.

Space is limited – please sign up on Eventbrite.

When: 6 Saturday Mornings starting on April 5th from 8 am to 10 am

Where: Jack Purcell Community Centre, 320 Jack Purcell Lane off of Elgin Street

Katherine adds: “The course is free due to the generosity of our business supporters, the Awesome Ottawa fund and Adam Smith (OBC director) who is donating his time to teach the course. We are very grateful for all this support.”

According to the Ottawa Bird Count, a trained birder will hear around 8-10 times the number of bird species than can be seen, so learning bird songs is definitely useful, whether you’re an experienced birder, a new birder or an all-round outdoor enthusiast. Amazingly, there’s no charge for the course. Participants sign up to attend all six Saturdays, so will receive 12 hours of training.

To register, click on http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/chirps-tweets-and-trills-learn-your-local-bird-songs-tickets-10716396029.

To find out more about the Ottawa Bird Count and what they do, check out their website.  Of course, you can follow them on Twitter: http://twitter.com/OttawaBirds

GPS and field sheets - photo courtesy Ottawa Bird Count

GPS and field sheets – photo courtesy Ottawa Bird Count

 

Written by Denise Deby.

home made vegetable soup by mikehipp on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/hipperspective/6250488401/in/photostream/ Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

home made vegetable soup by mikehipp on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/hipperspective/6250488401/in/photostream/ Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic

The food we buy, grow and eat is influenced by a wide range of things, including farming practices, land use planning and zoning, and many different policies in different sectors at various levels of government.

That makes improving the food system a challenge. As a result, many communities are creating food policy councils to bring people from various sectors–farming and food production, health, education, community, business and government–around the same table.

Ottawa’s Food Policy Council launched last year after three years of collaboration among community organizations, government, researchers and individuals to look at food needs in Ottawa and how to address these.

The Ottawa Food Policy Council (OFPC)’s mandate is to work towards making Ottawa’s food system socially and economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and accessible in terms of healthy, affordable, enjoyable and culturally relevant food.

You can learn more about the OFPC this Monday, March 24, 2014 at “Dinner and a Movie,” where OFPC will present some of the work of journalist and author Michael Pollan. Diana Bronson of Food Secure Canada will speak on what’s happening with food policy nationally, and there’ll be information on local food initiatives, too.

The event is free; organizers ask that people bring a serving of vegetables or herbs for a “stone soup” that will be cooked and shared during the evening.

“Dinner and a Movie” is 7-9 p.m. at Dominion-Chalmers Church (355 Cooper at O’Connor).

The Ottawa Food Policy Council’s website has more information on their membership and work.

Written by Denise Deby.

"A water drop" by José Manuel Suárez on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Water_drop_001.jpg Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence

“A water drop” by José Manuel Suarez on Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Water_drop_001.jpg Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence

We know how important water is—it’s the stuff of life.

We know we need to conserve it, avoid sending household chemicals down our drains, eat less meat and plant native species in our gardens in order to keep our water sources clean and healthy.

Action to protect water needs to happen at community, city, provincial, national and global levels, too. Consider:

This Saturday, March 22, 2014 is World Water Day. Water deserves more than just a day, but it’s an opportunity to focus attention on what we need to ask our governments and organizations to do to protect water.

In Ottawa, there will be a celebration on March 22 at Victoria Island from 1:30-4 p.m. with world water campaigner Emma Lui, Guatemalan Maya Elder Tito Medina, Ottawa Riverkeeper Meredith Brown and poet Francine Desjardins. The event includes a traditional water ceremony, a drumming and sharing circle and a potluck meal (organizers ask that people bring a dish to share, a chair and a non-disposable water bottle).

Also on March 22, Carleton University is hosting a screening of Troubled Water, a documentary by Paul Manly about threats to public water systems and watersheds, including privatization, development and international trade agreements, and what can be done about these. Organized by the Ottawa chapter of the Council of Canadians, the free screening is 1-2:30 p.m. in the Multimedia Lab of the Discovery Centre (Room 482 of the MacOdrum Library).

Kids can learn more about water and the work of some Canadian scientists at the Canadian Museum of Nature on March 22.

For more information and ideas for taking action, check out the Council of Canadians’ World Water Day site at http://canadians.org/worldwaterday.