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.

Written by Denise Deby.

25th Annual One World Film Festival Official Poster by Christine Nguyen http://www.oneworldarts.ca/film/poster-contest

25th Annual One World Film Festival Official Poster by Christine Nguyen http://www.oneworldarts.ca/film/poster-contest

The One World Film Festival is worth a look. Each year, the Festival brings beautiful and engaging documentaries covering social justice, human rights and environmental issues to Ottawa.

This year, the Festival starts with a celebration of its 25th anniversary and the opening night screening of Above All Else on Thursday, September 25.

Above All Else (USA 2014) tells the story of a group of people in East Texas who try to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline through their lands by building a blockade in the trees.

After the screening, filmmakers John Fiege and Anita Grabowski, and Ben Powless who leads Ecology Ottawa’s #TarFree613 campaign, will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Susan Johnston.

The 25th anniversary celebration follows at 9 p.m. on Thursday and features music by DJ Jas Nasty, cake from Auntie Loo’s and a cash bar.

Two movies are scheduled for Friday, September 26. The first is Virunga (UK 2014), about park rangers, business and military interests in and near Virunga National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of the mountain gorilla. A panel discussion with John Wall, chair of the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, Eric Schiller, president of Canadians for Human Rights in the Congo, and moderator Hasnat Ahsan of Oxfam follows.

The second movie on Friday, Song from the Forest (Germany 2013), is about a musicologist who spends 25 years with the Bayaka people in the Central African Republic rainforests and returns with his 13-year-old Bayakan son to New York City.

Screenings of Watchers of the Sky (USA 2014) and On the Side of the Road (Israel/Palestine and Canada 2013) take place on Saturday, September 27.

Watchers of the Sky connects the life of Raphael Lemkin, who raised awareness of genocide, with four people who are keeping his legacy alive in different parts of the world.

On the Side of the Road follows two Israeli veterans coming to grips with that region’s 1948 war. The screening includes an introduction to the film by Tyler Levitan of Independent Jewish Voices.

All the One World Film Festival 2014 events take place at Library and Archives Canada. See the One World Film Festival website for details and ticket information.

Written by Denise Deby.

Photo courtesy Ottawa (de)tours

Photo courtesy Ottawa (de)tours

Ottawa is home to some amazing, creative initiatives that have the potential to make our city a better, more livable one. Ottawa (de)tours, which launched this spring, is one of these.

Ottawa (de)tours are themed walking tours with a difference. The walks, led by knowledgeable guides, reveal the city from a particular lens. For example, the “Food” walk brings home the global food system by showing some thriving community food initiatives, while the “Play” tour passes some of the city’s outdoor and indoor leisure spaces, but with a critical eye to who accesses those places and for what.

On the “Money” tour, you’ll look at how corporate banks and other financial institutions affect people’s lives, and discover some alternatives in our debt-reliant financial system. On the “Feminism” walk, you’ll visit landmarks that shed light on women in Canadian society and where their contributions have or haven’t been acknowledged.

Sound intriguing? Each tours lasts 60-90 minutes and is part leisurely walk, part active discussion and part social gathering—you may start or end up at a café or restaurant. You’ll also get links to resources to help you investigate the topic further.

I had the chance to meet up with Susan Johnston and Dan Monafu, community builders and Ottawa (de)tours co-founders, to find out more about what’s behind the initiative.

Dan explains that the walks are intended to provide an opportunity for people to talk about issues they care about. The tours also link seemly disparate elements of our public spaces, by showing the connections, for example, between the Bank of Canada, payday loan companies, credit unions and other elements of the financial system.

Ottawa (de)tours walks start from a historical perspective, but also critically analyze what is now and suggest what might be possible.

“The bracketed (de) gets at deconstructing terms and…defining complex topics, and using narrative and storytelling to get people to reimagine what could be,” says Dan.

“It’s really important to us to help people have a sense of ownership and agency around these topics, and to keep them slanted in the direction of positive changes possible,” says Susan. “The walk that we do on local food solutions gets into discussions around attractive edible gardens, reducing the barriers to urban agriculture, and what’s involved in learning how to create an integrated sustainable backyard.”

Ottawa (de)tours are an intriguing way to ground discussions of important issues and concepts in physical space, to look critically at the design of our city and to appreciate what we have.

A more detailed description of the themed walking tours is here, and you can reserve spaces online hereEach walk costs a nominal $2 in this, Ottawa (de)tours’ first season. Walks will continue until the end of October.

Ottawa de(tours) welcomes feedback and suggestions. They’re also hosting two special events at HUB Ottawa:

  • A Brown Bag Lunch on Thursday, September 25, 2014 called #SummerOfBeta: Quit, Pivot, or Persist? Susan and Dan will talk about Ottawa (de)tours’ first season of operation and how to know whether to continue a new business venture. Noon-1 p.m.
  • Ottawa (de)tours Wine Down on Friday, September 26, 2014 from 5-8 p.m. Celebrate the official launch of Ottawa (de)tours and the end of their #SummerOfBeta, and help them look forward to their 2015 season.
Photo courtesy Ottawa (de)tours

Photo courtesy Ottawa (de)tours


Written by Denise Deby.

Local school garden - D. Deby photo

Sometimes so many great events come up at once that I have to fit them all in one post. That’s the way it is with food right now. Take a look at what’s happening in the next week or so:

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Face the Waste Friday, Sept. 19 and Harvest Festival, Friday, Sept. 19-Sunday, Sept. 21 at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

Although many people go hungry, there’s actually enough food produced in the world for everyone. The problem lies in how food is distributed—and part of the problem is that around a third of the food produced in the world gets wasted rather than eaten.

In North America, much of this waste happens during processing, transportation, retail sales and in people’s homes. A Toronto study indicated that one in four household food purchases ended up in the garbage, while other stats suggest that over 30 per cent of fruits and vegetables in North America don’t even get to grocery store shelves because they’re considered too unattractive.

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is hosting Face the Waste on Friday, Sept. 19. Katrina Siks and Jason Garlough will talk about how their initiative, Hidden Harvest Ottawa, collects fruit and nuts from urban food trees that would otherwise go to waste. There’ll also be a screening of Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (2014), a documentary by Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin about their six-month adventure living off of food that would have been discarded and what they discovered about food waste.

Face the Waste starts at 7 p.m. (doors open 6:30); register at http://www.eventbrite.ca/e/face-the-waste-talk-and-documentary-tickets-12939212533.

On Sept. 20-21, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum continues its Harvest Festival with interactive demonstrations on how to reduce food waste. Learn how to turn vegetables into soup, check out worm composting, catch Just Eat It!: A Food Waste Story, and more. See the website for the schedule.

Just Eat It – A food waste story (Trailer) from Grant Baldwin on Vimeo.

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Just Food Public Farm Tour Sunday, Sept. 21

Just Food operates a farm site right in the city. They’re inviting people to come visit, check out the farm businesses that grow food there and learn about farming programs run by community groups for new Canadians and youth. It’s from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at 2389 Pepin Court near Innes and Tauvette Streets in Blackburn Hamlet. (See their website for further details on the event and how to get there.)

Also, every Sunday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., the farms at the Just Food site operate a Farm Stand where you can buy their fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs and preserves. For more information about the farmers, see their blog at http://justfoodfarmstand.com.

If you’re interested in organic farming yourself, Just Food accepts new applicants for their Start-Up Farm Program every year. This year applications for 2015 are due September 30, 2014. There’s more information at http://justfood.ca/start-up-farm-program/.

Just Food Farm - D. Deby photo

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Feast of Fields Sunday, Sept. 21 and Organic Week Sept. 20-28

Feast of Fields is an annual celebration of local food organized by the Canadian Organic Growers. This year, Canadian Organic Growers–Ottawa St Lawrence Outaouais (COG OSO) is hosting Feast of Fields at the Moulin Wakefield Mill, from 12:30-3:30 p.m.

You’ll be able to sample creations by local chefs using organic ingredients from Ontario and Quebec farmers. There’ll also be organic beer and wine. You can take a walk through Gatineau Park or listen to live music, too.

Even better, Feast of Fields will raise funds for two great COG OSO programs: Growing up Organic, which helps schools set up organic gardens and runs education programs, and Senior Organic Gardeners, which supports gardening programs for seniors. Tickets are available in advance on Eventbrite.

Feast of Fields also kicks off Organic Week, a celebration of organic food and farming that takes place Sept. 20-28 across Canada.


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Transition Ottawa Film and Panel Discussion on The Healing Power of Plants Wednesday, Sept. 24

Transition Ottawa is hosting a screening of Numen: The Healing Power of Plants, a documentary on medicinal plants and traditional knowledge. The film invites viewers to “deepen our relationship with the natural world and reminds us of the healing made possible by re-embracing our place in the wider web of life.” After the film, local herbalists Amber Westfall of The Wild Garden and Corrie Rabbe of Radical Homestead will speak. 7-9 p.m. at the Jack Purcell Community Centre.


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The Myths of Safe Pesticides Book Launch at West End Well, Thursday, Sept. 25

As part of Organic WeekCanadian Organic Growers is holding a book launch for The Myths of Safe Pesticides. Author André Leu, president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and an international expert on sustainable agriculture, will speak about the book. A social hour (with refreshments) will follow.

It’s at the West End Well, 969 Wellington St. W. starting at 7 p.m. (doors open 6:30).

For more information, see http://www.cog.ca/news_events/events/Myths-Safe-Pesticides/

The Myths of Safe Pesticides cover - photo courtesy Canadian Organic Growers

The Myths of Safe Pesticides cover – photo courtesy Canadian Organic Growers

Written by Denise Deby. This event was posted to Green Living Ottawa’s Facebook page, and I thought I’d share it here, too.

People's Climate March Ottawa

The People’s Climate March is happening in New York City on September 21, 2014, coinciding with the UN Climate Summit on September 23. At the People’s Climate March, individuals and groups from all walks of life are coming together to call for “Action, Not Words” on climate change including a shift from fossil fuels to more sustainable alternatives.

In Ottawa, you can participate by attending the Parliament Hill event on September 18. Several Ottawa organizations are organizing a bus for people to attend the NYC March on September 20-21.

People's Climate March

Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl, Conservation Coordinator at Nature Canada, for the information.

BIOBLITZ Sept 2014

In the heart of Ottawa, you’ll find song birds, water birds, frogs, salamanders, snakes, turtles and a huge variety of mosses, lichens and other plants and wildlife–all at Mud Lake.

Come out to look for them this weekend at Nature Canada’s 24-hour BioBlitz. From Friday, September 12 3 p.m. until Saturday September 13 3 p.m., local experts will be leading nature walks on the flora and fauna at Mud Lake.

For example, Patrick Killeen, lead taxonomist with the Mud Lake Biodiversity Project, will explore trees, shrubs and grasses on Friday afternoon and Saturday noon, while Nature Canada’s Alex MacDonald leads an evening “Critters and Sounds” walk. Bill Halliday and Julie Chateauvert look for reptiles and amphibians on Saturday.

By participating, you’ll be helping Nature Canada document the species in the area, and getting to know the treasure that is Mud Lake and the Britannia Conservation Area.

Check the Nature Canada website for more information.


Written by Denise Deby. Thanks to Sarah Bradley at EnviroCentre for the information.

Commute Smart Challenge_Logo


The non-profit EnviroCentre is always coming up with creative ways to encourage people in Ottawa to use alternative, environmentally-friendly transportation more often.

This month they’re holding the Commute Smart Challenge, which invites you to walk, bike, carpool, car share, skateboard, rollerblade or take public transit to get where you need to go, whether it’s work, errands, social or other activities. Every trip counts!

You can register for the Challenge, which runs September 14-21, 2014, here. (When you sign up, you also have access to Ottawa RideMatch, a service that allows commuters to find carpool partners.)

On the Commute Smart Challenge site, you’ll find tips and resources on different transportation modes, and you can log your trips on the calendar. You can also earn credits to enter to win a free VRTUCAR membership, a VIA Rail travel voucher or other cool prizes. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that along with others, you’re supporting a healthier and more sustainable community.

On September 13, the Main Farmers’ Market, EnviroCentre and the City of Ottawa are hosting an Open Streets Festival on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 1 p.m. They’ll close part of Main Street between Hazel and Herridge to motorized traffic, in order to clear the path for activities to celebrate the launch of the Commute Smart Challenge. (Update: You’ll find cycling and walking groups, OC Transpo and VRTUCAR, Jane’s Walk Ottawa, yoga, street performers, the Main Farmers’ Market and more.) Come out and experience what a car-free urban space has to offer!

[Update: Why not also ask your city councillor and candidates to support complete streets and cycling and pedestrian infrastructure? If you're also a driver, you can still "commute smart" by watching out and making space for bikes, pedestrians and buses. We all have a role to play in making our public spaces safe, healthy and open.]



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