Ecology Ottawa’s 10th Anniversary

Congratulations to Ecology Ottawa on your 10th anniversary!

Over the past decade, Ecology Ottawa has evolved from a small, volunteer-run effort to an organization and movement that has led significant progress on environmental awareness and action in Ottawa. They’ve brought sustained attention at a local level to climate change and clean energy, galvanized action against the Energy East pipeline through “Tar Free 613,” and promoted the health of rivers, trees and city streets.

Kudos to Graham Saul, who after five years as Executive Director is moving on, and to the rest of the Ecology Ottawa leadership.

Of course, volunteers are still the heart and soul of Ecology Ottawa, and much remains to be done. It’s a good place to get involved, if you have an inclination to contribute to or lead environmental change in Ottawa.

Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Ecology Ottawa and local environmental action.

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One World Film Festival 2017

I’m impressed by the effectiveness of film and the arts to foster understanding of environmental and social challenges and to inspire hope and action.

The One World Film Festival has been bringing such films to Ottawa for many years. The Festival is an annual series of documentary films from Canada and around the world that address social justice, human rights and environmental issues. This year it runs from Thursday, Sept. 28 to Sunday, Oct. 1 at the Saint Paul University Amphitheatre (223 Main St.).

The Festival includes:

  • The Three Sisters Community Garden, on the revival of an Mi’gmaq traditional garden;
  • Freedom Drum, about a 2006 drum circle and vigil on Victoria Island calling on Canada to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People;
  • Water Warriors, on efforts to protect water in New Brunswick from oil and gas exploration and fracking;
  • Fixed, about repair cafes;
  • Tomorrow, exploring alternative ways of approaching agriculture, energy, economics and education;
  • Documentaries on resistance and survival, migration and refugees, arts and culture, and more;
  • Panel discussions on issues addressed in the films.

See the schedule and other details at the One World Film Festival website.

More Ottawa Tree Events

Heritage Bur Oak photo via Champlain Oaks Project http://www.champlainoaks.com/2017/09/the-heritage-bur-oak-at-211-daniel-ave/

Celebration of the Champlain Bur Oaks

Several of Ottawa’s ancient Bur Oaks will be recognized as heritage trees on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, National Tree Day.

Forests Ontario is holding a ceremony to mark the significance of four trees, and the community of Bur Oaks, in the Champlain Park neighbourhood. The neighbourhood is home to at least 60 Bur Oaks that were once part of a forest along the Ottawa River.

An impressive number of the older trees have survived residential development, but the Bur Oaks of Champlain Park continue to face risks. Infill development has destroyed or damaged trees, even those that are supposed to be protected as “distinctive” trees under Ottawa bylaws.

Fortunately, the Champlain Oaks Project has been documenting, nurturing and advocating for the Bur Oaks of Champlain Park. They’ve been encouraging the City of Ottawa to recognize and protect heritage trees, an approach that is under consideration as part of the Urban Forest Management Plan recommendations.

The Heritage Tree Recognition event starts at 124 Cowley Ave. at 10:00 a.m. and will visit several other nearby trees. Bur Oak saplings, grown from heritage trees, will be for sale at the event, with proceeds going towards tree planting in the neighbourhood.

Find out more about the Bur Oaks and the Heritage Tree Recognition event at The Champlain Oaks Project website, which also has stories about each of the trees being recognized.

Tree Walks

Here’s another opportunity to see the Bur Oaks of Champlain Park and other magnificent urban trees. Community group Big Trees of Kitchissippi is organizing neighbourhood walks to learn about urban trees and their importance, and efforts to map and to protect them. There’s a Champlain Park Tree Walk on Sunday, Oct. 15, and a Hampton Park Tree Walk on Sunday, Oct. 22. Find details on their website.

National Tree Day Challenge

Tree Canada is hosting an online tree planting campaign to mark National Tree Day and their 25th anniversary. Until October 1, if you plant a virtual tree online, they’ll plant a real tree on your behalf.

Fall Rhapsody in Gatineau Park

Fall Rhapsody, from Sept. 30-Oct. 22, showcases the changing colours of Gatineau Park. New this year are shuttlebuses that run 1) between downtown Ottawa and several Park sites including Pink Lake, King Mountain and Champlain Lookout, or 2) between Champlain Lookout and Camp Fortune. Check the NCC website for details.

 

Tree Fest Ottawa 2017 Fall Tree Festival

Behind Tree Fest Ottawa is a talented and committed group of people who use photography, art and urban design to engage and inspire our community in understanding and appreciating trees and nature.

Tree Fest Ottawa is hosting the 2017 Fall Tree Festival on Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.

A highlight is PhotoSynthesis 2, a photo exhibit portraying the resilience, beauty and contributions of trees. Following the successful PhotoSynthesis exhibit in 2015, Photosynthesis 2 presents photos selected from submissions on the topic of celebrating trees.

The free festival includes an eclectic series of workshops, with topics ranging from forest therapy and foraging to the art of doodling and the ecology of Brewer Pond. An Indigenous Walk (Sat.), a guided tree walk (Sun.), morning yoga (Sun.) and tree planting (Sun.) are also planned. Check the website for the full schedule.

Throughout the weekend, there’ll be music and drumming, all-ages activities (including storytelling, a nature trivia contest, henna art, crafts and outdoor games), and local and tree-sourced foods.

The Fall Tree Festival happens at Brewer Park, by the pond, from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. both days. Hope to see you there!

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Christine Earnshaw, Tree Fest Ottawa for the information and poster image.

 

Extreme Weather, Climate Change and Envisioning a Bigger “Backyard”

Ottawa River at Parkdale: Image by Shanta Rohse on Flickr CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/shanta/2220012922/in/set-72157603793833860/

I was once part of a conversation in which someone insisted that a person could do anything they wanted in their own backyard—contaminate the soil, cut down the trees—because it was theirs.

Of course, the fact is that no “backyard” is separate from what’s around it, despite fences and concepts like private property. The soil, water, air, flora and fauna extend and connect beyond those physical and psychological barriers, integrating us ecologically and socially.

What’s happening in the world is not separate from us here in Ottawa. News about hurricanes, flooding and related catastrophes, drought and wildfires hits hard, whether or not we are directly connected with people and land affected. Climate change affects the intensity and severity of these events. Our response can’t be more of the same, old ways of thinking and (in)action.

George Monbiot writes that powerful narratives, rather than powerful politicians, shape the way we view the world and our understanding of the solutions needed. What we need now, he contends, is a more compelling, positive story—one based on our strengths of community, empathy and diversity.

With a different, positive story that acknowledges how we—humans, environment, climate, economy—are connected and interdependent, my local school might have focused on creating child-friendly, green, active spaces rather than paving much of the field for parking. The City of Ottawa might prioritize the development and resourcing of a clean energy strategy. The federal government might rethink its investments in unsustainable fossil fuel production and distribution. I might ride my bike even more often than I do, and grow more native wildflowers in my backyard—fully mindful of how my choices are affecting those around me.

Along with and as part of taking action at all levels to mitigate and adapt to climate change, let’s advance a new story.

Written by Denise Deby.

 

Asinabka Film and Media Arts Festival 2017

Asinabka 2017 Poster
Asinabka Festival 2017 poster logo by Anishinaabe Artist Nyle Johnston from Chippewas of Nawash First Nation via http://www.asinabkafestival.org/Schedule.html @AsinabkaFest

Wonderfully diverse and more important than ever: this year’s Asinabka Film and Media Arts Festival is happening August 9-13, 2017.

This annual celebration of Indigenous culture and issues brings the work of filmmakers and artists, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, from around the world to Ottawa.

This year’s festival includes film screenings, contemporary art exhibits, music, dance, seminars and workshops. Opening night on Wednesday, Aug. 9 includes an outdoor screening of films on Victoria Island, while a diverse selection of films from many cultures and nations runs Wednesday to Sunday at the Museum of Nature. Saturday’s schedule includes the Asin (Rock) Fest of live music.

See the website for full details and venues.

 

 

“Canada Day” in Ottawa 2017

This year, July 1 is important. Not because it’s Canada’s “150th anniversary,” though.

This year, important and compelling voices are drawing attention to Canada as a colonizing, settler nation. It’s a picture that isn’t as pretty as the stories we tell ourselves about our country. But it’s a more accurate one.

Indigenous peoples are reminding us that our country is founded on treaties that haven’t been upheld; on dispossession of land from the people living here; and on policies and strategies designed to eliminate them. The policies and strategies have changed over time, but they continue, as does the discrimination and racism that have become institutionalized.

Celebrating this history, and the society we’ve created—however respectful of rights, diversity and the environment we try to be—just doesn’t seem right.

So, here on this unceded Algonquin land we call Ottawa, here are some things I think we can do:

Listen. Learn about Unsettling 150, and why people have gathered on Parliament Hill and at the Human Rights monument this weekend. Listen, and resist the urge to reply with all the good things about Canada and Canadians—yes, there are many—but that’s not the point here. Follow people on social media who bring Indigenous perspectives.

If you’re not sure what Indigenous people are asking for, and what it means for you, start with Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s article on land and reconciliation.

Read. Read the Truth and Reconciliation Report. Read Christie Belcourt’s Canada, I can cite for you, 150. Read an Indigenous writer. (My June/July reading includes Katherena Vermette’s The Break, Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian, Richard Wagamese’s Medicine Walk, and Leanne Simpson’s Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back.)

Support groups calling for change. Help protect the places in our city that are sacred to Algonquin and other Indigenous peoples. Spread the word. Make July 1, 2017 a turning point.

Written by Denise Deby.