The QUBS – A Lesson in Diversity and Conservation

Thanks Danielle Ciren (a STRIVE Committee Member) for this excellent insight into QUBS.  

            On January 30th I had the opportunity to visit the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS). This was offered as a BIOL 202 field trip, just one of the many class trips made to QUBS each year.

            QUBS is truly a conservation mecca, located just one hour from Queen’s main campus. Upon our arrival we were ushered into the main building, which houses the dinning hall and kitchen. The look and feel of the place was distinctly similar to my memories of summer camp, from the wood covered walls to the cabins lining the roadway.

            QUBS was created in 1945, largely for returning war veterans. Its main goal then, as it remains now, was to teach students about wildlife biology, ecology, and conservation. During the summer months many field courses are offered, and most research is also conducted at this time. Undergraduates as well as graduate students can dedicate their entire summer to living and working at QUBS.

            The director himself, Steve Lougheed, is very passionate about QUBS and its future! While there he described his ambition to create a DNA database cataloguing the genetic sequence of a mitochondrial gene in every animal species on the property. DNA barcoding is one of the most powerful tools that conservation geneticists have, making it possible to identify a species of centipede with just one leg. Furthermore, the collection of specimens for DNA barcoding would be performed by BIOL 202 students themselves, starting with us!

            Our task for the day was to collect mud samples at the bottom of the lake. Three holes were cut in the ice, and students had a chance to operate an Ekman grab. This neat contraption is designed to be lowered to the bottom of the lake, where it can grab a sample of mud for further inspection. Back in the lab we sifted through buckets of mud for the creatures within. It was incredible to witness the diversity of life occurring in such an extreme environment. We made our best guesses as to the species found, and handed them off to our professors for future sequencing. 

            My trip to QUBS made me hopeful, yet cautious about the future of conservation. Large plots of land have been conserved thanks to the presence of QUBS, and research is continuously being conducted to determine how species are changing with their environment. Unfortunately, many of those very species will probably be extinct within our lifetime. One of the saddest moments of the trip occurred when Professor Loughheed described the large herbarium kept at the site, explaining that its value will grow as many of its catalogued species become extinct in years to come. 

Danielle Ciren | STRIVE Committee Member 

GUEST BLOG POST: "New Year, New Semester, New Food Choices" (Oxfam @ Queen's)

This term, we're going to try to have guest blog posts by different environmental organizations and clubs on campus! Sustainable Queen's believes the best way to build the environmental movement here is by supporting and collaborating with other groups. Our first blog post is from Oxfam @ Queen's - this article was originally posted in Ethical Eats Oxfam ! (They also just published a cool article on Local, Organic, Fair Trade options in Kingston!)

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" Before coming to university the idea of LOFT food really had no meaning to me, I didn’t really hear much about it, or think it was something as big as it was. By the end of high-school the idea of fair trade had come about in my one politics class or in my one social justice club meetings but I really never knew fully what it was, what LOFT meant, or why it was as important as it is. By the time I got to university and joined Oxfam all I heard about was LOFT, local organic and fair trade food, but I still didn’t fully know why it was so important, or why my small choices of where I purchase my food or what brands of food I purchase could make any kind of a difference. I also thought that as a university student on a budget I wouldn’t be able to afford all these organic foods or fair trade foods at my grocery store that were more expensive then the rest. It was always just easier to go to metro right by the university and pick up the cheapest products, not thinking about the ethics of it all.

So why is it important than to go LOFT? What does buying fair-trade and local organic foods actually do?

Organic agriculture? What is it, why is it important??

The aim of organic agriculture is to serve mankind in developing sustainable kinds of agriculture, as climate change continues to grow we are continuously looking for ways to reduce the negative impact we have on our world and society and to be able to sustain agriculture to make enough and as good food for everyone. A starting point is a healthy and living soil, the basis for healthy plants and animals. This all aims at creating quality food while still taking care of the environment. As for processing and labelling it would be only fair to not only treat our animals and nature as a vital social justice importance but to also remain consistent with treating small farmers and local farmers from constant exploitation.

This leads into fair trade and its importance as well. The fair trade movement started as a way to call on the injustices of international trade, as it was very much in favour of the industrialized developed countries of the time. Fair trade began to counter this way of trade with criteria for sustainable and fair trading methods.

These two concepts of organic and fair trade food both coexist as ways to prioritize sustainable development for all, taking care of our environment and agriculture, while also maintaining equal rights and protecting local and small businesses from exploitation.

Where does the local part come from?

There are many benefits from buying locally, however also buying from developing countries in a fair trade setting. Locally buying can create many benefits such as more trust as a consumer by having face to face contact with the supplier, here are some categories of the consumption of local products as listed from: http://www.fairtradetowns.org/

–      Product: consumption according to the season, organic, locally produced, less meat, little packaging, cooking with basic ingredients (not processed or pre-cooked) and GM free.

–      Price: fair trade, a realistic price for producers in our regions, a reasonable salary for every actor in the supply chain

–      Place: buying large amounts once a week in the supermarket, buying at the farm, system of subscription to weekly fruit and vegetable packages

–      Promotion/information: close contact with farmers, information about producer and the supply chain.

Many debates have sprung about how to do both local organic food and fair trade and here is a perfect quote to sum up the solution:

John McAllion, Chair of the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, “There need be no conflict between buying Fairtrade and buying local produce. Buy local meat, potatoes and dairy products to support your local economy and buy quality Fairtrade coffee, tea and other products that can’t be grown locally to help Fairtrade producers in the developing world get a fair deal”.

So why does this all matter to you specifically?

As consumers we all have the ability to change the rules of the game, to change how our food is produced, how our agriculture can remain sustainable and how our workers, local farmers, small business owners are treated, how to avoid exploitation and create a world of fair trading and producing. This change starts with us, what we buy and what we endorse matters. By changing a small part of your life and trying to buy locally more often than you already are or by purchasing fair trade items, the terms of trade and production can change. If we all changed our ways slightly eventually more and more we can strive for a fair trade and sustainable world.

After learning about all of these reasons to make fair trade and local organic food choices and learning what these terms actually mean, I have realized that even as a university student I can make a change in my everyday life. I can go to the farmers market more often, or to local businesses for my fruits and veggies. I can purchase fair trade teas and chocolate every once in a while, or buy fair trade coffee for similar prices! Where can I do this? Well next weekend the food security campaign will be going to the many different local and fair trade places around Kingston to learn how easy it really is it go LOFT and how we can really integrate this into our own life. Read our blog next week to see pictures and descriptions of various different places around Kingston and how we are able to go LOFT!

Where did I get this info?

https://www.organicconsumers.org/old_articles/ofgu/fair-trade-organic.htm

http://www.fairtradetowns.org/

Check out these websites for more info!! " 

- Sydney Risi | Food Security Project Director | Oxfam @ Queen's University 

My Eco-Resolutions for a Greener 2016!

We're almost halfway into January, but I thought this would be the best time to post about environmental resolutions - the rush of self-improvement new year's resolutions have died off a little bit and our lives are starting to fall back into the same (old but new) routine. Having environmental resolutions might seem like the same bombardment of environmental things you're constantly being told to do (recycle) or not to do (litter); there are definitely a list of things we have been conditioned and told over and over again to be a "good environmental citizen" since you were in grade two... But instead, let's start really thinking about our worldview, our environmental values and priorities, and how our impact can empower the wider environmental movement (because they can!). 

1. Work hard to stay informed about local and global environmental issues! Share this information. 

This is definitely one of the most important things you can do as an environmental advocate. To stay informed about climate change, oil spills, environmental policies, means that you can likely bring up these key issues in conversations or sharing them on social media. Having a good understanding of environmental issues is good for you as you can learn about interesting facts and topics and well... probably often disappointing and awful environmental destruction things... but still... Reading more informations, seeing interactive maps and visuals and infographics that highlight key figures, and much more can help you find your route of the environmental issues you care most deeply about and start thinking about how you can help solve these crises. 

Grist (http://grist.org/) is my favourite environmental news source, but other sites such as Friends of the Earth - Environmental Justice (https://www.foe.co.uk/news/env_justice_index), DeSmogBlog (http://www.desmogblog.com/) or Climate Central (http://www.climatecentral.org/) are other great places to find information and news. There is always more to learn and always more environmental innovations and tragedies happening around the world. 

2. Make some environmental friends! 

This may not seem like a resolution that is going to really impact the environment, but I guarantee you that it can absolutely help. Having people around you who are also passionate about environmental issues and sustainability can reaffirm that the work that you are doing and the topics you care about do indeed matter. You can help each other stay motivated and passionate. When you encounter lots of people who may express their apathy or disengagement with environmental issues, people who may not understand why you feel so strongly about the environment (or even criticize you for doing so), having even one environmental friend can help to reassure you that you are not in this struggle alone. There are lots of environmentalists, lots of work fields that are increasingly prioritizing sustainability, and lots of support for you to be as much of a tree-hugger as you can be! You can do that by contacting us at Sustainable Queen's and attending our Sustainable Queen's Forums (Wednesday, Jan 13th @6PM in the AMS Boardroom)

3. Be Critical of Your Individual Environmental Impact. 

It is increasingly becoming apparent that individual impact and the governance of "environmental citizenship" has less of an environmental impact as we are told it does... However, there are lots of ways that environmental impact does matter. Your choice to try to cut down on eating meat, or always remembering to use a re-useable bag, retrofitting your home, or driving less and taking the bus more, might seem like small choices, but they can definitely shift your worldview into trying to be less wasteful, make more ethical choices, and try to live in a manner that produces the least environmental impact. Additionally, small individual choices are easier to relate to and understand, and can perhaps spark discussion amongst your friends or peers or co-workers, which can help create a culture in which people are open-minded about environmental changes and thus perhaps more willing and supportive of larger sustainable projects such as lobbying Canada to commit to a tangible plan of action for reaching the 100% renewables by 2050 target that they just signed at COP21 Paris in December. 

Obviously there are many other aspects of environmentalism that I did not touch on, but part of being the best environmentalist you can be is being aware of what you value and how you want to grow and how you want to contribute. Although, I very strongly recommend trying to grow some of your own food! Here's an article on Growing Your Own Food Indoors During the Winter! but also for the summer, if you don't have a backyard of your own, there are many community gardens (more info here: http://www.kingstoncommunitygardens.ca/) that will happily rent you a garden plot and support you in your gardening journey. 

There are always more opportunities to join the environmental movement here at Queen's and I hope that you have a lovely rest of the year. 

Diana Yoon

Geography & Environmental Studies '17 

My Experiences at Climate Marches and the Global Response to COP21

This past Sunday, November 29th was the "100% Possible" Ottawa Climate March, and I was lucky enough to be part of an excited bus full of enviro-folk from Queen's University and Kingston. There were little kids and their on the bus, Kingston locals, lots of Queen's students in various fields (Geography, Music, Life Sciences, etc.), a Trent University student, and more. Our diverse group was merely a speck on the 25,000+ people participating in the march once we arrived in Ottawa. 

The Queen's Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) sponsored bus to Ottawa! 

The Queen's Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) sponsored bus to Ottawa! 

From signs and banners and placards displaying a wide range of environmental issues and sentiments, it was clear that large Climate Marches such as this one are incredibly good to bring together all different facets of the larger environmental movement. The organization "Ecology Ottawa" that mass organized this "100% Possible" climate march was providing hundreds of "100% Clean/ 100% Justice/ 100% Solutions" signs. There were definitely some other interesting banners (see Justin Trudeau "Papa's Here for You" - is this sarcasm? is this serious?!?) discussing specific environmental issues (e.g. Cowspiracy-specific posters). I really loved the QBACC banner "Change the Politics, Not the Climate". 

I made this! Me (2nd from the left) and my Queen's friends! 

I made this! Me (2nd from the left) and my Queen's friends! 

The beginning of the Climate March, led by Indigenous Elders & Youth. (Credit: 100% Possible - Ecology Ottawa)

The beginning of the Climate March, led by Indigenous Elders & Youth. (Credit: 100% Possible - Ecology Ottawa)

Indigenous Elders and Youth sitting at Parliament at the end of the march. (Credit: http://www.100possible.ca) 

Indigenous Elders and Youth sitting at Parliament at the end of the march. (Credit: http://www.100possible.ca) 

It is extremely important that Indigenous people are at the forefront of our climate movements, as they have often been part of the most vulnerable communities in Canada affected by environmental destruction and the health-risks associated with unsustainable fossil fuel extraction processes. (See more: Climate Change, Health, and Vulnerability in Canadian Northern Aboriginal Communities)  Although Indigenous Elders and Youth were key speakers at the opening and closing of the Climate March, they were unfortunately not given the attention and respect they deserved -- a stark contrast to the rounds of applause given to David Suzuki. Not to say that David Suzuki hasn't been important to Canadian environmentalism, but it was disheartening to see how much people cared about what David Suzuki had to say but couldn't listen to the speeches of Indigenous Elders with the same respect. 

For the most part, once the march slowly slowly started, it was a very lovely family-friendly affair with blaring Top 40 Pop Music (Roar? Eye of the Tiger?) and thousands of thousands of people marching for environmental advocacy. 

One observation I made at this climate march versus the April 11th Quebec City Act on Climate March was that the Ottawa one felt much more positive and optimistic. This was contrasted from the more hostile, frustrated and perhaps angry tone of the Quebec March. I think the Canadian federal election in between was mostly at fault for this change, as the Quebec protesters had several "Stop Harper" signs and demanded change from Canadian environmental policy makers.

April 11th Act on Climate March - Me (fourth from the left) and my GTA environmental friends. 

April 11th Act on Climate March - Me (fourth from the left) and my GTA environmental friends. 

 I was surprised to see that this sentiment was not shared at the Ottawa Climate March, as technically this global climate march day was surrounding the 2015 Paris Climate Conference (COP21 - Conference of Parties). When climate activists in Paris were banned from protesting because of security reasons (attacked with tear gas, etc.), we were all surprisingly so calm and happy. When Trudeau hasn't made "concrete plans for a national climate change plan" (although proclaiming that "Canada is Back" at COP21- CTV News), it seems surprising that the tone of the climate march was so pleasant. The benefit of having such a polite protest however means that it is extremely inclusive and open to all people, regardless of how well informed they are or how radical of environmental politic is. 

More than just the 25,000 in Ottawa, this day of Global Climate Marches was a remarkable feat bringing together over 785,000 people all over the world in 175 countries. 

London, UK (Credit: http://globalclimatemarch.org/)

London, UK (Credit: http://globalclimatemarch.org/)

Dhaka, Bangladesh (Credit: http://globalclimatemarch.org/)

Dhaka, Bangladesh (Credit: http://globalclimatemarch.org/)

All in all, it was a great opportunity to be part of this incredible gathering of people in Canada's capital to advocate for climate action and environmental advocacy. Following the climate marches, it is our responsibility to stay informed about how the world leaders are responding to this immense support for climate action and take action to fight for better environmentalism in our local communities. For staying informed: the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, COP21 Delegation has a great website updating their experiences at the Climate Summit. For local environmental action: there are a lot of different opportunities to get involved in environmental student initiatives and community organizations right here on our Sustainable Queen's website. 

Thanks for reading! 

- Diana Yoon 

Recap: SUSTAINABILITY WEEK Oct 19-23

The air was crisp, the leaves were falling, and the JDUC was adorned with a lovely Sustainability Week banner. The week was filled with lots of interesting, fun projects and events, covering many different aspects of environmentalism. 

(Photo Credit: Aaron Ball - Sustainability Office) 

(Photo Credit: Aaron Ball - Sustainability Office) 

These are some of the photo highlights from the week! Did you manage to get some free clothes from the Earth Centre's Clothing Swap?

If not, the Room of Requirement is hosting a Halloween Costume Exchange on Oct 28-29th! Check out the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/416561731882714/

Check out the Earth Centre's FB page https://www.facebook.com/TheEarthCentre/ (Photo Credit: Studio Q)

Check out the Earth Centre's FB page https://www.facebook.com/TheEarthCentre/ (Photo Credit: Studio Q)

One of my favourite parts of Sustainability Week was going on the Wolfe Island Wind Farm tour! 

A beautiful wind turbine from the Wolfe Island Wind Farm (Photo Credit: Diana Yoon)

A beautiful wind turbine from the Wolfe Island Wind Farm (Photo Credit: Diana Yoon)

This is ONE blade of the wind turbine!! Did you know that they were this enormous? That blows me away (haha ok wind puns....)

This is ONE blade of the wind turbine!! Did you know that they were this enormous? That blows me away (haha ok wind puns....)

 Wednesday was an exciting day (like every day!) of Sustainability Week! The Alt Transportation Hub was a great attraction! Thanks to all who came out (despite the not so lovely weather!)  

SMASH CAR CULTURE! (Photo Credit: Sustainability Office) 

SMASH CAR CULTURE! (Photo Credit: Sustainability Office) 

Oxfam's OXJAM was absolutely incredible! As part of Queen's Sustainability Week 2015, this celebration of local music for a global cause raised money for Oxfam's Emergency Response Fund. Oxfam acknowledges that poverty, gender, and climate-related disasters are all intertwined. The Emergency Response Fund enables people affected by an emergency to get back on their feet, while also supporting community resilience and disaster preparedness to reduce future vulnerabilities. 

On Friday, Oct 23rd, an amazing group of Conservation Queen's and other Queen's students went to tour the Queen's University Biological Station (QUBS). Looks like they had an awesome time! QUBS is beautiful and does amazing work in conservation and environmental education. 

So that's a wrap! But the end of Sustainability Week absolutely does not mean that sustainability at Queen's is over! If anything, this should be the momentous push that drives environmentalism for the rest of the year! There are so many opportunities to contribute to sustainability at Queen's, and this week was a collaborative effort of so many students and organizations doing amazing environmental work on campus and in the community. 

We hope that you continue to use this website to stay updated on environmental events and projects at Queen's and in Kingston! There's so much to get involved with! There's so many aspects of sustainability that could be improved right here at Queen's - and YOU CAN HELP! Hope you're all as excited about the end of sustainability week and the beginning of more environmental events to come! 

Thanks for reading! - Diana

Pop-Up Parks, Public Space, and Pretty Enclaves at Queen's

As a human geography student, I am constantly aware of my surrounding environments and how they affect me and other people. This was something I came to really understand this summer when I had the amazing opportunity to be part of the Working Group for the Sydenham Street Revived Pop-Up Park. 

(Above) The Wilderness performing at the Sydenham Street Pop-Up Park.  (Top Right) A peaceful evening at the park. (Bottom Right) The "Before I Die, I Want to..." Wall filled with so many comments! 

(Above) The Wilderness performing at the Sydenham Street Pop-Up Park. 

(Top Right) A peaceful evening at the park.

(Bottom Right) The "Before I Die, I Want to..." Wall filled with so many comments! 

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The Sydenham Street Revived Pop-up Park was designed and planned by a group of Kingston community members who came together to brainstorm and pull off an incredibly, exciting, colourful, pedestrian-friendly vision for downtown Kingston. It existed on Sydenham Street, between Princess and Queen, from August 27th to September 13th. 

There were musical events, silent movies, yoga, giant board games, mural art projects, and a lot of yarn-bombing! The pop-up park came together because passionate people really wanted to re-examine our understanding of downtown Kingston and of public spaces, and physically create a space where our imaginations could be sparked and our community could grow together. 

I was walking through Sydenham Street today, and it truly feels so different filled with parked cars rather than lime green tables and a wide assortment of plants. There were concerns about vandalism and loitering and theft at the pop-up park, but I felt more safe walking through the middle of the road surrounded by chalk drawings and fake grass. 

I guess what I'm trying to convey is this idea that pedestrian-friendly places, "cities built for people, not cars", can happen if we advocate for it, and genuinely do believe in better people-friendly infrastructure. The pop-up park was up for 2 weeks, but it really did inspire me to be more appreciative of the wonderful natural places I walk through at Queen's and how lively they could be if more people actively made use of these public spaces. 

Mac-Correy hidden natural gem (Credit: Diana/me)

Mac-Correy hidden natural gem (Credit: Diana/me)

The little Mac-Correy area (pictured above) has benches and cool trees and interesting shadows if you're there at the right times. When I took this picture, I had to snap out of my busy busy rushed fast paced state and actually absorb the world around me. It felt like fall; it was calm and empty and nice. 

The other pretty "enclave" (I use this loosely, since it's a pretty wide open space) pictured here is Agnes Benidickson Field. During Frosh Week, we used this field one night for a movie screening (Pixar's Inside Out!); my group also hung out here a little bit to learn the frosh dance and do some icebreaker games. The field is almost always empty, but it was really lively and cozy when different groups of people were using the space for a variety of activities. Whenever I've visited McGill University, I see people hanging out in the centre quad grassy area on campus, and I guess I think it'd be nice if we at Queen's actively took some time to appreciate the environments that we are in and spend some time embracing pretty places on campus. 

What other natural (-ish... still man-made, built environments) places do you enjoy spending at Queen's or in Kingston? Let me know in the comments! 

Have a super day! Take some time to breathe outdoors for a bit! Enjoy the fall while we still can! 

-Diana Yoon

Welcome to Eco-Happenings: the Sustainable Queen's Blog

Sustainable Queen's exists as a resource to build up the environmental movement here at Queen's University and in the City of Kingston. We believe that by being this one-stop source (through this website or the Facebook page), we can help students to find all of the sustainability initiatives and events that are happening and facilitate easier access in getting involved! 

Sustainable Queen's is an unbiased, non-partisan entity in which all sorts of different aspects of environmentalism are respected and encouraged. 

So whether your passion for the environment started from when you were as young as these kids in the picture below or you're just dipping your feet into sustainability now (and are unsure of how you should get involved), there is absolutely something environmental-related at Queen's or in Kingston for you. 

                        Peter (CES Commissioner) at the Great Lake Water Festival, teaching water conservation!

                        Peter (CES Commissioner) at the Great Lake Water Festival, teaching water conservation!

There are several committees and clubs and community organizations and research opportunities. From divestment to bikes to community gardening, give something a shot and get involved! Fall hiring is probably happening right now!

There is also a continuously updated events calendar, where we post every environmental event we can find. If there is an event that we have missed, please contact us

Subsequent blog posts will be written about sustainable initiatives that have happened or are currently happening at Queen's or in Kingston. Please contact ces@ams.queensu.ca if you would like to guest author a blog post for your particular group or event! 

Thanks for reading! Be keen, stay green! 

Diana Yoon