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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Written by Denise Deby.

Long weekend - D. Deby

Back to school, back to work, new activities, changing weather—this time of year is often a time of transition.

Here, we savoured the last day of the August long weekend with a bike ride along the Ottawa River and a picnic at Britannia Beach. New routines start today, but I’m hoping we can continue to relive the good parts of summer as we head into a new month.

Some ideas for extending the green of summer:

Go outside

As summer holidays wind down, getting outdoors can be challenging. Spending time in nature has great physical and mental health benefits, though. Walk or bike to work or school. Balance screen and structured activity time with outdoor pursuits. Go for a walk, fly a kite, stop at the park or by the river.

Go recycled

If you’re stocking up on school or office supplies, look for eco-friendly notebooks, paper and other gear. Go for 100% post-consumer recycled paper, and avoid plastic and vinyl. For paper products that are a little special, check out Ecojot, sold in many shops around town. You can also find wonderful pencil cases, backpacks and bags made from recycled materials; try terra20EcoEquitable or EnviroCentre.

Go green

For lunches, single-serving packaged foods can seem convenient, but they produce a lot of garbage. Buy in bulk, prepare portions at home and use reusable containers–many stores carry stainless steel and cloth options. Use a reusable mug for coffee or tea. When it comes to clothing, shop vintage or used when possible, or organize a clothing swap. This time of year is a great time to (re)discover drying laundry on a clothesline–another way to get outdoors.

Laundry - D. Deby

 

Written by Denise Deby.

peoples-social-forum

Amazing, transformative, hopeful–these are some of the ways people are describing the Peoples’ Social Forum, taking place in Ottawa Thursday, August 21-Sunday, August 24, 2014.

The Peoples’ Social Forum is a gathering of individuals and organizations working towards social, environmental and political justice. It’s been described as the largest ever forum in Canada of social movements, with thousands of people and more than 200 groups attending. They’re coming together to work through issues, find common ground and propose changes to the unsustainable, unjust and inequitable way things are done now.

Participants can choose from hundreds of workshops on themes that include the earth, food, the economy, governance and more. Here’s just a tiny sample:

  • The Vision for the National Historic Site at the Sacred Chaudiere Falls, with architect Douglas Cardinal (Thurs., 9 a.m.)
  • Learning from Andean Indigenous Peoples on Living in Harmony with Mother Earth, with KAIROS (Fri., 9 a.m.)
  • Documentary Activism: Political Filmmaking, Screening and Social Movements, with Cinema Politica (Fri., 9 a.m.)
  • Extreme Heat Events: Working Together to Address Poverty and Climate Change, with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (Fri., 10:45 a.m.)
  • Food as a Catalyst for Change: Mapping Levers and Opportunities, with Food Secure Canada (Fri., 10:45 a.m.)
  • Resisting Water Privatization with CUPE, Polaris Institute and Municipal Services Project (Fri., 10:45 a.m.)
  • DIY Community Gardening with Brock DIG (a campus community garden) (Fri., 1 p.m.)
  • Sharing My Treaty at Niagara Wampum Bundle – A Traditional Teaching, with Dr. Lynn Gehl (Fri., 2:45 p.m.)
  • Beyond Extraction – How Will We Greet the Future? With MiningWatch Canada (Fri., 4:30 p.m.)

Also included is a “People’s University” with workshops on topics such as poverty, capitalism and pipelines; Assemblies on Indigenous solidarity, water, social economy, climate change, mining justice and more; a children’s forum; and a range of other events.

Following an Algonquin ceremony at sunrise on Thursday, Aug. 21, the Forum launches with a Unity March on Thursday, Aug. 21, starting at 2 p.m. at Jacques Cartier Park and the War Museum, arriving on Parliament Hill around 4 p.m. with speakers, music and cultural activities.

There are lots of associated activities that are open to anyone to attend. The Art Sparks Change Festival is happening along Sparks Street, with live music, art and performance (see the schedule here). Some highlights: The Winter We Danced concert, book launch and round-dancing on Thurs. at 7 p.m.; a “Breaking Good” break dancer jam on Fri. 12-2 p.m.; “Poetic Justice” spoken word, hip-hop and slam poetry on Fri. 6-10 p.m.; and a Traditional Pow-Wow on Saturday from noon-6 p.m.

Events at other venues include (for example): “A celebration of activism and independent media” on Thurs., 5 p.m. at 25One Community; “Material Witness: Art, Activism & Fibre” on Fri., 7 p.m. at Gallery 101; Asinabka Best Of 2014 and “Upping The Anti” journal Launch Party on Sat., 7 p.m. at Club SAW; an open stage on Sun., 7 p.m. at Celtic Cross Pub; and tons of music, poetry, performance art, film and video, art exhibits and more. Many of the events are free or pay-what-you-can.

I also recommend checking out the themed walking tours of downtown Ottawa on topics such as money, labour and local food solutions, led by Ottawa (de)Tours and on Indigenous social, political, cultural and artistic spaces, led by Indigenous Walks.

Running such a huge, multifaceted and diverse gathering that aims to give everyone a voice while respecting differences will be challenging, but the Peoples’ Social Forum holds much potential. Sharing of good ideas, respect for Indigenous lands and rights, action towards positive social, political and environmental change and continued collaboration after the Forum are some of the possible positive outcomes. Above all, it’s a place to meet people, listen to perspectives that aren’t heard often enough and learn about and negotiate creative paths forward.

You can download the full program, find out more and get registration information at http://www.peoplessocialforum.org/home/. Follow on Twitter at #PSF2014 and @forumsocial2014. Some events will be livestreamed at http://www.livestream.com/rabbletv.

 

Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa and the River from Gatineau Park - D. Deby

Two events this weekend are a reminder of how we are a part of nature and how much we need to be a part of protecting the environment on which we depend.

On Saturday, Aug. 16, the Ottawa Riverkeeper hosts Ottawa’s first Interprovincial Swim between Parc des Cèdres, Aylmer/Gatineau and the Lac Deschenes Sailing Club in Ottawa.

Ottawa Riverkeeper, in partnership with Swim Ottawa, organized the 4 km, 2-hour swim to highlight the need for governments and agencies on both sides of the Ottawa River to collaborate in keeping the river healthy. (The Ottawa River falls under the jurisdiction of two provinces, four conservation authorities, several provincial and federal agencies and over a hundred municipalities over its 1,271 km length.)

The swim supports Riverkeeper initiatives, particularly the purchase of water quality test kits for its Riverwatch Program. Donations are accepted at giveeffect.org or at 613-321-1120.

On Sunday, Aug. 17, CPAWS-Ottawa Valley and MEC Ottawa are holding the MEC Big Wild Challenge. It’s a run/walk along several trail loop options in Gatineau Park. Organizers promise an active day with “plenty of fun streams to cross, rocks to climb, natural obstacles to maneuver around, and amazing views over the Outaouais region” as well as entertainment, snacks and prizes. Funds raised go towards CPAWS’ campaigns across Canada to protect at-risk wilderness.

For more information and registration go to http://action.cpaws.org/site/TR/Events/BigWildChallenge?sid=1002&type=fr_informational&pg=informational&fr_id=1070, or contact Amy at CPAWS. The run starts at Gatineau Park parking lot P7B at 9:00 a.m., with pre-run sign-up at 8:30 a.m., and costs $20.

Written by Denise Deby.

Biodome under construction - D. Deby photo

There are at least three good reasons to head to Brewer Park this Sunday.

1. Biodome Garden

Hard-working volunteers at the Brewer Park Community Garden have created Ottawa’s first Biodome Garden. It’s a geodesic dome structure containing beds where gardeners can grow food for several months beyond what Ottawa’s climate normally allows. It will also house an aquaponics system and host community and education programs.

The Garden’s grand opening and tour is at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 17.

I had the opportunity to speak with garden leaders Michael Oster, Johanne Ranger and Guy Soulière this spring. They explained that the Biodome uses solar and radiant energy and rainfall capture in an efficient, low-input system for local food production. Michael Oster points out that the technologies are readily available—although it took research, determination and community support and expertise, as well as financing from the City of Ottawa’s Better Neighbourhoods Program, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Just Food and the Community Garden Network, to make the Biodome Garden happen.

They hope people will come and learn about the Garden and even adapt some of the ideas being tested there in other community, school and home gardens. Visitors are welcome to tour the Biodome Garden and celebrate its launch. You’ll spot the Biodome at 100 Brewer Way across from Brewer Arena.

2. Savour Ottawa Harvest Table

Want to try culinary delights whipped up by talented Ottawa chefs using fresh, seasonal ingredients grown by local farmers? Come to Harvest Table on Sunday, Aug. 17.

This annual event in Brewer Park brings local producers (e.g. Bryson Farms, Acorn Creek Garden Farm, Hall’s Apple Market) together with local restaurants (e.g. Thyme and Again Creative Catering, Le Café at the NAC) and local craft breweries and wineries.

Tickets are $75, and you have to buy them in advance here. (Check here for Laura Robin’s article on Harvest Table in the Ottawa Citizen.)

3. Ottawa Farmers’ Market

The Ottawa Farmers’ Market will be open at Brewer Park on Sunday, and every Sunday until mid-November, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pick up a week’s worth of fresh produce, baked goods, eggs and other treats, or ingredients for a picnic in the park. Find more information and the list of vendors here.

2014-harvest-table-poster

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