Field Guides, Sea Birds, and Bark Beetles

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John Acorn on Field Guides

From our archives, we’re catching up with one of Canada’s most avid naturalists. John Acorn is an entomologist, television personality and author of 17 books. His best known role is probably as the host of “Acorn: Nature Nut” the popular tv show on all things creeping and crawling. But when he’s not writing television shows, teaching students or working on his research, John Acorn is often at his desk writing field naturalist guide books. If you think there’s not much controversy in how to draw or write about a few butterflies or beetles, think again. Terra Informa correspondent David Kaczan spoke with John Acorn.

Aleutian Seabirds

The petrel is a bird that spends its entire life at sea, only landing on remote islands to copulate. But, things have gone from bad to worse for this seabird in recent years and many biologists are hatching up ideas to help the petrel population survive in an era marked by climate change and overfishing. Some of these ideas even have 80s rockers tapping their toes and thinking about our responsibility to protect the world’s most vulnerable ecosystems. Matt Hirji talked to Rachel Buxton about her research into the area.

Acoustics of Bark Beetles

David Dunn, sound artist and composer produced an album in 2006 called The Sound of Light in Trees: The Acoustic Ecology of Pinyon Pines, in collaboration with the Acoustic Ecology Institute. With tiny microphones, he records the sounds of bark beetles in New Mexico’s pinyon pines. Beyond a fascinating listening experience, this is an innovative approach to the ecology of insects, and to monitoring bark beetle populations

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Photo credit: U.S. Global Change Research Program

Tiny Organisms, Big Impacts! Moss and Bees

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This week’s episode features two stories about itty bitty organisms packing a big environmental punch. Learn about mosses with Tasmia Nishat and from the archives, get the scoop on urban beekeeping in Edmonton with Chris Chang-Yen Phillips.

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Urban Beekeeping

There are plenty of frontiers in urban agriculture: community gardens, backyard chickens—beekeeping might be the one that makes neighbours and politicians the most nervous. But after years of debate and a pilot project eased us into the idea, Edmonton has finally opened the doors to backyard beekeeping.

Edmonton’s City Council changed its bylaws in April 2015 to allow residents to get their own licensed beehive. So what does it look like (and sound like) to get a delivery of thousands of bees?

Chris Chang-Yen Phillips joined Kyla Tichkowsky, Steph Ripley and Lisa Lumley to find out.

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Photo credit to Mike Phobos

Edmonton’s River and Art Scene

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Morning Star By Alex Janvier, 1993

This week, we have two very timely stories for you. First off, a new story by Terra Informer Amanda Rooney about what many believe to be Edmonton’s greatest attraction: the North Saskatchewan river valley.  Apt timing, as this weekend will be the first ever Edmonton River Fest. Then, an episode from our archives, an interview by Chris Chang-Yen Phillips with First Nations Artist Alex Janvier. Also apt, as a massive tile-mural created by Alex Janvier and installed in the floor of the new Rogers Place arena in Edmonton  was unveiled just last week. We top it all off with a poetry reading from Gary Snyder that speaks to the mid-September air.

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Stories from the Edmonton River Valley

In this story, Terra Informer Amanda Rooney collected perspectives on the Edmonton River Valley. In the following piece, she talks with citizens walking along the river bank before diving into an interview with Brittney Jackson, a scientist and rafting guide with Edmonton River Watch. They cover a whole range of interesting tidbits about the river: from citizen science opportunities to Edmonton’s water treatment plant to myths about the dirtiness of the water.

Words from Artist Alex Janvier 

Last week, a massive public art installation created by Alex Janvier and  set in the floor of the new Roger’s Place Arena in downtown Edmonton was unveiled to the public. The piece is made of nearly one million byzantine glass smalti tiles, and is 14 metres in diameter. the mosaic is named Tsą tsą ke k’e — Iron Foot Place, and depicts the natural beauty of the Edmonton landscape. In this story, Chris Chang-Yen Phillips spoke with Alex Janvier about his life and work, about two years ago, when this mural was still a dream.

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All About Mountain Gorillas Leading up to the Edmonton Gorilla Run

TI Sept 6 Mountain_gorillaIf you don’t already know what’s up with mountain gorillas, you’ll be in the know after this week’s episode! Join Shelley Jodoin on an informational adventure learning what there is to know about mountain gorillas, and then find out from Ashley Kocsis and Raemonde Bezenar why you might come across a mob of mountain gorillas in Edmonton on September 10.

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Mountain Gorilla Ecobabble

In this ecobabble, Terra Informer Shelley Jodoin tries to figure out what all the fuss is about mountain gorillas. She learns the differences between mountain and lowland gorillas, about the volcanic Virunga mountain range that they inhabit and other fun facts.

Edmonton Gorilla Run

If you happen to be in Edmonton, Alberta this weekend and see a gang of mountain gorillas running through Corbett Field on Saturday morning, have no fear! We are not being invaded, Planet of the Apes is not going down here and now. What you are seeing is the 7th Annual Edmonton Gorilla Run! Last week, Terra Informer Ashley Kocsis reached out to the Executive Director of the Mountain Gorilla Conservation Society of Canada, Raemonde Bezenar. A fellow Edmontonian, Raemonde is the initiator of the Edmonton Gorilla Run which will be taking place this weekend! On Saturday September 10th, Edmontonians will be meeting at the University of Alberta at Corbett Hall near 114th street and 82 avenue. People will walk or run 5km to fund-raise for the conservation of African Mountain Gorillas and most will do so in gorilla suits.

Article: Raemonde Bezenar and the Canadian Friends of MGVP

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Photo by Dave Proffer.

Farmsters and Community Climate Change Consultation

This week’s episode is coming from the archives, even though the pieces are a couple of years old the discussion is still very relevant as Canadian farmers continue to get older and are not being replaced increasingly by city folk – known in our episode as “farmsters”. Let us introduce you to the new generation of farmsters who are bringing their arts degrees, intsagram brunch photos, and alternative farming models to the table.

This week’s host Amanda Rooney briefly talks about the Town Hall on climate change that she attended in mid August. These town halls are run under the People’s climate plan .

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Here Come the Farmsters

There are plenty of things you can say about the Millennial generation. We’ve all heard the statistics on young people are moving back in with mom and dad after graduation. We’ve heard that the average cost of a house has increased to the point of prohibiting young professionals from entering that erstwhile next step of adulthood known as “home ownership.” And large scale industrial projects threatening our natural spaces are driving people young and old into the streets of major cities all over the world to protest inaction over climate change. These days young people are likely to finish university with a mountain of debt and spend years underemployed while career track positions remain out of their grasp.

Some folks have chosen a radically different approach to life post-liberal arts degree. I’m talking about farming. Scores of city-dwellers are leaving behind the urban lifestyle in favour of farmshares and ecovillages. Lauren Markham, writing for Orion Magazine, refers to this new phenomenon as the emergence of “farmsters.” Like hipsters, only instead of wearing flannel and weeping over their lack of prospects, farmsters are taking matters into their own hands to bring about change in whatever small way they can.

Danielle Dolgoy knows her fair share of farmsters. She meets them at the farmer’s market and reads their uplifting posts in her news feed. She called up her old university pal, Kate Rustemeyer, to talk about Kate’s decision to start her own CSA on a shared farm in B.C.’s Slocan Valley of the West Kootenays.

Links: Craft OntarioYoung AgrariansLauren Markham’s articleHoe Down CSA at Tulaberry Farm

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Photo credit to Frank

Terra Informa Attends the Alberta Energy Efficiency Open House

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Last month, Terra Informers Amanda Rooney and Tasmia Nishat attended the Energy Efficiency and Community Energy in Alberta Open House.  There, they spoke with an MLA  on Leduc’s ambitious solar initiative, Solar4all Alberta, and community members interested in making the public feedback process more inclusive.


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MLA Shaye Anderson on Leduc’s Solar Electricity Initiatives

The city of Leduc recently installed Canada’s largest rooftop solar system at the Leduc Recreation Center. Terra Informa spoke with MLA Shaye Anderson about the installation, and about sustainability in general.

Solar4All Alberta

With a name like Solar4All Alberta, you can guess what Solar4All’s mandate is. But what are they asking for, specifically, from the government? Terra Informa finds out.

Queers and Pals Attend Energy Efficiency Forum

With public forums like these, how do we make sure that they are inclusive? We spoke with community members Parker Leflar and Rebecca Jade about how to make sure marginalized groups aren’t left out of the conversation.

The Fermi Paradox i.e. Counting the little green men & big blue planets

Paul Gilster enjoys one of the most unlikely of day jobs: writing full-time on the science of space travel as the lead journalist for the Tau Zero Foundation. You can find his nearly daily updates on the website Centauri Dreams. Trevor Chow-Fraser got in touch with Paul to help us understand one of the central mysteries of outer space, the question we’ve all had at some point when looking up at the stars—are we alone in the big vast universe? Or, is there life up there in the stars? And if so, well why the heck haven’t they come calling? That’s the question scientists call the Fermi Paradox.

Terra Informa August 23 Episode Log.

Photo credit to Unsplash.

Environmental Poetry

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This week, we are going to turn our ears to the words that arise from the natural world around us. We spoke with some of Canada’s environmental poets about their lives and inspirations. Later in the show we’ll hear from Canada’s  Underground Slam Champion Johnny MacRae and Red Deer College’s Poet Professor Jenna Butler, but first, Terra Informer Rebekah Rooney catches up with Guelphs David James Hudson.

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David James Hudson

Environmental poetry is a unique way to explore the connection between art and the environment. Many artists draw their inspiration from nature. Poet David James Hudson in Guelph threads themes of environmental conservation throughout his medium, aiming to communicate environmentalism to his audience. Correspondent Rebekah Rooney catches up with him in this report.

Johnny MacRae and Shayne Avec I Grec

Kathryn Lennon caught up with slam poet Johnny MacRae at the 2012 Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in Saskatoon. Johnny is the inaugural Underground Individual Poetry Slam Champion of Canada, and two-time Vancouver Poetry Slam team member. He is joined by Shayne Avec I Grec, Poet Laureate of the Brandon Folk Music and Art Festival in Manitoba. Johnny shares some of his poetry, and thoughts on the role of poets in a time of environmental crisis.

Jenna Butler

If you live in an urban centre, you’ve probably imagined how great it would be to live simply, and without distraction. Enter poetry: there’s something cool about the way language can illuminate, explore and even question our relationships with the natural world. Jenna Butler knows this better than most, because when’s she’s not teaching at Red Deer College, she’s in Northern Alberta managing her organic farm. Erin Carter speaks with professor Jenna Butler about nature and academia.

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Photo credit to R. Hadian.

Transition Towns, Net Zero Homes, and Rescuing Fruit

800px-rubus_27wyoming27This week on Terra Informa, we bring you archives discussing what a transition town is, net zero homes, and a group whose mission is to rescue fruit.

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Transition Town Initiative

Terra Informa correspondent Jason Evans caught up with local teacher and transition town participant Kelsey Armstrong to learn about the Transition Town Initiative in the Edmonton Community of Grovenor.  Find a Transition Town Initiative near you!

Net Zero Homes

When it comes to high efficiency, net zero is the holy grail. That’s when you construct a building that’s so efficient it requires only minimal amounts of heat and electricity, and then you supply that power by adding some form of green energy generation to the structure — solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal heating. On a day to day basis it may draw some power from the grid, or feed some back in, but over the course of a year things average out and it doesn’t consume any energy at all. The initial investiment can be a bit pricy, but the idea is that over the lifetime of the building it really pays off. Shafraaz Kaba and Matt McCombe are huge proponents of energy efficient buildings. Shafraaz is an architect and Matt is a builder, and they both practice what they preach in their own homes. Terra Informa spoke to them about what it’s like to live in a high efficiency home, and what a person needs to know if they want to make the switch.

Operation Fruit Rescue

From June to October, Edmonton is a veritable oasis of fruit: apples, pears, and plums—not to mention succulent strawberries, raspberries and saskatoons—are all sitting there patiently, waiting to be plucked. But what happens to this bounty if nobody is around or able to harvest it? Enter: Operation Fruit Rescue—a non-profit, volunteer driven organization dedicated to reducing food waste and promoting locally grown food in Edmonton and surrounding areas. Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart talks to Amy Beaith-Johnson, the driving force behind Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton, about the organization’s origin, its mission, and how it all works. We met with Amy in Edmonton.

Image Credit: Nadiatalent via Wikipedia.