Payback Film at the Ottawa Public Library

Written by Denise Deby.

Payback poster

Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary Payback explores the notion of debt—debt of all kinds, including financial, social and environmental—and how ideas about what we “owe” influence our lives. The film, described as “riveting and poetic,” is based on Margaret Atwood’s book Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. The film includes perspectives from Raj Patel (author of The Value of Nothing and Stuffed and Starved) and Louise Arbour (former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights).

The Ottawa Public Library is screening Payback at several branches in January and February 2013:

Tuesday, January 15, 7-8:30 p.m., Carlingwood Branch

Thursday, January 24, 6-7:30 p.m., Main Library

Thursday February 28 7-8:30 p.m., Greely Branch

You can check out the film trailer here:

Science, Trees and People: September 2012 Events in Ottawa

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

Here are some cool things happening in Ottawa this week:

In Defence of Science: Alternatives Journal panel discussion, September 25, 2012

One of my favourite environment magazines, Alternatives Journal, is hosting a panel discussion on the role of science in protecting Canada’s environment and Canadians’ health on Tues., Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. Panelists include Dr. Robert Paehlke, Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Alternatives Journal founder; Dr. Adam Brown, Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa; Dr. Scott Findlay from the Institute of the Environment and Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa; and Professor Kathryn O’Hara, CTV Chair in Science Broadcast Journalism at Carleton University. It’s at the University of Ottawa, Demarais Building Rm. 12110.

Presentation September 25 and photo exhibit September 1-30, 2012 on the life of Algonquin Elder William Commanda

There’s a presentation on the legacy of Algonquin Elder William Commanda on Tues., Sept. 25, 7-8:30 p.m., at the Ottawa Public Library’s main branch. A photo exhibit on his life runs at the library until Sept. 30. Both are part of the sixth annual Ottawa Peace Festival.

Champlain Oaks planting on National Tree Day, September 26, 2012

As part of National Tree Day—a celebration of urban trees—the Champlain Oaks Project along with students from St. George’s Elementary School will plant two bur oak saplings on Northwestern Ave in the Champlain Park neighbourhood, 10 a.m.-12 noon. The saplings were grown from mature bur oaks, which community members are trying to protect. (See Tree Canada website for additional National Tree Day events in Ottawa.)

Sept. 22-29 is also Organic Week in Canada, so why not celebrate with some local organic produce?

Celebrate Aboriginal Day, the Solstice and Nature in Ottawa

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

Aboriginal Day

There’s much to be learned from aboriginal peoples’ relationship to the land and nature. Aboriginal Day was established to encourage people to find out more about aboriginal cultures, and several Ottawa events offer the opportunity to do just that. On Wednesday, June 20, 2012 from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Aboriginal Experiences and Dovercourt Recreation Centre are holding an Aboriginal Day celebration in the park at 411 Dovercourt Avenue, with food, face painting, games, live music, drumming and dancing, art and a likely visit from the Governor General of Canada. Then the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) and several other aboriginal organizations are holding the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival and International Competition Pow Wow from June 21-24, 2012 at Vincent Massey Park. There’ll be tons of activities for all ages, from a planetarium and a giant polar bear to historic displays, art exhibits and workshops, an extensive line-up of performers and more. The Asinabka Film and Media Arts Festival also takes place from June 18-24, 2012—it’s a brand new festival designed to showcase the work of local, national and international artists and promote understanding of indigenous cultures and issues.

Local Museum Events

It’s worth keeping an eye on events at Ottawa’s local museums and historic sites; many offer opportunities to explore nature. For example, you can join a Solstice Paddle on the Ottawa River at Pinhey’s Point on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 from 6:30-9 p.m. An interpreter will talk about the area’s history and geology. (You do have to provide your own canoe or kayak, paddles and life jackets.). Alternatively, you can find out about “Marvelous Mini-beasts”—i.e. beetles, June bugs and fireflies—at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum on Wednesday, June 20 or 27 from 7-9 p.m., or join them for Stars Alive! on Wednesday, June 20 at dusk for an evening of star gazing. Check the museums’ websites for details and costs (click on the museum’s name and then “Events and Programs”).


Bike to Work Month in Ottawa

by guest blogger Mike Buckthought

photo copyright the envirocentre

May is Bike to Work Month in Ottawa, and EnviroCentre is collaborating with workplaces across the region to encourage people to cycle to work. EnviroCentre is offering an updated information kit, four kinds of workshops, cycling safety videos, and a chance to win great prizes, simply by pledging to bike.

Last year, 861 people pledged to cycle to work, covering a total distance of 759,040 km. Participants reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 191 tonnes by biking instead of using motorized modes of transport, like cars and SUVs.  The 2012 edition of Bike to Work Month promises to encourage even more people.

Among many new website features, individuals and workplaces can now log daily trips and track new statistics like money saved.  A community events calendar available year round, welcomes itself as a social hub for postings from anyone in the cycling community.

EnviroCentre is also encouraging people to develop their confidence with cycling skills. The organization has teamed up with City Wide Sports to offer 60-minute workshops geared for a range of skill levels. Training will be offered at workplaces for a modest fee. Options include lunch time presentations on commuter cycling or bike maintenance, as well as hands-on cycling workshops with practice sessions in parking lots and on city roads.
EnviroCentre is actively collaborating with 65 workplaces representing over 50,000 employees. Posters, slideshows, videos and email campaigns will reach a broad audience — encouraging many people to try commuting by bicycle.  For a sample, visit which features several videos on cycling safety, produced by EnviroCentre.

The videos demonstrate essential habits and skills for navigating intersections, as well as how to interact with the City of Ottawa’s upcoming new road symbols, designed to help drivers and cyclists share the road.

Cycling to work provides many health and environmental benefits. It also increases the productivity of employees, and reduces rates of sickness-related absences. It is a key way to reduce our community’s emissions of global-warming greenhouse gases.
If you live in Kanata, Barrhaven, or Orleans, EnviroCentre brings an inclusive message by offering free presentations open to the public.  “Many Ottawa residents live and work outside the Greenbelt, so we’re trying to reach people in their neighbourhoods and help them become commuter cyclists”, says Jessica Wells, EnviroCentre’s Programs Coordinator for Sustainable Transportation. “Cycling is a convenient, fun, healthy, and cost-effective way to travel. Small steps can have a significant impact to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, road congestion, plus noise and air pollution. Our goal is to give people an incentive to give cycling a try, and to reward those who already do.”

To participate in Bike to Work Month, visit When you pledge to bike during May, you’ll be eligible to win great prizes.

EnviroCentre is a non-profit organization that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario by delivering energy-efficiency programs and services. Since 2010, Bike to Work Month has been coordinated by EnviroCentre, in collaboration with the City of Ottawa and sponsors.


3i Summit on Sustainability May 4 and 5 2012: Collaborating for Action in Ottawa

by guest blogger  Laura Leet, 3i Summit Project Coordinator

For the first time in Ottawa, leaders and change agents from many different sectors are coming together to collaborate and take action toward realizing Ottawa’s potential to be an environmentally sustainable city.
The “3i Summit on Sustainability: Collaborating for Action” will be held on May 4 & 5 at Dow’s Lake Pavilion. Local leaders and change agents who want to advance sustainability in Ottawa are encouraged to take part.
A goal of the Summit is to expand and tap into the pool of leaders and mentors from different sectors that can support new community greening projects and eco-business ventures. Catalyst leaders such as Moe Garahan, Executive Director of Ottawa’s Just Food, Stephen Guilbeault, Founder of Québec’s Equiterre and Tom Heintzman, Co-founder of  Bullfrog Power will provide inspiration. A cultural celebration of the community’s accomplishments will take place during the Friday evening Sustainability Soirée.
Register on-line now at  Two-day registration is only $75 and includes two lunches and the Sustainability Soirée.   Passes for the Soirée only may be purchased for $25. For more information visit or contact Laura Leet, 613-656-7800.