great day – Earth Day 2017 !

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez's booth on Earth Day

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez at the Earth Day Fair

Saturday afternoon rain didn’t stop crowds of boisterous families from making it to the Earth Day Fair at the Suncor Fluvarium on April 22!  Over 250 people attended the event! Just about all of them stopped at’s booth to learn about ways to take action, take care of the planet, and how to live sustainably.

Each year, 1 billion people in more than 195 countries celebrate  Earth Day worldwide. The key purpose is to get people together, to celebrate mother nature, and think about ways in which they can take action.

In line with this message, was very pleased and excited to share our signature projects for this year:

  • #playoutdoors ~ Less screen time and more time outdoors! In collaboration with the Junior Forest Wardens-NL, #playoutdoors raises awareness about nature deficit disorder and challenges families to get outdoors, make new friends and learn new skills.
  • ReGeneration: The Plastic Bag Project (coming up!) ~ An intergenerational awareness and action program that brings seniors and students together to share strengths, and transfer skills toward a common purpose of recycling single-use plastic bags through crafting durable tote bags. This project is supported by The Co-operators IMPACT! Fund 2017.
  • Guide to the Good ~ A social enterprise that makes it easier for people to choose local for their purchasing and lifestyle choices. Local businesses bring economic, ethical and social benefits to our lives and our communities. Guide to the Good is currently being piloted in the Northeast Avalon, but the goal is for there to be a guide to the good in communities everywhere!

Visitors were asked to participate in the “how do you fit in?” campaign and to think about ways in which they can help protect the environment through their daily actions.

At the end of the day we had some local giveaways from businesses featured on the Guide to the Good. The draw was live-streamed via Facebook

Facebook Live of the guide to the good draw

  • Prize #1 Local Basket!
    Jumping Bean‘s low CO2 emission roasting coffee; hypoallergenic, artisan soaps and body products made locally from St. John’s Soap Works; and local hand-knitted hat by Casey’s Crafts.
  • Prize #2 Firewood and Coffee! 
    Bundles of local sustainable and licensed firewood from Firewood Factory; 2 gift-cards from  Jumping Bean .

Two winners were randomly selected out of 104 individual tickets. Congrats Olivia and Joan! is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like us and share!

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In Other Words – why it is important to plant trees

Basil English,

Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency

People often say that planting trees is a good deed for the environment, but when you try to add it up, you realize the value of a living tree is incalculable to our planet and the species on it.  So to get to the root of the matter, we interviewed the Tree Guy aka Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.

Is planting trees good for the environment?

Yes with out a doubt! 

Does it help address climate change?

So there are a few ways in which planting trees help address climate change: some of the direct-effective benefits of plantings trees are that they absorb carbon and release oxygen.  We breathe what they create.

Trees also help mitigate climate change by keeping urban temperatures cooler areas in the summer by providing shade to buildings and homes during summer. This reduces the need for the use of air conditioners (though not so much here in Newfoundland!). In winter trees block wind and reduce wind speeds keeping houses and buildings warmer, which also helps reduce energy usage

Does planting trees here in Newfoundland make a difference in other parts of the world?

Climate cycles have no borders, but it’s difficult to see direct impacts. BUT any measure taken in any single country will have benefits everywhere. By planting trees, we increase the carbon we sequester and we reduce energy consumption.

Does planting a tree in your own backyard make a difference?

Large-scale tree planting projects have larger impacts on the environment, but individuals planting trees can have a bunch of benefits by helping people act in a way that is very real, physical and connects people with their environment. Too often people feel helpless when it comes to global environmental challenges. This is a way people can look at the tree growing as something tangible. 

In urban settings, trees provide habitat for birds and larger animals, and improve aesthetics (and property values). They also make people feel good – there are many studies showing that people’s mental health can be improved by nature, which helps them feel more content and with a better sense of wellbeing.

Depending on where you live, trees can also help reduce noise pollution from cars, buses, and industry.  

What are some of the environmental benefits of planting trees?

On the larger scale, trees and forests are part of the earth’s ecosystem. Trees help improve water quality by filtering water pollutants. In addition, they slow down the movement of water which reduces the risk of flooding. Trees also can sequester pollutants from the air, water and soil.  

When is the best time to plant trees in Newfoundland and Labrador?

It depends on your ability to take care of the tree. Through our Department’s reforestation program we plant trees on an industrial scale – millions of trees – and those trees are usually on their own so we usually plant from spring through summer so that the trees have time to acclimatize for the winter. It is really about being careful and making sure the roots are handled carefully and the tree is well watered. So if you are planting in your backyard you can probably plant from May (or when it begins to thaw) to September/October. 

So there you have it! Planting trees is a good deed for the environment, and for yourself, and it doesn’t matter if you plant 1, 2, 3 or even 100 trees – it’s all good! So grab a shovel and get your hands dirty! is proud to partner with Junior Forest Wardens NL for the Annual Tree Sale.   In Other Words is a project of – Guide to the Good. You know when people start talking about the importance of taking care of the environment, and you’re interested, but it’s hard to pay attention when they talk about the microns, the quarks and parts per million? In Other Words makes scientific information understandable and practical.   If you like it, share it! is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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observations from the screen: the facebook feed and election 2015 is about habits for your habitat.  things that we can do that maximize the quality of living where we live now and way beyond now. it’s not a political thing, but choosing government matters.

to that process, and mostly thanks to facebook I feel more knowledgeable about the federal election 2015 than any other federal election.  If that sounds trite, it isn’t.  most of my (600+) facebook friends are smart, and many have (differing) political views. they post and share mainstream media news, views, and opinions.  i also watched the four party leader debate and walk around my neighbourhood.

i have learned much.  some is clear, and some is confusing.  here are the high level observations:

the three Elections

one of the few locations in St. John's east where five parties have signage.

one of the few locations in St. John’s east where five parties have signage.

  • though it’s pretty under the facebook radar, there is a provincial election campaign underway.  there is space for confusion.  (this is almost as confusing as the Telephone Building/Fort William Building being renamed the Johnson Centre, which is right next to the Baine Johnston Centre, all on Factory Lane.) why did they do this?
  • there is also the American election.
  • also there is a Communist Party of Canada and a candidate in my riding.  see photo, right.  this was news to me.

I Vote/You Vote/Don’t Vote/Not Vote/Can’t Vote/Vote in Advance

  • over the past few weeks my newsfeed filled with images that say I AM VOTING OCTOBER 19 overlaying pictures of themselves.
  • people who don’t say much are coming out telling everyone to vote.  some, like Marg Delahunty are in full regalia and tell how to vote.
  • Rick Mercer is encouraging youth, particularly, to vote, any many are sharing his encouragement.
  • Danny Williams comments, which were don’t vote if and only if you can vote and not vote for Stephen Harper, got paraphrased to don’t vote at all.
  • David Cochrane, who interviewed Danny on that topic, clarified that Danny didn’t say not to vote outright, but opined that not voting is indeed a statement.
  • changes to the Citizenship Act mean a four-year rather than a three-year waiting period, resulting in reports that 200,000 people who thought they could vote, can’t.
  • a lot of people posted that they voted in Advance Polls.  these polls were open from noon to 8 pm on October 9, 10, 11, or 12.  advance polls aren’t new, but this year is one day longer than in 2011.  my facebook friends were made out.  3.6 million people voted early, 71% more than in 2011.  facebook also reports that the advance pollling took a really long time.  people lined up for hours.

Who is the 30%

  • facebook feeds refer to a 30% who will vote conservative no matter what.  that seems odd.

Strategic Voting

  • the fact that a political party can form the government even though the majority of people did not vote for it is in the facebook feed conversation, leading to
  • much facebook sharing about swing ridings, which call upon ridings to vote a particular way to achieve a goal, typically to not have a conservative government.
  • Voteswap..  voters swap votes in one party in one riding for another in another riding.

What are you going to do?

  • there is a lot of time and energy and money being invested in asking people who they are voting for.   Nine polling companies have called the electorate about eighty times since late August.  that seems like a lot of pre-asking to me.  who is paying for that?  and what is the purpose?

    Poll Tracker

    Poll Tracker

Drama of the details

as the graph shows (thanks to the polls) we are watching a 78-day dramatic mini-series.  the red and blue and orange have each had their ups and downs.

along with the economy and hair styles, topics like the niquab, barbaric practices of other cultures, and a tip-line for reporting same have factored large.

and it’s got more bizarre when  mummers were voting (in advance).   the thing not celebrated in the excellent mummers parade is that the cultural practice of mummering is that it is rooted in social justice vigilante-style. I learned about that in political science at Memorial (Newfoundland Society and Culture) though, not on facebook..

the mummer vote

the mummer vote

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how sweet it is – first time tapping

2015-04-25 12.16.14o how sweet is spring!  the days have softened and our first tapping season is over.

first big thought is man, those trees are humbling.  tapping connects the person to the tree as well as the tree to a bucket.  trees are big, and strong and beautiful.  they are alive.  they provide shade and cover.  they produce carbon dioxide we breathe.

that thought is as simple as day follows night, and it is astonishing. more astonishing that wi-fi.  and the sap is ambrosia.

the idea to tap was generated in 2014 at the Friends of Pippy Park tapping demo, and galvanized at the Maple Tapping workshop with Lisa and Steve McBride in February. detailed how-to here.

owen the teenaged boy was chief tapping guy, and we started around the third week in March.  we looked at bark and branches, found out which way was south, and felt the life in the tree as we touched it. so much life that drilling the hole felt uncomfortable.   respectfully, we tapped four trees, a silver maple (imported by a neighbour 40 odd years ago from Moncton, NB), one on our street, one in the garden, and one on LeMarchant Road.  owen was collector for the nearby trees.   Nina and Jerome tended the tree on LeMarchant.

the first boil up took a day indoors on the stove and yielded about a cup of syrup.  (square bottle, top left).  filtering was a challenge as I was using a coffee filter, but the filter took too much.  i double sieved it, thus (I think) the cloudiness.

the second boil took two days indoors on the stove, and yielded almost a liter of syrup (second bottle from left).  it was strained through a double sheet of cheesecloth and a sieve.  during this boil i became concerned about the steam.  even with the fan on and the windows open, the house felt like a big damp sponge.  add in thoughts about poor use of water, time and energy in transforming 20 liters of water to steam and the project needed a re-jig.   a conversation with Maggie Kieley about her success in freezing sap encouraged  me to try another idea.

the third boil (third from left) was done on a propane tank outdoors and filtered through cheesecloth and a sieve.  it was a huge batch… maybe 25 liters, and it yielded more than a liter of the darkest sap.  it took a full tank of propane, and it took three days. it was a step toward the freeze method.  at that time it was still freezing on many days (as well as nights), so we didn’t boil what was frozen. it improved efficiency/reduced boiling time, but it felt wrong to throw out the sap.

the fourth boil (far right) was done on a propane tank outdoors. it took a couple of hours, sieved through a t-shirt-like cotton, and yielded the lightest colour syrup   it was a bit of eureka boil.  after collecting the sap we froze it, and boiled the first half (or so) of what melted.  (we used a weird drip method whereby the frozen container was put upside down in a very large spouted bowl.  there is something about the way sugar freezes that may yield higher concentrations if poured this way.).  when the rest of sap melted, we saved it for drinking.  lovely with a whisper of sweet at the end.  it’s probably very good for the body.
11149657_10155500401170710_5527849448356942213_oon the day it got warm we removed the taps. sooner than necessary as it turned out.  the trees looked bare, and with nothing to catch the sap, you could easily imagine that the tree was crying so we stopped the leaking with a dowel. bad idea it turns out.  new information from experienced tappers says that’s not the way to go:  best to let the sap flow as long as it flows.   keep collecting the sap as long as it’s clear, but if it’s cloudy, the fermentation process is starting to happen.  the literature says that the tree will heal by the end of the summer (photo at right is a healed tree).  place next year’s tap several inches away.

between now and then we will share and revere the syrup.  people often say something doesn’t taste as good if you cook it yourself, but this doesn’t hold true for maple syrup. all the shades are gorgeous to see and taste.   it’s explosive and gentle at the same time, silky and sticky, powerful and soft, a mix of two opposites.   kind of like the tree.

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the kids are alright! exploring and creating with the planet in mind

kids are growing well as Vanier Elementary!

kids are growing well as Vanier Elementary!

remember grade 6?  that magical time between little and teen.  all the goings-on!  in February was delighted to spend an afternoon with the crowd of grade sixes at Vanier Elementary in St. John’s.

born in 2003, these guys are digital natives. touching buttons, navigating screens, and using media is not technology advancing, it’s how it’s always been.  they are interested in lots of things – what their contemporaries are doing of course, and they love the smart phones and tablets and other devices, but they have an encouraging sense of the wider world around them.  this sense is due in no small part to the grade six curriculum brought to life by the inspiration and dedication of teachers (nods to Mme Daley, Ms Meehan and Mme Chafe).  these 11- and 12-year olds use technology as a tool to explore, create, learn, and take action.  if session is a good indication, critical thinking is part of the process. was there to talk about interactions with the planet, from climate change to the effects of natural and man-made changes in the environment.  it was a lively, thoughtful, and thought-provoking conversation!  these guys include a sixth R in the series of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot: they Respond.

on the day of visit, one class received accolades (and five ipads!) from Newfoundland Power for their award-winning video submission to the TakeChargeNL challenge.  the video is created in the style of Family Feud (en francais!), and teaches about habits that conserve energy.  the video was a hit, and it didn’t stop there.  a few days later, the intent of the group was broadcast throughout the province when a student called up the VOCM Open Line show and shared energy conservation tips on behalf of the class.

also on that day, the other grade six class harvested their first lettuce!   though the bell had rung,  the school day was over, and it was a Friday, a stream of kids were thrilled to offer a tour of the farm.  they are justly proud of their operation.    the growing equipment is neat, compact, and very productive. they like the light and warmth, and the scent of earth in the classroom.  but, as Emily said, the best part is the eating.  harvest time is coming for tomatoes, basil, beans, and peas in the classrom at Vanier.  that’s very encouraging because things are growing well.

cropped-thegreenrock-1.png is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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#g2kgtg – shanti shakti uganda

Shatki Salecheck out these tablet covers and hand-made necklaces and bracelets – #g2kgtg – beautiful unusual gifts that will brighten up the darkest of winter days, and brighten the future for Ugandan women!

hits #5H Giving because they’re handmade,  healthy and helpful!


the items are all handmade with Ugandan batik fabric and other materials. beads are made from a process of cutting recycled paper into very long triangular strips, rolling them into small bead shapes, painting and repeatedly shellacking each single bead before designing and stringing the beads.

the goods are bought, brought and sold by Bobby Bessey, friend to and yoga teacher.  100% of proceeds goes to Shanti Uganda, an organization that improves infant and maternal health, provides safe women-centered care and supports the wellbeing of birthing mothers and women living with HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Bobby is leading a group to Uganda in May. visit for details.10665346_10152842766516253_1063480403265871519_n

inbox Bobby Bessey to purchase – items are going fast!






cropped-thegreenrock_small.pnggood to know gifts that give (#g2kgtg) is a special project of that looks at local gifts that people will like, use, and won’t leave an unnecessarily big footprint on the planet or humankind.  please like and share! is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!                   facebook, google+


#g2kgtg – Ten Thousand Villages

Ten Thousand Villagesok, so today’s local focus is not exactly local, but it’s good!  Ten Thousand Villages is holding a sale of special gifts that will help the locals of communities around the globe, and it’s all Fair Trade.   the sale will showcase a beautiful assortment of musical instruments, pottery, jewelry, baskets, toys, crèches and hand loomed textiles.

Ten Thosand Villages is the oldest and largest Fair Trade organization in North America. Through this sale the Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice & Development and Peace are making a difference in the lives of artisans around the world.

The Ten Thousand Villages sale is at at The Lantern, 35 Barnes Road Thursday, November 27 from 1:00 PM to 8:30, Friday, November 28 from 10:00 AM to 8:30 PM, and  Saturday, November 29 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.



good to know gifts that give (#g2kgtg) is a special project of that looks at local gifts that people will like, use, and won’t leave an unnecessarily big footprint on the planet or humankind.  please like and share! is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!                                                                                                                                                         facebook, google+



FSN & RCR ~ Community Threads

Wellness logo-2 inch_300 ppi#E8FACommunity Threads is a project about connections for sustainability in Newfoundland and Labrador:  organizations, businesses and people who look at living local, living well, and loving it.  The project was kickstarted with support from the Wellness Coalition Avalon East

Food Security Network NL and Root Cellars Rock

Food Security is about a lot more than having enough to eat!   Ever gone to the supermarket and not found the food you were looking for?  Were you one of the many who couldn’t get a pumpkin in October 2013?  Then you brushed into food security.  This province is one part island, one part mainland, and many parts rural and remote.  If what we need to eat doesn’t come from our land or water, it has to come by road, boat or air.

Food Security Network NL’s mission is to actively promote comprehensive, community based solutions to help us figure out – and remember – how to ensure access to adequate and healthy food for all.

Many have never heard of the organization, but it’s REALLY good to know that they are on it!  And they are doing tremendous work with schools and communities, individuals and organizations.

Root Cellars Rock (RCR) is the Food Security Network’s favorite project.   It’s a go-to place for the how-to and culture of food in Newfoundland and Labrador.  They love it!  RCR knows the people who tap trees for maple syrup and have pet goats.  They know the people who grow amazing garlic.  They know how to get communities growing.  And they’ll tell you!    Root Cellars Rock is helping build a local food system that provides sustainable, nourishing food for all residents of the province, while celebrating Newfoundland and Labrador’s healthy food traditions, and those who make it happen. Conservation Corps Green Team covered the Food Security Network – here’s the kick-back video featuring all-around great guy Rick Kelly. is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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I spy a dandelion! citizen scientists Plantwatch

waiting to be!The sun was shining there for a while, and the grass is green, mostly, in the greater St. John’s metro area. Can the dandelion be far behind?  Keep an eye out!  Your observations from your favorite field, trail, patch by your workplace or even your own backyard can help track climate change.  Works well for classrooms and groups too.  And it will give you one more good reason to get out.

PlantWatch is part of the national NatureWatch program – a series of volunteer monitoring programs that help identify ecological changes.  Local people, no matter where local is all across Canada, can play.   This is an opportunity to help scientists discover how, and why, our natural environment is changing.  It will bring the lofty and intimidating phrase ‘climate change’ down to the soft patch underneath your feet.  

MUN Botanical Garden is the coordination centre for Plantwatch in Newfoundland and Labrador.  There are 18 excellent, common, maybe-in-your-garden plants in NL’s Plantwatch roster including the brave and sweet dandelion, the stalwart rhododendron, the stately lilac and more!  All you have to do is pick a spot with the right plant, register, watch and record the timing of blooming dates (phenology).

The data collected provincially and nationally can be used as indicators of environmental changes in the areas where the plants are growing.  And just being out there will make you feel happy.

Earth Day Fair – Suncor Fluvarium TODAY!

Community Threads - connections are coming!

the winter has been long, but there is hope!  the snirt (snow and dirt) piles are reducing with the sun, and community groups who care about sustainability are going to the Suncor Fluvarium for the Earth Day Fair this afternoon from noon to 4:30.  admission is free. will be there revealing the start of Community Threads, an evolving canvas of logos and threads that shows the connections between local groups that focus on sustainability.   the project is supported by the Wellness Coalition Avalon East and the Fluvarium.

find out what Friends of Pippy Park, the Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice, Bike Share, the Public Library, St. John’s Clean and Beautiful and others are up to!

Community Threads – connections are coming! is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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