TD Past Projects 2016-2017

Projects 2016-2017

How do you create a win-win situation? Lessons from the CSL program
Heartwood House Logo

In winter 2017, Professor Matthew Kurtz registered his course, GEG2110 - Sustainability of Social Spaces and Built Environments, with the Community Service Learning (CSL) program. The course examines the interface between built and social environments, with an emphasis on environmental sustainability and social equity.

One of the CSL placements offered in the course was a TD Environmental Leaders Program project that aimed to transform the narrow, 10-foot-wide asphalt alley next to Heartwood House into a sustainable space that is aesthetically pleasing, manages storm water runoff, and serves as a safe and welcoming hub for community members to enjoy. The alley experiences a constant flow of foot traffic between McArthur Avenue and the densely populated residential blocks to the south.

Five students in geography, international development, biology and sociology took on the first phase, which involved consulting the community and then planning and designing solutions. The students reviewed current literature on green alley designs for northern climates, and concepts for greening old asphalt alleyways . During the project, uOttawa students learned that getting community input is is not always easy: weather can affect event attendance and a well-crafted questionnaire is key to getting maximum information in the least amount of time.Students carried out a site analysis and made recommendations to ensure that the alley’s main function as a walk-through was not compromized.They investigated all appropriate techniques for removing and disposing of asphalt, recommended the safest and most cost-effective way to proceed, and then identified green design and paving options.As they developed their designs, the students sharpened their management skills by working within budgetary and scheduling constraints, skills that are in high demand in the professional world.

In April 2017, students presented their recommendations to Heartwood House stakeholders and tenants. Patricia Lucey, a Board member who supervised the student team, felt that overall, the students provided helpful recommendations that the organization will review over the summer before proceeding with the installation in the fall of 2017. Altogether, students spent some 164 hours finalizing their report, but more important than the time spent on the project, they applied concepts they had learned in class. Ms. Lucey had good things to say about each student, and took the time to fill out a short online evaluation form for each one. She commented on their enthusiasm for the project, their organizational, research and presentation skills, and their attention to providing creative and original design ideas. One of the students has even said that she would like to come back in the fall for the installation, even though she will have graduated by then.

Mireille Gauthier: A leader in saving the bees
Building Bee & Bees with Friends of the Earth in Strategic Ottawa Communities
Mireille crouching next to seedlings to be planted

Certain qualities make up a leader: knowing how to motivate people, to plan, to organize, to listen, to offer support, to delegate, to persevere … all skills Mireille Gauthier definitely has. As part of the TD Environmental Leaders Program, from February to June, Gauthier was involved in a program called Building Bee & Bees, organized by Friends of the Earth Canada, along with Ottawa Community Housing and Fletcher Wildlife Garden.Gauthier has just completed the third year of her bachelor’s in environmental studies, in the Faculty of Arts. She has amassed hundreds of volunteer hours, on campus with the Office of Campus Sustainability, off campus with MarketMobile and on a community engagement project in Guatemala. Still, she felt drawn to the cause of Canada’s wild bees and didn’t hesitate to become project team leader.

Gauthier has just completed the third year of her bachelor’s in environmental studies, in the Faculty of Arts. She has amassed hundreds of volunteer hours, on campus with the Office of Campus Sustainability, off campus with MarketMobile and on a community engagement project in Guatemala. Still, she felt drawn to the cause of Canada’s wild bees and didn’t hesitate to become project team leader. 

Student volunteers standing in a row in front of a raised bed full of plants

For her, many of the world’s pressing causes are by nature political, controversial or heated, while the cause of the wild bees affects everyone and allows the general public to think about the environment in a simple, straightforward manner and see that each one of us truly has the potential power to act. “Wild bees are key pollinators for most of our food,” says Gauthier. “Maintaining the diversity of these species is crucial for all of us.” Creating habitats is an effective means to further the survival of the bees and to raise people’s awareness of them. For Gauthier, it’s also an opportunity to take part in an initiative she’s passionate about and to develop her leadership qualities. “I’d never had the chance to lead a project of this size, and thanks to it, I improved my leadership skills considerably.” Beatrice Olivastri, CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada, also recognizes Gauthier’s leadership skills: “Mireille has been involved with us in both paid and volunteer roles, and in all cases, has been a productive member of teams, while also showing leadership in reaching out to venues to present our campaign and involve volunteers in assisting us.”

You too could have the chance to get involved like Mireille Gauthier and support a cause you feel strongly about, while developing your leadership skills. The Centre is recruiting for TD projects. Come see us or check the Navigator through your uoZone account!

Urban Greenhouses to Serve the Community
Serre urbaine du Le Centre de ressources communautaires Rideau-Rockcliffe | Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre urban greenhouse

On October 1, a group of students came together to launch the first TD Environmental Leaders project of the 2016–2017 year.  The Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Resource Centre contacted our centre about working with a group of students to revitalize an urban greenhouse as a social enterprise.  Graduate and undergraduate students from five faculties (Arts, Science, Telfer, Social Sciences and Engineering) have since come together to explore the technical feasibility of the revitalization and the demand for any resulting products, as well as to raise youth awareness of sustainability, through environmental education in local schools. 

A Faculty of Science student, Eunice, said that “it has been really interesting to see how science and business connect, since I have not taken business courses.”  Victoria was also able connect the project to her academic work: “It has been cool looking into greenhouses and the impacts of growing locally. I was able to draw upon this for an assignment in one of my courses.”

All team members are taking on this project in addition to their courses, work and other commitments.  Kaitrin Doll of the Rideau-Rockliffe centre, who has been working closely with the three student teams, has been “really impressed with the diversity of students who are part of the project. Having so many perspectives and lenses means that we are all learning.  It’s real teamwork.” 

There are three TD Environmental Leaders projects each year.  They aim to be beneficial for both students and the community partner.  When asked what advice they would give to students who were thinking about getting involved, Rajan said “Go for it!  It’s a new experience,” and Haoran chimed in, “You will never know what you might experience unless you try!”

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