Surprise #3: Ian Tyson

I saw this Legend perform ‘back in the day’, when I was a bit of an activist as a member of the Friends to the Oldman River Society.  A beautiful artist and friend, Joane Cardinal Schubert, created the image used on the poster advertising a great musical and political event at the edge of Maycroft Crossing back in 1989.  Ian Tyson, along with people like Andy Russell and the Chiefs of the surrounding Nations, gathered along with thousands of Albertans to persuade the Government of Canada that construction of a dam would be of great environmental impact on this river. From The Art Gallery of Calgary’s catalogue for the Calgary Collects Exhibit in the Fall of 2011, this…

Joane Cardinal Schubert and the River

From Wikipedia…

“Russell also sometimes confronted environmental issues in the field, directly on the front lines. In 1977, for example, he was successful in persuading officials in British Columbia to reconsider plans to grant timber harvesting licences in the Akamina-Kishenina region, an area with which Russell was intimately familiar as a result of the decades he spent guiding and outfitting in the area.[23] While wilderness landscapes like the Akamina-Kishenina region were central to Russell’s writing and film making endeavours, he also directed some of his environmental advocacy to the rural working landscape he shared with his neighbours. For example, when Shell Canada in 1970 put forward an application to divert additional water from Drywood Creek, Russell monitored the proceedings to ensure than no more water was taken than necessary, and that the resulting effluent was properly treated.[24] In another instance, to draw attention to problems with the Government of Alberta’s use of sodium fluoroacetate as a predator control compound, he joined two of his ranching colleagues and assisted to gather ten poisoned and rotting coyote carcasses; these were then left on the grounds of the municipal office in Pincher Creek, Alberta, as part of a plan that drew public attention to the issue through prearranged media involvement.[25] Russell also involved himself in larger projects, including in the politically charged opposition to the construction of the Oldman River Dam in southwestern Alberta. He was a founding member of the Friends of the Oldman River and he participated in actions to oppose the dam project, most prominently as a speaker at musician Ian Tyson’s benefit concert held at Maycroft Crossing on June 12, 1989.[26]”

Maycroft 3Further to this, on the University of Lethbridge site

“Active resistance on the Oldman River Dam came from a group of Peigan Natives, the Peigan Lonefighters Society, who in August 1990 began to divert the river using an excavator to render the multi-million dollar dam useless.  The claim was simple, the government of Canada was intruding on sacred Native land, land owned by the Blackfoot Nations. According to Milton Born with a Tooth, “the Oldman River is located in Blackfoot Nation’s territory, something we have always taken as being within our own domain. We all grew up by the river, and that’s how the river has a personal attachment to myself and the people. So that’s what drove us to do what we did on August 3, to let the people know we still had this connection to the river.” Though resistance to the Oldman River Dam has been pacified in the past few years, Peigans still claim that reservior land is their own.

Another part of the controversy has to due with the environmentalists. The environmentalists call themselves, “Friends of the Oldman River Society.”  They formed in the early 1990’s, over the environmental concerns in the construction of the large scale Oldman River Dam. They note that the construction of the Oldman River Dam required an environmental assessment impact, and this was not conducted at all, by Ralph Klein’s government. An environmental assessment impact is a neccessity according to the “Navigable Waters Protection Act”, where it would be determined if its construction would have any notable environmental impacts on this region. The Friends of the Oldman River strongly felt that the construction of the Oldman River Dam, would severely alter and damage local riparian biomes, wildlife habitat, and aquatic life in down stream from the dam. A environmental impact assessment was later conducted by the government, and found the dam to have no significant environmental impact; but the Friends of the Oldman River Society amongst others regard it with much suspect.”

I had studied at the University of Lethbridge, perched on the edge of the Oldman River, and lived in residence there, so for four years, I had a huge relationship with the river.  Everything that Ian Tyson and Andy Russell stand/stood for, I felt deeply about.  And I guess that’s just never changed.  While I am faulted often for being a bit of a ‘bleeding heart’ in my family, I care very much for our environment and see, this many years later, what impact our choices as consumers have upon this wealth of land, water and air that we, as Canadians, often take for granted.

I’ve danced to this song many times over the years and to hear it on the night of the Flood Relief was a surprise.  Thank you, Ian, for your work on behalf of Albertans over all of these years.

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My Thoughts on Tim Hortons…AGAIN

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Recently, the media shared with us that according to the Zagat Survey of Fast Food Favourites, Tim Hortons ranked within the top five.  I have to say that while the public may find their menu popular…and their coffee too, according to this one artist-chick, their stance on stewardship and the environment is in serious need of revision!  I cleaned up some days, between 30 and 50 Tim Horton’s on each walk while exploring whether I might change the landscape, one bag at a time.  In fact, one day I walked over to the Tim Hortons located on the edge of Frank’s Flats and approached the manager with 71 cups collected in a single day and asked if he might offer me a rebate or even turn those cups in for recycling.

The manager explained that, as yet, Alberta does not have the capability of washing the lining product from the cups and so the cups, primarily made of paper, can not be recycled.  There are no incentives offered for returning the cups either and so a large number of people out for their evening/morning/Sunday strolls just pitch their cups and plastic lids into the pond or along its edge.  Like many other Albertans, they surely believe that over time these products will break down in the weather and such, but nah…unfortunately, they just become smaller and smaller pieces of those things that they are.

I revisited this location to see how it has been doing…from a view of the big picture, it continues to be a pristine and beautiful place…hmmm…but, look up close and you will see a different sort of picture.

When I contacted Tim Hortons about their stewardship efforts, I was directed to their link on their website.  It explains goals of diminishing waste and environmental impact by 5%...again and again…if you look into it, over the last several years.  However, there is no acknowledgment of having reached any of those targets.  Tim Hortons sponsors various clean-up efforts in the city, but rarely do you hear of larger efforts to change the type of products they use or to design a new and cost efficient technology to deal with the recyle of their cups.

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

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 11, 2012 12:00 p.m. Weather: 13 degrees, windy, intermittent cloud/sunshine  Findings: I focused on cleaning up the flats of plastics again, then, up against the fence and a walk around the perimeter of the pond.  It takes much patience to pick up the straws and bottle caps.  I notice that the plastics around the water actually break down into smaller and smaller bits.  These make the picking difficult.  Time to bring in a rake.

April 11, 2012

I spoke to Eric this afternoon.  He is part of a landscaping company that is sub-contracted to sweep and clean up the litter on Home Depot’s frontage.  It’s interesting that for image-sake, the company pays someone else to make them ‘look good’.  Where the garbage is heaped up out of view of the customers, nothing is done.  “Oh”, Eric said, “that is city property, we’re told.”  I am looking forward to working with Home Depot’s team, taking on the stewardship of this grand MESS!

Eric cleaning up the Blvd. When I spoke to him, he said…”This is no easy job.”

The Home Depot Value System as Presented on the Company Website

1. Taking care of our people:

The key to our success is treating people well. We do this by encouraging associates to speak up and take risks, by recognizing and rewarding good performance and by leading and developing people so they may grow.

2. Giving back to our communities:

An important part of the fabric of The Home Depot is giving our time, talents, energy and resources to worthwhile causes in our communities and society.

3. Doing the right thing:

We exercise good judgment by “doing the right thing” instead of just “doing things right”. We strive to understand the impact of our decisions, and we accept responsibility for our actions.

4. Excellent customer service:

Along with our quality products, service, price and selection, we must go the extra mile to give customers knowledgeable advice about merchandise and to help them use those products to their maximum benefit.

5. Creating shareholder value:

The investors who provide the capital necessary to allow our company to grow need and expect a return on their investment. We are committed to providing it.

6. Building strong relationships:

Strong relationships are built on trust, honesty and integrity. We listen and respond to the needs of customers, associates, communities and vendors, treating them as partners.

7. Entrepreneurial spirit:

The Home Depot associates are encouraged to initiate creative and innovative ways of serving our customers and improving the business and to spread best practices throughout the company.

8. Respect for all people:

In order to remain successful, our associates must work in an environment of mutual respect, free of discrimination and harassment where each associate is regarded as part of The Home Depot team.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 3, 2012, 3:00 p.m. Weather: 11 degrees and fast-becoming VERY windy.  The mountains were dazzling white on the horizon.  I felt happy inside and really grateful that our visiting-family from London, England, were willing to head to my pond and pick garbage.

YUCK! The secret bush stash of the highschool students!

It turned out to be an adventure in filming…with our star being, 10 year old, Molly.

Detail Shot

While we had troubles with the wind, I hope you will enjoy these environmental stewardship films, as I am thrilled to have been able to collaborate with such a talented star.

Linda, Molly and I found a seagull wing, a bird’s nest and many interesting artifacts of human-kind.  I was able to speak with Molly about identifying male and female birds and we saw two muskrats swimming near the pond’s edge.  It was a wondrous time.

I had the chance to thank Blair before the team was completely packed up.  The parking lot was cleared of rubbish.  The bins were full with bags and bags of litter, garbage and waste…and NOT ALL of it created by Chandos…but unfortunately, left by all of the citizens who forget to care for the place that they enjoy on sunny days and explore on wintry days.

I hope that things will change in this park, now that such stewardship has been demonstrated today!  While the final wee flick includes much noise, it also shares our huge gratitude!  Thank you, Molly.  Thank you, Chandos!

Three Cheers!!!

And thank you, for putting your coffee cups in the bin!  You don’t know what these small gestures mean!

Did you drink your Tims today? Did you bring your own mug? Did you deposity your cup in a bin?

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

April 2, 2012 3:30 p.m. Weather 12 degrees, sunshine and some cloud.  It was a beautiful day at the park!  Max and I took our time, clearing out plastics and packaging from the south edge of the pond and up on the north slope, edging on the road.  I enjoyed the sense of life and energy, every direction I looked.

Do people really have to trash their water bottles?

I received correspondence today from both SFCRA and Chandos and I’m glad about the response on both fronts.  From Chandos Health and Safety Manager…

I am just emailing you to let you know that I have coordinated a team of our staff to help tomorrow clean-up the area around South Fish Creek Arena. We will be starting around 7am tomorrow morning and should get it all completed best we can by end of day. When I say best we can I mean that some debris that may be in the dirt may be left until our landscape phase that will happen in 2-3weeks time. Otherwise I hope we can give you back the clean park you had.

And from the Assistant General Manager of the South Fish Creek Recreation Association,

I can assure you that we do take this issue seriously.  As mentioned last night, SFCRA has budgeted for & scheduled a staff member whose specific duty is to clean the outside property and parking lot.  We appreciate the work you have been doing; and look forward to a cleaner spring & summer season at our newly expanded facility! 


Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 28, 2012 10:30 a.m. Weather:  8 degrees Sunny, intermittent cloud.

I decided to tackle the section of Frank’s Flats where dog-owners like to leave their responsibilities behind.  From everything the City believes,  dogs are responsible for the big mess at these parks.  While this wasn’t my favourite day working on this project, I did determine that there is no way that the worst of the dog messes comes close to filling a single bag!  On the other hand, I’ve filled almost 40 bags with person-made litter!  What does that tell you?  I had fun making this film and considered, for one short moment, leaving the bright blue bags behind.  In the end, I imagined that they may be thrown onto the other side of the fence, so chose to retrieve them and get them into my bin.

I met Darlene today, outside of the Tim Hortons that edges onto Frank’s Flats.  I gave her one of the toques that Elma had knit for me last winter.

Darlene holds out her new toque.

She is Cantonese and has learned her english, just by being with people.  She let me photograph her recycling and her material possessions.  We chatted for some time about my project and some of what she does.  She took the Tim Hortons coffee that a young lady passed to her, transferred the coffee into an insulated thermos and then put her cup into one of her bags on her cart.  I told her how much I appreciated that she doesn’t throw her cups onto the ground.  She said, “Oh yes, that would be a disgrace.”

Darlene’s Stuff


Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 27, 2012 3:39 p.m. Weather: 5 degrees  The sun came out after a day of intermittent snow.  It felt warm outside…a real sense of springtime at Frank’s Flats.  In fact, there was Frank…soaking in the good feelings also, surrounded by a stand of evergreen trees.  He told me he’s likely heading for the coast, in search of work. He also got into telling me stories.  One was about a time when he watched a pick-up truck pull over onto the shoulder of 22X, throwing up a terrific amount of dust.  A guy rushed out of the truck and spent, what seemed to be, hours, scouring the ditches and the slope on the far side of the pond.  The next day, the same guy appeared again with an entire contingent of his friends and again, gave the once-over to the area.  Frank surmised that something very valuable must have been lost out of the back of that pick-up truck, so the day after that, he road his bike over there and spent a good bit of time looking for himself.  He said that he believed there was some sort of treasure over there, yet to be found.  I smiled…and just kept on picking.  I told him, before leaving, that I had named the place Frank’s Flats.  And he said, “Well, I appreciate that.”  I told him that not many people have a beautiful park named after them…just kings and princes.  He smiled…and we said our good-byes.

What God Leaves Behind: March 27, 2011 Frank’s Flats

The litter today included many granola bar packages and many plastic bottle tops and straws.  I topped off the bag of countless little bits of plastic and packaging with a part of a large cardboard box I found on the east side.  I’m thinking that health food bars and granola bar packaging should really reflect a more sustainable approach.

What people leave behind.

Changing the Landscape: One Bag At a Time

March 26, 2012 5:30 p.m. -3 degrees The sky looked white and threatening…off-and-on snowflakes of the large wet variety.  I focused on one small section edging on the pond today, picking up litter that had since flown into previously cleaned areas, along the way.  I made a mere dent, but in the larger picture, things were looking better.

Here, a close-up of Max’s paw as he raised it for my wiping, upon entering the house.  He charges after the multitudes of ground squirrels that peek their heads out and then nose dive once they see him coming.  This reminds me of Chevy Chase and Ground Hog Day.  He routinely starts pawing at one of their escape routes and I can’t help but get a big laugh at the whole event!

Workin’ Dog!

Changing the Landscape: One Clear Bag At a Time

March 25, 2012 12:00 p.m. Weather: -3 degrees/fog and snow, both.  I decided to hit the east slope of the park that edges on the mall and retail businesses.  It’s interesting how the findings change…many flyers, receipts and different sorts of snack packaging, mostly McDonalds.  I also found all sorts of foam products: appliance packing liners, foam packing peanuts and that sort of thing.

Flyers! A Problem With Advertisement!

This past week, Rick Harrow of the City of Calgary, delivered a box of 250 clear bags to my door, as well as a litter picker.  This was a genuine way to show appreciation and I am glad for what seems to be, an endless supply!  I felt more optimistic, (or rather, realistic) today.

More Plastic!

The Gospel reading for this Sunday was the story of Lazarus and in some way, I felt as though I was resurrecting a wee piece of land as I pulled the discards out of the tall grass and from under the trees.

The gulls have returned to the pond.  I noticed them yesterday as well.  This is a sign that spring is near.

The scariest moment is always just before you start. Stephen King

The Bag is Filled: Time to Put My Feet Up and Gaze Upon the Difference