Tuesday, 21 November 2017

EcoSask News, November 21, 2017

foggy winter sunrise

Upcoming Events
Fall Food Fair, Nov. 22 (Prince Albert) 
The Prince Albert Food Coalition is holding a Fall Food Fair from 5:30-7:30 pm, Nov. 22.

Bird Habitat & Biodiversity at the NE Swale, Nov. 22 (Saskatoon) 
Renny Grilz, Meewasin Valley Authority, will discuss Enhancing Grassland Bird Habitat & Biodiversity at the Northeast Swale as part of the WildEcol seminar series at the University of Saskatchewan at 3:30 pm, Nov. 22.

Not Just Flat: SK Geological Sites, Nov. 23 (Regina) 
The University of Regina’s Science Pub series is offering a talk, Not Just Flat: Top Geological Sites of Saskatchewan, from 5-7 pm, Nov. 23.

Why Grasslands Matter, Nov. 23 (Regina) 
Nature Conservancy of Canada is presenting a panel discussion on Why Grasslands Matter at 7 pm, Nov. 23, in Regina.

Walking Saskatoon, Nov. 26 (Saskatoon) 
Everyone is welcome at the upcoming meeting of Walking Saskatoon from 1-3 pm, Nov. 26.

Moose Jaw Nature Society, Nov. 27 (Moose Jaw)
Moose Jaw Nature Society will be meeting on Nov. 27 at 6:30 pm to make ornaments and decorate a tree for wildlife. Check out the recipes and ideas on their Facebook page.

From Global to Local, Nov. 28 (webinar)
Nature Canada is hosting a webinar panel to discuss interdependencies and the need for global governance systems to protect critical habitats and migratory paths from 10-11:30 am PST, Nov. 28.

The Battle for Dark Skies in Saskatchewan, Nov. 28 (Saskatoon)
Rick Huziak will discuss what stands in the way of eliminating light pollution at the 7:30 pm, Nov. 28, meeting of Café Scientific.

Want Local Food?, Nov. 29 (Regina) 
Permaculture Regina is screening the documentary, Cultivating Calgary’s Local Food Resiliency followed by a discussion about local food production at 7 pm, Nov. 29.

Sagebrush Restoration for Greater Sage-Grouse, Nov. 29 (webinar) 
Autumn Watkinson will present a webinar on Sagebrush Grasslands Restoration for Greater Sage-Grouse Recovery at noon, Nov. 29. (EcoFriendly Sask is pleased to be a sponsor of the PCAP-SK Native Prairie Speaker series.)

Wymark Wind Project Open House, Nov. 29 (Swift Current) 
ENGIE Canada Inc. is holding an open house from 4-8 pm, Nov. 29, in the Chinook Golf Course restaurant to solicit feedback on their plans for the Wymark Wind Project, 25 km southeast of Swift Current.

Benchlands Wind Project Open House, Nov. 30 (Gull Lake)
ENGIE Canada Inc. is holding an open house from 4-8 pm, Nov. 30, in the Gull Lake Community Hall to solicit feedback on their plans for the Benchlands Wind Project, 80 km southwest of Swift Current.

Co-existing with Coyotes (webinar) 
Join Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada for a webinar on co-existence programs, community buy-in, and what can lead to success or failure for co-flourishing with coyotes.

foggy winter sunrise

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Saskatoon Young Naturalists 
Jan. 13, 1-3 pm – Snowshoeing
Jan. 20, 1-3 pm – Tracks and Scats
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.
Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips 
Nov. 26, 2-3 pm – Pre-Grey Cup Birding at President Murray Park
Dec. 2, 9 am-5 pm – Gardiner Dam Birding
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.

Looking Ahead 
Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan AGM & Conference, Jan. 27 & 28 (Regina)
The Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan will hold their annual general meeting and conference in Regina, Jan. 27 & 28. This year’s theme is A Prairie Patchwork: Selected Topics on Native Prairie and keynote speakers are Branimir Gjetvaj and Trevor Herriot.

The Prairie Ecosystems learning module of the Saskatchewan Master Naturalist program is scheduled for Jan. 28.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
Let’s give this road to the birds.

“A coal phase-out is not only attainable but an imperative for better health and climate change mitigation, and the longer the province puts off planning for this inevitable transition the more difficult it is going to be.” (Climate Justice Saskatoon)

“H. sapiens depends utterly on a rich diversity of life-forms to provide various life-support functions essential to the existence and continued survival of human civilization.” Accelerating biodiversity loss poses as big a threat as climate change.

Armchair ecotourism: “For no reason that I can describe, I have a deep yearning to visit the desert south of Arizona. However, this would involve an 11-hour flight each way – bypassing so many other places en route – and then lots of driving, and I'd be exerting ecological pressure on an ecosystem from which it would be unfair to expect support for large numbers of non-desert humans. So I've opted, instead, for an armchair surrogate in the form of second-hand copy of the Time-Life natural history book Cactus Country.”

Solar power is expanding - but so is oil use. “It is far too early to write the obituary of oil as growth for trucks, aviation, petrochemicals, shipping, and aviation keep pushing demand higher.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

EcoSask News, November 14, 2017


Upcoming Events
Islands of Grass (various)
Islands of Grass by Branimir Gjetvaj and Trevor Herriot will be launched Nov. 14 and 15 in Regina and Saskatoon respectively. Trevor Herriot will be speaking at a number of additional events on Nov. 16, Nov. 18, and Nov. 20. Both Branimir and Trevor will be presenting at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon on Nov. 21. Check the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar for full details.

Disruptive Innovation Festival, Nov. 6-24 (online)
The online Disruptive Innovation Festival, Nov. 6-24, asks what if we could re-design everything. Topics include the circular economy, regenerative agriculture, using fungus to destroy plastic waste, and much more.

Carbon Tax Debate, Nov. 17 (Regina)
A panel discussion, Should a Carbon Tax be Part of the Plan to Combat Global Warming, will be held from 2:30-4 pm, Nov. 17, at the University of Regina.

Talkin’ ‘bout Hidden Fossils, Nov. 20 (Regina)
Ryan McKellar will talk about his research on insects and other fossils trapped in amber at the Nov. 20 meeting of Nature Regina.

Royal Astronomical Society General Meeting, Nov. 20 (Saskatoon)
The Royal Astronomical Society, Saskatoon Centre, is holding a general meeting from 8-9:30 pm, Nov. 20.

Let’s Talk Climate Change, Nov. 21 (Saskatoon)
Hayley Carlson, and Rachel Malenachan will discuss Let’s Talk Climate Change: How to Build Bridges in Saskatoon at 7 pm, Nov. 21, as part of the SES/Public Library Sustainable Speaker Series.

Burrowing Owls: Conservation in Saskatchewan, Nov. 23 (Regina)
Join PCAP-SK for breakfast and a presentation on Burrowing Owls: A Symbol of Conservation in Saskatchewan from 8-9 am, Nov. 23, at Agribition.

Banding Hummingbirds, Nov. 25 (Fort Qu’Appelle)
Jared Clarke will discuss his summer of banding hummingbirds at the Fort Qu’Appelle Nature Society meeting at the train station from 7-9 pm, Nov. 25.


Looking Ahead
Conservation Awareness & Appreciation Supper, Nov. 29 (Glentworth)
Nature Saskatchewan is holding a free Conservation Awareness & Appreciation Supper in Glentworth on Nov. 29.

Building Operator Training, Dec. 1 (Prince Albert)
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society is offering a one-day workshop on Dec. 1 in Prince Albert for small businesses that would like to make their building more energy-efficient.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

In the News
Settle down for a good read with six environmentally-themed books

There is reason for hope: 7 megatrends that could beat global warming

The UK will back a total ban on neonicotinoids. If only Canada would do the same as neonics have been found to harm songbirds as well as bees.

Urban flower patches — in parks, residential properties, community vegetable plots, and vacant lots — support surprisingly healthy populations of bees

“If the First Nation gets its wish, a judge would force the Ministry of Environment to put the controversial project through a science-based review process to suss out whether redirecting seven million cubic metres of water from Kutawagan Lake and Pel Lake into Last Mountain Lake could produce some negative impacts.”

Rural Saskatchewan municipalities are concerned about a growing beaver population. Let’s hope they turn to The Fur Bearers for help in finding non-lethal solutions.

"Degrowth means embracing sufficiency for all, rather than excess for a few, and culturally, it means imagining a good life beyond consumerism." Art can help the degrowth movement in 3 ways: through story, myth, and narrative; engaging the heart as much as the head; and presenting information in an attractive, compelling way.

It ain’t natural: how we know humans are causing climate change

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

EcoSask Extra, November 8-12, 2017

Canada goose

It’s a challenge to stay on top of all the upcoming events across Saskatchewan. Here are a few that we missed yesterday - but don’t want you to miss this week!

Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail, Nov. 8 (Saltcoats)
Yellowhead Flyway Birding Trail is holding a general meeting tonight, Nov. 8, at 7 pm, in the Stirling Room, Saltcoats.

Environmental Planning in Human-Dominated Landscapes, Nov. 10 (Regina) 
Dr. Jeremy Pittman, University of Waterloo, will discuss Environmental Planning and Policy for Connectivity in Human-Dominated Landscapes from 2:30-3:30 pm, Nov. 10, at the University of Regina.

Green Drinks Saskatoon, Nov. 10 (Saskatoon) 
Green Drinks Saskatoon is meeting at 5:30 pm, Nov. 10, at Cathedral Social Hall.

Passive House Tours, Nov. 10-12 (Saskatoon) 
Join The Green Builder on a tour of 3 passive houses in Saskatoon and area:
Temperance Street Passive House 
1104 Temperance Street Saskatoon
Friday Nov 10 / 7 pm - 9 pm
Saturday Nov 11 / 10 am - 3 pm
Sunday Nov 12 / Noon - 4 pm
Grasswood Estates Passive House 
28 Grasswood Estates, Corman Park
Sunday Nov 12 / Noon - 3 pm
Lancaster Passive House
1107 Lancaster Blvd, Saskatoon
Saturday Nov 11 / 10 am - 3 pm
Sunday Nov 12 / Noon - 3 pm

Wildlife Rehab Orientation, Nov. 12 (Saskatoon) 
Find out more about volunteering with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan from 12-1:30 pm, Nov. 12, in Saskatoon.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar

In the News 
And, because there are always interesting news stories, here are a few that caught our attention in the last 24 hours.

"It’s easy to dismiss grasslands as unimportant when you only see them as wastelands of grass that stand between you and the mountains or forests you really want to see. It’s harder to dismiss them once you’ve gotten to know them a little better."

Toronto Council votes to make the Bloor Street bike lanes permanent.

How long do you expect/hope your washing machine or refrigerator will last? The United Nations reports on measures that could extend product lifetimes and reduce waste.

A European organization that advocates an end to planned obsolescence is running a campaign protesting the extremely short life of pantyhose.

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

EcoSask News, November 7, 2017

bare trees at sunset

Upcoming Events
Songwriting for Nature Wind-Up Show, Nov. 9 (Regina)
Enjoy songs inspired by Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area at 7 pm, Nov. 9, at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum.

Quartet for the End of Time, Nov. 12 (Saskatoon)
The Elixir Ensemble, with Margaret Wilson, clarinetist, will perform the Quartet for the End of Time at 2:30 pm, Nov. 12. This piece of music was the first attempt to compose music based on an analysis and adaptation of the structure and rhythms of birdsong.

Saskatoon Cycles AGM, Nov. 15 (Saskatoon)
Saskatoon Cycles is holding their annual general meeting from 7-9 pm, Nov. 15.

Water Management & Species at Risk, Nov. 16 (Saskatoon)
Michael Pollock, Saskatoon Water Security Agency, will discuss the responses of birds and other vertebrates to changing water levels and relate these to balancing the needs of wildlife, including endangered species, with the needs of farmers and municipalities at risk of flooding at the Nov. 16 meeting of the Saskatoon Nature Society.

Household Hazardous Waste Day, Nov. 18 (Saskatoon)
You can dispose of household hazardous waste in Saskatoon from 9 am–3:30 pm, Nov. 18.

Freeze Up Play Day, Nov. 19 (Great Blue Heron Provincial Park)
Join SaskOutdoors for an all-ages-friendly event exploring the boreal forest in the in-between season and meet a yard full of puppies at Sundog Excursions on Nov. 19.

Looking Ahead
Passive House Design & Construction, Nov. 23-26 (Saskatoon)
Passive House Design and Construction, a four-day course covering the technical, economic, and policy elements of Passive House buildings, is being offered in Saskatoon from Nov. 23-26.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

floating ice at sunset

Elizabeth May discusses successful political policies and actions for going green on Defender Radio.

Mountaineers discuss the impacts of climate change on mountain communities.

In the News
If you find a bat in your home or office, call the WRSOS hotline. Or, if you’re in Regina, the Saskatchewan Science Centre will give them a cozy home for the winter.

“The breadth and depth of the climate change issue is such that no one policy instrument is sufficient to meet Canada’s 2030 GHG reduction target. There is no magic bullet,” said Dale Eisler, co-author of a new report on climate change in Saskatchewan.

Urbanization is reshaping and creating new species of microbes, plants, and animals.

Rethinking agriculture: Is it possible to use crops with lower water needs without affecting the level of production?

Biofuels from agricultural waste instead of food crops are finally reaching the market.

Walking is a man’s best medicine, Hippocrates declared. The 2017 Walking Summit outlined problems for pedestrians but also highlighted communities that are getting it right.

Climate change lawsuits: Global warming is increasingly being fought in the courtroom.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Taking Steps to Reduce Waste in Saskatchewan

A school, a youth club, and a community are doing their best to reduce waste in Saskatchewan, with a little help from an EcoFriendly Action Grant.

Boys & Girls Club of Yorkton 
The staff at the Boys & Girls Club of Yorkton are passionate about making a difference and in fostering that passion in children and youth as they grow. With over 15,000 visits to the club each year, Program Manager Erin Roussin saw an opportunity to incorporate environmental education into their summer program, which includes week-long day camps for 5-12 year olds and drop-in evening programs for middle-years youth and teens.

The Club received a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant to educate the children and youth on reducing, re-using, and recycling and the difference this will make to the environment. In addition to immediate efforts at waste reduction, Erin believes the project will have a long-term impact: “Children and youth being educated on important topics will carry on with them through life as they will have the knowledge and tools needed to make a difference.”

The program ran for 9 weeks over the summer and included:
  • The purchase of 3 sets of stacking recycle bins to encourage recycling of a variety of materials; 
  • The purchase of recycle bags for bagging up items for pick-up; 
  • Entries into a draw for prizes every time a student brought a litterless lunch (no waste/Ziploc bags); 
  • Crafts using only recycled items; 
  • An outdoor garbage clean-up; and 
  • Talks about topics such as reducing water usage, recycling, and the impact we can all have on our environment. 

There's no waste in this lunch bag!

Blaine Lake Composite School 
Blaine Lake Composite School is initiating a daily full breakfast program. In order to reduce waste, they received a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant to purchase non-disposable cutlery and an environmentally friendly dishwasher.

They plan to minimize food waste and environmental impact through careful meal planning with the students in their Commercial Cooking classes, by sourcing local ingredients whenever possible, and by only using reusable dishes and utensils. They will recycle all applicable materials.

Odessa Recreation Association 
Odessa is a small community of 250 people southeast of Regina. They were already recycling paper, but their active volunteer base identified a need for additional recycling bins so that they could recycle cans and plastic as well.

The Odessa Recreation Association received a $500 EcoFriendly Action grant to purchase recycling bins. They’ll be located at the rink during the winter and will be moved to the community centre in the summer. They’ll also be made available at the annual truck and tractor pull, which is a community fundraiser.

Photos: Boys and Girls Club of Yorkton

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

EcoSask News, October 31, 2017

autumn leaves

Upcoming Events
Skills for Social Change, Nov. 1-30 (Saskatoon) 
Next Up Saskatchewan and community partners are presenting a series of free workshops on Skills for Social Change in November. These include Understanding Social Change (Nov. 1), Organizing Using Social Media (Nov. 8), and Your Message and the Media (Nov. 22).

URSU Sustainability Week, Nov. 6-8 (Regina) 
The University of Regina Students’ Union is hosting the following activities during its Sustainability Week:
Nov. 6, 7 pm – Screening of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Nov. 7, 6 pm – Composting Workshop
Nov. 8, 6 pm – Sustainability Seminar & Panel Discussion

Northeast Swale Watchers, Nov. 7 (Saskatoon) 
Renny Grilz will discuss some important wildlife sightings at the Northeast Swale at the Nov. 7 meeting (4-5:30 pm) of the Northeast Swale Watchers. RSVP by Nov. 5.

Stakeholder Engagement in Water Quality Decisions in Qu’Appelle Valley, Nov. 10 (Lumsden)
The Global Institute for Water Security is hosting a meeting with producers and people living along the Qu’Appelle River system to present the water quality model they developed and future plans from 10 am-2:30 pm, Nov. 10, in Lumsden.

Mendel Riverbank & Weir Bird Walk, Nov. 12 (Saskatoon) 
Join the Saskatoon Nature Society on a walk by the river from 9-10:30 am, Nov. 12.

Islands of Grass Book Launch, Nov. 14 & 15 (Regina & Saskatoon)
Trevor Herriot and Branimir Gjetvaj’s new book, Islands of Grass, will be launched in Regina at 7 pm, Nov. 14, at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, and in Saskatoon at 7 pm, Nov. 15, at the Alice Turner Branch Library. Both launches will include an introduction by classical guitarist Ed Rodger and a reading by author David Carpenter.

Renewable Energy Forum, Nov. 15 (Saskatoon)
First Nations Power Authority is hosting the Western Canadian Indigenous Renewable Energy Forum in Saskatoon on Nov. 15.

Household Hazardous Waste Survey, Dec. 15
The Government of Saskatchewan is requesting public feedback on a recycling program for household hazardous waste in Saskatchewan. The online survey is open until Dec. 15.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

floating autumn leaves

In the News
Nick Saunders' 2018 Saskatchewan Bird Calendar is ready for delivery.

Local residents are looking for more information about the plan to divert water from Quill Lakes into Last Mountain Lake.

A new fire hall near the U of S campus in Saskatoon will cost $8 million - just one of the hidden costs of suburban sprawl.

Bus rapid transit can improve travel times, modal share, and urban development at rates similar to those reported for light rail and metro.

We are breeding a world full of creatures that cannot survive: “Over the centuries, we’ve taken in various animal species as pets, domesticating them and teaching them to be docile — serving humans while establishing that we are the dominant species on Earth.”

Transport accounts for 18% of global emissions and is the single biggest energy user in 40% of countries, and the second biggest in the others (first Global Mobility Report).

Take pictures and notes, gather data, explore with the Science Journal app.

CO2 levels rose at record-breaking rates in 2016.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Friday, 27 October 2017

New Again: Rammed Earth Construction

Rammed earth is an ancient construction method that has recently come back into favour due to its environmentally friendly characteristics. Using sustainable materials and natural building methods, it is strong, cool in hot weather, well suited to passive solar heating, non-toxic, biodegradable, and fireproof.

Remnants of rammed-earth buildings can be found in Neolithic archaeological sites along the Yellow River in China dating back to 5000 BCE. The Great Wall of China was built using rammed-earth techniques as was the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Rammed-earth houses were first built in France in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. They weren’t just rural dwellings either. Some of the finest examples can be found around Lyon and Grenoble due to the region’s high-quality earth building material. Approximately 30% of the homes in Grenoble are of rammed-earth construction although they can be hard to spot due to their ornate plaster finishes.

An early example of rammed-earth construction in Canada is St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in Shanty Bay, Ontario. Built from 1838-42, it “utilized wet clay mixed with chopped straw, compacted into forms and covered, when dry, with plaster or siding for protection against weather.”

Rammed-earth walls are built in layers. The earth is poured into a mold, pressed down, and then another layer is added. Today’s rammed-earth buildings cover a wide range of styles and purposes:
  • A student-designed house in Ghana pairs rammed-earth walls with windows made from used water packaging, combining traditional construction with recycling. 
  • An award-winning rammed earth home in Spain halves normal CO2 emissions. All the building materials were sourced from within a 150-km radius. 
  • An observation tower built from locally sourced earth, clay, and gravel blends into its surroundings on a Belgian nature reserve. 
  • A 750-foot rammed-earth wall forms the zigzag façade of 12 homes in Western Australia, and a planted roof keeps the houses naturally cool even on the hottest days. 
You can find several rammed-earth houses in Saskatchewan:
See Also:

Photo credits
Alhambra, Granada, Spain - P. McKinlay
French Town Hall - Rammed Earth Consulting