Written by Denise Deby.

Healthy Trees--Healthy City: A Celebration of National Tree Day image courtesy City of Ottawa

Healthy Trees–Healthy City: A Celebration of National Tree Day image courtesy City of Ottawa

Ottawa is celebrating trees this month.

The Ottawa Fall Tree Festival continues until Oct. 15. Every Saturday, Tree Fest Ottawa is hosting a photography exhibit, walks and other activities that celebrate the people and groups working to protect and promote trees in our city. The Festival happens in Brewer Park; see the website for details.

The Healthy Trees—Healthy City event, hosted by the City of Ottawa in collaboration with Ottawa Public Health and Tree Fest Ottawa, is happening on National Tree Day, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016. A Healthy Communities Expo with community organizations starts at 6 p.m.; at 7 p.m. there’s a talk by University of Chicago professor Marc Berman, who led a multi-country study on the health effects of increasing the urban tree canopy. Tree Fest Ottawa’s new photography exhibit, PhotoSynthesis 2, launches the same evening. Find more information on the City’s website.

The Champlain Oaks Project is a great example of what community members can do to support trees and tree habitat. Residents and the community association have reached an agreement with the NCC to restore the natural forest in their urban neighbourhood. Check out their latest post.


Written by Denise Deby.

There are some great eco-events happening in our city right now.

Our Moment to Lead

As part of its efforts to encourage Ontario to adopt an effective environmental bill of rights, Blue Dot Ottawa is hosting Our Moment to Lead on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016. Learn what you can do to support Ontario as a leader on environmental rights. It’s at Claudette Cain Park, 660 River Rd. from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Whether or not you attend, you can have a say in Ontario’s public consultation on an environmental bill of rights. The Blue Dot movement is a David Suzuki Foundation and Ecojustice initiative; they provide a template for input here. The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario has some useful information here.

Ottawa Fall Tree Festival

Tree Fest Ottawa celebrates people and trees in our city. This year, they’ve organized the Ottawa Fall Tree Festival, featuring an impressive array of activities all about trees and the people and groups who protect and promote them. The Festival runs every Saturday from Sept. 10-Oct. 15 (10 a.m-5 p.m.) in Brewer Park by Brewer Pond, and includes photography and art exhibits, guided walks, food and drink, ecosystem talks and much more. Check out the schedule here.

Green Energy Doors Open

Green Energy Doors Open, an initiative of the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, showcases sustainable energy systems and technologies. The public is welcome to tour homes, see green properties by bike, and visit the energy showcase. It’s from Friday, Sept. 9-Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016 at various sites around the city.

Also this weekend: Bug DaySavour Fall613flea and Capital Pop-Up. Let us know in the comment section what you check out.

Written by Denise Deby.

Bicycle by dejavu159 on pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/bicycle-basket-flowers-pansies-1629641/ CC0 Public Domain

Bicycle by dejavu159 on pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/bicycle-basket-flowers-pansies-1629641/ CC0 Public Domain

One cyclist death is too many. Yet the killing of people on bikes in our city continues, most recently with the tragic death this week of Nusrat Jahan on Ottawa’s flagship “protected” bike lane. A devastating loss for her family, friends, and our community.

Many people are not letting go of this. From the #ottbike community, to the leadership of councillors Catherine McKenney and Jeff Leiper, to members of the media who are keeping this visible–people are calling for action, investment, infrastructure and legislation (e.g. protected intersections, separation of truck and cycling routes, truck sideguards) to make our streets safe for everyone.

What you can do:

  1. Read this post by Graham Larkin of Vision Zero Canada.
  2. Contact your city councillor and the mayor, and tell them you want to see change. Support the councillors that are taking action on this.
  3. Get involved with Vision Zero Canada and Citizens for Safe Cycling.

Together, we can do this.

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Paige Inglis at Just Food for the information.

farmer info session_socialmediasquare (2)

Last month I posted about Just Food’s Start-Up Farm Program, which makes land, equipment and training available at the Just Food Farm site for people to try local, organic farming for a year.

Just Food is hosting more information sessions for anyone who’d like to learn more about the program or is interested in applying this September for the 2017 growing season. The sessions are on Thursday, Aug. 25 and Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016 from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Blackburn Hamlet branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

More details on the program are at http://justfood.ca/start-up-farm-program/.

For other ways to learn about and get involved in supporting Ottawa’s local food system, check out Just Food’s other great programs, including the farm stand which sells fresh produce on Sundays from 10-3. Just Food is also hosting a picnic on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Just Food Farm picnic

Posted by Denise Deby.

Image via Facebook/Ecology Ottawa

Image via Facebook/Ecology Ottawa

Last month’s spill of oil from a Husky Energy pipeline into the North Saskatchewan River contaminated drinking water systems in communities and cities along the river, killed fish, birds and other species, and polluted soil and vegetation.

It’s a scenario that people opposing the Energy East pipeline want to avoid. Energy East would carry tar sands bitumen from Alberta to New Brunswick, with risks to ecosystems and waterways along the way.

Participants in the March to Save Our Rivers, organized by STOP Oléoduc Outaouais, are travelling this week from Saint-André d’Argenteuil near Montreal to Ottawa, along the Ottawa River and the proposed Energy East route.

Ecology Ottawa is encouraging people to come out to welcome the marchers to Gatineau and Ottawa, and join them for the final leg from Major’s Hill Park to Parliament Hill. They’re expected to arrive in Major’s Hill Park on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016 at 2:30 p.m. For details and to RSVP, see http://www.ecologyottawa.org/welcoming_the_march_to_save_our_rivers or https://www.facebook.com/events/1030299940358766/.

From Ecology Ottawa’s invitation:

The March to Save our Rivers highlights the pipeline’s risks while underscoring the resolve of groups in Quebec, Ontario and elsewhere who are committed to preserving our shared natural environment…. Let’s all come out and show the city and the country that Ottawans do NOT want their climate, land and water threatened by this pipeline, and that we stand in solidarity with all opposition in the country.”

Written by Denise Deby.


Now showing: the Asinabka Festival, Ottawa’s annual celebration of Indigenous film and media arts.

The Asinabka Festival, which offers film, art, music and more by and/or about Indigenous peoples, runs Aug. 10-14, 2016.

A few highlights:

  • A lecture on reclaiming Indigenous histories, identities and images through Maori film (Friday, Aug. 12 3:30 p.m.);
  • Compelling films from around the world (Friday, Aug. 12-Sunday, Aug. 14)—a huge variety, from a vanishing pink dolphin, to new takes on Star Wars and Goldilocks, to the legacy of the Oka crisis, and much more;
  • A “gallery crawl” of Indigenous art, a music night, a BBQ and outdoor film night, and a festival after-party. (See schedule for details.)

Check all that and more out on the Asinabka Festival website.

Written by Denise Deby.

wild berries by liz west on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/18790748604

wild berries by liz west on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/18790748604

This blog has always aspired to be solutions-focused. We try to provide practical information, but we also hope to change the narratives around environmental challenges, so that the framing of problems leads not just to despair but to ways forward.

Sometimes, that’s a walk in the park. Other times, it’s hard, especially when the horror and injustice that our world–and our city–sometimes manifest become overwhelming.

Local herbalist and educator Amber Westfall, in her wonderful blog The Wild Garden, wrote a moving post recently about taking inspiration and strength during difficult times from the wild things that grow in nature. Her dandelion, with its ability to “crumble concrete” and heal damaged earth, provides a beautiful and hopeful metaphor for improving an unjust and unsustainable world, even through small acts. Here’s a link to the post, Resist: http://www.thewildgarden.ca/blog/resist

Nature is resilient because of its diversity. This past week in Ottawa, we’ve witnessed heartbreak and deep divisions. We’ve also seen people come together to mourn, insist on solutions and find, in their diversity, the strength to demand change and create a better way.

That’s what keeps me hopeful.