Sunday 23 December 2012

Cold Beauty

Despite the winter weather, there's still beauty out there. We hope you enjoy this wallpaper, designed to give your computer screen a fresh new look - and to remind you to head outside and enjoy the beauty of the world around us.

Windows Instructions
  1. Click on one of the links below (NOT the small image above)
  2. Right click on the displayed image
  3. Choose "Set as Wallpaper" or "Set as Background"
Mac Instructions
  1. Right click on one of the links below ( NOT the small image above)
  2. Choose "Download Linked File" or "Save Link As"
  3. Right click on the download and choose "Show in Finder"
  4. Right click on the file in the Finder and choose "Set Desktop Picture"

Tuesday 18 December 2012

EcoSask News, December 18, 2012

To Make a Farm, Regina, Dec. 19
SOEEA is showing To Make a Farm at The Artful Dodger in Regina at 8 pm on December 19. Admission is free.

Bird Count for Kids, Dec. 26 
The Saskatoon Young Naturalists are organizing a Christmas Bird Count for Kids to coincide with the Saskatoon Christmas Bird Count on Wednesday, December 26. Join the group anytime between 12 and 4 pm at the Affinity Learning Centre in Saskatoon's Forestry Farm Park. Marika Olywynk from Bird Studies Canada will help identify the birds. Everyone is welcome. There is no fee, and cookies and hot chocolate are available in the Affinity Learning Centre.

Zoo Visits, Dec. 27 & 28
Wondering what to do during the Christmas holidays? Why not visit the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo?

The Saskatoon Zoo Society is running a drop-in program from 10-12 and 1-3 on December 27 and 28. Visit with the socialized animals, check out the animal displays, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies before or after you visit the zoo.

Access to the park and zoo is free in December.

Redberry Lake Watershed AEGP Winter Workshop, Jan. 15
The Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve’s Agri-Environmental Group will be holding a workshop on January 15. Topics will include operating systems, nutrition in winter feeds, and highlights from Beneficial Management Practices. Register with Rachel by January 8 (549-4060 or 715-7651 or

Smarter Science, Better Buildings, Jan. 29-Feb. 15 
Science teachers: the Saskatoon Western Development Museum is offering a two-hour, hands-on workshop that allows students to explore the concepts of heat and temperature by looking at ways to make our homes more energy efficient. Contact the Western Development Museum to book one of 24 available time slots between Jan. 29 and Feb. 15.

Holiday Reading 
Do environmentalists feed the fire of climate change denial? – the risks of overheated rhetoric and/or focusing on trivia
Parking downtown – The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District’s winter guide is subtitled “Your guide to parking, shopping and dining in Downtown Regina.” Regina Urban Ecology questions their priorities.
Perfect Solar Alignment in Saskatchewan – five reasons to install solar electric in 2013
This microalgae lamp absorbs 150 times more CO2 than a tree!
My beef with beef – Why aren’t environmental groups more vocal about asking their supporters to eat less beef? Are environmental groups afraid to tackle the issue of overconsumption – whether it’s big cars, big houses, or too much stuff?
A worthy goal for humanity? Beauty – What is our goal as a species? Is it perpetual population growth, technological progress, self-preservation – or something more?

Merry Christmas 
EcoFriendly Sask is taking a break over the holidays. The next issue of EcoSask News will be published on January 8, 2013.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Thursday 13 December 2012

Wild City: bringing the good life home

by Candace Savage

We think we’re awfully smart, with our i-Things and fancy new stuff, as if Wi-fi kept us connected to everything that matters to us.

So it’s a blow when somebody tells us that we’re actually out of touch, fatally disconnected from our own vital interests.

It’s even worse when that “somebody” is six hundred scientists who have spent years pouring over the stats on the health of the planet.

Their findings, as reported in the United Nations Global Environmental Outlook for 2012, are cheerless: 

Fifteen years after Kyoto, emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase, signaling dislocation, climate chaos and uncertainty.

Despite herculean efforts to save species, the rate of extinction remains calamitous, with one in five vertebrates on the Red List.

(The reality may be even worse. A recent U.S. government study reports that one-third of American birds are in trouble.)

Scientists at UNEP warn that we risk crossing critical limits and causing irreversible harm to the Earth’s “life-support functions.”

“Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul,” Emily Dickinson wrote. Hope is a plaintive song in the darkness. 

Re-wilding the city may seem like the smallest possible answer to the cosmic mess we’re in. But cities truly are an urgent place to begin.

H. sapiens sapiens is now an urban species, with slightly more than half of us in cities and towns. That’s 3,998,906,053, and counting.

Cities are not apart from Nature. Urban dwellers drink water and breathe air. We draw on the Earth for food and other necessities.

Everything the city consumes has been extracted from the natural abundance of the Earth, often at a cost that is distant and unnoticed.

Our withdrawals diminish the living space of other species—wild birds, animals and plants—and contribute to the disenchantment of Nature.

City dwellers are half of humankind but consume more than three-quarters of the Earth’s goods and services every year.

Stuck in the traffic jam of modern life, we are less connected to Nature than our parents were. Our sense of wonder is clouded fear.

Even our kids prefer to stay indoors, where the electrical outlets are. No wonder we worry about childhood obesity and depression.

Making space for Nature in the city—for the furred and feathered things that coexist with us--offers solace for people and the planet.

An international movement to re-wild the city is already taking flight. Cities turn out to be hotspots for a diversity of life.

Humans are a keystone species, ecological engineers. As we destroy, we also unwittingly create opportunities for other creatures.

To non-human eyes, a high-rise tower is a cliff face. Boulevard plantings form gangly forests. Vacant lots become an eccentric wilderness. 

In cities around the world, people are noticing cracks in the pavement—openings for life—and taking urgent steps to protect them.

Back-yard gardeners are digging up monocultures of grass to make room for native plants and the buzz of “tame” and native bees.

Cities are encouraging the creation of rain gardens and swales to protect their watersheds from run-off and pollution.

Paris and New York have transformed old railways into high-line parks, and grim brownfields in Germany have been restored to vibrant life.

The City of Seoul has disinterred the Cheonggycheon River from a deep overlay of roads, boosting both fish and bird species six-fold.

The wild city is a space of possibility and promise, where hope can grow. It’s time to bring the good life home to the urban jungle.

Candace Savage is an award-winning Saskatchewan author of many bestselling natural history books. Her most recent book, A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape, recently won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. 

Candace is one of the leading voices behind Wild About Saskatoon: Connecting Nature and Culture in the City. Wild About Saskatoon is dedicated to the urgent task of reconnecting city dwellers with the wild lives and life-sustaining processes going on all around us. It is an informal group of citizens brought together by a shared love of nature and of our home town, a middle-sized city on the banks of a shining prairie river.

Photo Credit: Candace Savage

Tuesday 11 December 2012

EcoSask News, December 11, 2012

Piping Plover Census, Dec. 12
The results of the 2011 International Piping Plover Census will be presented on Wednesday in Swift Current and broadcast online. Contact SK PCAP for more details.

Invasive Plant Species Webinar, Dec. 19
The Ministry of Agriculture is hosting an Invasive Plant Species Webinar on December 19 from 12-1 pm. Register online.

Christmas Bird Counts
Birders from over 90 Saskatchewan communities will be participating in the Christmas bird counts. In addition to the local bird counts, there are counts at Gardiner Dam (Dec. 17), Harris (Dec. 19), and Biggar (Dec. 27). Contact Guy Wapple (249-3280) to confirm dates and volunteer.

Susan Lamb Endowment Fund
The public is invited to contribute to the Susan Lamb Endowment Fund, established by the Meewasin Valley Authority, which will be dedicated to supporting education and conservation work in the northeast swale in perpetuity.

Adopt a Piece of Nature
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is looking for individuals or volunteers who will “adopt” one of their Saskatchewan properties and visit it as often as they wish to record wildlife, general condition of the land and perform some hands-on activities. Contact Kirsten at, 306.347.0447, if you are interested.

Prairie Grasslands
Three cheers! The federal government has rejected Cenovus’ gas project within CFB Suffield National Wildlife Area (NWA). Suffield NWA is an important remnant of Canadian native prairie. It is home to at least 15 species that are at risk of extinction or endangered.

The Protect the Prairie campaign is recruiting famous Canadians to join the campaign to prevent the sale of community pastures. Margaret Atwood, K.D. Lang, The Sheepdogs, and Chris Getzlaf have given their support to date.

Endangered Species
The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada has released a report card on species at risk, adding a dozen species to the endangered list.

A report released in October by Ecojustice rates the provincial and federal governments’ efforts to protect at risk plants and animals. The federal government received a C- and some provinces failed.

The 2012 Federal Budget Implementation Bill (Bill C-38) incorporated changes to the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) that include allowing issuance of long-term permits for potentially harmful activities and removing the requirement for regular review or renewal of these permits. The Minister of the Environment has signalled that the Act is under review and changes to the Act could be made as early as this fall. (via CPAWS)

Mobile Phone Replaces Butterfly Net
In the second half of the 19th century, natural history excursions attracted hundreds of participants and played an important role in documenting local plants and animals. Nowadays, membership in nature societies is dwindling and aging.

But technology provides new options. Mobile phone cameras make it easy to record sightings and publish them online to social networking sites, such as iSpot, and software apps assist with identification.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 4 December 2012

EcoSask News, December 4, 2012

SEN Film Night, Dec. 10
The Saskatchewan Eco Network is hosting a monthly film night at The Root Down Cooperative Café. The first film, Garbage: The Revolution Starts at Home, will be shown on December 10 at 7 pm. There is no charge. Check out the preview of this documentary about a family that saves every scrap of garbage for 3 months and then explores where it goes and what it does to the earth.

Life, Legumes & Nitrogen, Dec. 13
Saskatchewan is the world’s largest exporter of lentils, and commercial lentil varieties bred at the U of S account for a third of global production. Best of all, lentils and other legumes add nitrogen to the soil where it can be used by other plants. Bert Vandenberg, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Lentil Genetic Improvement, U of S, will talk about the importance of legumes in the wider ecosystem and the ecological virtues of pulse crops at the Saskatoon Nature Society's monthly meeting7:30 pm, December 13, Room 106, Biology Building, U of S.

Christmas Bird Counts
Christmas bird counts have been a holiday tradi­tion for over 100 years. Set aside some time this holiday season to count our wintering birds. The Saskatoon Nature Society welcomes everyone to take part, especially begin­ners.
Saturday, December 15: Clark’s Crossing 
Sunday, December 16: Qu’Appelle Valley Dam 
Wednesday, December 26: Saskatoon 
Saturday, January 5: Pike Lake 
New for this year: no fees! Audubon and BSC will no longer be charging a $5 fee. Other regional counts are planned. For more information, check the SNS website.

We’re Wild About Saskatoon
We share our city streets with coyotes; birds nest in our gardens; and we harvest saskatoon berries along the riverbank. Join with other nature lovers to celebrate the nature that surrounds us. Wild About Saskatoon, a brand-new collective, will be hosting a festival to celebrate Nature in the City in May 2013. Why not plan an activity and join the celebration?

Heritage Rivers
Partners FOR the Saskatchewan River Basin is overseeing the research required prior to the Saskatchewan sections of the South Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Rivers being designated as Heritage Rivers. The goal of the research is to identify the values to be conserved, protected and promoted, and how this might be accomplished through existing and future management plans. You can comment online.

Environmental Code Review
The public review of the draft Saskatchewan Environmental Code has concluded and a complete summary of all comments received, along with the ministry's responses, is now available on the Ministry of Environment's website.

Greener to the End
Saskatchewan is the first province in Canada to approve alkaline hydrolysis, a highly accelerated version of natural decomposition, for the disposal of human remains. It has a much smaller carbon footprint than cremation.

Green Roofs in Winter
Green roofs aren’t just for temperate climates. They’ve tested it in Ottawa and found that green roofs increase conservation of heat by reducing wind speeds and modifying the microclimate above the roof.

Winter at Old Man on His Back
There’s a familiar routine as The Nature Conservancy of Canada prepares for winter at Old Man on His Back Prairie and Conservation Area: calling the cows, rounding up the bison, and preparing the winter supply of water.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 27 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 27, 2012

Snowshoeing at Redberry Lake, Dec. 1 & 8
Bring your family out to the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve from 11 to 1 on December 1 and 8. Put on your snowshoes (also available at Redberry) and take a winter hike followed by hot chocolate and smokies. RSVP to, 549-9311.

We Are Many AGM, Dec. 6 
We Are Many is holding their annual general meeting at 7 pm on December 6 in the Victoria School library.

Saskatoon Nature Society 
Membership in the Saskatoon Nature Society is a really good deal. For $20/person or $30/family, you get a newsletter, a chance to participate in a wide variety of field trips as well as monthly meetings with speakers. Plus, Nature Society members receive a discount at Don's Photo Shop, 1902 8th St. E., on photo-finishing and certain other items in the store as well as a 10% discount at Early's Farm and Garden Centre on all regularly priced wild bird feeding products, bird houses, books, etc. Memberships run from January to December, so now is the perfect time to take out or renew a membership.

Eden Flowers is Green
The owner of Eden Flowers Ltd. in University Heights says her flower shop is 98% green. All of the flowers are fair trade and most of them are sourced out of British Columbia. All the waste is recycled.

Trail Maintenance
If you notice a section of Saskatoon’s trail network that needs to be cleared or to report a problem, call the City of Saskatoon’s trail maintenance hotline at 975-2476.

Plastic Paving
Vancouver will be the first city to include recycled plastics in the asphalt used to pave and repair roads. The plastic, which is 1% of the asphalt mix, is more expensive but uses less fuel, so it will save money in the long run.

Vitamin G (Green)
Why We Need Cities in Tune with Nature lists the benefits and best practices concerning urban green spaces. A recent study found that a 20% increase in nearby green space was equivalent to another 5 years of life. A new hospital in Singapore may be the greenest in the world with window boxes and 140 fruit trees in the lobby and on the roof. The hospital is monitoring the number of birds and butterfly species as an indicator of success.

Edmonton’s Energy-Efficient Community
Oxford, a new community in northwest Edmonton, will require all homebuilders to meet energy conservation standards. All homes must achieve a minimum EnerGuide rating of 78 or be certified to Built Green Silver standards or equivalents. Grants will be available for homeowners who want to move beyond those standards. Funding is also available for secondary suites.

Fracking Gains Momentum 
Fracking is gaining momentum in the United States as a source of local and state tax revenue. Pennsylvania is considering drilling at 6 universities that are eager for new revenue sources. Money outweighs environmental concerns – will they regret it in the future?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Friday 23 November 2012

Eco Chic: Shopping for Clothes that are Green and Local

As Kermit said, “It’s not easy being green.” I (Penny) went clothes shopping the other day, and I focussed entirely on style and price. I forgot to consider the environment, and my purchases didn’t benefit local businesses. Next time I’ll do better. Here are some ideas.

Did you know that growing cotton uses almost 25% of all the insecticides in the world and over 10% of all pesticides? It takes approximately one pound of cotton to make a t-shirt, and it will have been sprayed with one third of a pound of pesticides. Sheep that are being raised for wool in the US are treated with 14,000 pounds of pesticides a year.

Better Options: Look for organic cotton or linen, hemp, and bamboo. Linen is made from flax that grows well without pesticides or insecticides. An acre of land planted with hemp yields two to three times more fibre than cotton – without the chemicals. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants; it can sprout from 1 to 4 feet per day and it naturally resists pests and many bacteria.

Shop Local: Luna + Hill sells clothing that is Canadian-made, organic, and sustainable. Ten Tree, a Regina-based company, wants to ensure that all their clothing is manufactured responsibly. They plant 10 trees for every piece of their clothing that is purchased.

Shoes & Accessories 
Leather may be a renewable resource, but tanning the hides uses a tremendous amount of water and toxic chemicals, creating dangerous effluent discharge. Some manufacturers in Italy and Mexico are using less toxic processes, but it will take a while before this practice becomes widespread.

Better Options: Look for shoes made from synthetic or recycled materials. Give your shoes a second life through programs such as Brainsport’s Free Shoe Day.

Shop Local: Escape Sports carries fair-trade certified SoleRebels footwear that is made in Ethiopia from recycled and organic materials. Pedestrian now sells shoes from Oliberté, an African company that is working hard to reduce its environmental impact.

The Better Good carries a wide variety of sustainable goods. The Ressac bag is durable and waterproof – like leather – but it’s made from punctured inner tubes.

Swap and Share
How many outfits do you have in your closet that you’ve worn once and may never wear again?

Better options: Buying less clothing is one of the most ecofriendly options. But it can be boring. Why not organize a clothing swap or shop at secondhand clothing stores?

Shop Local: Better Off Duds specializes in secondhand clothing, with a focus on retro attire and quality classics. The Princess Shop loans graduation dresses and accessories to female students in need.

Traditional dry cleaning involves submerging clothes in petroleum-based liquid chemicals. The most common chemical is perchloroethylene (PERC), a possible carcinogen and a hazardous pollutant.

Clothes dryers use a lot of energy, emitting almost 1500 pounds of CO2 annually.

Better Options: Look for a “wet” cleaner. This method uses water and non-toxic, biodegradable detergents. Or you may be able to find a dry cleaner that is using liquid CO2 or liquid silicone.

Wash clothes less frequently. Buy a clothing rack and air dry your laundry. Buy energy-efficient appliances.

Shop Local: We’re not aware of any environmentally-friendly dry cleaners in Saskatoon. If you know of one, please let us know.

The following books are available from the Saskatoon Public Library:
Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style
Big Green Purse: Use your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World
The Rough Guide to Shopping with a Conscience
Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love

David Suzuki’s Queen of Green blog offers green living tips and recipes.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 20, 2012

Northern Hawk Owl

Radiance Cohousing, Nov. 28 
The Radiance Cohousing project is designed to offer a sustainable way of life that balances private home ownership with shared common space. They’re holding an information night from 7-8:30 pm on November 28. Radiance plans to use green, energy-efficient construction design and techniques.

Adopt an NCC Property
The Nature Conservancy of Canada - Saskatchewan is looking for individuals or volunteers who will “adopt” one of their properties and visit it as often as they wish to record wildlife, disturbances and the general condition of the land as well as perform some hands-on activities (e.g. weed pulling, sign installation, cleaning out bird boxes). NCC staff will provide initial training and ongoing support. For more information or to inquire about becoming part of the Property Watch Program, contact Kirsten Jensen at (306) 347-0447 ext 230 or

Wild in the City 
Bird lovers gathered on the riverbank last week to watch a Northern Hawk Owl devour a pigeon. The owl was right beside the path and road, and iBird Pro iPad app confirmed that the owls “have little fear of humans” and “Eats mostly voles and other small mammals; also takes birds, especially in winter, active during the day.” (via Sustainable Adventure)

Thought-Provoking Articles 
Zero Waste 
Moving towards zero waste requires moving away from waste disposal; supporting comprehensive reuse, recycling and organics treatment programs; engaging communities; and designing for the future. And it can be done. Through incentives and public outreach, San Francisco has reduced its waste to landfill by 77% and is on track to reach 90% by 2020.

America’s Water Mirage
“Americans operate under an illusion of water abundance. That fiction makes the reality of water scarcity a particularly hard concept to get across. From California to Florida, freshwater aquifers are being pumped so much faster than they recharge that many parts of the country can no longer rely on groundwater to supply future populations.

“But we can't see dried-out aquifers the way we could see black Dust Bowl storms in the 1930s or water pollution in the early 1970s. So we still pump with abandon to do things like soak the turf grass that covers 63,240 square miles of the nation. We flush toilets with this same fresh, potable water, after treating it at great expense to meet government standards for drinking.

“We fill the fridge with beef, the shopping bags with cotton T's, the gas tank with corn-made ethanol — all with little inkling of how we're draining to extinction the Ogallala aquifer that irrigates a quarter of the nation's agricultural harvest.”

Life in the Cracks
“Have you ever thought about the grass that grows in sidewalk cracks? These hardy plants are generally written off as undesirable. They're routinely trampled, savaged by extreme summer heat, washed out by rainfall and buried by winter snow. To survive these conditions is a testament to the plants' resilience, but they rarely get much love or attention….

“Plant species that succeed in sidewalk cracks have similar qualities to ones that have adapted to inhabit crevices in exposed, rocky, windswept places….

“Ultimately we need to recognize that while humans continue to build urban landscapes, we share these spaces with others species. Nature surrounds us, from parks and backyards to streets and alleyways. Next time you go out for a walk, tread gently and remember that we are both inhabitants and stewards of nature in our neighbourhoods.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 13 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 13, 2013

NE Swale Management Plan, Nov. 14
The North East Swale is wild and wonderful - and part of it is within City boundaries. Meewasin is holding an Open House on Wednesday, November 14, from 6-8 pm to present the proposed resource management plan - a great opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

Permaculture Potluck, Nov. 15
The Permaculture Research Institute of Saskatchewan is holding its monthly potluck at 6pm on Thursday, November 15, at the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon (213 – 2nd Street East). Alana Krug-MacLeod will show a video about her recent trip to the Arctic with Students on Ice.

Astronomers without Borders, Nov. 19
Mike Simmons, founder and president of Astronomers without Borders, will be talking live via Skype at the Saskatoon Royal Astronomical Society’s meeting on November 19 from 7:30-9:30 pm in Room 175 of the Physics Building, University of Saskatchewan.

Energy Efficiency, Nov. 1-30
SaskPower is offering instant rebates on a variety of energy-efficient light bulbs at all Saskatchewan Home Depot stores during November.

You can pick up a free block heater timer from SaskPower at Peavey Mart, Saskatoon Co-op Home Centres, and Sears on November 24 and 25.

Public Pastures, Public Interests, Nov. 22 & 23
The Regina Public Interest Group is hosting two events to highlight the importance of the PFRA Community Pastures. On November 22 at 7 pm, Candace Savage, author of Prairie: A Natural History, will speak on Grasslands in Peril, emphasizing their importance to Saskatchewan.

There will be a public forum on the Privatization of Community Pasture Lands from 8:30-4:30 on November 23. An information session in the morning will be followed by a noon panel discussion featuring key stakeholders. The afternoon session will outline the First Nations Joint Venture Proposal, followed by a discussion of public policy and development of resolutions.

Winter Camping, Dec. 15
Contact the SK Outdoor and Environmental Education Association if you are interesting in winter camping at Craik on December 15.

Volunteer Opportunities
The Saskatchewan Eco Network is looking for volunteers. Email them at or call 306.652.1275 for more information.

A Geography of Blood
Congratulations to Candace Savage for winning the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape.

Restoring Prairie Ecosystems
Chris Helzer, ecologist and program director for The Nature Conservancy’s land in central and eastern Nebraska, recently posted an article on prairie restoration that may be relevant for Saskatchewan:

…prairie restoration projects should not be aimed at recreating something exactly as it existed long ago. Instead, effective prairie restoration should be like rebuilding a city after large portions of it are destroyed in a major disaster. When reconstructing a metropolitan area, replicating individual structures is much less important than restoring the processes the inhabitants of the city rely on. The people living and working in a city depend upon the restoration of power, transportation, communication, and other similar functions. Those people don’t care whether roads, power lines, or communication towers are put back exactly as they were before – they just want to be able to get the supplies and information they need, and to travel around so they can to do their jobs and survive. Restoration success is not measured by how much the rebuilt areas resemble the preexisting areas, but by whether or not the city and its citizens can survive and thrive again.

Solar Power at the U of S
The University of Saskatchewan has undertaken a solar energy pilot project at their horticultural facility on 14th Street. They hope that the 96 solar panels will produce up to 70% of the building’s energy needs.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Thursday 8 November 2012

Financial Support for SPIN Farming in Uganda

Earlier this month, EcoFriendly Sask received an email from Francis Baita, a student in a Master of Science Agro Ecology program. He had read about SPIN farming and wanted to start a project in his community. Francis owned a plot of land and planned to teach 10 primary school children the principles of SPIN farming. He was asking for an EcoFriendly Action Grant in order to buy drip irrigation kits.

 It sounded like a great project, but there was one drawback. Francis lives in Kasese, Uganda, Africa, and we had established EcoFriendly Action Grants in order to support local Saskatchewan projects.

However, every rule is meant to be broken. Andrew and I were both born in East Africa, and our parents had lived in Uganda for several years. We decided to give Francis $500.

We asked Francis for some additional information, which he immediately provided. He sent us a letter of reference from a local NGO and explained that he planned to purchase drip tapes and buckets for his irrigation system. He would select 10 orphans (ages 12 to 18) from two nearby primary schools and would ask the school administration to help him select the most disadvantaged students. The orphans would work in the garden after school and on weekends, and the produce – cabbages, carrots, kale, tomatoes, eggplants, watermelons, onions, green pepper, squash, and garlic – would supplement the students’ diet.

We wish Francis success in his SPIN farming project and look forward to receiving progress reports. Wally Satzewich, one of the co-founders of SPIN farming, lives and works in Saskatoon. It seems very appropriate that EcoFriendly Sask is helping to spread his ideas right around the globe.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 6, 2012

Burrowing Owl Stewardship Project, Nov. 7
Joseph Kotlar, Nature Conservancy of Canada, will discuss the Burrowing Owl Stewardship Project at 12:10 pm on November 7 at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum auditorium in Regina. You can also watch the PCAP-SK presentation live at

Moose on the Prairies, Nov. 14 
Rob Tethers, SK Ministry of Environment, will be speaking in Saskatoon on November 14 about Moose Adapting to the Prairies. The talk begins at 12:10 pm in Room 232 of the Physical Activity Complex on campus.

Chilkoot Trail, Nov. 15
The Saskatoon Nature Society has invited Bill Waiser to their November 15 meeting to discuss the Chilkoot Trail. Meetings begin at 7:30 pm in Room 106 of the Biology Building on campus. The Chilkoot Trail was the gateway to the Klondike during the Gold Rush.

Public Art & Creating Great Places, Nov. 15
Cameron Cartiere, editor of The Practice of Public Art, will discuss how public art builds great city spaces and vibrant communities at 7 pm on November 15 at the Frances Morrison Library.

Climate Change & Other Depressing Topics, Nov. 16 & 17
The Sierra Youth Coalition and TruthFool Communications will be on campus November 16 and 17 for a two-day movement building program entitled Climate Change and other depressing topics nobody wants to talk about. There will be a Serious Issues Party on November 16 followed by a workshop on November 17 that is designed to help students unleash their creative spirits while remaining rooted in sound strategy.

Project Wild, Nov. 17 
A half-day Project Wild workshop is being offered at the University of Regina on November 17. Full details are available on the SOEEA website.

Young Professional Stewardship Grant
Young and aspiring conservationists between the ages of 18-30 who live and/or work in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba are encouraged to submit proposals that will advance the engagement of people in conservation in Grassland and Parkland Natural Regions of the Prairie Provinces.

SK Carbon Offsets
The Meewasin Valley Authority is a member of the Association of Saskatchewan Urban Parks & Conservation Agencies (ASUPCA). ASUPCA offers a voluntary carbon offset program for individuals and organizations. The revenue is used to reforest and naturalize ASUPCA’s urban parks and conservation zones.

What’s New at the Zoo
Have you been out to the Saskatoon Zoo recently? If not, you may have missed some of the latest additions to the family. There are Bobcats, Helmeted Guineafowl, Muscovy Ducks, and even a Zebra Tarantula. Check out the photographs on the Saskatoon Zoo Society’s Facebook page.

New Meewasin CEO
Lloyd Isaak takes over as CEO of Meewasin Valley Authority effective January 1, 2013. Isaak, who is currently Meewasin’s manager of design and development, has 25 years’ experience as a landscape architect.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Wednesday 31 October 2012

Communications Workshop for Non-Profit Organizations

EcoFriendly Sask presents 
Telling Our Story: Helping non-profit organizations to get their message across 
Penny McKinlay, Communications Consultant 
9 am – 3 pm, Wednesday, November 28, 2012 
Room 403, Galleria Building, Innovation Place, Saskatoon 

You want to touch the hearts and change the behaviours of your public. That’s not easy, but effective communications can help you to get your message across.

As part of its mission to inform, support, and encourage environmental initiatives in Saskatchewan, EcoFriendly Sask invites you to attend Telling Our Story: Helping Non-Profit Organizations to Get Their Message Across.

Telling Our Story is a hands-on, interactive workshop. Small group discussions and activities will help you learn new skills and integrate them into your professional life.

The sessions will be coordinated by Penny McKinlay, a freelance communications consultant, who believes that words are powerful tools for sharing information and emotions.

Workshop Schedule
1. Storytelling: Delight your readers with heroes, action, and emotion 
“The structure and significance of stories transforms information 
from static and flat to dynamic and alive.” 
Purpose: Every organization has a story to tell. Far too often, we bury it in technical language and jargon.
Hands-on Activity: Storyboarding: turn your report into a story.

2. Elegant Simplicity: Bridging the gap between the writer and the reader 
"Effective writing is simple and elegant. 
 It invites readers to enter, to follow the story, to explore the ideas." 
Purpose: Learn how to start a conversation, eliminate clutter, and highlight the important information.
Hands-on Activity: Identify and provide examples of effective communications.

3. Wading into Complexity: Who are we, and what is our message? 
“Products that are remarkable get talked about.”
Purpose: How we frame the question and how people view us has a major impact on our effectiveness.
Hands-on Activity: Find a beautiful solution for one of your gnarliest problems.

4. Switch: How to change things when change is hard 
"Logic, emotions, environment: three paths to change" 
Purpose: Pick up some concrete, practical tips for changing behaviours and practices.
Hands-on Activity: Identify communications practices that you want to start/stop/continue.

Workshop Fees 
$125 (includes morning snack, lunch, and a resource booklet)
Payable to: EcoFriendly Sask c/o Penny McKinlay, 106 – 1223 7th Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK S7K 2W1 (Cheques should be made out to Penny McKinlay)          306.978.2939

Let us know if you have any particular dietary requirements.

Volunteers and employees of environmental organizations are encouraged to apply for a $75 bursary from EcoFriendly Sask. 

 Maximum participants: 25          Register by November 20, 2012

"The workshop was amazing. It surpassed my expectations. We shared, we laughed, we learned from each other and from our excellent presenter. Penny pulled us together and facilitated the networking masterfully." Vince Hill, Credenda School (LEADS Communications Accreditation Module, 2011)

Tuesday 30 October 2012

EcoSask News, October 30, 2012

A Kenyan Adventure, Nov. 14
Greg Paterson will discuss his motivation to choose a socially responsible alternative to traditional travel and the impact Kenya had on his life at 7 pm, November 14, at the Cliff Wright Library. (sponsored by the SK Environmental Society and Saskatoon Public Library)

Redberry Lake AGM, Nov. 28 
Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve will be holding its annual general meeting at 7:30 pm, November 28 in the Ukrainian National Hall in Hafford. The AGM is being held in conjunction with the Biosphere Reserve’s Regional Planning Meeting.

Saskatoon Nature Society
The Saskatoon Nature Society’s website provides additional information about the following events:
November 10 – Blackstrap Waterfowl Rarities
November 18 – Pike Lake Birding
November 25 – Pre-Grey Cup Celebration in President Murray Park
December 1 – Gardiner Dam Birding

John Giesy
John Giesy, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Saskatchewan, has been awarded the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Paris-based Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) and China’s Zhongyu Environmental Technologies Corporation. Professor Giesy studies the accumulation and effects of toxic substances in the field of ecological risk assessment.

Intentional Oil Spill
According to an article in The Western Producer, a Manitoba farmer detected an intentional oil spill beside the road last winter. The spill was never cleaned up and was washed into a neighbouring creek. The farmer believes that, “the spill and the lack of government action represents a larger issue in southwestern Manitoba’s oil patch. Provincial officials are reluctant to crack down on oil companies because the government needs the investment, jobs and tax revenue. . . . As well, landowners in the region are reluctant to complain because they don’t want to lose a tidy income from surface and property rights.”

The Nature of Cities
The Nature of Cities is a collective blog about cities as ecological spaces. Recent articles have discussed everything from a new species of frogs in NYC to wildlife in Anchorage, Alaska (230 species of birds, 48 different mammals).

Old Man on His Back Ranch
The Old Man on His Back Ranch and Heritage Conservation Area continues to develop. 170 acres near the Visitor’s Centre have been reseeded to native grass, providing important habitat for grassland birds. The bison herd had 41 healthy calves, and a burrowing owl has been sighted on the property, the first in several years.

Free Transit - It Pays
Traffic jams and oil dependency are the price we pay in our carcentric world, but public transit isn’t popular. Some cities are experimenting with free public transit in order to increase usage. Aubagne, a metro area of 100,000 spread around 12 towns west of Marseille, France, has had a free transit system since 2009. Ridership has increased 170%. A transport tax on large businesses funds the system.

The Free Public Transport website provides a list of all the cities that provide free public transit, including Calgary that has a fare-free zone downtown.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 23 October 2012

EcoSask News, October 23, 2012

Protect the Prairies 
Protect the Prairies is a campaign by those who value the natural beauty of our native grasslands and want to protect the PFRA community pastures. You can show your support by signing the petition and spreading the word.

Lunch and LEED, Oct. 29 & 30
The Canadian Green Building Council is offering two lunch-time workshops regarding LEED certification in Saskatoon. The first is on October 29 at St. Andrew’s College, university campus, while the second is on October 30 at Cliff Wright Library.

Integrating Agriculture, Environment & Economics at a Watershed Scale, Nov. 27-28
Register now to attend the Saskatchewan Branch Fall Workshop of the Canadian Water Resources Association.

Artists Respond to Petroleum Industry
Beneath a Petroliferous Moon is on display at the Mendel Art Gallery until January 6. It consists of 11 artists' responses to the petroleum industry, ranging from oil tanks and drums carved into lace to represent “sweet” crude to masks made out of discarded jerry cans from Africa and large-scale photographs by Edward Burtynsky. (Images are from the Mendel Art Gallery website.)

The title of the exhibit is from a poem by Pablo Neruda about the oil industry in South America.

Navigable Waters Protection Act
Amendments to the Navigable Water Protection Act will limit its application to less than 200 bodies of water. Environmentalists say that changes to the act are part of a move by the federal government to weaken environmental oversight.

WasteLess Denim
The new WasteLess Levi’s jeans will each include at least 20% post-consumer waste, equating to eight 300-500 ml plastic bottles per pair. The plastic will be sorted by colour, crushed into flakes and made into a polyester fibre, which will then be mixed with cotton fibre to create yarn. The resulting fabric will have an undertone of the colour of the bottles used.

Water Issues
1. Starting next year, treated wastewater from showers and sinks could be used to flush toilets in the University of Colorado’s green-certified dorm.

2. Antibacterial hand soaps and cleaners are polluting our water. When exposed to chlorine and sunlight, triclosan breaks down into several dioxins that threaten all forms of aquatic life.

Paper Products 
According to Greenpeace, if every household in Canada replaced just one roll of toilet paper made from virgin fibres with one made from recycled paper, we could save 47,962 trees. Green Living provides a list of 13 paper products that receive their environmental stamp of approval.

Kids and Nature Project 
1. Project Noah is a software app to explore and document wildlife and share your information. Join a mission with other people around the world to record what you see, whether it’s urban biodiversity, birds, butterflies, or dragonflies.

2. October 25 is Take Me Outside Day. How much time do you or your kids spend outdoors every day?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. A complete listing of all upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 16 October 2012

EcoSask News, October 16, 2012

The Clean Bin Project, Oct. 18
Is it possible to live without producing garbage? One couple competes to see who can produce the least garbage in The Clean Bin Project, an award-winning documentary that will be screened at The Two Twenty at 6:30 pm, October 18. Obtain a free ticket from Picatic.

Kids Gone Wild for Wildlife, Oct. 27
The Kids Gone Wild for Wildlife family fun event planned by the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan sounds like it will be great fun. There will be opportunities to touch a falcon or a porcupine; speakers on bats, burrowing owls, raptors and reptile rescue; a wild animal costume contest; games and a bouncy castle; and family portraits with live wild animals. It's an all-day event (9 am to 5 pm), so be sure to drop by and enjoy the ever-changing program.

Saskatoon Nature Society
The Saskatoon Nature Society’s website provides additional information about the following events:
October 9-23 – Saw-whet owl banding with Marten Stoffel
October 20 – Northeast Lakes and Vonda Fall Supper
October 28 – Blackstrap Waterbirds and Dundurn Fall Supper

Youth Eco Tour, Nov. 2-4
Andrea Nelson will be coordinating an SOEEA EcoTour for youth ages 16-19 near Regina, November 2-4.

Harvest and Hunger, Nov. 9 & 10
The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation is holding Harvest and Hunger, a provincial forum on local and global food issues at Mayfair United Church. There will be a keynote address by Frances Moore Lappe on November 9 and a panel discussion and skill-building workshops on how to create a sustainable food system on November 10.

Saskatchewan Birds Calendar
Nick Saunders’ Saskatchewan Birds Calendar for 2013 is now available.

Prairie Conservation Award
Nominate someone who has made significant long-term contributions to native habitat or species at risk conservation for a Prairie Conservation Award. Saskatchewan nominations should be sent to Natasha Wilkie and must be received by January 11, 2013.

Wind Power
Mention wind power and people immediately think of vast fields of whirling turbines. But a new manufacturer has designed a wind power system that is “quiet and powerful, bird safe, and scalable” for personal, business, and urban locations.

It’s Hard to be Green
Making environmentally-friendly choices requires a great deal of thought – from buying kitchen supplies to planning one’s burial.

Steep Hill Food Co-op is selling 100% recycled aluminum foil, petroleum-free wax paper and unbleached parchment paper baking cups. They have parchment paper that’s been coated with silicone rather than quilon, a heavy metal that is toxic when incinerated. Silicone-coated paper can be used several times as well.

Dust to Dust: Going Green at the Cemetery is a thought-provoking article from the latest issue of the Saskatoon Wellbeing Magazine.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. A listing of upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Thursday 11 October 2012

Who is EcoFriendly Sask?

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi 

Andrew McKinlay wanted to do something to help the environment. At first, he didn’t know what he could do, but then he realized that there was only limited information available about environmental news and issues in Saskatoon and Saskatchewan, and it was scattered.

He teamed up with his sister, Penny McKinlay, to develop an online publication that took advantage of social media to spread the word about news stories and upcoming events as well as providing profiles of local people and places.

The Written Word
EcoFriendly Sask went live in July 2011. Every Tuesday, we publish EcoSask News, a round-up of locally relevant news and events. We also post profiles of people, places, and books (e.g. the Dark Sky Preserve at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, residential solar energy options, urban farming, and wildlife rehabilitation).

A Calendar page lists upcoming events, and we maintain the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

EcoFriendly Action Grants
In May 2012, we went one step further and started providing small grants of up to $500 to support local projects that will benefit the environment. In the past few months, we have offered over $9,000 to a wide variety of projects (e.g. Saskatoon Cycles’ Bike Valet, TRoutreach’s fisheries research, the Meadow Lake Junior Forest Wardens clean-up at Pagan Lake, the SEN Environmental Film Festival, the Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan).

Moving Mountains 
At EcoFriendly Sask, we believe that the written word and visual images are powerful tools for inspiring change. Here are some useful resources:

Orion magazine — a bimonthly, advertising-free magazine devoted to creating a stronger bond between people and nature.

Trevor Herriot, author of Grass, Sky, Song — Saskatchewan’s award-winning naturalist blogs about the spirit and beauty of the Northern Great Plains, addressing political and environmental issues.

The Centre for Civic Governance —  The Centre works to support community leaders in addressing social and environmental challenges. They publish a Going for Green Leadership Handbook series.

International League of Conservation Photographers — working photographers with a demonstrable, sustained involvement in conservation.

Chris Helzer, a scientist for The Nature Conservancy, discusses how his love of photography and nature complement each other in a short video.

Ready, Fire, Aim 
EcoFriendly Sask strives to inform, encourage, and support local environmental initiatives. As a small, personal initiative, we have the flexibility to respond to changing needs and requests. We welcome your suggestions. (Ready, Fire, Aim)

Thursday 20 September 2012

Up to my Elbows in Learning: Agriculture in the Classroom

“Learning is so much more meaningful when you experience things firsthand, when both you and the students are excited and interested in what you’re doing,” says Terri Jackson, a Grade One/Two teacher at Mayfair Community School in Saskatoon. Not to worry. Students in Terri’s classroom have every opportunity to touch, feel, taste, and experience.

In 2010, Adrianne Begg, the School Garden Coordinator for Agriculture in the Classroom – Saskatchewan, phoned Terri and asked her if she would be interested in receiving funding to develop an outdoor garden at Mayfair School. “It was too good to be true,” says Terri. “My dream had become a reality.”

Terri wanted to make sure that the students felt a sense of ownership for the school’s outdoor garden, so all 180 children at Mayfair School were assigned a task. The Grade Four and Five students, along with community volunteers and staff from Agriculture in the Classroom, picked up tools and constructed raised beds from pre-cut lumber. Another group of students set up a circular bed of native prairie plants using reclaimed prairie (with help from LichenNature) around the school sign. Terri hopes that it will include sweetgrass and red lily so that older students can discuss medicinal plants and Aboriginal culture.

After lunch, the kindergarten to Grade Four students went back and forth with buckets full of dirt. By the end of the day, everything, from tomatoes to gladioli, was planted – and a harsh overnight frost killed it all. Terri quickly replanted over the weekend and collected bed sheets so that they would be ready the next time there was a frost warning.

A second year of funding has allowed Mayfair School to expand its garden, and the Grade Seven and Eight students are putting in a large, circular bed. The students will decide what kind of garden they want. Will it be a Pizza Garden, with pie-shaped wedges of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs? Or a salsa garden, a flower garden, or a Three Sisters garden (squash, beans, corn)? That will be their decision.

Summer Garden Program
Five Saskatoon schools (Mayfair, St. Michael’s, Westmount, Confederation Park, and St. Maria Goretti) were given funding through Agriculture in the Classroom for outdoor gardens, and they were also invited to participate in the Summer Garden program. The summer drop-in program offers garden-based activities one day a week at each of the five schools and ensures that the gardens are watered and weeded. (A recent article in Saskatoon Wellbeing Magazine provides further information.)

Terri hopes to eventually get the community involved in caring for the community garden. She dreams of planting fruit trees and berry bushes and offering cooking classes to teach parents how to make apple sauce.

Garden Club 
Terri has started a Garden Club with interested students from Grades Two through Seven. They meet for half an hour every week and have built a compost bin out of old pallets. The Grade Three teacher will put her students in charge of a recycling challenge and collection.

See, Touch, Taste
An outdoor garden isn’t enough. Terri’s classroom is also filled with plants, along with grow lights and a ventilation system as part of Ag in the Classroom’s Little Green Thumbs program. The children love it and are so excited when shoots come up and when the plants flower. “You can forget about taking attendance until the kids have had a chance to inspect their plants,” Terri says.

The connection between plants and food isn’t always clear though. When the students inspected the baby cucumbers, they thought they were pickles. So Vida Sadler, the class’s educational assistant, assembled the supplies and showed the students how to make pickles. They had a cheese and pickles snack every morning for a month, along with Tiny Tim tomatoes from their garden.

Terri has also brought in fish from the supermarket and let the students touch and poke it before cooking it up with some of their own dill.

In the future, Terri hopes the class will be able to foster baby sturgeon and then release them into the river, and she would like to hatch frog eggs so that her students can watch them turn into tadpoles.

Agriculture in the Classroom
Agriculture in the Classroom is a registered charity that connects kids with agriculture through a variety of different programs. Twenty Saskatoon schools are involved in the indoor garden program, and five of them of also have outdoor garden programs. Teachers are supplied with resource materials and assistance to support their activities. Jessie Best has been managing the Greenscapades program since March 2011, while Shereen Kukha-Bryson has been in charge of the Summer Garden program for the past two summers.

Adrianne Begg says that the response to the program has been phenomenal. “We hear about cucumber plants that produced meters of cucumbers, students requesting that their parents dig up parts of their lawns to grow gardens, teachers starting to garden and compost at home when they never had prior to participating. But what we hear most of all is that teachers are able to connect students with where their food comes from through the gardens, as well as with those who produce that food,” she says. “We believe that through their experiences in School Garden Programs, students, teachers and schools become empowered to be agents of change in their communities, growing toward a healthy and vibrant future for all.”

Agriculture in the Classroom welcomes donations of money or gardening supplies to help them meet the ever-growing demand for more school gardens.

Check out this great video about the Little Green Thumbs Classroom featuring Terri and her students at Mayfair School.

Additional Experiential Learning Opportunities
Grade Five Program, Beaver Creek Conservation Centre
Brightwater Science and Environmental Program, Saskatoon Public Schools
EcoQuest, Saskatoon Public Schools
Earthkeepers, Saskatoon Public Schools
Outdoor School Program, Saskatoon Public Schools
EcoJustice, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
Ecology Camps & Experiential Learning Workshops, Centre for Continuing and Distance Education, U of S
Education Programs & Camps, Saskatoon Zoo Society
Saskatoon Young Naturalists, Saskatoon Nature Society & Saskatoon Zoo Society