Tuesday, 26 May 2015

EcoSask News, May 26, 2015

busy bee
Green Drinks Saskatoon, May 29
Green Drinks Saskatoon is meeting at 5:30 pm, May 29, at The Woods Alehouse as part of NatureCity Festival.

Green Drinks Regina, June 4
Green Drinks Regina, at 6 pm, June 4, will offer a preview of the upcoming Saskatchewan Solar Tour and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s Climate Friendly Zone campaign.

Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area Clean-up, June 6
Montgomery Place Community Association is holding a clean-up of the Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area from 9 am - 3 pm, June 6. Additional information is available on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar or by contacting Trish Schmidt.

Saskatchewan Solar Tour, June 20
This year’s Saskatchewan Solar Tour of working examples of solar technology will be held on June 20. The morning tour will visit sites in Regina. The afternoon tour will visit sites in Lumsden, Aylesbury, and Craik.

Leave No Trace Master Educator Course, July 30-Aug 3
SaskOutdoors is offering a Leave No Trace Master Educator course from July 30 to August 3 in Meadow Lake Provincial Park.

Advanced Wilderness First Aid, Aug. 21-24
SaskOutdoors is offering an Advanced Wilderness and Remote First Aid course from Aug. 21-24.

Field Trips
Golden Eagles
June 4, 7:30 am – Kernen Prairie
June 11, 7:30 am – MacDowall and Nesbit Forest Area

Other Nature Society Field Trips
May 31, 1:30-4:30 pm – Butterflies I
June 6, 2-10 pm – Sparrow and Marsh Birds Field Trip
June 13, 8 am – 5 pm – Tiger Hills Upland Field Trip
June 14, 1:30-4:30 pm – Butterflies II

Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

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

Garden Patch Goes Solar
The Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre’s Garden Patch now has a solar-powered office thanks to City of Saskatoon and Brent Veitch, Rock Paper Sun.

Did you know?
Climate Friendly Zone Saskatchewan is on Facebook and Twitter

Stay in touch with Wascana Marsh’s turtles on the Royal Saskatchewan Museum’s blog

The Canadian Council on Renewable Electricity has been formed to promote increased development of Canada’s renewable energy resources

The Prince Albert chapter of the Council of Canadians is calling for a ban on bottled water sales at the city’s arenas and other public facilities

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, 19 May 2015

EcoSask News, May 19, 2015

White pelicans

NatureCity Festival
The third annual NatureCity Festival kicks off on Saturday, May 23, at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market. There are over 40 different events from May 23-29 as well as a school program and specialist workshops. Check the NatureCity Festival Calendar for full details.

Lend a Hand for Nature – NCC Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer at a National Conservancy of Canada volunteer event or take the pledge to complete activities of your choice on your own schedule. The first Saskatchewan volunteer event is in Edenwold on May 29.

Wascana Turtle Project, May 30 (Regina)
Join Kelsey Marchand, University of Regina, at the Wings Over Wascana Nature Festival on May 30, for a discussion on how she’ll be tracking the Western Painted Turtles in Wascana Marsh (PCAP-SK speaker series).

Regional Plan Open House, June 2 & 3
Partnership For Growth is hosting two open house events from 4-8 pm, June 2 and 3, to introduce the Regional Plan, which is designed to provide a more coordinated approach to regional planning and servicing.

The plan will cover the physical, social, and economic circumstances for the Saskatoon region and will have a significant impact on the natural environment.

Chaplin Lake Shorebird Festival, June 5 & 6
Take a tour or attend a fundraising dinner for the Chaplin Lake Nature Centre on June 5 and 6.

Check out the great photographs of birds at Chaplin Lake on Robin and Arlene Karpan's photo blog.

Taste the Rewards: Permaculture Workshop Series, June 13 & 17
Mark McLaughlin from Timber Timber is offering a permaculture workshop series designed to build the capacity of Saskatoon’s permaculture community. The workshops will be held at The Hollows from 11 am to 1:30 pm on June 13 and 27 and include lunch. Early bird deadline is May 31.

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

Climate Friendly Zone
Make a personal commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by signing up for the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s Climate Friendly Zone campaign.

Saskatoon Seed Library
The Saskatoon Seed Library is starting up this year at the Saskatoon Food Bank’s Garden Patch.

The SaskHiker website lists hikes and outdoor adventures in all corners of the province. There are directions, background information, and tips.

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, 14 May 2015

City Children: Outdoors and Active

Royal Kids Day Care, Winnipeg (credit: Wendy Simonson)

I spent so many hours outdoors when I was a kid. There were long summer evenings playing hide and seek with all the other kids on my block, running from one garden to the next and only reluctantly going indoors when our parents’ calls became more and more insistent. There were hours sprawled on the grass, daydreaming. I walked to and from school with my friends and have fond memories of talking to a neighbour who was an avid gardener but was always willing to take a break and chat with us as we walked past.

Times have changed. We’ve moved indoors and are seduced by screens. The outside world has become a threatening place. Parents are reluctant to let their children play outside or walk to school or talk to strangers. And peer pressure makes it very difficult for parents to break with this model. 

Cam Collyer is the Director of Children’s Programs at Evergreen and has two boys ages 8 and 11. “My boys take the subway and roam the streets on their own,” he says, “but I’m questioned by my friends. Parents are accused of neglecting their children if the kids are independent.”

“We want our children to be independent, creative, curious, socially skilled problem-solvers,” Cam says. “But we aren’t giving them the tools. We need to put a stake in the ground and say that one of the signs of a healthy society is independent children.”

Many of us have precious childhood memories of independent outdoor adventures and momentum is building to design a future that captures the values that are important to us. “The support is there,” Cam says. “We just need to find a way to embrace it in a modern context.”

Lord Selkirk School, Winnipeg (credit: Wendy Simonson)

Outdoor Play & Learning
Outdoor play isn’t just for fun. It’s also an important tool for learning, socialization, emotional wellbeing, and physical fitness. When the body is active, there’s increased blood flow to the brain, which helps with memory and learning. Being outdoors engages the senses, providing a multi-sensory experience that improves retention by creating more pathways into the brain.

Historically, outdoor learning was the realm of field trips, but field trips are becoming less frequent. However, Cam Collyer believes that there’s an incredible wealth of outdoor play and learning opportunities in our school grounds. “Our urban outdoor areas can be so much more than playing fields and open expanses where children can blow off steam,” he says. “By looking at these outdoor areas through a design lens, we can meet a range of children’s developmental needs, create spaces that parents are proud of and feel secure about, and create new learning settings for teachers and students.”

“We haven’t recognized the beauty of what they can be,” he says. “The stimulus to learning can be very powerful with a flow of learning both inside and outside the routines of the classroom. Observation of daily changes, collections of natural materials, and active interaction with the natural and built environment can enhance or introduce any topic.”

But learning and physical activity aren’t inspired by flat expanses – you don’t play hide and seek in an empty field and you’re far more likely to have a picnic with friends on a shady park bench than in a mall parking lot.

Add a hill to your playground and you have a powerful magnet for young children to climb up and roll down. Add in a grove of trees, and you have a magic kingdom with mountains and forests.

A small English school ground provided an asphalt surface where the children played soccer. It was difficult to use the space for anything else for fear of being hit by a ball. A playground redesign transformed the schoolground. They caged the soccer area, which the kids loved because they didn’t have to chase the ball, and a pond and benches were placed beside it, creating an invitation for all sorts of different activities.

Community Spaces
School grounds aren’t the only under-utilized outdoor spaces in our cities. Our city parks have the potential to be social gathering places and wildlife habitats. A Toronto park has a tandoori bake oven, sharing culture through food. Other parks have open sand and water areas where children can play. Parks with community gardens are used more frequently, becoming social gathering places. Parks with barbecue pits host family celebrations as well as teenagers on a Friday night.

Different parks can play different roles, but they invariably create strong community bonds. “We have strong emotional attachments to our parks,” Cam says. “They provide communities with an identity and can lead to stewardship arrangements.”

Healthy by Nature 
The theme of this year’s NatureCity Festival is Healthy by Nature. Cam Collyer is one of two speakers at the festival’s keynote event at 7:30 pm, May 25, at the Broadway Theatre. Dr. Shimi Kang, author of The Dolphin Way, will explain why everyday contact with nature is critical to health and wellbeing, while Cam Collyer will provide practical advice on how we can adapt our urban environment to meet our needs.

Tickets for the keynote event can be purchased at McNally Robinson Booksellers, Wild Birds Unlimited, the Broadway Theatre box office and website, the Native Plant Society website, and at Wild About Saskatoon under the Keynote tab.

Cam will also be facilitating a workshop for school, parks and recreation officials. The workshop will provide professionals with an opportunity to dig into examples, ask detailed questions, and share ideas. Cam hopes that the workshop will inspire some Saskatoon projects and assist in developing Evergreen’s country-wide network of professionals, a valuable tool for community development: “Our professional network can share expertise and transmit ideas quickly without it being cookie cutter. Ideas can be adapted to local culture and conditions.”

Resources from Evergreen 
The Evergreen website provides a wealth of downloadable resource material. These include:
All Hands in the Dirt: A Guide to Designing and Creating Natural School Grounds
Experiential learning lesson guides available in the Teachers' Corner (e.g. Patterns Through the Seasons: A Year of School Garden Activities)
Keeping it Green: A Citizen’s Guide to Urban Land Protection
Native Plant Database
Outdoor Classroom newsletter

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

EcoSask News, May 12, 2015

three-flowered aven
Three-Flowered Aven
Learn How to Compost (Saskatoon & Regina)
Lots of opportunities to find out how to become a composting pro:
May 13, 7-8:30 pm, Alice Turner Library, Saskatoon
May 23, 2-3:30 pm, Mayfair Library, Saskatoon
May 23, 10 am, Rosemont School Gym, Regina
May 28, 9 am – 3 pmCompost Field Day with the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council, Regina
June 6 - Master Composter training course, Regina

Home Green Home, May 19
Braden and Ali Turnquist will discuss their experience building an energy-efficient passive house, including the products and appliances at 7 pm, May 19, at the Frances Morrison Library. (SES/Saskatoon Public Library Sustainable Speaker Series)

PermaSask Gathering, May 21
PermaSask invites you to take a break from gardening and join a casual gathering at the Congress Beer House (reservations please) on May 21.

Science Outreach Day, May 23
The Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution is meeting in Saskatoon and hosting a variety of free public outreach events for children on May 23.

Beginner Bee Course, May/June (Saskatoon & Regina)
The Saskatchewan Beekeepers Association is offering a two-day course on May 23 and 24 in Saskatoon for those who are interested in starting beekeeping. A similar course is being offered in Regina on June 6 and 7.

mountain shooting star
Mountain Shooting Star
Field Trips
Golden Eagles
May 14, 7:30 am – Northeast Swale and Area
May 21, 7:30 am – Pike Lake Area & Private Feeders
May 28, 7:30 am – Gabriel Dumont Park and Area

Other Nature Society Field Trips
May 21, 5-7 pm – Spring Picnic: Chappell Marsh Conservation Area
May 23 – Spring Bird Count
May 30, 9 am – 3 pm – Perdue Area Shorebirds

Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details (e.g. some trips require rubber boots, others will be cancelled if the weather is bad).

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

SaskPower sets new wind power targets, but couldn't they do it a bit faster?

New regulations will help prevent aquatic invasives from entering the province

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).