Starting in June 2015 with the task of defining what each of the fifteen of us thought “sustainability” meant, our very diverse group of activists and scholars has amassed a wealth of understanding and determination to meet these global issues at the local level. With Lloyd Helferty’s indefatigable leadership, this working group has been very active since its inception in August 2015.
At the outset, we expressed a wish to establish an online discussion forum, using social media as well as monthly meetings, with a focus on urban food production that would link food, water, shelter, ecosystem health, and education. We should also facilitate an inclusive, grassroots understanding of justice, engagement, and involvement?. One potential strategy would be to align with other groups with similar ideals, each lending its strengths for the other’s weaknesses. To that effect we have established connections with the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN), 1 which is a member organization and on the Steering Committee of the United Nations Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture, the Science for Peace working group on Environment Education, the Foundation for Building Sustainable Communities (FBSC), and the Rouge National Urban Park (RNUP).
The unifying principle for community sustainability, without which nothing else will be effective is “Human Energy” i.e. FOOD . 2 While a formal mandate is still “under construction”, three subgroups have formed:
1. A “Musical Biofilter” project that is being spearheaded by Dr. Brad Bass. This would consist of a practical, low-budget Green Wall to clean water, which would also be a sculptural installation that can play music, while also growing food and cleaning up algae blooms in the instrument (through removal of nutrients from the water). This is not just a musical instrument, but a practical project with a fun element.
2. “Rouge National Urban Park Proposal” (RNUP/RPP), which is an evolution of the CURRENTS project, seeks to incorporate issues of food security, energy co-production and conservation, and new technologies. The group plans to produce a “White Paper” (an over-arching ‘Vision Proposal’ for community outreach and education programs that might eventually be developed in the RNUP). It is being spearheaded by Harry Ha and includes two sub-projects:
a. A (private) Biomass Thermal Energy Continuous Pyrolysis Reactor Technology (BTECPRT) sub-Project with some of the members of CoSWoG who aim to develop it. This is also being led by Harry Ha and is being incorporated into the overall “vision document” that has been prepared by Harry.
b. The RNUP “Climate Smart Victory Gardens” [and Climate Smart Kitchens] sub-Project that is being led by Joan Kerr from The Foundation for Building Sustainable Communities (FBSC), and which sees a vision for the development of some Youth Education, Training and [Citizen] outreach programs in the RNUP (possibly in conjunction with CSAYN-Canada at their [proposed / new] Headquarters in the RNUP).
3. A high level Roundtable to look at Ontario’s Future in 30+ years to be set up by the Premier of Ontario proposed by Derek Paul. All members of the CoSWoG Group, who may have an interest in Medium-Term Sustainability in Ontario, should contact Derek.
Mr. Helferty is an engineering technologist with more than 10 years of experience working for various multinational corporations in Canada and around the world. He is acknowledged to be one of Canada’s pioneer leaders in the development of the Biochar industry.
1 Formerly ‘hosted’ by Trent University’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Program in Peterborough. See: www.trentu.ca/agriculture/overview.php
2 The one  kind of energy that cannot be produced using geothermal, hydro, ocean energy, solar, wind or even Nuclear energy sources, and cannot be ‘substituted’ by anything else is FOOD. Food is and has always been absolutely essential (vital) for the maintenance of all societies and civilizations throughout all of history, and will remain so long into the future (i.e. essentially forever). Note: Humans remain “biological beings” that are forever tied to this planet and the ecosystems on this planet. Our “challenge” is to improve upon the Canadian Pugwash Group Global Issues Project roundtable on food and population. Our underlying issue: “What types of social, political, economic and technological systems will most likely provide the Greatest Benefit to society, but also with the least environmental, social, and other ‘external’ costs?”