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.

Written by Denise Deby.

Hog's Back Falls photo by fw42 on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Hog’s Back Falls photo by fw42 on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

If you’re one of the lucky people who secured a ticket to David Suzuki‘s appearance in Ottawa at Centrepointe Theatre on October 17, 2014, you’re in for a treat.

If not, you should still know why he’s here. It’s important.

The esteemed scientist and environmentalist is travelling across the country for his Blue Dot Tour to raise awareness of the need for Canada to recognize people’s right to a healthy environment.

The Blue Dot initiative makes the point that we have the right to be sure that our food, water and air are clean and safe. That requires including the right to live in a healthy environment in legislation at all levels of government and in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so that no government can undermine it.

The organizers are calling on Canada to join the more than 110 countries that have already declared the right to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right. That right includes the right to have clean air, water and food, to access nature, to know about pollutants in the environment and to participate in government decisions that affect the environment.

The thinking is that as individuals speak up, governments—from local up—will be convinced to recognize the right. According to the Blue Dot video, it’s about “ordinary people coming together to take extraordinary action.”

You can check out, and support, the effort at

There’s more here about David Suzuki’s reasons for launching the Blue Dot Tour, and background here on why the right to a healthy environment is important.




Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa Arboretum - D. Deby photo

A new initiative is taking root in Ottawa. Its goal: protecting and enhancing the city’s tree cover.

Tree Ottawa is a citizen-created program to plant, protect and promote trees and the places where trees grow. Housed at Ecology Ottawa, the program connects people to initiatives and resources for planting and caring for trees and tree habitats.

Tree Ottawa recognizes that trees are important. Trees mitigate climate change, reduce runoff and pollution, promote biodiversity, improve human health and well-being, and provide shade, recreation and food. Tree Ottawa also arises from concerns about threats to the city’s trees from extreme weather and climate change, damage from infill and development and the emerald ash borer.

Tree Ottawa’s plan includes:

  • a goal of planting 1 million trees by 2017;
  • an Adopt-a-Tree program to encourage people to sign up to protect existing trees;
  • Tree Map where people can mark and locate trees;
  • guides to tree planting, tree care and native trees;
  • links to information on existing tree initiatives and resources, including city programs and organizations such as Scouts Canada and Hidden Harvest Ottawa that are working to plant and protect trees;
  • a Tree Ottawa Ambassador program, in which volunteers promote tree planting and Tree Ottawa.

Check the Tree Ottawa website for other ways to get involved.

Tree Ottawa’s official launch is on Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014 at 9:30 a.m. in Champlain Park. The Champlain Oaks group will plant a bur oak sapling in the park during the event.


Written by Denise Deby.

Photo courtesy Raw Mountain Foods

Photo courtesy Raw Mountain Foods

A few weeks ago I sat down for tea with Candace Tierney. She’s the founder of Raw Mountain Foods, a Carp-based company that makes snacks from plants.

Raw Mountain Foods’ celery root chips, blueberry kale chips and other products are available at Rainbow Foods, Herb and Spice, The Green Door Grocer, Market Organics, the Natural Food Pantry in Kanata and a few other local shops, as well as online.

Some of the ingredient combinations may sound unusual, but Candace explains that’s part of their appeal, to her and to customers. She’s careful to match and balance flavours, and conducts market research before launching new products. She also does product demos around town so people have a chance to get to know what’s available.

Candace’s love of experimenting with ingredients arose during her late teens, when she began changing her own diet in order to feel healthier and deal with childhood food sensitivities. She started adding foods from her own garden, and began creating recipes, many of which are plant-based, vegan and/or raw.

“That’s kind of where my love of food grew,” she says.

Candace also draws food influences from her travels in Southeast Asia, and acquired a marketing degree before launching Raw Mountain Foods just over a year ago.

“It’s going great,” she says, adding, “I’m very grateful to have a lot of incredible people around me that support me.”

So far Raw Mountain Foods has focused on plant-based snacks, with ingredients sourced seasonally from local farms where possible, and some imported bulk items, including organic chia seeds, raw organic cacao powder and raw organic coconut flakes.

Part of what Candace wants to accomplish is to share her love of healthy food with people, and demonstrate that it’s possible to add more local, seasonal and tasty foods to existing diets.

Candace shares recipes—and gorgeous photos of her food creations—on her blog, Raw Mountain Kitchen.


Written by Denise Deby.

Creating a City for All campaign image!how-to-get-involved/c5f1

Creating a City for All campaign image!how-to-get-involved/c5f1

Now’s your chance to have an influence on the kind of city you want. Elections for mayor, city councillors and school trustees happen on Monday, October 27, 2014.

The City of Ottawa has election information on its website, including a list of candidates for each ward.

As well, several groups in Ottawa are asking candidates where they stand on key environmental and social issues, as a guide for voters (and to give attention to these issues).

Ecology Ottawa has been working to identify the environmental issues that are important to residents, and to raise these with candidates. Among the issues: sustainable transportation, healthy trees and waterways, action on climate change and stopping the Energy East pipeline.

Candidates’ positions on these issues can be found here. Ottawa has also compiled candidates’ answers to questions about the city’s climate change plan and the Energy East pipeline here.

Citizens for Safe Cycling has come up with an election platform, based on a survey of people’s priorities, to make cycling more accessible. The platform, “I Bike, I Vote,” calls for investment in cycling and infrastructure, measures to maximize safety and other initiatives. CfSC also suggests questions people can ask their candidates. Candidates’ responses to CfSC’s three biking questions are here.

The Ottawa Food Policy Council is encouraging candidates to support initiatives to bring healthy, accessible and sustainable food to all residents. The OFPC has outlined a set of priorities in a letter to candidates, and is posting candidates’ responses here.

The Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa and City for All Women Initiative have created a campaign to urge politicians to address the housing, food, employment and transportation needs of all citizens, including people living on low incomes. “Creating a City for All” is also encouraging people to vote.

Several non-profits have created Housing Answer, which asks candidates to pledge to invest significant new funding in Ottawa’s Ten Year Housing and Homelessness Plan. Any city resident can sign up, too, to show their support. As well, the Alliance to End Homelessness has identified questions for candidates on housing.

Protect Big Trees is a campaign to get candidates to commit to protecting Ottawa’s tree canopy.

Update: Greenspace Alliance has identified four propositions related to land use and to the city’s advisory committees, and has posted candidates’ responses on their website.

Update: Hollaback! has posted responses from candidates on how they would address gender-based violence in Ottawa.

Update: Acorn Canada has posted candidates’ responses on living wages, tenants’ rights, affordable transit, hydro costs, democratic rights and other issues of concern particularly to low income families.

A couple of non-official sites that have compiled general election information are OttWatch and OttawaStart.

Any other issues you think candidates should be addressing? Remember to vote on October 27 or at one of the advance polls.

Written by Denise Deby.

West End Well - Denise Deby photo

Ottawa’s new food co-op, West End Well, is up and running, and is holding a grand opening to celebrate. Everyone is welcome to drop by Friday, Sept. 26-Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 to check out the co-operative café, grocery store and community space.

The West End Well was created by community members as a place to find local, healthy food, to connect with others and to learn how to live more sustainably (hence the motto “Nourishment for a Change”).

As well as good food, they offer music and storytelling sessions, workshops on sustainability issues, a lending library and more. As a co-operative, the Well is owned by its members. Anyone can join, although you can be a customer without being a member. (There’s more background on the West End Well in my previous post.)

Here’s the Grand Opening weekend schedule:

Friday, Sept. 26:  An evening of music with Moonfruits, 8-10 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 27: Family activities 10:30 a.m.-noon; programming fair 1-3 p.m.; live entertainment 3-5 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 28: Family activities 10:30 a.m.-noon; opening ceremony 1-2 p.m.; cocktail party with free food samples 3-5 p.m.

See the West End Well’s regular calendar for upcoming events. (Among the offerings: a screening of The Economics of Happiness on Sept. 30, Tellings at the Well storytelling on Oct. 10, a talk on Being a Good Food Citizen on Oct. 21 and the launch of Ottawa Food by Don and Jennifer Chow of foodiePrints on Oct. 29.)

The West End Well also welcomes investors—here’s a short clip about that.


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