It warms my heart when I see people interested and actively playing a role in local environmental issues. As is often said, "If it's to be, it's up to me." As a result of this belief, the work of local grassroots organizations often play a pivotal role in driving change and creating awareness. Fortunately for us, we have quite a number of these types of dedicated organizations within our community.
Last night I attended Paradise in Our Backyard, an evening of speakers at St James Anglican Church in Dundas. This event was hosted by the Eco-Churches of West Hamilton which is made up of participating members of 6 area churches, 5 located in Dundas and 1 in West Hamilton. I learned that this group had been formed in 2009 and in that time had been committed to learning and sharing ecological activities and environmental sustainability practices with their respective communities.
With extra chairs needed, last nights talk was greeted by a full house of interested and engaged members of the community eager to listen and learn. Here is just a quick overview:
The first speaker, Alan Hansell of Stewards of Cootes Watershed told a fascinating tale of his groups accomplishments and commitment to get the entire Cootes Watershed area clean and then keep it clean. Some of his stats were hard to fathom, particularly that since 2012, his team of dedicated volunteers have removed 194,827 lbs. of debris from the streams and wetlands that feed this incredibly important area. The Cootes Paradise watershed supports the ecosystems of at least 9 U.S. states and 5 Canadian provinces as a part of their bird migratory pathways. The efforts that have been taking place here are making a significant difference and the results are measurable based on the growing populations of various species of birds, fish and animals. Please visit at www.stewardsofcootes.ca for more information and volunteer opportunities.
Second up was Paul Haskins from the group Burlington Green. He told his personal story of experiencing his home and property being devastated by a flash flood, handling the aftermath as well as providing tips for managing insurance and mitigating risk. This was a topic that created a lot of interest among the homeowners in the audience as this is a fear that many of us have. Some great information was provided. For more information, please visit them at www.burlingtongreen.org
The final speaker was Leanne Collett who is a Watershed Stewardship Technician with the Hamilton Conservation Authority. Her talk on managing rainwater focused on strategies that both businesses and homeowners can employ to better manage rainwater on their properties. The concept of rain gardens was a fascinating one and I 'm sure something we will hear more of going forward. Many of the strategies shared, from diverting downspouts to utilizing rain barrels are relatively simple to put into practice and these as well as additional ideas can be found by visiting www.hamiltonstewardship.ca
An interesting thought and something we don't often pause to consider is this: All storm sewers are pipes that lead directly into streams and ultimately into the watershed. It is important that we remain vigilant and that each of us act as stewards of our environment.
Lots of questions and dialogue followed the presentations and it was great to witness the high level of interest and engagement.
All of these groups are worthy of our support and our thanks for making the world in which we live, a better place to be. I look forward to learning more about these groups and their activities and sharing them with you.