Saving the Planet One Story at a Time
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Some people are wondering  these days how to help Canadians develop better water consciousness when most of us think water comes from the refrigerator door, and when asked what is a watershed is might easily reply “it’s a shack in the yard for water bottles.”

There’s no question we take water for granted. So how do we all start valuing water for what it is worth?  Social marketing mnemonic prompts might well remind us to turn off the tap – but to me that sort of effort is just wasting water in different way.

Our Ladies of the Lake work on Lake Simcoe has shown us that a lake or a river is much more than something to be used, and that water is not just a commodity. First hand we’ve seen water’s great powers to teach, inspire and connect us.  As people, business and government grapple with unprecedented social, economic and environmental change, we believe, as U.S. ecologist David W. Orr puts it: “Water can help us flow to a place where mind and habitat are reconnected and where our needs for shelter, warmth, energy, economic well being, health , creativity and conviviality all connect.”

That’s why Ladies of the Lake is taking a lead role in a growing group of people and organizations nurturing the idea of a Water Centre for Innovation, Research and Learning on Lake Simcoe. We see this as a 21st century hub of activity where children, students, scientists, artists, businesses, government and citizens of all types come together to celebrate and learn about water.  And, inspired by water, we see a place where the ecological, social, cultural, economic, recreational and spiritual meanings and benefits of water come together.

The first big step towards a water centre  –to show what it might be—is to  happen August 13, 2011 at the first SPLASH Floating Water Festival on the shores of Lake Simcoe in leafy  De La Salle Park, Jackson’s Point. We invite everyone to join us in  experiencing  the many powers of water… water music, water art, water sports,  water inventions, water learning with a good measure of  fun and fresh local food thrown in . See more at www.splashfestival .ca — and see you there!

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If you saw 100 women dressed in yellow shirts singing the praises of Lake Simcoe, you would probably think your eyes were deceiving you. Not so, the Ladies of the Lake is an association of over 100 such women who are seeking new and innovative ways to get people active in returning their lake to the good health it once enjoyed.

Annabel Slaight is best known as an editor and publisher of children’s books and magazines,  and kids TV producer. But these days, this retired media maven is most involved in the Ladies of the Lake Conservation Association of which she is co-founder.

This GreenHero’s association is spearheading  a new cross-discipline approach to conservation and renewal. Through the use of art, media and other forms of education, this group is promoting interest and participation in bringing lake Simcoe back to health after 30 years of neglect. Annabel and her friend Jane Meredith, co-founded The Ladies after realizing what dire straights the area was in. Cold-water fish were no longer breeding, some beaches were no longer suitable places for families to play and the bio-diversity had shifted in favour of invasive plant and insect life.

Instead of mandating a simple clean-up regime, Annabel and the Ladies have managed to engage people in new and inventive ways. An example of this was the 2009 W.A.S.T.E. film project, this stands for We Are Saving The Environment and it saw 64 youth attend film courses and create short films to prompt action to save Lake Simcoe. This culminated with a film festival and a conference that was well attended and you can view all films on-line!

The Ladies’ newest project is The Ontario Water Centre. Which seeks to educate the public about water and why it is so integral to our health and how Canada can set an example as defenders of the world’s water. This vision of combining all types of professionals and creativities to appreciate and protect our most precious natural resource is truly inspiring. It kicks off this August with the SPLASH Floating Water Festival in Jackson’s Point.

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Mary Gorman was recognized by all members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for her environmental work and activism. She is also commended for having been the latest Green Heroes grand prize winner on April 16th, at the Green Living Show in Toronto. The letter reads as follows:

“HANSARD 11-15


Speaker: Honourable Gordon Grosse

Third Session



MR. CLAIRRE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Mary Gorman, A Merigomish resident, was named Canada’s latest Green Hero during the Green Living Show in Toronto, April 16, 2011, and;

Whereas Ms. Gorman was nominated through the Sierra Club, in Halifax, for her strong commitment toward the protection of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and to raise awareness about the oil industry and other issues in the Gulf; and

Whereas Ms. Gorman will be featured in a 30-minute international television program this Fall highlighting her cause and efforts to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Mary Gorman for her perseverance and commitment to the environment.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Compliments of Clairre MacKinnon MLA Pictou East”

More and more event organizers are choosing to reduce their environmental impact by bullfrogpowering their events with 100% green electricity. Any event in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island that draws electricity from the grid can become bullfrogpowered.

The 3rd Annual Earth Run/Walk, Run for Your Planet, started in April and is taking place throughout June. It encourages people to look for ways to lead a healthier lifestyle. You can join a run or do it independently as a virtual runner. There are several benefiting local organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation.

Canada’s west coast goes green with several events this month. EAT Vancouver is a food and cooking festival that launches today and runs until June 12th. LOVE Vancouver, Love Your Planet is a free green arts, music and lifestyle festival in the False Creek seawall and the Olympic Village. It not only entertains though music and art, but aims to bring people together and collaborate to creating new ideas and means to leading a greener lifestyle.

The CSA Standards 2011 Annual Conference & Committee Week taking place in Victoria, B.C.  June 12th-17th,  brings together the leading industry professionals, government delegates and consumer representatives to help lay the stepping stones for sustainable practices. Back in Toronto, the Canadian Water Summit 2011 is taking place on June 14th to collaborate and develop solutions for a sustainable water future.

Ever wondered what kinds of energy efficient households are out there? Learn more about Edmonton’s EcoSolar Home Tour will open the doors to ten houses that explore the possibilities. From ‘net zero’ homes that generate more power than they use, to geothermal heat and solar electric systems, you are bound to have quite an educational experience!

Last but certainly not least, check out Edmonton’s first Summer Solstice Cultural Celebration with the Utopia Music Festival. Wearing the banner of unity, diversity and love, it brings together a varied collection of musicians from different musical backgrounds. Takes place on June 17th and 18th!

Interested in getting Bullfrog to Power your events? Click here to find out how! Also, if you want to subscribe to the Bullfrog Power Events news RSS feed, click here.

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For as long as Tom Heintzman can remember, he has felt a personal commitment to the environment. The President and Co-Founder of Bullfrog Power, Canada’s 100% green energy provider, believes his appreciation of nature stems from early family canoe trips, and the hours spent exploring the outdoors as a child. Tom’s first memory of protecting the environment involves recycling with his grandmother, back during a time when municipal programs were not in place. In varying capacities, Tom has woven environmentalism into all stages of his life and work.

Over the years, Tom has felt a growing concern about the impact humans are having on the planet, and he has developed a strong desire to find alternate actions or solutions homes and businesses can implement to help reduce their footprint. Starting a renewable energy company was the logical continuation or next step in his personal story. Through Bullfrog Power, Tom and his business partner, Greg Kiessling, offer Canadians green energy choices for their homes and businesses. By choosing green electricity and green natural gas through Bullfrog, Canadians are able to reduce their environmental impact, support the development of new renewable generation in Canada, and help influence change in Canada’s energy landscape.

Often Tom is asked where the name “Bullfrog Power” comes from. According to Tom, Bullfrogs represent “green” without being too literal. Also, frogs are an indicator species and among the first to feel the impacts of climate change. The personality of the bullfrog also fits the company brand: bullfrogs are small but they each have a big voice. Ultimately, the meaning behind the name reflects attributes of bullfrogpowered customers. They are individuals making a big difference for the environment and energy landscape in Canada.

The energy industry is a place that can use a visionary GreenHero such as this campaign’s Tom Heintzman.

Tom Heintzman is the co-founder and current president of Bullfrog Power Inc., Canada’s only 100% green energy provider to homes and businesses across the nation. This GreenHero helps people across the nation decrease their carbon emissions while providing a service we all use everyday. He shows us that one doesn’t need to endanger the earth or compromise our commitment to green living to have the things we need.

This company enjoys wide patronage. Some of their better-known clients include; Tragically Hip front-man Gord Downie, former Toronto mayor David Crombie and Margaret Atwood.

Mr. Heintzman reflects that as early as 14 he displayed a passion for renewable energy when undertook an environmental class and wrote about his concern for the future of energy supplies. He hasn’t stopped since.

Our GreenHero is always looking for new ways to green the energy industry. The newest product to come out of Heintzman’s Bullfrog Company is Canada’s first completely green natural gas. Using emissions harvested from combinations of organic, decomposing materials such as landfills, the gas is processed and provided to clients as a clean alternative to mined gas. The more we use, the less the need for traditional fuels. With innovations such as this, Tom is an inspiration to us all not to accept the staus quo. If a product or practice is harming the earth, there must be another, greener, gentler way live, you just have to keep on going until you get find it.

Photos from Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life, courtesy CineFocus-Paquin Pictures

Groundbreaker, artist, musician and activist, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s powerful song, No No Keshagesh, adds award-winning clout and passion to Tzeporah Berman’s webisode and campaign.

Keshagesh means Greedy Guts. It’s what you call a little puppy who eats his own dinner and then wants everybody else’s.” Buffy explains about the song title.

Buffy’s accomplishments include everything from being the first person to receive the APCMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award to winning a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her song  Up Where We Belong, the theme song for An Officer and a Gentleman.

If you haven’t checked it out, CineFocus Canada, the company that created GreenHeroes, also produced a one hour documentary on the legendary singer/songwriter, Buffy Sainte-Marie: A Multimedia Life. While making the documentary, Buffy told director, Joan Prowse, about the song and its environmental “call to action” message. When creating the webisode on Tzeporah, Joan paired the two activists together remembering the apt message of Buffy’s song.

No No Keshagesh is on “Running for the Drum”, co-produced with another GreenHero musician Chris Birkett. The album gave  Buffy Sainte MarieJuno award for Best Aboriginal Artist,  an Aboriginal’s People Choice Music Award (APCMA) for Best Folk Album, Best Female Artist at the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards and Best Single & Songwriter  for  No No Keshagesh.

Remember – in the battle to save the planet, speaking up for our environment matters. Share the story of how you are spreading the word about an issue that is destroying our planet by entering our contest, and you’ll be eligible to win a prize, including being featured on TV as our next GreenHero! Contest details and more information can be found here.

Arbor Alma

By John Bessai

In many cities and towns across Canada and around the world, the trees that we see along the boulevards or in parks form a backdrop that we can take for granted. I like to think  of urban tress as part of an invisible forest.  My short film Arbor Alma, made for BravoFact!, pays tribute to the tree you pass by every day. They are kind of invisible unless you take a second look. Then you think about them a little bit differently and appreciate them more.

Click on the image above to watch Arbor Alma now.

Arbor Alma (‘The Giving Tree’) is a four-minute film that explores the possibility that identity can be formed out of a dialogue between people and how they understand their environment, in particular the role of trees. Viewers are encouraged to reflect on their own relationship with trees and challenged to take notice of the “invisible” forest around them – the trees that are everywhere in the city but are often barely noticed.

The film includes a montage of images – photographs and footage of Canadian urban green spaces as well as displaying iconic forests and trees painted by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson held in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The natural beauty of our urban trees and forests is highlighted in the movie. The footage, paintings and stills are accompanied by unique musical compositions and contemporary digital photography that are composed as “tree portraiture” and reflect on the importance of trees in our lives.

This film is produced by CineFocus Canada and is available for purchase.

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From the Airwaves

Tzeporah Berman is a featured hero in the Green Heroes episode The Tree of Life, airing again on Saturday May 28th and Monday May 30th on TVO. The episode also features Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai and Not Far From the Tree founder Laura Reinsborough. Maathai began Kenya’s Green Belt movement, in which women earned money for planting trees. And Reinsborough is a local food pioneer whose organization prevents rotting fruit from being thrown away. The episode can also be viewed online.

And check out the documentary Harmony, narrated by Prince Charles, who has been speaking out on environmental issues for over two decades. It puts forward solutions for fighting climate change and features a number of inspiring environmental activists from across the world, including Green Hero Vandana Shiva (hyperlink to webisode), who is profiled in the episode Groundbreakers which airs on TVO on Saturday, June 11.

The film also singles out the ongoing (and often-successful) initiative to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, lead by ForestEthics. Todd Paglia and Valerie Langer, both from the organization, are interviewed as part of this segment.

Watch the trailer here and sign up for news about the upcoming DVD here.

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Thanks to Tzeporah Berman’s environmental pursuits, 65 million acres of endangered forest have been protected and companies like Staples and Victoria’s Secret have adopted more sustainable practices. As the Executive Director and co-founder of Power Up Canada, Berman also aims to effect change in federal government climate change policies and laws.

Power Up is a call to action for Canadian political leaders, urging them to take climate change seriously and demonstrate their commitment to fighting it. Power Up points out that Canada is behind other nations, like China and India, in terms of policies aimed at combating climate change, and asks that the federal government “prioritize efficiency, greenhouse gas reductions and building clean energy.” The campaign asks Canadian citizens to join in on the call to action, making it easy with a ready-made form and letter on their website.

The campaign has drawn support from Canadian celebrities like Margaret Atwood, Rachel McAdams, George Stroumboulopoulos and Neve Campbell, and is prominent enough to have warranted a “Green Carpet” gala in 2008. Staying true to the organization’s mission, the guests arrived at the Toronto event in rickshaws and alternative fuel vehicles.