This week I was reminded of
the “Barrie Means Business” campaign. While I don’t know if that slogan is still
current, certainly a focus remains bringing new business to Barrie, and helping
existing businesses grow more prosperous. Given the many residents who commute to
jobs outside our City, it’s a worthwhile project. Next week, an engaging
speaker will be in Barrie to explain more ways businesses can increase
profitability while reducing carbon footprint and becoming more secure in an
Tom Rand is an entrepreneur,
lecturer, and venture capitalist. He specializes in cleantech, an enterprise approach
that weds profitability and sustainability in business plans that make money
while minimizing ecological impact. He has no interest in self-sacrifice or
spending extra money to be “green”; instead, he demonstrates how being green is the path to earning more green.
One example is Tom’s Planet Traveler hostel in Toronto, a showcase of low-carbon, high-return hotel
services. When you think of green building, you usually picture something
flashy and expensive, specially built from the ground up following new-fangled
designs. But Planet Traveler, dubbed “North America’s greenest hotel”, was
planted in a derelict century-old downtown Toronto building, using geothermal,
solar, and heat reclamation to reduce carbon emissions by 75%. If that old wreck
can become a shining beacon of ecology and profit, then almost any building
can! Tom notes that although these improvements are good for the planet, energy
savings brought increased cash flows that provide a huge competitive advantage.
With an eclectic education including
degrees in engineering and philosophy, Tom’s outlook is different and
refreshing. His current passion is managing the MaRS Cleantech and VCi Green
funds, putting money into new ventures that promise a good return in a future
where we can no longer ignore waste or pollution when we add up the bottom
Author of “Kick the Fossil Fuel Habit”, Tom has said, “It is my belief that we have yet to have a
serious, public conversation about the threat of climate change, and the
economic opportunities afforded by the global transformation to a low-carbon
Well, that conversation will
be taking place right here in Barrie, on Thursday, April 4 at the Georgian Theatre at 1:30 PM. Hosted by Living Green, Transition Barrie, and Georgian
students for Environmental Awareness and Research (GEAR) as part of Georgian’s
Earth Day celebration, this exciting talk is only $15 at the door, only $10 if
you reserve in advance. Visit www.TransitionBarrie.org to get your ticket now,
while they are still available.
As event organizer Mike Fox
promises: author, entrepreneur, investment banker, hotelier and pragmatic
environmentalist Tom Rand is a passionate and engaging speaker that you just
don’t want to miss!
nasty weather like this, I really appreciate an occasion to take the kids out
of the house for a great activity. If you feel the same and have kids between
walking age to around 10 or 11, you’re in luck: the Art With Kids program downtown
on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 to 5 is just what you need.
artist Cindy Waters facilitates this fun variety of art projects weekly at the
Do-It-Yourself Arts Collective at 67 Toronto Street (across from Meineke). The
program runs on a drop-in basis; no pre-registration is required and you can
attend as many or few weeks as you like.
great for the whole family. Kids dive into something new and artistic, with
materials they may not have at home. (Or maybe they can do something messy,
that you’d rather they not do at home!) They can draw inspiration from each
other, or from the ever-changing selection of fresh, local, eclectic art on
display on the studio walls.
enjoy a coffee or tea and a chat while their kids are hard at work (or play)
creating little masterpieces. And did I mention the healthy snacks? There is
always a selection of fresh fruit & vegetables with crackers and juice, and
sometimes even Cindy’s fresh baked goods.
of all, it’s only $3 for one child, or $5 for the whole family – which includes
art & materials, snack, juice, and hot beverage! Allowances can be made if
affordability is an issue, but since this is a non-profit activity, donations
of art supplies or materials are always appreciated. Cindy volunteers her time
to plan and run the program; as she says, “It’s soul work, I give it for free
because it makes me feel good.”
week of the session is a different project; at our last two sessions, my girls
enjoyed making collages and fancy Valentine cards, and we saw some beautiful
but long-drying coloured corn syrup projects that would have been a sticky
disaster at our house, but worked fine at the studio.
fall and winter sessions were quite successful, and the program renews with a
spring session from March 27th to May 29th that introduces
a scheduled program of guest art instructors. And coming up in June will be the
Art With Kids Expo, a kids’ art show where participants can hang & sell
their own creations, featuring balloons, live music, popcorn, Shamus the Magician, and other entertainment being lined up.
you’re like me and have no art sense, but love to see your children get
creative, then I look forward to seeing you and yours at Art With Kids some
Wednesday this spring!
Earth Hour approaches again,
a time for us to be mindful of our energy use by turning the lights off for an
hour on a Saturday evening. The big event at Barrie City Hall won’t be happening this year, but the Barrie Green Party will be hosting our fourth annual
Earth Hour Super-Drive, collecting e-waste, clothing, and food.
This year’s e-waste
collection has an exciting new twist: we’ll pay you by the pound for your
e-waste! Bring in your old cell phones, electronics, electrical devices, or
basically anything with a chip, a plug, or a battery, and we’ll weigh it and hand
you cash. Of course, you’ll be welcome to donate your payment back to one of
the three good causes we’re supporting with our Super-Drive; if we can fill the
GreenGo Recycling truck, we’ll be doing a lot of good for the community!
This year’s clothing drive
will again support the Barrie Free Clothing Centre, and their new operations,
Off the Rack and the Reskill Institute. Operated by Living Green, Off the Rack
sells used or surplus clothing at rock-bottom prices, while those in need can
take full advantage of the free clothing room. Meanwhile, the Reskill institute
helps pass along traditional knowledge to future generations in areas like
mending and making clothing, preserving food, or other handy skills that seem
to be getting lost in the 21st century.
The Super-Drive takes place
between 10 AM and noon on the morning of Saturday, March 23 in front of Off the
Rack in the parking lot behind 110 Dunlop St. W., between Toronto and High
Streets, around the corner from Meineke. We’ll have the mobile weigh scale all
set up, waiting to give you money for your e-waste, so start gathering it up
now and bring it on in. While you’re at it, don’t forget some canned food, and
clear out your wardrobe of clothing you don’t need any more so it goes to
someone who does!
Without a big downtown
event, the evening’s activities will be more like they were for the first Earth
Hours: a candlelit hour at home with family, friends, or neighbours. If you’d
like to get out of the house that evening, you can join us at our own special
candlelight reception; visit www.BarrieGreenParty.ca for
details. We have several interesting guests already lined up for you to meet
and would love for you to join us.
Whatever you do, be mindful
of the Earth as Earth Hour takes place, and remember how it can provide for us
if we look after it.
Since the dawn of civilization, food
has intertwined with our rituals, celebrations and social interaction. Entire
cultures are linked to the foods they embrace. From our first day of life to
our departing farewell, food is an integral element of our existence. Yet
increasingly we take it for granted, and when you take something for granted,
you risk losing it.
Do you know where your next meal is
coming from? This is a question key community stakeholders will address on Monday,
March 25 as they assemble at the South Shore Centre for what may be Barrie’s
first ever Food Security workshop. The day will commence with inspiration from
David Miller, former mayor of Toronto.
This workshop comes on the heels of Simcoe
County’s recently introduced Food and Agriculture Charter. Culminating two
years’ work by the Simcoe County Food Partners Alliance, the Charter outlines a
vision and principles to serve as parameters of food security.
But what does that mean to the city of
Barrie? And why has this suddenly become
an issue? Why would anyone in our affluent society question their source of
food? Is that not the exclusive concern of those living below the poverty level,
or maybe the elderly living on fixed income and restricted mobility?
The grim reality is that affordability
is only one of many issues raising concern. As our food system becomes more
globalized, we lose touch with the source and content of what we eat. Plantations
replacing old-growth rain forests, industrialized factory farms and giant food
processing plants and are just a few of changes evolving to service an
exploding global population. With these changes come underlying risks: human
error in a facility supplying meat products to an entire continent; extreme
weather conditions ruining a crop destined to feed an entire country; unsustainable monoculture practices demanding ever-increasing inputs of artificial chemicals
and supplements to maintain production; intercontinental supply chains depending
on cheap fuels and safe passage to deliver goods to market in a timely fashion.
And if that’s not enough, recent
studies suggest that between 30 to 50% of food produced is wasted, a disturbing
statistic when almost 1 billion people go hungry or suffer from scarcity of healthy
Much of the answer lies in supporting local food; it’s much easier to trust the quality and accessibility of food
produced in your own back yard. This might include education and teaching people
how to identify, grow, cook, and preserve healthy foods. It may involve developing
policies and bylaws that support local food production. Hopefully it will
include building synergies by expanding existing best practices of some of the numerous
organizations already at work in Barrie.
To have your voice heard at this
workshop, please visit www.transitionbarrie.org to comment on the Food
Security Workshop blog.