Latest posts in Notes from the Panther Lounge
The David Suzuki Foundation has a long history of working alongside First Nations and indigenous communities, from our early collaborations with the Ainu of Japan, indigenous peoples of Colombia, Kayapo of Brazil, and the Hesquiat of Vancouver Island to our present working relationships with Treaty 8 First Nations in Northern B.C. and Alberta, and other work. First Nations are crucial leaders and partners in the important movement to create a just and sustainable Canada.Continue reading »
A diverse coalition of health agencies, universities, environmental groups and members of the business community sent a letter to Ontario politicians this morning, urging them to support grand plans for improving transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
The timing couldn't be more critical. This past year, Toronto and its suburbs slipped past Chicago as the 4th largest city in North America. Despite explosive population growth in recent years — adding about 100,000 newcomers per year — decades of underinvestment in transit has left the region with an inadequate transportation network.
This failure to address transit infrastructure is literally strangling the region.Continue reading »
Homegrown National Park Project is an ambitious plan to bring nature to the heart of Canada's largest city.
Something extraordinary is growing in Toronto's West End. Front yards are turning into veggie gardens. Flowers are blooming in alleyways and potholes. Unloved patches of dirt around schoolyards and parking lots are transforming into butterfly-friendly gardens.
These green interventions are a result of the first month of the David Suzuki Foundation's Homegrown National Park Project, an ambitious plan to bring nature to the heart of Canada's largest city. While Toronto's downtown neighbourhoods are vibrant, dynamic places, they're mostly asphalt and concrete. Inspired by the ideas of authors Richard Louv and Douglas Tallamy, the project aims to connect residents to nature in their neighbourhoods and inject some much-needed colour into the city's grey palette along the Garrison Creek corridor, where a lost river has flowed through a Victorian sewer beneath the city since the 1880s.
This spring the foundation recruited 21 Neighbourhood Park Rangers who live, work and play in the corridor. This enthusiastic team of volunteers will lead by example, spending the next several months hatching projects and spreading the word about the many benefits of adding nature to our neighbourhoods. These projects will bring residents, businesses and institutions together to plant native trees, shrubs and flowers and grow gardens in yards, balconies, roofs, streets and alleyways.
A month into the Homegrown project, momentum is growing.
Rangers Anjum Chagpar and Georgia Ydreos live in downtown Toronto. Both have young children and backgrounds in design and architecture. They're now converting their front yards into gardens. Along with several neighbours who responded to their call to action, they'll build planters and public benches for their street and have turned a long-neglected hole in the asphalt into a colourful pothole-planter.
Ranger Aidan Dahlin Nolan was born and raised in Toronto's West End and will begin studies for a PhD in theatre in the fall. He has connected with parks groups in his neighbourhood and has gathered busted-up canoes so he can install a series of canoe-planters full of butterfly-friendly flowers this summer.
Rangers Lori and Rodney Hoinkes, a real estate agent and digital media entrepreneur, have been pitching the benefits of native species to local condo boards. They also organized a Yoga in the Park event to raise funds for a long-term project to transform a dreary public parking lot in the burgeoning Liberty Village neighbourhood into a vibrant green hub.
The rangers aren't alone in their quest to green the neighbourhood. More than a dozen amazing local organizations are partners in the Homegrown National Park Project, including groups that plant trees in backyards, green schoolyards, provide free gardening advice, keep bees and help homeowners harvest fruit from their backyard trees.
Events are quickly filling the summer calendar, including a neighbourhood gardening contest, Homegrown Park Crawl where local restaurants will serve their wares in parks throughout the corridor, tree tours and pizza nights in a park. There will even be an outdoor screening of Lost Rivers, where moviegoers will be able to munch marshmallows roasted on a campfire with the city skyline and CN Tower as a backdrop.
While these fun interventions are adding green to the urban fabric, the project is about more than just beautifying the city, or even making space for the birds, bees and butterflies. It aims to change the way people connect with nature and the city. After a month of the project, it's inspiring to see rangers — and the hundreds of residents they've brought on board — engaging with their neighbourhoods, with each other, and even with the city's history, in ways they haven't before.
So, what happens after this summer's flurry of community-led greening, guerrilla gardening and flower bombing? As elegantly articulated in a quote sometimes attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Our simple hope is to create a bit of magic that can grow through the city, one yard at a time. Toronto's bold green beginning starts now.
Jode Roberts is leading the Homegrown National Park Project for the David Suzuki Foundation in Toronto.
Too few Canadians know about the boreal forest's rich wildlife and the threats posed by activities such as logging and mining. That's why 10 years ago, teams formed by environmentalists and celebrities canoed through Canada's most scenic rivers in the boreal to raise awareness about the forest's significance. The journey was part of the Boreal Rendezvous, a project created by the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) and Canadian Boreal Initiative (CBI).Continue reading »
Valery's story at the David Suzuki Foundation is already layered after only half a year. She started as a Donor Relations (Development Department) volunteer and is now coordinating our fundraising campaign for the 2013 Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon and 5k. Never one to shy away from a challenge or adventure, this leadership role at the David Suzuki Foundation is a great match.
Valery's adventurous, eco-conscious spirit lead her to travel around the world and across the country. She worked as a research assistant in plant physiology while in Germany. Then she took a field course in cetacean conservation in Taiwan and later backpacked across South America. More recently, she motorcycled across Canada. When she arrived in Vancouver she stayed—grounded by environmental activism opportunities and quality of life.
Though the world has become Valery's classroom of choice, she also completed a bachelor's degree in Biology with a minor in Mathematics at the University of Ottawa.