Environment Views: Residents groups are taking on the climate change challenge in East Toronto

From left, Virginie Gysel, Dawn Lyons, and Sylvia Kraus sort fruit-bearing shrubs and trees at Treemobile Toronto's first-ever planting day at St. Saviour's Anglican Church on April 26. The volunteer group delivers low-cost, food-bearing plants to residents in an effort to grow organic food with a lower carboon footprint. For more information, visit transitiontreemobile.org. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson
TreeMobile volunteers prepare to plant fruit trees at St. Saviour's Anglican Church on Kimberley Avenue in this Beach Metro News file photo.

By KATIE FULLERTON

In the last few months I have been attending community meetings in order to learn and write about what groups in the East End are doing in relation to climate change.

Many residents are anxious about climate change and want to take action. But doing it solo is hard and many have recognized that more can be done as a group – as Ron Fitton of the Beach United Church’s Environmental Action Group said, “ Together we can accomplish much more than individually possible.”

Community green groups are supplying collaborative and supportive arenas for political action, awareness building and sustainable living initiatives and actions. These groups are in a position to have considerable influence.

Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine Smith acknowledged the impact of community climate action groups as an impetus for change and said, “We need more visible climate action in our community.”

The City of Toronto is also very interested in encouraging and building awareness of the community green groups. They have created a Toronto Community Climate Action website – including an interactive map and searchable list of groups across the area.

In this week’s article I am reporting on three groups – two in Scarborough – GN24 and the Guildwood Village Community Association (GVCA) ‘s Climate Change Conversation, and in the Beach area – Treemobile.

Green Neighbours 24
(Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood)

GN24 had their first meeting in January and was started by two residents: Mark Takefman, an environmental consultant with more than 30 years experience, and John Doleweerd, a teacher and a local community garden co-ordinator. Both have collaborated in the past with groups such as Climate Fast and Climate Action Network, and have held climate documentary nights and workshops.

Their mission is to work with the Ward 24 community to “establish an environmentally sustainable and regenerative lifestyle “by collaborating with all members of the ward including youth, seniors and politicians.”

As Mark stated in the first meeting, “Now is the time – I don’t want to do things by myself.”

The aim of the groups is to also to stimulate idea generation and take immediate action on projects. The attendees expressed their concern about the slow pace of change and the inertia of our politicians. But they want to be participants not bystanders in effecting change.

After a group assessment of various interests and project ideas the attendees divided into sub committees to focus on their choices – waste workshops, eco film nights and neighbourhood plastic waste. Recently, two of the GN24 members met with Scarborough Southwest MP Bill Blair regarding climate change and the elimination of plastics.

GN 24 meets the first Monday of every month. For information, please contact Mark Takefman takefman@gmail.com

Guildwood Village Community Association (GVCA) Climate Change Conversation

On Jan. 26, the GVCA hosted a Climate Change Conversation with more than 40 residents. The GVCA held this meeting to stimulate climate change action and to discover, as Allison Murray stated, “What we as individuals can do in our community this year.“

The meeting started with a presentation from city staff (Transform TO) on the City’s Climate Action Strategy and the Environics City-wide Climate Perceptions study.

After the presentation, the attendees were divided into seven study groups to discuss local actionable ideas and projects that can be done now.
The discussion groups included transit, buildings energy use, recycling, waste and biodiversity support. These discussions will continue online and in future meetings.

One major outcome was the formation of a new action oriented group – Green Guildwood. “Through education opportunities, knowledge sharing, special events and advocacy efforts, Green Guildwood strives to inspire and empower everyone to take action through small changes, big ideas and everything in between,” said Murray.

For more information on Green Guildwood, email greenguildwood@gmail.com.

TreeMobile

Treemobile is a volunteer driven not-for-profit group that encourages foodscaping as a way to build more sustainability in our communities.

It was started by Upper Beach resident Virginie Gysel who brought on board Andrew Knox of Transition Toronto. Over their 10 years they have supported the planting of more than 10,000 food bearing shrubs, bushes and trees in the GTA.

Treemobile makes it easier to grow food at great prices They supply climate appropriate food-bearing trees and plants. Participants can select from an online catalogue, and they will set up delivery or pickup times.

All profits go towards their Edible Community Garden Grant. This grant is their way to encourage community groups to get together and grow food-bearing plants.

Treemobile stocks everything from apple trees to asparagus. New this year – hardy figs and a sour cherry from 16th century France! To order, volunteer or apply for a grant, visit www.transitiontreemobile.org/ Order by April 13 for spring delivery.

After my last article on Feb. 4 I heard from green groups who would like to be featured in the Beach Metro News. If you would like your group covered then please contact me at k_fullerton@sympatico.ca

Please note that all of the groups above will have booths at the Scarborough Seedy Saturday and Green Fair on Saturday, March 28, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at St. John Henry Newman Catholic School, 100 Brimley Rd.

For more information on Seedy Saturday, please visit facebook.com/SSSGFair


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