In honour of Earth Day, and in lieu of the canceled Sustainability Fair (we miss it too!), Sustainable North Grenville is releasing a series of articles, beginning today with, ‘Where we Started’, a pocket history introduction. Next week look for, ‘Where we are Now?’, complete with our, ‘State of NG’, community report card. The following week we finish with ‘Where to Next?’, mapping next steps to ensure a more sustainable future for North Grenville.
Sustainable North Grenville (or ‘SNG’) is your local citizen action group whose goals are to promote all things ‘Sustainable’ in the context of three values:
Our Community: To strengthen the resilience of our community at large – culturally and socially – by a number of measures, including better communication (‘knowing our neighbours’) and, of course, by having fun together!
The Environment: To raise awareness of environmental issues in our community with a mix of education and action.
Local Economy: To support and promote the principles of sustainable community economic development – living and breathing the ‘buy local’ philosophy.
Like so many good things, SNG started with a small group of like-minded individuals gathering to talk. The beginning before the beginning was a small group that planned the first Earth Day Event in 2008.
“We invited people to come celebrate the green in North Grenville,” recalled Clare Weissflog, one of the event’s organizers. “Aimed at families, we pulled together an event designed for active participation, sharing and learning. The weather cooperated and our small but mighty event was a success!”
Others saw the connection between the environment and community well-being. “I had written an article decrying that council’s offering of breaks and incentives to Walmart, a company that had helped kill the downtown business community in my hometown,” recalls former restaurateur and long-time member Bruce Enloe. “There in the comments the next morning was a note saying, ‘Hey, a few of us have been talking about things like this, want to stop by for a tea or coffee?'”
Those initial caffeinated conversations lead to the drafting of the Vision Statement, which is:
“Sustainability is bringing the lessons of the past and the needs of the future into the actions of the present. In North Grenville, we envision a positive future in which we can find most of our food, our goods, our services and our culture right here in our own community. A future where people put more emphasis on each other than on material goods; and where we can talk about the environmental and economic cost of what we buy – not just the price. A Sustainable North Grenville will not be an accident: it will be a plan, an action and a vision.”
This generated a series of events and actions, most notably the annual Sustainability Fair – an event that has grown many times over the years, with music, food, dozens of booths and vendors, workshops, seminars, and recently the largest electric and plug-in hybrid car show between Toronto and Montreal.
SNG has also hosted multiple other events per year, like themed movie nights, an annual Christmas fundraising event with candlelight, a potluck dinner, hosted talks from notable experts on a range of subjects, from local food to green building, from finding frogs to planting trees.
We have advocated on policy when it was important, and have organized protests when the times have called on us to do so. We are most proud of how our community rallied alongside us in stopping a trans-national pipeline effort.
SNG was formed in a very different North Grenville than the one we see today. Locally, as recently as 15 years ago, there was no BIA, no Farmers’ Market, no Environmental Advisory Committee and no Kemptville Live. The College was still the cornerstone of our economy and the hot button issues in the editorial columns were more about land use and lower taxes than the topics that rile us up today.
The SNG mission has always been to look forward, and to explain the things that are difficult to explain… but many of those original issues – like climate change, or even community composting and local food, are now part of everyday conversations both here and in the world at large.
Tune in next week for Part 2: Where Are We Now? – and our Community Report Card!
More info: visit http://www.sustainablenorthgrenville.ca/