Tuesday 25 November 2014

EcoSask News, November 24, 2014


Recreation & Parks Master Plan, Nov. 25 
The City of Saskatoon is asking for feedback on its draft Recreation and Parks Master Plan. You can attend an Open House on Nov. 25 from 12-2 or 5-8 pm, or complete the online survey. This is an opportunity to emphasize to the City the importance of urban natural areas.

Futureproof Radio, Nov. 25 
Futureproof Radio launches Nov. 25. The live radio program, hosted by Shane Wolffe, will discuss current and future technologies that can help make the world a better place. The program will also be available as a podcast.

SaskOutdoors AGM, Jan. 24
SaskOutdoors will be holding its annual general meeting in or near Saskatoon on January 24.

Waste Minimization Awards, Feb. 20 
The Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council is asking for nominations for its Waste Minimization Awards. The deadline for nominations is February 20.

Singapore has a solar fan. What Saskatoon needs is a solar heater.

Local News 
Building Energy Efficiency
30% of Canada’s energy usage is from commercial and residential buildings. Building energy efficiency standards, similar to those in other provinces, can help save energy and money. You can find out more about the benefits and challenges of building energy efficiency standards on the Build Sask Green website.

Vermicomposting at School (Regina)
PV Waste Solutions and Green Guerilla Sustainability are providing vermicomposting kits and teaching grade 3 classes in Regina how to compost their food waste.

Photos – Wildlife in the City 
Gary Pedersen and Jeff Boone, City of Saskatoon, are looking for photos of urban wildlife for use in a series of brochures on Living with Urban Wildlife. They’re particularly interested in receiving photos of foxes in the city. In future, they will be looking for photos of skunks, badgers, raccoons and porcupines in the urban environment. You can email your photos to Gary.

Burrowing Owls
Good news! The number of burrowing owls in Saskatchewan is up. 2014 survey participants sighted 28 pairs, a 33% increase from 21 last year. There has also been an increase in public sightings. The Operation Burrowing Owl website provides additional information.


Thought Provoking 
Water and Watersheds 
Smart land use practices can help clean our waterways

Protecting water at its source can be cheaper and more efficient than treating it after it has been polluted

Solar Power 
Saskatoon could be at the dawn of a solar sunrise – here’s why

Two First Nations schools in northern communities hope to dramatically reduce their power bill thanks to solar power

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 20 November 2014

Bring Your Own Mug

The following article appeared in the November edition of flow magazine

I chuckle every time I use my travel mug promoting a microbrewery. I’m probably drinking tea, but then again, you never know.

The Saskatoon Friendship Inn serves from 800 to 1000 meals a day. In July they replaced the styrofoam cups they had been using with reusable plastic mugs, thanks to a grant from EcoFriendly Sask.

I carry a travel mug with me wherever I go, and I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t. The average office worker throws away 500 paper cups a year. And none of them can be recycled. They may look like paper, but they’re coated with a thin layer of plastic.

So, how can we make it easier for everyone to carry their own mug? Help is on the way. There are plans for a collapsible mug that you can “smash and stash.” Other companies are developing an edible cup, although that may prove too expensive.

We asked readers to respond to the magazine article by sharing a photo of their favorite reusable mug, and we heard from a number of people. 

Why not share your photo too? Who knows? There might even be a prize for the most unusual.

Lynn even carries her own plate and cutlery



Tuesday 18 November 2014

EcoSask News, Nov. 18, 2014

prairies in winter

Permasask Potluck & Meeting, Nov. 20
Permasask member Kaitlyn Harvey will talk about her experience at the People’s Climate March in NYC at the Permasask Potluck & Meeting, Nov. 20.

Building Operator Training Seminar, Nov. 21
Non-profit organizations and small businesses are invited to attend a one-day workshop on Nov. 21 to learn how to operate their buildings more efficiently.

Collectively Green Craft Show, Nov. 22 
Buy locally-made, earth-friendly gifts at the Collectively Green Craft Show, from 10 am - 5 pm, Nov. 22, at Grace-Westminster United Church.

Bird Feeder Craft, Nov. 22, 23, 29, 30
Drop by the Meewasin Valley Centre from 1-4 pm, Nov. 22, 23, 29 or 30, to make a backyard bird feeder.

Saskatoon Growth Plan Workshops, Nov. 26
The City of Saskatoon is hosting revolving workshops from 10 am - 1 pm and from 6-9 pm on Nov. 26 at TCU Place to discuss the city’s future growth strategies.

Premiere of Grasslands, Nov. 26 (Regina)
Public Pastures – Public Interests and Friends of the Museum are hosting a fundraiser premiere of Grasslands, a documentary about Grasslands National Park at 7:30 pm, Nov. 26, at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina. A short trailer gives a taste of the fabulous photography.

Grasslands (Trailer) from 291 Film Company on Vimeo.

Beaver Creek’s Winter Hours
Beaver Creek Conservation Area is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday-Friday during November and December.

They’ll be open from 12-5 pm daily from Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 with a hike at 2:30 pm every day with an interpreter.

Native Prairie Restoration & Reclamation Workshop, Jan. 28-29
The 2015 Native Prairie Restoration & Reclamation Workshop will be held in Saskatoon, January 28-29, 2015. Chris Helzer, The Prairie Ecologist, is the keynote speaker. Topics include invasive species, wild seed harvesting, and wetland restoration.

Medicine Hat: Solar, Wind & Natural Gas
Medicine Hat has built Canada’s first concentrated solar thermal plant. They've built a wind farm within city limits and encourage residents to install solar panels by going 50-50 with them. Mayor Clugston says, “We had to reinvest, we had to diversify because all of our eggs were in that one basket, which was natural gas.

New Drainage Regulations
The Water Security Agency has released the results of their online public consultation on agricultural drainage. There is general agreement that “drainage provides many benefits to agricultural producers, but that the negative impacts of drainage must be mitigated. Also, forum participants supported implementing regulations that are risk-based; those drainage activities of a larger scale, which pose a greater risk to land and property would require more stringent regulations.”

The Minister responsible for the Water Security Agency has said that new drainage regulations are a priority.

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 November 2014

Education for Sustainability: A Conversation with Janet McVittie

“Most of our thinking is centred around the immediate – today and tomorrow. We need to be thinking seven generations out,” says Janet McVittie, Assistant Professor, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan. “That’s hard to do when you’re young, but I’m hopeful that starting environmental education at a younger age will have an effect.”

Purpose and Parameters
There are several different forms of education around environmental issues.

Environmental education focuses on teaching ecological concepts and principles, such as the definition of an ecosystem or the balance between predator and prey. “They teach students about the environment, but the programs are not necessarily action-oriented or experiential, nor do they necessarily challenge the status quo,” explains Janet.

Outdoor education encompasses educational programs that take place out of doors. Most Saskatoon programs fit into this category. Outdoor education programs teach students to observe and to learn by doing. “It’s not enough to simply spend time outdoors,” Janet says. “Teachers can help students to view their surroundings critically. For example, one teacher took his students to the same spot in each of the four seasons, and he asked them questions: Where does the water in the creek go? How does it affect the areas downstream?”

“Outdoor education teaches about the environment in the environment. It’s experiential,” Janet explains. “However, unless the teacher provokes critique and action, it does not necessarily teach for the environment.”

Janet stresses the importance of discussing issues from a local perspective. “Issues such as poverty are complex. It’s easy to think we’ve solved the problem by sending money to Guatemala. By starting at the local level and moving to the global level, children appreciate that these are complex issues,” she explains. “Social and ecological justice issues are intertwined. One cannot heal the environment without resolving issues of inequity.”

Programs in Saskatoon
Saskatchewan has only one formal environmental education program. Other than in that program, environmentally committed teachers are responsible for taking the courses they teach and working them around environmental topics.

“It’s an advantage to not have an environmental education curriculum as it allows teachers to take a critical, action-oriented approach,” Janet says. “But teachers are also at a disadvantage as they have to fit the environmental courses around the existing curriculum.”

There are some Saskatoon programs that teach students about the environment while in the environment. These include programs at the Brightwater Science and Environmental Centre, the Blackstrap Outdoor/Environmental Center, the Ed and May Scissons Environmental Centre at Eagle Creek, and the nature-based programs offered by the Saskatoon Zoo Society, the Meewasin Valley Authority, and Wanuskewin. Transportation costs and the small size of the programs limit how many students can participate.

The Province of Saskatchewan recently introduced a new science curriculum for grade 11 students. The Environmental Science 20 course description states that, “Students will learn how to examine local and global environmental issues from a systems perspective while considering the effects of human actions and a growing global population on the climate and environment, as well as the effects of the environment on human health.”

“The new program expects teachers to take their students outdoors,” Janet says, “but it’s hard to get outside in the regular 60-minute class. You need places close to the school, such as a community garden or a native plant garden.”

Moving Forward
A term that is coming into use is education for sustainability. It recognizes the connections between the environment, social justice, and the economy. For example, why do we place toxic waste dumps in northern Saskatchewan or locate garbage dumps next to poor neighbourhoods? How do we measure the cost of mitigating the environmental damage caused by extracting natural resources? Why are resources inequitably distributed?

Janet has met environmental educators from other provinces and believes that we see environmental education differently in Saskatchewan. “In Saskatchewan, we connect environmental and social justice issues and we support both formal (intentional, evaluated) and non-formal (workshops, tours) approaches,” she explains. “We take an action-oriented approach. We want to make children aware of the political process so that they can become involved.”

The new Bachelor of Education program at the University of Saskatchewan supports this approach. It focuses on helping beginning teachers to build the curriculum around the important issues of the day.

All teacher candidates now take a course called Pedagogies of Place which helps them find learning resources in their communities. Also addressed in the course are experiential, inquiry-based instructional methods and assessment for learning processes to support students developing competency in their inquiries. They also take a course called Ethical Beginnings which addresses social justice. Addressed in the course are critical approaches to teaching and learning, for examining and challenging the status quo.

Why It Matters
In an age dominated by technological advances, it’s increasingly important for all of us to balance our online time with outdoor time. Environmental education programs are crucial for ensuring that children spend time outdoors and learn to appreciate nature.

Additional Resources
EcoJustice, Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools 
Outdoor School, Saskatoon Public Schools 
EcoQuest, Saskatoon Public Schools
Let’s Lead Nikanetan

Photo Credit: Alyssa Wiebe, College of Education, University of Saskatchewan

Tuesday 11 November 2014

EcoSask News, Nov. 11, 2014

"In the field the poppies grow..."
Ariel, the Swainson’s Hawk, Nov. 16
Visit with Greg Fenty and Ariel the Swainson’s Hawk at 12 noon, Nov. 16, at Wild Birds Unlimited. Ariel is over 20 years old!

My ABC Book, Nov. 16
Anne McElroy presents her children’s book, My ABC Book… Wild Creatures, Weird Facts, at 1 pm, Nov. 16, at McNally Robinson Booksellers. Anne is an active volunteer with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan.

Eleven, Nov. 17
McNally Robinson is hosting a book launch for Paul Hanley’s new book, Eleven, at 7 pm, Nov. 17.

Electric Cars & Hybrids, Nov. 18
Lynn Oliphant will discuss the evolution of electric cars and hybrid vehicles at 7 pm, November 18, at the Frances Morrison Library as part of the SES Sustainable Speaker Series.

SK Conservation Data Centre, Nov. 19 (Regina)
Sarah Vinge-Mazer will speak about the Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre – Rankings, Research, and Rare Plants at 7 pm, Nov. 19, in the Royal Saskatchewan Museum Theatre, Regina, as part of PCAP's Prairie Speaker Series.

Sharing Your Garden with the Birds, Nov. 20
Sara Williams, author of Creating the Prairie Xeriscape, will be speaking at the Saskatoon Nature Society’s meeting at 7:30 pm, Nov. 20, in Room 106, Biology Building, University of Saskatchewan. Sara believes that saving water and providing habitat for birds are a good match and will introduce about 100 hardy, drought-tolerant trees and shrubs that seem to attract birds.

Thank You, WAM!
The members of We Are Many have decided to take an extended break. Let’s give them a huge vote of thanks for all they've contributed over the past few years, including hydration stations at community events and increasing our local supply of garlic and berries.

WAM is hosting its AGM at 7:30 pm, Nov.19, at the Core Neighbourhood Youth Co-op. Everyone is welcome.

Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation Needs Your Help
Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation has completely outgrown its space and needs to find a barn or building on the edge of Saskatoon that they can use for the summer. Ideally, they would like access to water/sewer, outdoor space to build aviaries, and electricity. Call 306-652-5975 if you, or someone you know, can help.

Interesting Articles
It may be annoying, but wind turbine noise doesn't harm our health

Our household waste explodes during the holidays

Students in a year-round outdoor education class at Delisle Composite learn about biodiversity, farming, and native plants

“A protected bike lane is a symbol of democracy” and other advice from Enrique Penalosa

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 6 November 2014

Kids in Nature 2015 Grant Program

The Saskatoon Nature Society offers an annual Kids in Nature grant program to strengthen existing programs and encourage new programs that connect youth in the Saskatoon area with nature.

The total amount of funding available is $2000. This amount may go to one applicant or be shared among several applicants.

Educational institutions, including primary or secondary schools, community associations, Aboriginal bands, and registered charities in the Saskatoon area, are invited to apply for the grant.

The project must target children or youth up to and including 18 years of age. Funds can be used for a new project or an existing ongoing project. You can only submit one application.

An application form is available online and must be submitted by December 31, 2014.

For more information, send an email to: president [at] saskatoonnaturesociety.sk.ca.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Notes from the Field: New Construction on Queen Street

Two new buildings are going up on Queen Street, west of City Hospital, and both of them are advertising some environmentally friendly features. Let’s hope that they are part of a trend of providing alternatives to urban sprawl and a greater consciousness of environmental concerns.

Timber Pointe on Queen
Timber Pointe on Queen is a commercial property with strata title offices to own or lease.

Of particular interest is the underground parking, which will have a green roof, a rarity in Saskatoon. 

As Michael Molaro explained when we talked to him, green roofs can play an important role in storm water drainage and run off and can lower the temperature of urban heat islands.

Shangri-La on 4th
Shangri-La on 4th emphasizes the benefits of living in the downtown core.

They stress walkability – two blocks to Kinsmen Park, Earls next door, etc.

They also list a number of green initiatives: car share program, bicycle storage, reduced water flow shower heads, LED fixtures in common areas, etc.

See also:
Passive House: Comfortable, Energy-Efficient Homes

Saskatoon: Becoming a Leader in Cold Climate Energy Efficiency

Innovation Place’s Sustainability Culture 

University of Saskatchewan Sustainability Issues

Confederation Inn, Saskatoon: Going Green and Saving Money

Tuesday 4 November 2014

EcoSask News, November 4, 2014


Green Drinks Regina, Nov. 6
Green Drinks Regina will be meeting at Abstractions Café at 5:30 pm, Nov. 6.

Blue Grama, Nov. 13
Heather Peat Hamm will read from Blue Grama, a book about the intensity of prairie life – people, plants, and spaces, at 7 pm, Nov. 13 at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Building SK Green Lecture, Nov. 14
Chris Turner, author of The Geography of Hope: A Tour of the World We Need and The Great Leap: How to Survive and Thrive in the Sustainable Economy, will be speaking at 4 pm, Nov. 14, at the Delta Bessborough. The talk is part of the Building Saskatchewan Green conference.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Nov. 16, 1:30-5:30 pm – Pike Lake Birding
Nov. 22, 9 am – 3 pm – Spinney Hill Evergreen Forest
Nov. 30, 2-3 pm – Pre-Grey Cup Birding at President Murray Park

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).

Wild About Saskatoon 2015
It’s official! The NatureCity Festival will rise again, May 23-29, 2015. The focus will be on the relationship between human health and access to healthy/biodiverse natural places.

EcoFriendly Sask will once again provide $5,000 financial support.

SK Birds Calendar
Nick Saunders’s Saskatchewan Birds Calendar 2015 is now available for purchase.

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society says that the new Environmental Management and Protection Act leaves greenhouse gas management on the back burner: “Conspicuously missing in today's announcement is any reference to the Management and Reduction of Greenhouse Gases Act, which still awaits proclamation four years after passing third reading in the Legislature. This Act, although relatively weak, would at least get Saskatchewan started on the urgent task of controlling our province's embarrassingly high per capita emissions, now sitting at three and one half times the Canadian average.”

The longest sage grouse migration in the world is between Saskatchewan and Montana - a 100-mile journey. Individuals from both sides of the border met recently to share ideas and to work together to keep the habitat corridor intact.

On a related topic, researchers have found that sage grouse and the oil industry can co-exist as the priority areas of conservation in the US are not all that important for energy development.

Edmonton is the first city in Canada to construct a living wall as a sound barrier.

Wildlife crossings reduce road kill by design.

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).