Inaugural climate picnic
On June 1, neighbours young and old gathered in Laurier Park to share strategies for tackling the climate crisis, and to enjoy an outstanding mix of live entertainment. The event was part of Ottawa’s first Intergenerational Day, celebrated in 100 cities across Canada to foster connections between people of all ages.
Diane Beckett and I teamed up with the aim of creating an event that would empower and inspire Sandy Hill residents to face the climate crisis: the greatest intergenerational issue facing us all. Not only did it bring together people of different ages, but also people at different stages of their climate journeys – from vegans committed to avoiding air travel and all plastic waste, to those curious about making changes and wondering about a meat-free Monday or cycling to work, for example. We all benefit from supporting each other to make climate-friendly choices large and small.
Upon arrival, participants were invited to write their strategies on pieces of fabric and attach them to ropes strung between trees. Not only was it beautiful, this participatory installation prompted climate conversations, which can often be awkward to begin. There were also opportunities to chat with local environmental organizations, such as Bike Ottawa, Our Time, a Green New Deal for Canada, and the Ottawa Water Study/Action Group.
Everyone was treated to a wide and intergenerational range of musical performances expertly curated by Chris White, co-founder and former Artistic Director of the Ottawa Folk Festival. Doreen Stevens, Algonquin knowledge keeper, opened the event with a land acknowledgement before performing with Helga and her daughter, Aki, in a wonderful collaboration of Indigenous and immigrant music. This was followed by cross-cultural music by Local Colour, featuring Monique, Juanita, Lili, Debbie, Patricia and Carmel, before Ryan Pilling entertained with a hilarious magic show. Singer-songwriter and social activist Vincent Bishop then came to the stage, followed by Hop To It!, featuring Mary, Ann, Michael and Jonathan, and social justice choir Just Voices.
The bilingual singer-songwriter Kristine St-Pierre then mesmerized the crowd, before Chris White was joined by Debbie and Juanita for a final singalong. Everyone gave so much of themselves and we can’t thank them enough!
Thanks are also due for the generous support of Action Sandy Hill, the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre, Mathieu Fleury, Fabrications and allsaints Event Space. We also want to acknowledge the Climate Pledge Collective, a fantastic climate focused organization that inspired this event. You can learn more about them at climatepledgecollective.org.