Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 31, 2012

This is the first day since my Lenten journey began that I haven’t been outside, changing the landscape, one bag at a time.  I decided that today I would head out into nature, the way most people do…with the intent of taking it all in; no garbage bag…no rubber gloves, no rubber boots.  It was a glorious day outdoors at 12 degrees, although the last couple of hours it has looked as though the clouds are stirring some weather up.

At two o’clock this afternoon, I had a meeting with Tim Coldwell, Chandos Vice President of Corporate Accounts and his wife.  We spoke informally over a coffee, about the project, my findings during the project and the nature of the solutions that will be offered.  I really appreciated Tim’s accountability on behalf of Chandos and their handling of the South Fish Creek Recreational Association, specific to the clean up.


Prior to meeting with me,  Tim took a walk around the site that has been primarily cleared during this stewardship journey of mine.

I brought along a brief, explaining the points on the Chandos website that I most admired and wondered about, along with a few photographs from my archives of the project.  I’d like to post a couple of the vision statements here.

Under Communities

In the communities where we do business our people keep us connected. We support the passions of our people with corporate donations to the charitable causes that our employees and friends are involved in. With this approach, we contribute to the communities that create our business opportunities.

Under Sustainability

Like the spaces we construct, we are an organization built to last. Our planning, decisions and daily actions are all guided by the notion that we are here for the long term. This sense of corporate social responsibility has resulted in our position as the green building contractor of choice – these are just two examples.

We built the first LEED® buildings in the prairies and have developed award-winning expertise in construction waste diversion. Where others saw a financial burden, we saw an opportunity to demonstrate leadership by diverting construction waste at no incremental cost – now standard on all projects. Last year alone we diverted more than 300 train cars of waste from landfills.

Tim flipped over the paperwork that I had prepared and began to draw a map of the area where I have been picking litter.  His map was a good one and he made reference to the slope that has recently been frustrating me.  Since clearing all the large pieces of foam, insulation,  and industrial packaging, there now remain countless wee pieces that will require raking or they WILL end up in the pond and have impact on the environment.  He has agreed that I won’t have to clean these up.

A series of events will now take place as a follow up to the meeting.

1. A team will be established to go out sometime within the next week or two, to rake and clean up the remaining small, but countless items on the slope and the flats that edge the asphalt.

2. The large and obvious items that remain, edging the pond and the fencing will be cleared away.

3. When the ice melts, one or more Chandos employees will bear hip waders/rubber boots and clean out the remaining industrial garbage from the job site.

4. Tim and I will follow up with an inspection of the area before landscaping is pursued.

5. A case study may be developed based on this site by Chandos sustainability department in Edmonton…a study that might convey the importance of environmental issues to every extent for the sake of employee training, specific to expectations.   Words from their website

Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Ask yourself what they expect and what they appreciate. Think about how the small details can make a big difference in the lives of those you serve. Engage Chandos today for industry insight, recent achievements, issue analysis and more.

6. Tim has approved a contribution to the charity of my choice, a cheque for $1,000.00 to St. Albert the Great Parish, earmarked for our recent drive to support the Feed the Hungry Program.  At 1.97 per meal, this means that Chandos will provide 500 meals for one Feed the Hungry event.  I am most grateful for this contribution.

I felt that the hard work of these past many days has been rewarded through Tim’s authentic listening and the willingness to set in place, appropriate action…action for a better community and a healthier environment.  The culture of the landscape is many-layered and many-faceted.  High school students need to be better stewards, busy or not and teachers and administrators need to encourage this.  Sports facility users need to walk to their garbage/recycle bins and take a degree of pride in the sports center that is now theirs.  South Fish Creek Recreational Association needs to take a stance of pro-active control wherever possible, rather than a stance of defeat.  This is NOT an insurmountable problem.  The landscape CAN be changed, one bag at a time.  The retail stores…Home Depot and Wal-Mart need to look in their back yards.  It’s a disgrace!  Time to take responsibility for each wee piece of land and not wait for someone else to do it!

From Chandos…

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