Sunday, February 28, 2010

Open Space

In today’s class when did an exercise that was new to me called “Open Space”. This was done in order to create groups of people that think alike or are very passionate about a certain project that they would like to see done in the community of Colwood. The open space concept is a way to get people’s brains flowing and tries not to limit people’s creativity. Everyone had to write an idea that they would like to see put in place in Colwood to help the community become carbon neutral on a piece of paper and hang it up. Then the idea was to read all the different idea’s and projects and determine which ones were of interest to you and then to sign up for those projects. I signed up for the project about making a map of all of the trails on the Royal Roads University campus as there isn’t really one made yet. This will be done by either walking the trails with a GPS system and inputting the data in to Arc GIS and making our own map, or hopefully using existing layers. The map will consist of all of the trails on the RRU campus as well as the length of the trails, difficulty ratings, signs on the trail, signs pointing out certain species of trees, and lights so that people can also use the paths at night. Our team has also talked about going out into the community and asking people if they think it would be a good idea to have this map, just to get a general idea of how useful it will be. When I first moved out to Victoria to go to school at RRU, the first thing that I wanted was a map of all the trails on the campus so I could go for jogs and bike rides and discovered that they didn’t even have one. This will be a very useful tool to have for new students and people that live in the community as it is a beautiful place to walk, jog, and bike. The project will then be presented to the mayor of Colwood and hopefully handed out at local food stores, gyms and RRU. By making a map of all the trials I believe that it is a step in the right direction of becoming a carbon neutral community. The concept of open space was a very good concept as it allowed everybody to voice their thoughts and allowed people to work on projects that they were interested in and passionate about instead of being told what to work on. I really think this was a positive and great way of doing these projects as it is a very neutral process that had no limitations.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Resilience and Food Security

This week’s presenters were Gene Miller who spoke on climate change, Jennifer Girard who spoke about community geared towards sustainability, and Cindy Moyer who develops arts and environmental awareness in Colwood. Gene miller spoke about the cost of late stage capitalism and how it has affected our resilience, the other two speakers talked about local food security in Colwood. Community resilience is pretty much determined by local food security. Jennifer talked about programs that she has put together in the community of Colwood that involve local food security. The programs that she talked about were gardening universe project, gardens in motion, fruit tree project, and food guide. The gardening universe project is for people that want to grow food in their backyard, get seeds, plants and a mentor to help them map out there backyard and get a start. It encourages people to grow their own food and if they need help there are people that will come and teach them how to properly grow their own food. The gardens in motion is exactly what it sounds like, it is a flat bed trailer with plant boxes and beds on it and it tours around communities and shows people how to get more in touch with the cycles of life. The fruit tree project was a new concept to me and a great idea, it involves volunteers going to people’s houses that have fruit trees in their years and picking the fruit for the owners and then also being able to take some fruit themselves which is then donated to the food bank. The food guide project is pretty normal in more communities; it is pretty much a farmers market where local farmers sell their locally grown food. Cindy Moyer works for the town of Colwood and is trying to make a change for local food security, she develops arts and environmental awareness in the Colwood community. She is currently part of the mayor’s task force; they are currently working on a plan to produce green maps which point out the recreational parks and green spaces in the Colwood area. She also talked about how important local food is and ways to promote such as the tomato challenge that took place last year between the mayor of Colwood and the president of Royal Roads University. At this event both the mayor and president were given locally grown tomatoes and had to come up with their best dish. This in turn helped promote the idea of growing local food and keeping it in the community. I will sign off with this; I would beat the mayor or the president of RRU any day with my amazing cooking skills.

Community Energy Planning

The presenters this week were Laura Porcher, Manager of Partnership Development and Todd Litman, from Sustainable Transportation Integrated Solutions, who discussed energy planning and sustainable transportation. The presenters both talked about ideas of planning and smart growth for communities. This idea has been discussed a lot throughout the sustainability class and it is basically just planning around the infrastructure that is already built and utilizing it more efficiently. The discussion of more mixed land use was also a main topic, with of course the main idea of sustainability being the end target. Laura talked about the energy side of sustainability and how it can make a community for efficient and productive with saving energy. A quote from Laura that I really like was “whatever we build will be here after fossil fuels” which is very true, so the proper planning of communities infrastructure and street layout is very crucial. When looking at the design of a community it is important a key idea would be to follow the considerations of the Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow (QUEST) program which points out many characteristics to utilize to achieve a well thought-out community. Under this program they point out the idea of encouraging mixed use higher density urban development, reduce energy input required for a given level of service, match the type of energy with its use, manage surplus heat across applications and sectors, convert waster into energy, integrate onsite renewable sources of energy, and optimize grid energy use to increase the overall system and to help ensure reliability. When trying to save energy it is important to encourage energy efficient land use planning, improve energy efficiency of buildings, increase transportation efficiency, diversity the energy supply, educate and engage residents and businesses, and demonstrate local government leadership. Todd discussed the ideas geared towards transportation and was really encouraging people to ride bikes more frequently and put a big emphasis on working with the infrastructure that is already in place and improving it to make it more efficient to people that are biking or walking to places. The idea of working from home was also one that intrigued me, with the wide use of computers and the internet in today’s world I believe it would be a great idea for people to work from home instead of driving half hour to downtown Victoria just to do work on their computer there. This would be a huge was to help decrease traffic congestion and carbon emissions being put in the air. As we are always making small changes to improve society and make a more sustainable world, the decision that you make on a daily basis to drive or bike is important. As this helps in decreasing emissions put in to our beloved atmosphere and in the end hurts our environment.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Future of Colwood

Colwood is a community on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This morning we had Mayor Dave Saunders & Councilor Judith Cullington come in and talk to us about the community and where it stands now, and where it is going. It is a community where most of the people in our cohort at Royal Roads University live. Colwood consist of about 15,000 people which are primarily residents, consisting of around 6,000 homes. Colwood is a growing community that is estimated to reach a population of 32,000 people by 2028. The community of Colwood inhabits lots of endangered species such as the Garry Oak tree, which is one of the biggest endangered species in North America and the sharp tailed snake. There are many historical sites that reside in Colwood such as Fort Rod Hill, Fisgard lighthouse, and Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University. Colwood is home to the Esquimalt and songhees first nations. The municipality in Colwood relies on three main components before decisions can be finalized. The three crucial levels that ideas have to go through before they are pass are the community, administrative staff, and the mayor and councilors. The future vision of the municipality of Colwood is to be energy positive, carbon neutral, water smart, and a green learning city. This is the first I have ever heard about green learning and it intrigued me, Robert Bateman a famous artist has donated many of his paintings to Royal Roads University. A Robert Bateman centre is going to be build on the campus and will be a living building for a greener place. Robert Bateman thinks that by building this center that in his eyes it will help change one student’s way of thinking at a time. The mayor of Colwood took that saying into consideration and went one step higher and wants to change once city at a time. A green learning city for RRU learners would be great as we would have real life classrooms. Visitors from around the region and around the world could come and see demonstrations of new technologies. Businesses are encouraged to setup demonstrations of innovative technologies and this would help provide jobs for residence and support local businesses. The municipality of Colwood has many projects underway towards a transition town or a more sustainable community. The mayor stated this morning that over the last 2 years there has been a substantial change throughout the town of Colwood and it is only getting better. Recently the community of Colwood purchased a smaller truck that runs on only electricity and has replaced one of their regular trucks. They are hoping that they can replace the whole fleet of regular trucks with the electric ones. Colwood knows where they want to be and to get to this destination they are going to or already have implemented a smart growth with mixed uses in high density nodes in several places in the city, supporting transit services, recovering resources from wasters, fiber optics throughout the community and a Colwood community place. Colwood has an award winning Overall Community Plan (OCP). The next step in the transition of Colwood is to attract new businesses such as an eco-village where local foods, art, and culture can be displayed as people live in a living area that feels like a resort or vacation destination. The Royal Bay area is a huge potential place for a good development area for eco friendly establishments like this and Colwood would also like to implement a high tech business park to try to keep the people that live in Colwood staying in Colwood and working from their homes instead of commuting into Victoria everyday for their jobs. I believe that all of these changes and programs that the community of Colwood is implementing and promoting is a good start to a better transition for the community.