The Big Wild

I’m proud to say that I created one of the frames for this project!  Can you pick it out?

Borrowed right from the YouTube site, the following important information

Drawn to the Wild is a collaboration between singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer and Mountain Equipment Co-op. Canadians submitted over 1800 frames drawn using an online art tool. This video is the finished product. To learn more, visit

The video comes from a documentary and concert film, “Escarpment Blues”, which features Sarah and her band touring across southern Ontario. Inspired by The Johnny Cash Project, Drawn to the Wild aims to raise awareness about threatened Canadian landscapes.

Sarah’s passion for this wild space not only shows through her video work and music, it shows through her words: “the Niagara Escarpment’s survival as a unique natural environment is seriously threatened. Drawn to the Wild is one way Canadians can both support its protection and collaborate with me and each other in a fun and creative way.”

“I’m a Mountain”
Written by Sarah Harmer

Video from “Escarpment Blues”, a documentary by Andy Keen.

Sarah Harmer
Jason Euringer
Joey Wright
Julie Fader
Spencer Evans
With Marty Kinack, Bryan Bean, Chris Brown

Executive Producers: Sarah Harmer, Patrick Sambrook
Commissioning Editor: Rudy Buttignol – TVO
Producers: Andy Keen, Sarah Harmer, Bryan Bean

Reflections on a Changed Landscape

Clouds Gathering to the East

April 19, 2012 4:30 p.m. Weather 12 degrees, some wind, intermittent cloud.  Findings: The Same: Again and Again  Now it is a matter of maintaining the park area.  I learned from the orientation that now the birds are settling in near the shores and that if I see any flushing at all from the ducks/geese out from under the cattails and other vegetation, then it wouldn’t be right to disturb their space, so I’m not pulling plastics out of the pond anymore.  I spent an awesome walk, reflecting and just enjoying the outdoors.  Max spent much of the time on leash as he LOVES the water!


The desire to write grows with writing. Desiderius Erasmus

Who Sat on That Lawn Mower? Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 17, 2012 9:30 a.m.  Weather: 3 degrees, chilly and grey.  I could have cried this morning when I drove over to the plot of land that edges the Shawnessy Home Depot.  It had been mowed.  No team had been assigned to pick the plastics and debris while the pieces were intact.  Patricia of the Escalation Department of the Home Depot,  in Atlanta, Georgia had informed me that the plot had been mowed…but yes, readers, you guessed it…they don’t know WHO mowed it.  I can’t imagine how the individual felt who had to sit on that mower and watch such a large amount of plastic be ripped apart…knowing full well, it would end up blowing into the pond across the road or littering miles of land to the south.  I spent a full hour picking up ripped pieces of plastic…materials that only days ago, were bags, boxes and packages.  These had blown from the road’s edge all the way down onto the slopes.

A trail of shredded plastic everywhere.

I was broken-hearted.  Whoever is responsible for this expedient ‘fix’, has had a negative effect on the surrounding area; environment AND wildlife.  Later, I will post the quantity of material specific to the mowed yard, collected on this one trip.

This is how the landscape has evolved…mowing over plastics and litter.

This film…the day I reported to Home Depot, my concerns for the surrounding environment.

This film…taken today.

It’s interesting that, in fact, plastics break down…but they just become smaller and smaller pieces.  If you can’t see the mess, you can pretend that it’s NOT there!  To prove a point, “Out of Sight/Out of Mind”, I’m posting a single photograph, without appropriate citation. I found it here.

Alberta Tar Sands/ Oil Sands

If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it. Tennessee Williams

This is NOT my land!

I grew up with stories and histories where nation upon nation claimed, sometimes begged, “This IS MY LAND!”  When you think of it, this is at the crux of most disputes/wars that have plagued every nation under GOD for eons.  When it was about money or religion…it was really about the metaphor for everything on this planet…THE LAND. Recently, a new challenge strikes at the heart of this land as we know it in Canada; the negotiations, challenges, strong opinions around the Keystone Pipeline.   And turn your eyes toward the absolute destruction of LAND in Syria!  What is this about…that one nation/culture continue to reek havoc on another, everywhere?  This photo: REUTERS/George Orfalian featured in the National Post.

REUTERS/George Orfalian

As I contemplate my ten year plan (I’ve always informally had one of these floating in the back of my mind and I seem to be facing fewer and fewer of these.), thoughts of my wee piece of property and what this might mean for my children, come to mind.  We’re funny people, aren’t we?  Investing so much of our lives and work in owning a piece of land? a house? When really, isn’t it an illusion of power/control?  Were any of us really intended to own the land?  Or were we meant to share it?

I’m rambling this morning.  I’ve got my coffee on, after waking at five a.m.  and ringing again and again in my mind are the words I heard yesterday.  “This ISN’T our land!”

I heard from Patricia of the Home Depot Escalation Department in Atlanta, Georgia yesterday.  My phone call was taped for quality assurance, so I will relay this conversation as a paraphrase, the gist of the conversation that we shared.  The phone call was in reference to this piece of land.

Patricia agrees with me, wholeheartedly, that this is an eye sore.  Apparently, since lodging my complaint with her CEO, Frank Blake, Patricia has been assigned this particular ESCALATION.  The tone of her phone call, however, was about her research into WHO OWNS THE LAND…not about the potential for stewardship.  She told me how there was no way that the store associates could be used for clearing up the litter that had accumulated on this land edging within one foot and covering one of the two staff picnic tables on their property.  She informed me that this piece of land is not owned by the City of Calgary, but has been purchased by another party.  However, she said that she has no idea WHO OWNS THE LAND now.  She informed me that, in fact, someone had gone onto the property, mowed over the garbage that my readers see in this photograph and left the broken plastics strewn.  She told me that the Home Depot associates would not be able to be involved in cleaning up this waste (although I had informed her that 80 % of the litter was labeled with the Home Depot logo) because that would mean trespassing onto someone else’s land.  All I had hoped, in my imagination, was that Home Depot would see this as an opportunity for community service and stewardship.  Chandos Construction Ltd.  had answered this call to stewardship and for me, this demonstrates the difference between a company with ethics and one who espouses to that, but does not follow up at the community level.

I asked Patricia if I might have made more progress contacting the Home Depot Canada’s offices.  She assured me that the answers would all be the same.  I ended by telling her, “I am not surprised at this very bureaucratic response to my concerns.”  When I told her that perhaps I needed to contact the media about the Home Depot ‘way’, she said, paraphrased, “If that’s what you need to do, go ahead.”  I took her response and sat with it.  Now….this.

I’ve contacted my City of Calgary, By-Law Representative, Rick Haddow.  Last night he was going to drive by the tract of land that I am making reference to.  He told me that his office had not heard from Home Depot, but that is not to say that some other department hadn’t.  He asked me to leave this matter with him and he would get back to me.

In conclusion…for today.  Here we have a GIANT among corporations, Home Depot, clearly drawing boundaries and thinking about whether this piece of land is under their jurisdiction rather than thinking, “What can we do?  How can we help?  What initiative can we take?”  Instead, the culture of Home Depot and this particular store is to provide their ‘associates’ with a picnic space that is right on the line of this devastation.  The line is drawn.  “This is NOT OUR LAND!”

When did this happen?  That we can not take care of the land, because we don’t own it?

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 16, 2012 11:00 a.m. Weather: Sunshine, warm breeze 5 degrees.  We had so much snow on the weekend, that I didn’t get out to do my pickin’, so today I cleared out the Tim Hortons Latte cups and the Corona bottles, as well as a new batch of plastics.  Unfortunately, long pieces of heavy weight plastics are coming across the road from the Home Depot’s landscape products now.  I picked up two on this trip, taking up most of today’s bag.  I’m still waiting to hear from Patricia of Atlanta, Georgia…home of the Home Depot Executive Escalation Team.  I was told I’d hear from them today regarding the situation at the Shawnessy Home Depot and their thickly littered boulevard.

Plastic-wrapped landscape product...just waiting for Calgarians and spring!

Typically, the stuff that gets away, ends up in One Bag.  I met a couple of people on my walk today…didn’t catch their names, but they were both drinking Tim Hortons lattes.  I said, “I sure hope you are putting those cups in the bin, once you’re finished.”  I learned that these folk often pick up a small plastic bag from the ground while they go on their walks at Frank’s Flats, and fill it with litter.  It ended up being a real ‘gratitude’ talk.  I enjoyed it very much.

Weekend Tims

I spoke to them about the fact that Alberta does not yet have technology whereby the Tim Hortons cups can be scrubbed of their poly interiors, so untimately, while they do advertise and provide recycle bins for their product, it all ends up in the landfill.  They were surprised that it is only the Atlantic provinces that are recycling their cups.  Something for Albertans to think about.