Sustainable Living Ottawa East Wants You!

By Rebecca Aird

Sustainable Living Ottawa East, catalyst for many great projects in Old Ottawa East, is calling for new civic activists to help blaze the future for this nifty little community organization.

SLOE’s simple but effective modus operandi is to focus on opportunities, go where the energy is and serve as a spark, an incubator, a fundraiser and a network-builder. A heap of experience, partnerships and founding members are at the ready to support SLOE’s new leadership. Specifically, after nine years, it’s time for a new convenor/chair, and a communications lead.

What has SLOE accomplished? Consider these examples. By mid-2006, some early members had already launched an Environment Club at Immaculata High School and were working to establish the Ottawa East Community Garden. The first meeting to found the new environment/sustainability committee for the Old Ottawa East Community Association (OECA) was held in December 2006.

The founding group rapidly converged on a mandate: tangible projects to advance community sustainability in the areas of food, energy, greenspace/ecology and transportation. They filtered a long list of possible projects and activities through a couple of questions: will it have traction and impact; and are there folks in this group willing to take a lead?

Through this process, two projects came to the fore: a farmers market; and ecological restoration and better connectivity along the shoreline. Summer 2007 saw the successful establishment of both. The Main Farmers Market and the Rideau River Nature Trail would become well-loved elements of OOE. SLOE also helped launch the Ottawa East Community Garden.

Each project attracted dedicated teams beyond the core SLOE membership. This was essential to success and made clear the case for keeping SLOE as organizationally light as possible. The pattern held with the Children’s Garden, SLOE’s next major initiative.

SLOE has led celebrations such as the magical lantern-lit storytelling and performance walk along the nature trail. Over the years, SLOE has forged strong partnerships, raised well over $150,000 in project funding and mobilized a wide range of in-kind support.

In addition to its ecological restoration and signage work on the nature trail, SLOE’s efforts to influence the city’s multi-use recreational pathway along the shoreline continue.

With most SLOE-initiated projects run by volunteers, core members turned their attention to promoting progressive sustainability approaches in the development of the Oblate lands.

The OECA and SLOE’s influence on this huge development was ground-breaking. A four-year partnership with Carleton University added heft to the community work. Recently, with longstanding key partner Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, SLOE spearheaded an initiative that aimed to establish an innovative housing project for older adults at the Greystone development.

As a committee of the OECA, SLOE helps channel project-oriented energy with minimal burden on the community association’s board and other committees. The OECA could not wield the influence it does on planning and development if it was also directly responsible for initiating and managing sustainability projects.

In sum, a rich array of important and satisfying work awaits. Having new people step into leadership roles, with the full support of a core group of founding members, would keep SLOE’s creative energy flowing. If you’d like to explore the possibilities, let’s talk! Email sloe@sustainablelivingottawaeast.ca. , and visit our website sustainablelivingottawaeast.ca..

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