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Spring Green Gathering brings local green groups together in Greater Sudbury

by Naomi Grant

Planting trees is still important environmental work in Greater Sudbury, but local food, sustainable transportation, and water quality are also top priorities. (Photo by Naomi Grant)
Planting trees is still important environmental work in Greater Sudbury, but local food, sustainable transportation, and water quality are also top priorities. (Photo by Naomi Grant)
New natural parks like this one are one important way significant natural areas are being protected.  (Photo by Naomi Grant)
New natural parks like this one are one important way significant natural areas are being protected. (Photo by Naomi Grant)
An increase in blue-green algae blooms has contributed to heightened public concern over water quality and lake health.  (Photo by Lilly Noble)
An increase in blue-green algae blooms has contributed to heightened public concern over water quality and lake health. (Photo by Lilly Noble)
A growing interest in local food has led to several new initiatives supporting new farmers, connecting residents to local food, and advocating for good local food policies.  (Photo from The Foodshed Project)
A growing interest in local food has led to several new initiatives supporting new farmers, connecting residents to local food, and advocating for good local food policies. (Photo from The Foodshed Project)
Strong advocacy for cycling infrastructure continues, but advocacy for complete streets and better transit service are also gathering strength.  (Image from Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury)
Strong advocacy for cycling infrastructure continues, but advocacy for complete streets and better transit service are also gathering strength. (Image from Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury)

On April 8, local environmental organizations met for the Spring 2013 Green Gathering.  This productive meeting was an opportunity for Greater Sudbury’s green groups to share information and ideas, and work on common goals.  It was attended by 17 people, representing 22 organizations.  This was the third such gathering, which were first organized in March of 2012, and are now held every spring and fall.

There are a wealth of small grassroots environmental groups in Greater Sudbury, addressing a wide range of environmental issues.  Given their many common goals, needs and challenges, there are many benefits to getting together.   “I really think these are important meetings” said Charles Ramcharan, who is involved in lake water quality and local food issues.

A Mission Statement, agreed to on April 8, formalized the goal of sharing information and ideas, collaborating on shared needs and joint events, and setting common priorities and action items.  Green Gatherings are a recognition that all environmental issues are interconnected and that individual and collective work is more effective with good communication and mutual support.

As is the case for most non-profits, resources and capacity are common issues.  Recruiting new members, finding funding, and media skills and effective public education and outreach are needs for many groups.  A short workshop by Grassroots:  Sudbury’s Media Collective offered media skills just prior to the Green Gathering, and a workshop on public education is in the works, in conjunction with the Science Communication Program (offered by Laurentian University and Science North).  These type of capacity building workshops, addressing specific common needs, are one direct benefit arising from the Green Gatherings.

ReThink Green has taken the lead in organizing a series of these capacity building workshops.  A new initiative by this organization has the potential to meet many shared needs such as office services, funding, insurance needs, volunteer coordination, and community outreach. 

As groups shared their experiences, several opportunities for productive collaborations emerged.  For example, the Sudbury Cyclists Union saw potential partnerships on insurance, a barrier that has prevented them from holding group rides and other public events.  Groups also saw the opportunity to learn from each other's successes.

This simple sharing of their work, events, and issues allows groups to catch up and connect, something that is often missing in the daily scramble to accomplish a lot with a little.  Annette Reszczynski, attending on behalf of the Social Planning Council reflected that the “best part was the good turn out and the respectful attention of everyone around the table – there was a good feeling and a sense of cooperation and value for everyone’s projects.”

There is affirmation for each group’s work, but also for the sum total of the work of the local environmental community.  An impressive range of important and interesting work was recounted around the table. 

Hearing from many groups at once also allows the big picture to emerge.  Four top priorities were agreed to at the Spring 2012 Green Gathering:  supporting local food and agriculture, keeping our natural environment healthy and protecting important green spaces, protecting water quality and  keeping our lakes and waterways clean and healthy, and supporting sustainable transportation:  walking, cycling, and transit.  It was also agreed that engaging and empowering people to take ownership and make a difference must be a priority in acting on these priorities.  Strong actions are being taken on all of these priorities.  An important gap identified is the need for a community garden network coordinator.

Full notes from the Green Gathering, as well as summary information, are available on-line.

Citizens can find out more about local green groups any time at greenconnectsudbury.ca, or in person at the Earth Day Festival, Saturday, April 27, 10am – 5pm, at Sacré Coeur (261 Notre Dame Ave).   Citizens who wish to be kept regularly informed on local green events, issues, and actions should contact clsudbury@live.com to receive the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury e-newsletter. 

Naomi Grant was an organizer of the Green Gathering, and attended on behalf of Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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