Finding Meaning in Nature


This week on Terra Informa, we bring from the archives a piece on positive psychology. Last year, Terra Informer Dylan Hall spoke with PhD student Holli-Anne Passmore about how connecting with nature enhances our well-being and helps us find meaning in life. Holli-Anne’s work has reached international audiences as well as psychology lectures at the University of British Columbia in Kelowna and MacEwan University in Edmonton.

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For more information on Holli-Anne Passmore:

Download the program log here.

Photo by: Mitchell Joyce (

Summer and CO2 in the air

Two people placing a small plant into the ground.

Ahhh. Summer has arrived, and Terra Informa’s got your gardening Q’s covered with our new segment, Dispatches from the Dirt. Of course, it’s hard to enjoy the weather if the skies are black with fumes—and making you sick. This begs the question, how does one find out if the environment is the cause of certain illnesses in the first place? Finally, we get an economist’s guide to the complex climate change negotiations from a Killam Prize winner.

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Stories of Oil and Organics

Man with scarf gestures with his hands emphatically. Book cover inset.

Mika Minio-Paluello works his magic at the University of Alberta. Photo credit: Trevor Chow-Fraser

On Terra Informa this week, we will dive into a raw milk story following Richard Griebel and Kathy Charpentier in Castor, Alberta. Next, we will transfer to Bloomfield to listen to Michelle Lutz’s story of her organic farming with a hospital in Michigan! Finally, we will travel with Mika Minio-Paluello to explore a special oil road, along with stories of repressive governments, secret police, Canadian attack helicopters, and more.

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Resetting the Table

This week on Terra Informa, we’re talking strategy. Listen in to hear why guests like Ecoholic Body author Adria Vasil are asking us to reset the way we think about the cosmetics we buy, where our food comes from, and how forests rebuild after a fire. Then we’ve got you covered with this week’s environmental events.

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Jill Johnstone (far right) joins in an intrepretive dance demonstration of boreal forest succession after forest fires.

Susan Roberts on People’s Food Policy

“When Canadians sit down to their evening meal tonight, two key ingredients will be missing: a coherent national food policy in the public interest, and active participation in the food system.” That’s a quote from “Resetting the Table: A People’ Food Policy for Canada”

The People’s Food Policy is the first Canadian policy to be advanced based on food sovereignty principles — an approach where food is viewed as a foundation for healthy lives, communities, economies and ecosystems.
Correspondent Kathryn Lennon spoke with Susan Roberts in November 2011 about food sovereignty, food systems change, and the need for a national food policy. Susan is a coordinator for Growing Food Security in Alberta, and a steering committee member of Food Secure Canada.

Effects of climate change on forest fires

Like us, you’ve probably been watching the recent forest fires in Australia with a mixture of awe and caution. Have you ever wondered how fires change the forests they burn, though? Or how that might change now that climate change is driving fires to come more often, and get more intense? Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips reached University of Saskatchewan ecologist Jill Johnstone in Yukon last summer to ask her about her research studying fire in forests there. She explained how climate change is making fire a disruptor of boreal forests, rather than a regenerator.

More on this story: Slideshow – A Sensitive Slope: Forest recovery after fire in a changing climateyourYukon article on Jill Johnstone’s researchSlideshow – Once burned, Twice shyJill Johnstone’s Northern Plant Ecology Lab cookbook

Adria Vasil on Ecoholic series

Adria Vasil, an environmental journalist and author of the best-selling Eco-holic series, has been a vocal advocate for a healthier environment for more than two decades. After witnessing the Exxon Valdez oil spill as a child, Vasil has dedicated much of her life to investigating the enormous environmental costs of corporate malpractice. But in 2004 her career took a distinctly different path when she began writing a column in ‘Now! Magazine’, one of Toronto’s Alternative Weekly’s. The column, offering tips on how people can become mobilized to help the environment through the products that they purchase and the daily decisions that they make, has spawned into three books in the now best selling Eco-holic series that covers everything from the most environmentally friendly cosmetics on the market to how to detoxify your house.  To find out more, Terra Informa’s Matt Hirji spoke with Vasil about  her career in environmental advocacy and how  her latest book, ‘Eco-holic Body’, plays into her fight for a more sustainable Earth. In this interview she explains that being conscious of the products that we consume fits within a larger paradigm of advocating for a cleaner, healthier environment.

More on this story: Ecoholic book series, Adria Vasil’s column in NOW Magazine

What’s Happening

Building Resilient Communities through Forestry Management
From January 16 to 18, the who’s who of environmentalists, first nations, and government representatives will be speaking at a conference on building resilient communities through community based forest management. This conference is happening at Algoma’s Water Tower Inn in Sault St. Marie, Ontario If you are interested in developing a research plan to counter forest management issues, sharing your own experiences, and networking with other Canadians, then make sure to register for this event. Tickets are $120 and include meals and banquet.

More information: How to register.

The Economics of Happiness
On January 19, documentary film The Economics of Happiness will be screened at beach business hub in Toronto. This documentary explores the two opposing forces of localization and globalization, as well as provides practical solutions for creating a sustainable economy. Author and director of the film, Helena Norberg-Hodge has received recognition for her groundbreaking contributions to the new economy movement, making this a must see.

More information: Reservations for the screening.

Creating (and Using) Your Fundraising Plan
This all-day workshop is happening on January 25th, at the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. The workshop is designed for grass-roots and non-profit organizations to understand how to raise and manage money. Like anything else in life, fundraising works better if you have a plan — and even better if you follow it. The registration cost is $100 per person and includes a full day of instruction, lunch, refreshments and handouts.

More information: How to register.

Invasive Species Art Competition
Artists are invited to create two-dimensional artworks of any archival media in the themes of biodiversity and/or invasive species for the Invasive Species Centre’s juried art competition.
There are cash prizes and the final date for submissions is February 8th. To register, and for more information, complete the registration form online and email the form and digital image of your artwork to