Monday, April 25, 2016

Concrete and Clay

I'm presenting this exhibit of photographs in May 2016 as part of the 20th Anniversary Contact Photography Festival. The work will be on exhibit at Art Works Art Gallery at 238 Jane Street from Thursday May 12 to Saturday June 11, 2016. Opening Reception is Thursday May 12 from 6-8 pm - all are welcome. 

The photographs I'm exhibiting are a documentation drawing attention to the irreversible practice of shoreline hardening. Under the pretence of erosion protection; revetments, armour rocks and paved roads are taking over our natural shorelines. In an attempt to alter the malleable, shifting and changing clay shores of the Scarborough Bluffs, developers are not only destroying an ecosystem and animal habitat but they are severing our connection to the lake. 

The shoreline at risk begins near Grey Abbey Ravine and continues east along the shore for about 4 km to East Point Park and Bird Sanctuary. In addition to this area being an important flyway for migratory birds, it has been recognized as an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA) and an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI).

The good news is there's still time to preserve this last natural shoreline of Toronto. The TRCA (Toronto and Region Conservation Authority) is interested in hearing from the public about this area. The plans that are currently being proposed present a number of options and alternatives and in addition to hardening the shoreline in varying degrees, one of their options include the 'Do Nothing Alternative'. This would be the best option for preserving the area in it's natural state. Allowing this shoreline to remain natural will help maintain the natural habitat for many years to come. This area is a treasure of flora and fauna and the shore is a beautiful stretch of sand beach that deserves our protection. 

In addition to seeing the photographs on display, I invite you to contact the TRCA and let them know how you feel about shoreline hardening and if this is how you envision the future of our shores. 

Email: Lindsay Clapp (project coordinator)

For those of you not familiar with the TRCA, I've included some info from their website about when they formed and their mandate: 

About TRCA

Formed in the aftermath of Hurricane Hazel, TRCA has a strong history in watershed management and leadership in applying sustainability practices.  Today, we own more than 40,000 acres of land in the Toronto region, employ more than 475 full time employees and coordinate more than 3,000 volunteers each year. 
With decades of practical experience in protecting our environment, educating young people, and engaging communities, TRCA works with governments, businesses, and individuals to build a greener, cleaner healthier place to live.

Our Vision

The quality of life on Earth is being determined in the rapidly expanding city regions.  Our vision is for a new kind of community, The Living City, where human settlement can flourish forever as part of nature's beauty and diversity.

Our Mission

To work with our partners to ensure that The Living City is built on a natural foundation of healthy rivers and shorelines, greenspace and biodiversity, and sustainable communities. 

Our Expertise

TRCA offers knowledge and experience to help our partners contribute to a healthy city region.  This includes ecology and the study of water quality, natural habitats, plants, animals and more to help us identify environmental needs, set targets, and restore natural areas; sustainable community development to advise partners about land use, development proposals and construction, and environmental education to help students and community members appreciate their local environment and learn to look after it.

Local Action

"Think globally, act locally" applies well to TRCA and its partners.  While we recognize our participation in the global environment, our work is focused squarely on the environment here in the Toronto region.  We work to protect and restore the health of the nine watersheds that form the Toronto region, and the Lake Ontario waterfront along its southern boundary.

Working Together

Communities across our watersheds are meeting the challenge of protecting and restoring the health of our environment.  TRCA works alongside its municipal partners, other environmental departments and organizations, educational organizations, corporations and grass roots community groups to help them, as well as ourselves, achieve our goals in support of a greener, cleaner, healthier place to live.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Reflecting on the Wisdom of Aldo Leopold

Wetland, East Point Bird Sanctuary, Scarborough Photo credit: Jen Falvy

April 21st marks the anniversary of the loss of a great conservationist, forester, philosopher, educator, writer, and outdoor enthusiast; Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948). 

Leopold was influential in the development of modern environmental ethics and in the movement for wilderness conservation. His ethics of nature and wildlife preservation had a profound impact on the environmental movement, with his ecocentric or holistic ethics regarding land. He emphasized biodiversity and ecology and was a founder of the science of wildlife management. (from Wikipedia)

Born in 1887 and raised in Burlington, Iowa, Aldo Leopold developed an interest in the natural world at an early age, spending hours observing, journaling, and sketching his surroundings. Graduating from the Yale Forest School in 1909, he eagerly pursued a career with the newly established U.S. Forest Service in Arizona and New Mexico. By the age of 24, he had been promoted to the post of Supervisor for the Carson National Forest in New Mexico. In 1922, he was instrumental in developing the proposal to manage the Gila National Forest as a wilderness area, which became the first such official designation in 1924.

Following a transfer to Madison, Wisconsin in 1924, Leopold continued his investigations into ecology and the philosophy of conservation, and in 1933 published the first textbook in the field of wildlife management. Later that year he accepted a new chair in game management – a first for the University of Wisconsin and the nation.

In 1935, he and his family initiated their own ecological restoration experiment on a worn-out farm along the Wisconsin River outside of Baraboo, Wisconsin. Planting thousands of pine trees, restoring prairies, and documenting the ensuing changes in the flora and fauna further informed and inspired Leopold.

A prolific writer, authoring articles for professional journals and popular magazines, Leopold conceived of a book geared for general audiences examining humanity’s relationship to the natural world. Unfortunately, just one week after receiving word that his manuscript would be published, Leopold experienced a heart attack and died on April 21, 1948 while fighting a neighbours’ grass fire that escaped and threatened the Leopold farm and surrounding properties. A little more than a year after his death Leopold’s collection of essays A Sand County Almanac was published. With over two million copies sold, it is one of the most respected books about the environment ever published, and Leopold has come to be regarded by many as the most influential conservation thinker of the twentieth century.

Leopold’s legacy continues to inform and inspire us to see the natural world “as a community to which we belong.”
(from the Aldo Leopold Foundation website:

Here are a few of my favourite quotes:

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” 

“Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television.” 

The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”