Have your say! With an apple tree or an iPad

If you’ve been been out enjoying these last days of summer at the assortment of Edmonton festivals, you might have run into one of our summer research students  who have been continuing to ask Edmontonians to give us your ideas about sustainability and what Edmonton needs to do to ensure we preserve and sustain our environment.

Here’s another update from one of our research students Emma Sanborn, who was on-site at Hawrelak Park for the Celtic festival to talk to Edmontonians amidst the bagpipes and chain mail.

The first thing I say when I approach someone these days is “Hi! I’m with the City of Edmonton.” That’s because “these days” I am a Student Researcher who engages the public in the City’s new environmental plan ‘The Way We Green’. The more I talk with my fellow Edmontonians, the stranger my opening line has started to sound however: aren’t we ALL with the City of Edmonton?

It’s become clearer to me that we are all with the City of Edmonton, I just happen to be one of the lucky people with the task of gathering the concerns and dreams of the people of this beautiful city. I guess you could call me a concern-and-dream-catcher…and at the 3rd Annual Celtic Festival, I caught a bit of both.

Light-hearted Celtic melodies floated lightly on the breeze in Hawrelak Park on this lush green August afternoon. One of the performers aptly commented “Edmonton, now what a beautiful place. Does it get any more beautiful than this??”

Celtic Festival 233

Irish Dancers performing a two-hand reel at the first Celtic festival held in Hawrelak Park. Three years later Edmontonians were still celebrating. Photo credit: Bill Hately

However the first comment that appeared on our public whiteboard urgently cut through this airy fairy mood, and demanded “Stop buying throwaways! (like dusting cloths and disposable diapers).” This kicked off further discussion, both on the whiteboard, and amongst festival attendees.

I quietly listened as a fully-armed and impressively bearded man (dressed in authentic chain mail), and a vendor from another tent, debated Edmonton’s transportation system. I’m happy to say the men settled the situation with iPads instead of swords (they both completed ‘The Way We Green’ survey on iPads, and duelled within the comment box). Upon returning to the whiteboard from this heated iPad battle, I saw someone had drawn a lovely apple tree and wrote “walk more” above it. Beneath this apple tree, in the gigantic scrawl of a child, “Lo chlyn evyn,” was cryptically scrawled, a comment I think the City should take into deep consideration…

My work as a Summer Research Student has made me realize several important things: we are all with the City of Edmonton, and we all have opinions about Edmonton’s future environmental policy. It’s absolutely essential that these opinions are communicated through pictures and comments on a whiteboard, discussions in a park, and completed surveys. Debate and discussion only help strengthen and shape the environmental policy of the beautiful city of Edmonton, which so many of us call home.

For more information on The Way We Green and how you can participate, visit www.thewaywegreen.ca

(Blog post also appears on thewaywegreen.ca)


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1 Comment
  1. Mohammed
    5 years ago

    Anoymous has a point when (s)he raises the issue of the urban spawrl neighbourhoods – although I’m not sure about the conclusion.I moved to Edmonton in August and got around exclusively by Transit until I bought a car a month ago – which I use about once or twice a week. I live downtown, walk the 9 blocks to work and take transit for evenings out in Strathcona etc. Conclusion – whilst not perhaps the world’s best, transit in Edmonton is extensive & affordable. The drivers are also, for the most part, polite & helpful (which is a big positive when it comes to attracting new users). As far as I can see the main problem with the Transit is the way the city is laid out, it is much easier to provide usable transit in cities where all the shopping, commercial and entertainment districts are grouped together and where transit is planned into new development.I think the other main difficulty, related again to the spawrling nature of the city, is the number of routes. Several hundred routes that go once an hour are very difficult to deal with as a user unless you are only using the system to make the daily trip to work. 10 or 15 lines that went once every 5 or 10 minutes in a direct fashion down the main roads would be much more user friendly for most people, even if you had a few blocks to walk at either end. This would however limit access to the system for seniors and the disabled who would have to be catered for in some other way – perhaps by the community buses.It depends how you envisage the transport future of the city. Is transit purely a social provision for those who cannot drive? or do you eventually want most people to use transit most of the time. Option 1 is currently being achieved. Option 2 requires a wider look at the way the expansion of the city is being managed, the current boom and need for more housing could be a great opportunity to build environmentally sustainable communities.


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