Jane’s Walk Ottawa May 4-5, 2013

Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa - photo by D. Deby

I’m a big fan of Jane’s Walk. The annual event celebrates cities as places for people. It honours Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who carefully observed how cities function and called for cities to be planned for, with and by people and communities. Her work has had a significant influence on thinking about city planning and urban engagement.

Jane’s Walk, started in Toronto by people who wanted to keep Jane Jacobs’ legacy alive, has spread to over 90 cities around the world, including Ottawa.

During Jane’s Walk, local residents lead free walking tours of urban places and neighbourhoods. The walks allow people to get to know their city, reconnect with nature and the built environment, and meet each other.

In Ottawa, dozens of residents have stepped forward to make Jane’s Walk happen. They’re volunteering their time to lead walks—and cycling tours–through many of our city’s hidden, historic, or intriguing areas. They’re people with a passion for the area and with insights to share, so bring your interest and your own perspectives.

There’s bound to be a Jane’s Walk in Ottawa for everyone. Just for example, you can:

  • Learn about the Pinhey Sand Dune micro-environment off Woodroffe with Henri Goulet, a retired scientist and a specialist in biodiversity and conservation;
  • Contemplate Ottawa’s neglected waterfront with storyteller and community activist Dennis Van Staalduinen;
  • Discover Ottawa’s Great Forest with naturalist and educator Martha Webber;
  • See the Byward Market area from a homeless person’s perspective with activist Jane Scharf;
  • View turtles and learn about turtle habitat protection on Petrie Island and surrounding wetlands with Al Tweddle, chairman of the Friends of Petrie Island;
  • Explore the social fabric of the Somerset West area with Jackson Couse, multimedia artist;
  • Get to know “Wellboro” (Westboro and Hintonburg) through the eyes of artist Andrew King;
  • Walk for health on Parliament Hill with Kelly McKay and Penny Burton of Ottawa Public Health’s Healthy Living Team.

These and other walks will explore nature, art and culture, history, urban issues and more. There are walks in English and French. You can find the full list and more details at the Jane’s Walk Ottawa website.

No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.” Jane Jacobs, Downtown is for People, 1957 (from the Jane’s Walk main website).

Food for Thought at the Ottawa International Writers Festival 2013

Written by Denise Deby.

Beans are Up photo by OakleyOriginals, Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakleyoriginals/3573007869/in/set-72157606882914905/
Beans are Up photo by OakleyOriginals, Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/oakleyoriginals/3573007869/in/set-72157606882914905/

The Ottawa International Writers Festival brings a wealth of writers and ideas every spring and fall (and sometimes in between). Often there are environmentally-themed sessions, and this spring highlights sustainable food in particular.

On Saturday, April 27, Nick Saul and Andrea Curtis will speak about innovative food centre The Stop. The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement tells the story of the Toronto food bank that transformed into a multi-faceted food centre complete with gardens, a greenhouse, educational activities, advocacy programs and more, and a focus on dignity for those seeking healthy food. Nick Saul is former executive director of The Stop and president and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada; Curtis is a writer and editor. It’s at 4 p.m., Knox Presbyterian Church, Lisgar at Elgin. Details here.

On Sunday, April 28, Sarah Elton (Locavore and Consumed) joins Lorraine Johnson (City Farmer) and Barry Estabrook (Tomatoland) for a discussion of The Future of Food for a Crowded Planet. The three writers have all looked at our food system and how people are changing the way they source, eat, prepare and share food. It’s at 6:30 p.m. at Southminster United Church, 15 Aylmer Ave. Details here.

Sarah Elton will also be appearing at a lunch on Sunday, April 28 at 11 a.m. at Table 40 at Fraser Café, 11 Springfield Rd. The event is a fundraiser for the Festival’s children’s literacy programs.

See the Festival website for ticket and other information. Bon appetit!

Nature Night and Nature Hike

Written by Denise Deby.

Mud Lake photo by D. Deby
Mud Lake photo by D. Deby

One of the wonderful things about living in Ottawa or Gatineau is that it’s not hard to reconnect with nature. There are hidden, and not-so-hidden, green spaces all around us.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-Ottawa Valley chapter (CPAWS-OV) is helping people get to know some of these areas better.

If you didn’t know (I didn’t!), Ottawa is home to the Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area. On Thursday, April 25, 2013, Alexander MacDonald of Nature Canada will speak about this area at CPAWS-OV’s Nature Night, 7 p.m. at the Mountain Equipment Co-op Community Room. Lac Deschênes is actually a lake within the Ottawa River right in the city, and it’s an important stop for migrating birds. (Here’s a link to the Lac Deschênes Important Bird Area website if you’d like to find out more.)

On Sunday, April 28, 2013, you can test your new knowledge or just enjoy a walk outdoors at CPAWS-OV’s monthly “Get Outside” Hike which will explore Mud Lake and the Lac Deschênes bird area. It starts at 10 a.m. (See website for details.)

Both events are free with donations appreciated ($5 suggested for the hike).

CPAWS-OV runs regular Nature Nights and Nature Hikes, usually every month. Groups can also contact them to arrange guided hikes.

I also see that CPAWS-OV is having its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 7:00 p.m. at Ottawa City Hall. At 7:45 p.m., special guest Clive Doucet will talk about the Capital to Capitol voyageur canoe trip that travelled 1800 km from Ottawa to Washington, D.C. last year to raise awareness about the need to protect waterways. Should be inspiring.

Earth Day 2013 and Inter Pares Speaker Series 2013

Written by Denise Deby.

NASA Blue Marble 2007 West by Nasa Goddard Photo and Video, Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/4426654941/
NASA Blue Marble 2007 West photo, by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Centre/Reto Stöckli, illuminates lands, water and life on earth. Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsfc/4426654941/

There are many ways to celebrate Earth Day, April 22 this year: by making a small but significant lifestyle change, for example, or by attending one of the associated events, including the “Earth Day Every Day” ceremony at Victoria Island at 1 p.m. or a tree donation event hosted by Capital Junk outside Ottawa City Hall at noon.

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Also on April 22, Inter Pares is inviting everyone to hear from two people who’ve been working in other communities around the world on social and environmental challenges. Ahnan, from northern Burma, has been actively involved with with community groups there to protect rivers, lands and livelihoods from the adverse effects of mining, monocropping and dam projects. Jennifer Moore, a journalist and program coordinator at Mining Watch Canada, works with organizations in Latin America on mining issues. They’ll speak about “Developing justice: natural resources and fair economies” as part of Inter Pares’ Annual Speaker Series, on Monday, April 22, 6-9 p.m. at the Best Western Victoria Park Suites (377 O’Connor St.).

If you can’t attend in person, you can still follow online at http://www.interpares.ca/en/events/speakerseries2013.php. There’ll be English, French and ASL similtaneous translation.

I’m a big fan of Inter Pares, an organization that works with partners in Canada and internationally to support social justice and equality. “Inter Pares” means “among equals.”


Living Green Expo in Ottawa April 27-28, 2013

Guest post written by Jill Sturdy, Coordinator, Living Green Expo.

Banner courtesy Living Green Expo
Image courtesy Living Green Expo

Join us for an exciting new event coming to Ottawa!

Discover Sustainable Healthy Living

Living Green Expo
April 27 & 28, 2013, 10am – 4pm
Ottawa Convention Centre
Downtown at 55 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa

Living Green Expo will provide an exciting opportunity for residents of the National Capital Region to discover sustainable healthy living through local companies offering products and services offering environmental stewardship and health and wellness.

Features over 125 exhibitors, thought-provoking presentations, an eco-fashion show, a children’s fun zone, and the announcement of the winners of the Home Sweet Home Student Challenge, a competition to design Rick Mercer’s green “granny flat”.

It’s easy to get to Ottawa Convention Centre, located in the heart of downtown–take a bus, bicycle, walk or drive (or even canoe down the canal!).

Admission is by donation and proceeds collected will be donated to Ecology Ottawa and Canadian Organic Growers (Ottawa–   St.Lawrence – Outaouais Chapter).

For more information visit www.livinggreenexpo.ca.

Living Green Expo is presented by the Ottawa Convention Centre, and has a number of generous sponsors that helped make the event possible including terra20, the City of Ottawa, Mediaplus, St. Joseph Communications, Ottawa Business Journal, Metro News and AVW-Telav. The event will also be Bullfrog powered, using 100% green electricity.

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Green Living Ottawa also received a guest post on the Living Green Expo from Barbara Moore, a local green activist, a small sustainable business owner (EcoOttawa.com will be an exhibitor at the show) and a member of Ottawa Local Motives, which contributes to several sustainable events in Ottawa, including The Living Green Expo. Thanks, Barbara.