Sustainability Photo Contest

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Carol Burnup, EnviroCentre for the information.

Creative Commons CC0 Image on Pexels
Creative Commons CC0 Image on Pexels

EnviroCentre is holding its first photo contest on the Spirit of Sustainability in Ottawa.

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!

Entries are due May 15, 2016.

Find out more at


Peoples’ Social Forum

Written by Denise Deby.


Amazing, transformative, hopeful–these are some of the ways people are describing the Peoples’ Social Forum, taking place in Ottawa Thursday, August 21-Sunday, August 24, 2014.

The Peoples’ Social Forum is a gathering of individuals and organizations working towards social, environmental and political justice. It’s been described as the largest ever forum in Canada of social movements, with thousands of people and more than 200 groups attending. They’re coming together to work through issues, find common ground and propose changes to the unsustainable, unjust and inequitable way things are done now.

Participants can choose from hundreds of workshops on themes that include the earth, food, the economy, governance and more. Here’s just a tiny sample:

  • The Vision for the National Historic Site at the Sacred Chaudiere Falls, with architect Douglas Cardinal (Thurs., 9 a.m.)
  • Learning from Andean Indigenous Peoples on Living in Harmony with Mother Earth, with KAIROS (Fri., 9 a.m.)
  • Documentary Activism: Political Filmmaking, Screening and Social Movements, with Cinema Politica (Fri., 9 a.m.)
  • Extreme Heat Events: Working Together to Address Poverty and Climate Change, with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (Fri., 10:45 a.m.)
  • Food as a Catalyst for Change: Mapping Levers and Opportunities, with Food Secure Canada (Fri., 10:45 a.m.)
  • Resisting Water Privatization with CUPE, Polaris Institute and Municipal Services Project (Fri., 10:45 a.m.)
  • DIY Community Gardening with Brock DIG (a campus community garden) (Fri., 1 p.m.)
  • Sharing My Treaty at Niagara Wampum Bundle – A Traditional Teaching, with Dr. Lynn Gehl (Fri., 2:45 p.m.)
  • Beyond Extraction – How Will We Greet the Future? With MiningWatch Canada (Fri., 4:30 p.m.)

Also included is a “People’s University” with workshops on topics such as poverty, capitalism and pipelines; Assemblies on Indigenous solidarity, water, social economy, climate change, mining justice and more; a children’s forum; and a range of other events.

Following an Algonquin ceremony at sunrise on Thursday, Aug. 21, the Forum launches with a Unity March on Thursday, Aug. 21, starting at 2 p.m. at Jacques Cartier Park and the War Museum, arriving on Parliament Hill around 4 p.m. with speakers, music and cultural activities.

There are lots of associated activities that are open to anyone to attend. The Art Sparks Change Festival is happening along Sparks Street, with live music, art and performance (see the schedule here). Some highlights: The Winter We Danced concert, book launch and round-dancing on Thurs. at 7 p.m.; a “Breaking Good” break dancer jam on Fri. 12-2 p.m.; “Poetic Justice” spoken word, hip-hop and slam poetry on Fri. 6-10 p.m.; and a Traditional Pow-Wow on Saturday from noon-6 p.m.

Events at other venues include (for example): “A celebration of activism and independent media” on Thurs., 5 p.m. at 25One Community; “Material Witness: Art, Activism & Fibre” on Fri., 7 p.m. at Gallery 101; Asinabka Best Of 2014 and “Upping The Anti” journal Launch Party on Sat., 7 p.m. at Club SAW; an open stage on Sun., 7 p.m. at Celtic Cross Pub; and tons of music, poetry, performance art, film and video, art exhibits and more. Many of the events are free or pay-what-you-can.

I also recommend checking out the themed walking tours of downtown Ottawa on topics such as money, labour and local food solutions, led by Ottawa (de)Tours and on Indigenous social, political, cultural and artistic spaces, led by Indigenous Walks.

Running such a huge, multifaceted and diverse gathering that aims to give everyone a voice while respecting differences will be challenging, but the Peoples’ Social Forum holds much potential. Sharing of good ideas, respect for Indigenous lands and rights, action towards positive social, political and environmental change and continued collaboration after the Forum are some of the possible positive outcomes. Above all, it’s a place to meet people, listen to perspectives that aren’t heard often enough and learn about and negotiate creative paths forward.

You can download the full program, find out more and get registration information at Follow on Twitter at #PSF2014 and @forumsocial2014. Some events will be livestreamed at


The War on Science, The Leap and The Geography of Hope: Chris Turner in Ottawa

Written by Denise Deby.

Author and speaker Chris Turner is in Ottawa this week. His new book, The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper’s Canada, is a must-read on how far Canada has fallen on environmental science, legislation and policy.

Turner has also looked at what it would take for societies and economies to move towards sustainability. His The Leap: How to Survive and Thrive In the Sustainable Economy (2011) and The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need (2008) are positive about humanity’s prospects for living more sustainably, despite the environmental and political challenges we face and have created.

Turner is also a prolific magazine writer, a consultant, a former Calgary Centre Green Party candidate and the author of Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation, so definitely brings a multi-faceted perspective.

He’ll be at Perfect Books on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013 from 1-3 p.m, so check it out if you’d like to meet him or learn more about his books.

Later on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, Turner will be speaking at Carleton University about Germany’s Energiewende, or transition to renewable energy, and the implications of that shift for Ontario’s energy options. The session, “Tracking the German Leap,” is presented by the Embassy and Consulates General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Canada, Turner’s Leapworks and BMW. It’s 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Room 720A, Loeb Building at Carleton University; register at

Bidder 70 Film

Written by Denise Deby.

Bidder 70 poster (official site)

Behind the film’s unassuming title is a powerful documentary that tells of one person’s decision to step forward and do something about the environment.

Bidder 70 tells the story of Tim DeChristopher, an economics student in Utah who entered an oil and gas lease auction and as “bidder 70” outbid others to acquire lease rights on thousands of acres of land before the auction was stopped. Charged with federal felonies, DeChristopher co-founded Peaceful Uprising, a non-profit group dedicated to addressing the environment and climate change by supporting non-violent action. DeChristopher served a two-year sentence and was released earlier this year.

Bidder 70, which has won 20 film festival awards, is showing at the Mayfair Theatre on Thursday May 30, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. It’s a fundraiser for the Sierra Club and Peaceful Uprising.

From the Director’s Statement:

​…As bidder #70, DeChristopher bid 1.8 million dollars and saved 22,000 acres of pristine wilderness. No property was destroyed, no one was hurt, and valid concerns were raised over the entire BLM oil and gas leasing process. Bidder 70 was a story we wanted to tell….” – ​Beth & George Gage, Gage & Gage Productions

Skeena River Swim and Film with Ali Howard in Ottawa

Sent to Green Living Ottawa by Frances Ann Smeaton.

Poster courtesy Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition
Poster courtesy Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

Ali Howard, originally from Ottawa, swam the Skeena river from the Sacred Headwaters all the way to the Pacific Ocean (610 km) to raise awareness about the potential impacts to this special area by Shell.

A film of her journey will be shown at St. Paul’s University Amphitheatre on Main Street in Ottawa at 7:00pm on Saturday, March 2nd. Ali will be present to talk about her experience and answer questions. Ali is a passionate, energetic person cares deeply about our planet and our country.

The Sacred Headwaters is the birthplace of the Skeena, Nass and Stikine Rivers. These three rivers are among British Columbia’s greatest salmon rivers. The Skeena is the second longest river in British Columbia. In 2004, Shell Canada (now Royal Dutch Shell) was awarded a 400,000 hectare tenure to develop coalbed methane (CBM) in the Sacred Headwaters in northwest British Columbia. This movie documents Ali’s swim raise awareness and help protecting this pristine region.

Please visit the websites below for more information about this event, Ali’s swim and the Skeena Watershed Coalition:

Film Preview: