Starting in April 2017, The Land Between charity with Curve Lake First Nation have been working to convene landowners across the region to share their observations and concerns about changes in the natural world. The forums have been four Talking Circles in catchment areas of the region. This leg of the effort is now complete and we are happy to have heard from over 160 landowners. In two smaller venues, the voice of the nonprofit sector was also expressed.
Some of the observations included the lack of waterfowl, decline in songbirds, insects, and rodents in recent years. In fact, beyond Eagles and some smaller mammals, declines across many animal families were noted. Also remarkable was the stress of canopy trees and increasing invasives. And glaringly obvious to all, was the change in regular weather patterns and cycles, to such a degree that they are no longer predictable or reliable. Concerns ranged from the lack of acknowledgement of nature’s integral role in human mental health and welfare, and too, in our overall physical health; the increase and rampant spraying at home and across the border for pests that is leaving a legacy of chemical accumulations in waters, animals, and our own bodies. There were comments about the lack of knowledge and also willpower at local levels to stand up for the environment in planning and development forums. It was made clear too, that this bioregion is important to our future, as it provides buffering and ecosystem services to all of southern Ontario, but that traditional forms of development for cottaging, for roadways, etc. will irreversibly harm this system and its ability to function and support Ontarians- and that there is no other hope or refuge remaining in Ontario.
The events were organized in Traditional Talking Circles, which are one of the purest forms of democracy, that have been practiced by almost every original culture. Many attendees were queried about their experience in the Talking Circle, where one former municipal counselor expressed that he felt the circle was a-political and non-confrontational while being educational- and that he hoped that his municipality might adopt the Circle as a way of holding meetings and conducting its business. Others too were moved and grateful for the experience of sharing that was facilitated.
It is hoped that circles will be held annually or biannually from this point on.
But for now the task of summarizing a chronicles or proceedings of these events is at hand. The Land Between charity will develop these proceedings which will be available for all public to view and download on the project website: www.knowledgecircles.ca
The charity is also developing curriculum and best practices for democratic, inclusive leadership and grassroots efforts; the tools and resources are available on the project website. Too, First Nation and organizational chairs are available to mentor and support organization’s adoption of these tools.
Beyond the Circles, the effort has generated other platforms for sharing knowledge of FrogCircle; a Facebook framework, but where individuals post and share information only about nature. This platform is open and free to everyone. Join at www.frogcircle.ca