Guest post written by Katherine Forster, Faith & the Common Good.
Faith Communities as Allies in Creating Ecologically Green Cities
Whether it is an expansive turf lawn that can be changed into an urban meadow, or a flat roof on a community hall that can support a new living ground cover to soak up rain, or whether it is a new grouping of native shrubs that provide food & shelter for migrating birds, faith communities can help add beneficial green to a city, starting with their own landscape.
Many times faith communities are a prominent part of a neighbourhood’s “main street” or are in a central location of a local community. They become community hubs, improving the quality of life for local residents through offering services, seeking community partnerships and by providing meeting space for various programs for all age ranges, from scouting groups, to addiction support groups to gardening clubs for example. Community gatherings in these beautiful spaces provide that extra green benefit. Neighbours meet each other at local community gardens or in serene courtyards where music concerts are held or at special community events such as labyrinth walks or historic cemetery strolls. Many place of worship gardens are open to the public, offering a safe space, quiet reflection and a welcoming message to all. These green spaces are integral to community life and contribute to the wider neighbourhood as a sustainable and ecological example allowing biodiversity to flourish within cities.
Sustainable and Ecological Gardening Support for Places of Worship
Faith & the Common Good, a national environmental non-profit with a local active Ottawa Chapter, has been working to address this need in our city by offering support to Ottawa faith & spiritual communities that want to envision their properties in this new way.
In the past two years, the Ottawa Chapter has provided an Outdoor Greening program offering education, inspiration and funding support to local faith & spiritual communities that are interested in ecological and sustainable gardening. Resources and support include:
- Ten Outdoor Greening fact sheets (how to on various subjects including drought resistant native plants, wildlife gardening and sustainable garden tips);
- Ten Local Case Studies (showcasing local gardens including Sacred Medicine gardens, Labyrinth gardens and Community gardens);
- Sustainable Garden Audits (which included plus a written Audit Reports that includes next steps);
- Interfaith Sustainable Garden Network (providing updates about local initiatives, garden events and tips for beautiful and environmental gardens).
Along with the above resources and support five faith communities received free native pollinator wildflower plants from Wild Pollinator Partners (a new initiative in the Eastern Ontario region).
Winter Garden Presentations to Inspire Spring Gardening
As a follow-up to the outdoor audits and free native plant donations, this winter the Ottawa Chapter of Faith & the Common Good is providing educational gardening presentations & sharing their resources to other keen gardeners in preparation for the upcoming spring gardening season. It’s a pleasant way to spend a cold winter evening, talking about beautiful native blooms, lovely scenic landscapes and potential garden visitors like butterflies and birds! And it is also a wonderful opportunity for people of faith to learn how to “Care for Creation” in a very direct and tangible way.
Our new local network hopes that as this green garden movement grows (pardon the pun!) it will increase local habitat, provide more healthy green linkages and it start changing the ecological fabric of the city for the benefit of all.
Contact Faith & the Common Good if your faith or spiritual community would like to be the next ecological green space for the city! Contact Katherine Forster to learn more about how you can transform your property.
Local & National Environmental Foundations Fund These Important Programs!
Faith & the Common Good’s 2018-2019 Outdoor Greening Program in Ottawa is funded by TD Friends of the Environment, Ottawa Community Foundation and the City of Ottawa’s CEPGP program who have made possible the opportunity to visit 15 faith communities, support 2 new gardens and educate over ten new communities on the benefits of a sustainable and ecological garden. Many thanks to these granters for the generous support to our program!