Guest post written by Katherine Forster at the Ottawa Chapter of Faith & The Common Good. Part of a series contributed by Kathryn Norman at Sustainable Eastern Ontario.
Climate change has been an important topic in the first year of the Liberal’s government. New programs and subsidies are being rolled out that will help support Canadians to lower greenhouse gas emissions but are they enough? Many faith communities have shared their concerns with the government and were also present at the COP 21 talks in Paris, France. Is there more that can be done, beyond lobbying the government and trying to encourage change at the federal level? If faith communities want to do more, what can they do?
Faith & The Common Good has been trying to help with those questions over the past ten years by offering programs to aid faith communities in looking at their own buildings and practices to be able to make changes to offset carbon themselves and lead by example. Faith & The Common Good has tools and resources to help interested parties to start making a difference in terms of environmental efficiencies and sustainability.
A new program that has come to the Ottawa Chapter of Faith and the Common Good is the Greening Sacred Spaces Certification program. The Greening Sacred Spaces Certification program recognizes, celebrates and motivates faith communities who demonstrate commitment in the care of the environment through action. This program helps you celebrate when you’ve accomplished a certain number of tasks and it provides ideas of how to keep moving forward in your greening efforts. It is a series of checklists that help identify specific tasks that can be taken on and once 10 or more tasks have been completed, a certificate is issued to celebrate the faith community’s success! It’s a tool that can help give those who are working to improve their building and property that extra boost!
The congregation starts at the Light Green status and then moves on to Medium Green and then Deep Green. Light Green Certification costs $25 (which includes a mailed certificate). Each certification level has a corresponding list of possible actions in various categories (i.e. Community, Energy, and Water). The faith community is eligible to apply for Certification once they have completed a minimum of 10 greening actions in Light Green, Medium Green or Deep Green.
What’s great about the program is that it offers simple ideas that can make a difference in the energy use and sustainability of a faith community. And it shows how to add increasingly more intensive activities as the community gets more well-versed in their environmental options. It’s a great list to review once a year to help indicate what further actions can be done. And there’s no time table so communities can work at the list at their own pace.
Some faith community may have already taken the first 10 steps to be more sustainable and energy-efficient and not even realize that they qualify for a “Light Green” Certification! Some of these actions include:
regular use of environmental focused prayers, liturgies, hymns and/or songs in worship
placing symbols of nature in the sacred space and/or in the garden
exploring nature-care issues in children’s activities within the faith community
resources with a nature and environmental stewardship focus are in available in the community’s library
a ‘think twice before printing’ policy and an active paper reduction and recycling policy
signage at all light switches reminding people to turn off lights when not in use
A total of 28 possible actions for the Light Green Certification can be found here.
Faith communities can help lead the way and be great allies for those in the environmental movement. They represent a variety of people and cultures and many are interested in helping move forward the efforts of both their communities and the country.
Please contact Katherine Forster (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Ottawa Chapter of Faith & The Common Good if you have any questions or want more information.
For a look inside some of the city’s interesting places, including some not normally not open to the public, check out Doors Open Ottawa on Saturday, Jun. 4-Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016.
You’ll get to see buildings of architectural, historical, scientific and other significance—and those that are just plain intriguing: the Central Experimental Farm (including the Saunders building with “a complete collection of all plants found in Canada”), Maplelawn Historical Garden, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind National Training Centre, Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre, Parkdale Food Centre, the Hydro Ottawa generating station on Amelia Island (“believed to be the oldest operating hydroelectric generator in Canada”), Suntech Greenhouses, Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health (with “awe-inspiring architecture by Douglas Cardinal”), numerous embassies and more.
There’s a free shuttle bus that goes to 50 of the 120 participating Doors Open sites; or you can see 5 sites on a bicycle tour with Escape Tours (it’s a fundraiser for Trips for Kids Ottawa).
Check the Doors Open Ottawa website and guide for opening hours of buildings, and other information.
Canada Dance Festival
See part of the Canada Dance Festival—outdoors. Kaeja d’Dance presents Porch View Dances in Westboro on Saturday, Jun. 4 and Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016 at 4 p.m. The audience moves through the neighbourhood to watch local families perform dances created by professional choreographers—extremely fun. (For more outdoor dance, check out Aeriosa’s aerial performances and La Grande Fente’s pop-up dances in the Byward Market on Thursday, Jun. 9, 2016.)
The wonderful Westfest happens Friday, Jun. 3-Sunday, Jun. 5, 2016 in its new location, Laroche Park (52 Bayview Rd.). The free festival includes live music, art programming, an Indigenous pavilion, an artisan area and local food trucks, performance artists, spoken word artists, kids’ activities and more. See the website for the full lineup.
Prose in the Park
Another fun (and free!) outdoor event is Prose in the Park, happening on Friday, Jun. 3 (at Origin Studio) and Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016 at Parkdale Park. There’s a great line-up of authors, so check it out.
Great Lemonade Standemonium
On Saturday, Jun. 4, 2016, look for the Great Lemonade Standemonium, where kids around town will be running lemonade stands in their neighbourhoods, to raise funds for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. There’s more information and a map on the website.
You’re invited to submit photos that celebrate how people in Ottawa are making the city more sustainable.
From EnviroCentre, here are the categories for entries:
Healthy, efficient homes
Show us how you improve everyday energy use in your home!
It can be something like changing to LED lighting, using Energy Star appliances, or making grand scale green renovations.
Connected, environmentally-aware businesses
Does your business have a green team? Are you turning computers off at night to save energy? Or providing incentives to staff to take transit or bike to work? Show us what you’ve done or are doing!
Engaged, sustainable communities
What are you, your family, friends or community members doing to make your neighbourhood a better place to live? Are you using your bike to get around or building a community garden? Show us your sustainable community or what you’re doing to create one!
There’s something not quite right with planning and development in Ottawa.
The process for rejuvenating LeBreton Flats has resulted in two proposals. Both have some positive features, but both are monumental in approach, rather than human in scale, with condo towers and concrete (not to mention automobile museums). What’s lacking is a vision of public space that is inclusive, accessible, people-oriented and in keeping with the area’s natural setting and heritage.
Over on the Ottawa River, development plans for parts of the area known as Asinabka—the three islands of Victoria, Albert, and Chaudière, along with Chaudière Falls—are contested, especially by Indigenous groups. Greenspace Alliance, CPAWS, Ottawa Field Naturalists and others have also called for a reconsideration of the development.
One of Ottawa’s most biodiverse areas, the South March Highlands, is facing continued destruction through development that our decision-makers can’t seem to stop, despite legislation that should protect the habitat and species at risk there.
In these and many other cases, citizens are presented with plans for development and invited to comment, or to choose between limited options, but without significant engagement in the discussion about what the sites should be in the first place. Instead, we’re left to support or oppose–or try to find out about–a plan that’s likely to go ahead.
In a letter at Unpublished Ottawa, Michelle Reimer refers to “the repeated cycle of D.A.D. (decide, announce, defend)” that is “exhausting for the average citizen but works favorably for developers and policy makers.”
There’s no shortage of things to do this weekend, June 6-7, 2015.
Doors Open Ottawa opens the doors to more than 120 Ottawa landmarks and interesting places. If you’ve ever wanted to see inside an embassy, an architecturally significant building, an artist’s studio, a greenhouse or a historic site, check the list (and schedule).
Giveaway Weekend happens June 6-7. You put household items you no longer want on your curb, mark them “free,” and people can take them away. (There are some restrictions—for example no cribs or car seats–so check the website for guidelines.) Lots of garage sales happen this weekend, too, so you might find something that you need (and keep it out of the landfill). Check OttawaStart or Used Ottawa for locations.
Saturday is also the Great Canadian Lemonade Standemonium, where people set up lemonade stands in neighbourhoods all over the city. The event supports the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
Ottawa Veg Fest is a celebration of all things vegan and vegetarian. Organized by the National Capital Vegetarian Association, the event includes talks on health and sustainability topics, exhibits, food samples and cooking demonstrations. Admission is by donation.
Velo Vogue’s Fashion Show is on Saturday, June 6. Get inspired to ride your bike, and check out local clothing and accessories, food and drinks. Proceeds support RightBike.
Random Hacks of Kindness might be your thing if you’re interested in brainstorming with others about environmental and social challenges. Participants will be designing apps for the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, Ottawa Riverkeeper, VoteSavvy and other organizations from Friday, June 5-Sunday, June 7.
Part of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival June 4-13, The Global Savages (June 8-13) is described as an 18,000 year old story that presents the world view of Indigenous people, told by the Debajehmujig Storytellers, in outdoor performances that evolve as the storytellers engage with people and places. The Global Savages are also inviting people to join them early on Saturday, June 6 from 4:45 a.m.-8:00 a.m. for a Sunrise Walk on the Sentier des Voyageurs Trail from Gatineau to Ottawa.
Ottawa-based non-profit Inter Pares is starting up a Film Nights series to celebrate their 40th anniversary.
Inter Pares (which means “among equals”) is an impressive organization that works with groups around the world, including in Canada, to advocate for and bring about food security, women’s equality, health, peace and justice.
The intention behind the film series is to “showcase thought-provoking documentaries for free to inspire, inform and galvanize action for more equal societies” (from Inter Pares February 2015 E-News).
The first in the series is Slums: Cities of Tomorrow. The film, by Quebec filmmaker Jean-Nicolas Orhon, takes us to several informal settlements around the world to meet people who’ve created housing and homes for themselves.
The film challenges stereotypes about “slums,” and shows residents’ creativity and resilience as well as the difficulties they face.
The screening takes place on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Inter Pares (221 Laurier Ave. East). (The film will be subtitled in English.) RSVP before Monday, Feb. 9.