Sustainable Places

The Link Magazine
Wild Sunflowers, Photo: Amanda Newell Chambers

The Link, Spring 2017
| by Amanda Newell Chambers |

I’ve been a little down on the world lately. It’s really feeling like we’re taking a long walk down a short dock. Along with depressing international politics, I sometimes look at my two sweet babies, one and two years old, and feel anxious about the world they will inherit because of too much greed, too much waste and too little connection.

Fortunately, every time things start to get too dreary upstairs, something happens to remind me that good things are happening and hopeful movement for positive change does exist. Tons of people care and they are coming together and collaborating in ways that have the potential to foster meaningful, lasting growth toward a healthier world.

“…what action is being taken in our communities…”

There are dozens of important environmental initiatives humming away around us in south-central Ontario. They work with tight or non-existent budgets, so we often haven’t heard about them. They protect our water and food, they create habitat, they affect policy, they advocate and educate. They exist because of community members, your neighbours, who are driven by heart and passion or a quiet sense of obligation to do what is right. Their on-the-ground action makes our communities better, stronger, safer and healthier places to live.

One of these organizations is Sustainable Cobourg (SC), a home-grown non-profit NGO doing good and uplifting my doomsday attitude. I’ve chatted with Gigi Ludorf-Weaver, President and Town Hall Committee Chair, to find out more. SC is small but mighty, run by positive energy and conviction. The board, committees and members have done much in little time, including the cultivation of a community garden and a self-help bike shop (Cycle Transitions). They also ensure local government knows that people want sustainability to be an integral part of planning as the town grows. Membership, a totally reasonable fee ranging from $10 to $45, supports current initiatives such as advocating for the development of a sustainable community through the revitalization of a brownfield area.

Promoting a culture of sustainability is one of the most important aspects of Sustainable Cobourg. Gigi talks about “Providing the language, meaning and context of sustainability through each pillar of the environmental, the economic and the social dimensions, from which culture evolves.” This is no small feat and is more effective through SC’s affiliations with supporting organizations such as the Ontario Nature Conservancy, Ganaraska Conservation Authority, Sustain Ontario, EcoSparks and the Ontario Climate Consortium. SC operates from the office of its partner, Go Green Together. For the price of a few gourmet coffees, you can support this work and enjoy some membership perks. (To be clear, I am not knocking or downplaying coffee in any way whatsoever. I am in love with coffee. Planet-friendly coffee is my lifeblood. This is a testament to how strongly I encourage the support of SC. Download the application from and send it in. If you’re closer to Peterborough, check out Sustainable Peterborough, too.)

This great planet that supports us is resilient but it can only take so much use and abuse. Let’s all educate ourselves about what action is being taken in our communities and how we can best help. Let’s leave this place better than we found it and pass on a world that will allow our sweet little ones to thrive.