Collective Action

We are not alone in our concern about climate change. Climate groups are popping up across the country in an effort to address climate issues that most affect them. Our network members represent people—often seniors—who want to have a clear answer when their families ask them “what did you do about the climate crisis?” In the examples below people used their time, with the help of others, to make real change in their communities.

Spotlight On: Don Ross and County Sustainability Group

Have you ever heard of the Pugnose Shiner? This teeny member of the minnow family is one of Ontario’s threatened freshwater fish, but not many people have heard of it.   

“Lots of fisherman don’t even know the Pugnose Shiner,” said Don Ross a founding member of the County Sustainability Group (CSG).  

The Pugnose Shiner. Photo Credit: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

“Testing out of the dock I’ll see little minnows and I can’t identify which one could be the Pugnose Shiner,” said Don.   

Since 2017, CSG has been working with Water Rangers Canada to monitor water quality in Ontario and New Brunswick. Then, in 2019, a member of Water Rangers put CSG in touch with Watersheds Canada, who was looking to do some work in the Quinte area, where CSG is based.   

“They followed up with us this past year with a specific project to help the Pugnose Shiner population. The aim was to work with landowners to improve shorelines,” said Don.   

Thus began a wide-ranging collaboration that included a variety of environmental groups big and small. 

Don and the CSG team were the “boots on the ground”, along with Watersheds Canada, Quinte ConservationFriends of Wellers Bay, The West Lake Community Association and volunteers on East Lake. They worked with community members they knew, wrote press releases for local papers and spread the word on Facebook.   

“We helped facilitate the project,” said Don. If landowners were interested in the project, CSG or one of the other organizations would put them in touch with Watersheds Canada.   

“They’d ask if we knew anyone who could take them out [on a boat], then we’d find someone who could do it,” said Don.   

Watersheds Canada would do shoreline assessments from the water and map areas on specific lakes to get a sense of habitat and restoration possibilities, as part of their Love Your Lake shoreline evaluation program developed with the Canadian Wildlife Federation.  

 Then, they put landowners in touch with Natural Edge, a project that creates custom plans for shoreline restoration, and even orders all the necessary plants and materials.   

Once the assessments wrap up, those who allowed their land to be assessed will get access to a free, customized report for their property.  

“It’s a way to get people in touch with what’s around them, to care about what’s around them,” said Don.   

Barn Swallows at Long Point Harbour, Prince Edward County

“I hope to learn much more when the results come out and start talking about if there’s any sort of evidence to show how things are getting better, the same or worse.”   

Don’s eco-philosophy centres on the idea that no project is too small, and certainly the Pugnose Shiner, a fish that doesn’t get bigger than 60 millimetres, likely appreciates the sentiment.   

“The way I look at it, when you throw a pebble in the water and the ripples go everywhere, you don’t know where they end up and that keeps me doing anything to try to help,” said Don.   

As it happens, shoreline restoration in the Quinte region doesn’t just benefit the Pugnose Shiner. Pollinators get native plants to enjoy, robust shoreline vegetation helps reduce chances of flooding, and it provides habitat for herons, ducks and dozens of other creatures. Ripples as far as the eye can see.   

Protect Nature in Community with County Sustainability Group
  • Take the Love Your Lake shoreline self-assessment to get lots of helpful tips on improving your shoreline health.
  • Participate in The Natural Edge, a shoreline naturalization program and get a personalized planting plan that will help protect your shoreline from degrading.
  • Ask your local conservation authority about volunteering on their restoration or protection projects.

Spend Some Time with a Climate Organization Near You

  • Webinars have become the forum for gatherings and discussions during the pandemic and so many groups are taking advantage. Swapnil a group that helps Bangladeshi newcomers integrate into Canadian society recently had a webinar comparing the global response to COVID-19 with the response to climate change. You can watch the recorded conversation with English subtitles here.
  • The Suzuki Elders are a voluntary association of self-identified elders working with and through the David Suzuki Foundation. They bring their voices, experiences and memories to mentor, motivate and support other elders and younger generations in dialogue and action on environmental issues. Apply to become a  Suzuki Elder!   
The Suzuki Elders