Sustainability Book Club 2013/14

The new season of the Sustainability Book Club has started. Join us on the third Wednesday of every month from September to May for an engaging discussion on the titles below. All Sustainability Book Club meetings are

6:00pm – 7:30pm
at Pages Books on Kensington, 1135 Kensington Rd NW


Sept 18: Rebuilding the Foodshed: How to Create Local, Sustainable, and Secure Food Systems, by Philip Ackerman-Leist

Rebuilding the Foodshed

Droves of people have turned to local food as a way to retreat from our broken industrial food system. From rural outposts to city streets, they are sowing, growing, selling, and eating food produced close to home—and they are crying out for agricultural reform. All this has made “local food” into everything from a movement buzzword to the newest darling of food trendsters.

But now it’s time to take the conversation to the next level. That’s exactly what Philip Ackerman-Leist does in Rebuilding the Foodshed, in which he refocuses the local-food lens on the broad issue of rebuilding regional food systems that can replace the destructive aspects of industrial agriculture, meet food demands affordably and sustainably, and be resilient enough to endure potentially rough times ahead.

Changing our foodscapes raises a host of questions. How far away is local? How do you decide the size and geography of a regional foodshed? How do you tackle tough issues that plague food systems large and small—issues like inefficient transportation, high energy demands, and rampant food waste? How do you grow what you need with minimum environmental impact? And how do you create a foodshed that’s resilient enough if fuel grows scarce, weather gets more severe, and traditional supply chains are hampered?

Showcasing some of the most promising, replicable models for growing, processing, and distributing sustainably grown food, this book points the reader toward the next stages of the food revolution. It also covers the full landscape of the burgeoning local-food movement, from rural to suburban to urban, and from backyard gardens to large-scale food enterprises.


Oct 16: Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered,by E. F. Schumacher

Small Is Beautiful

Small is Beautiful is the perfect antidote to the economics of globalization. A stimulating and controversial study of economics and its purpose. This remarkable book examines our modern economic system – its use of resources and impact on how we live – questioning whether they reflect what we truly care about. It is the classic of common-sense economics upon which many recent trends in our society are founded. This is economics from the heart rather than from just the bottom line. The revolutionary ideas are as pertinent, inspirational and thought-provoking today as when they were first published in 1973.

“Enormously broad in scope, pithily weaving together threads from Galbraith and Gandhi, capitalism and Buddhism, science and psychology.”– The New Republic

Find more community reviews on Goodreads.





Nov 20: Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, by Kathleen Moore

Moral Ground

Although climate change is an economic and scientific issue, it is fundamentally a moral issue, and it calls for a moral response.

Climate change is a human rights crisis, as it undermines the systems that support human lives, liberty, and security.

Climate change is a crisis of justice, as the hardships caused by the profligate use of fossil fuels come to rest on the shoulders of the poor and voiceless.

Climate change is a failure of reverence, causing the extinction of uncounted plants and animals, their beauty and abundance.

And climate change is a betrayal of love, as it undermines the hopes of those we love the very most—our children and grandchildren.

Moral Ground is a book that explains, in plain and poignant language, the many reasons why we have a moral obligation to the future to leave a world as rich in possibilities as our own. It is a call to ethical action, in the words of moral leaders all around the world. As Desmond Tutu wrote, “If we act on the side of justice, we have the power to turn tides.”

Check out the website accompanying the book at


Dec 18: Feral: Rewilding the Land, The Sea and Human Life, by George Monbiot


‘The suburbs dream of violence. Asleep in their drowsy villas, sheltered by benevolent shopping malls, they wait patiently for the nightmares that will wake them into a more passionate world’ J. G. BALLARD

How many of us sometimes feel that we are scratching at the walls of this life, seeking to find our way into a wider space beyond? That our mild, polite existence sometimes seems to crush the breath out of us?

Feral is the lyrical and gripping story of George Monbiot’s efforts to re-engage with nature and discover a new way of living. He shows how, by restoring and rewilding our damaged ecosystems on land and at sea, we can bring wonder back into our lives.

Making use of some remarkable scientific discoveries, Feral lays out a new, positive environmentalism, in which nature is allowed to find its own way. From the seas of north Wales, where he kayaks among feeding frenzies of dolphins and seabirds, to the forests of Eastern Europe, where lynx stalk and packs of wolves roam, George Monbiot shows how rewilding could repair the living planet, creating ecosystems in post-industrial nations as profuse and captivating as any around the world. Already, large wild animals are beginning to spread back across Europe, and fin whales, humpback whales and bluefin tuna are returning to the seas around Britain.

Feral is a work of hope and of revelation; a wild and bewitching adventure that argues for a mass restoration of the natural world – and a powerful call for us to reclaim our own place in it.

Check out more of George Monbiot’s work at


 Jan 15: Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We are in without Going Crazy, by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

Active Hope

Active Hope is about finding, and offering, our best response to the crisis of sustainability unfolding in our world. It starts by accepting that the challenges we face can be difficult even to look at: climate change, the depletion of oil, economic reversals and the die-back of our natural world act together to create a planetary emergency of overwhelming proportions. The book offers an approach that strengthens our capacity to face disturbing information and respond with unexpected resilience and creative power. Drawing on decades of experience running workshops in an empowerment approach widely known as The Work That Reconnects, the authors guide the reader through a transformational process informed by mythic journeys, modern psychology, holistic science and spiritual perspectives. This process equips readers with tools to help them face the mess we re in and find and play their role in the collective transition, or Great Turning, to a life-sustaining society. At the heart of this book is the idea that Active Hope is a gift that is not only given but also received. The journey of finding, and offering, our gift of contribution helps us to discover new strengths, open to a wider network of allies and experience a deepening of our aliveness. When our responses are guided by the intention to act for healing of our world, the mess we re in not only becomes easier to face, our lives also become more meaningful and satisfying

Check out the website accompanying the book at


Feb 19: The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart


The Upcycle is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Cradle to Cradle, one of the most consequential ecological manifestoes of our time. Now, drawing on the lessons gained from 10 years of putting the Cradle to Cradle concept into practice with businesses, governments, and ordinary people, William McDonough and Michael Braungart envision the next step in the solution to our ecological crisis: We don’t just use or reuse resources with greater effectiveness, we actually improve the world as we live, create, and build.

For McDonough and Braungart, the questions of resource scarcity and sustainability are questions of design. They are practical-minded visionaries: They envision beneficial designs of products, buildings, and business practices—and they show us these ideas being put to use around the world as everyday objects like chairs, cars, and factories are being reimagined not just to sustain life on the planet but to grow it. It is an eye-opening, inspiring tour of our green future as it unfolds in front of us.

The Upcycle is as ambitious as such classics as Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring—but its mission is very different. McDonough and Braungart want to turn on its head our very understanding of the human role on earth: Instead of protecting the planet from human impact, why not redesign our activity to improve the environment? We can have a beneficial footprint. Abundance for all. The goal is within our reach.

Find out more about the book on William McDonough’s website at


Mar 19: Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity, by Michael Shuman

Local Dollars, Local Sense

Americans’ long-term savings in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pension funds, and life insurance funds total about $30 trillion. But not even 1 percent of these savings touch local small business—even though roughly half the jobs and the output in the private economy come from them. So, how can people increasingly concerned with the poor returns from Wall Street and the devastating impact of global companies on their communities invest in Main Street?

In Local Dollars, Local Sense, local economy pioneer Michael Shuman shows investors, including the nearly 99% who are unaccredited, how to put their money into building local businesses and resilient regional economies—and profit in the process. A revolutionary toolbox for social change, written with compelling personal stories, the book delivers the most thorough overview available of local investment options, explains the obstacles, and profiles investors who have paved the way. Shuman demystifies the growing realm of local investment choices—from institutional lending to investment clubs and networks, local investment funds, community ownership, direct public offerings, local stock exchanges, crowdfunding, and more. He also guides readers through the lucrative opportunities to invest locally in their homes, energy efficiency, and themselves.

A rich resource for both investors and the entrepreneurs they want to support, Local Dollars, Local Sense eloquently shows how to truly protect your financial future—and your community’s.


Apr 16: Sustainable Revolution: Permaculture In Ecovillages, Urban Farms, And Communities Worldwide, by Juliana Birnbaum Fox and Louis Fox

Sustainable Revolution

Urban gardeners. Native seed-saving collectives. Ecovillage developments. What is the connection between these seemingly disparate groups? The ecological design system of permaculture is the common thread that weaves them into a powerful, potentially revolutionary–or reevolutionary–movement.

Permaculture is a philosophy based on common ethics of sustainable cultures throughout history that have designed settlements according to nature’s patterns and lived within its bounds. It is taking form as a growing network of sites developed with the intention of regenerating local ecologies and economies. Permaculture strategies can be used by individuals, groups or nations to address basic human needs such as food, water, energy, and housing, and the movement has been building momentum exponentially for the past 40 years. As a species, humans are being called forth to evolve, using our collective intelligence to meet the challenges of the future. Yet if we are to survive our collective planetary crisis, we need to revisit history, integrating successful systems from sustainable cultures. To boldly confront our position on the brink of the earth’s carrying capacity and make change that incorporates the wisdom of the past is truly revolutionary.

Sustainable Revolution features the work of a worldwide network of visionaries, including journalists, activists, indigenous leaders and permaculturists such as David Holmgren, Vandana Shiva, Charles Eisenstein, Starhawk, Erik Assadourian, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Albert Bates, and Geoff Lawton. This beautifully photographed collection of profiles, interviews, and essays features 60 innovative community-based projects in diverse climates across the planet. Edited by anthropologist Juliana Birnbaum Fox and award-winning activist filmmaker Louis Fox, it can be read as an informal ethnography of an international culture that is modeling solutions on the cutting edge of social and environmental change. The research presented in the book frames the permaculture movement as significant ally to marginalized groups, such as the urban poor and native communities resisting the pressures of globalization. Sustainable Revolution uplifts and inspires with its amazing array of dynamic activists and thriving, vibrant communities.


May 21: Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet, by Sarah Elton


What happens on this planet over the next four decades has the potential to fundamentally alter life as we know it. The world population is expected to reach nine billion people by 2050 — that’s nine billion hungry humans in need of food. The challenge of feeding this rapidly growing population has already been made greater by climate change, which will wreak havoc on the way we produce our food. Disruptions to industrial-scale agriculture, along with rising sea levels, will create millions of environmental refugees, fleeing their homes in search of nourishment and safety. We have also lost touch with the soil — few of us grow our own food or even know where it comes from — and we are at the mercy of the multinationals that control the crops with little foresight about the damage their methods are inflicting on the planet. This puts our very future at risk.

In Consumed, award-winning writer Sarah Elton walks fields and farms on four continents, investigating not only the potential — and very real — threats to our food, but also telling the stories of those who are working hard to preserve our future. From Bogotá to Beijing, Delhi to Rome, Nairobi to Toronto, people from all walks of life are creating an alternative to the industrial food we have grown accustomed to piling into our shopping carts, and in the process giving us hope not for a daunting future but for a future in which we can all sit at the table.


The goal of the Sustainability Book Club is to share books and discussions that help us understand the world and our place in it in a different way. This can change the way we experience the world and the way we act in our day-to-day lives, opening new possibilities for environmental sustainability, social justice and peace.

Feel free to join us and drop in – even if you have not read the book. It is the issues and themes that spark the discussion. Everyone is welcome to join in for one session or all of them. It is your opinion on the issues that builds an interesting discussion.

Sponsored by: Pages Bookstore, Sustainable Calgary, The Arusha Centre, EcoLiving Events, Green Calgary, Thrive, Public Interest Alberta, REAP (Respect for Earth and All Peoples), the Sierra Club Chinook Group, and Sunnyside Market.

Green Challenge #10 – Have a play date in the park

It’s summertime – the perfect time of the year to be outside and enjoy nature. Take your friends on an adventure and turn your next coffee date into a play date and picnic in the park.

Keep it green

  • Have your picnic at one of the City of Calgary’s public picnic sites with a water fountain. Your guests can refill their reusable water bottles and you won’t need bottled water.
  • Bring reusable plates and cutlery instead of single use disposable dishes.
  • Home-made food tastes better and produces less waste at the picnic site. Turn it into a potluck to make it more fun and less work for everybody.
  • Collect organic waste in a container and take it home to add to your compost.
  • Recycle all paper, glass, plastic, cans and bottles in their respective bins.
  • If you have any waste at all please collect it and leave the site clean and waste-free for the next group to use.

What is the Green Challenge? Every other week we will suggest an action to empower you to protect and restore a healthy planet. They are usually small and simple steps to reduce your carbon footprint and do something good for the environment. Thank you for stepping up and taking on the challenge!

Join Our Team As Communications Coordinator


Nothing happens if nobody talks about it. We are passionate about Alberta’s wilderness and want to share the love with other people. Help us to tell our stories to our members and the broader public and encourage them to protect, restore and enjoy a healthy and safe environment. The Communications Coordinator oversees and advises on all communications related to the Sierra Club Chinook Group. They work with the leadership team to develop and implement communications strategies and tactics.


The Sierra Club Chinook Group is part of the Sierra Club of Canada. Our mission is to empower people to protect, restore and enjoy a healthy and safe planet. As communications coordinator you are the voice of our group, informing members and affiliates about current activities and volunteer opportunities and reaching out to new audiences who might benefit from our work.


* Create and distribute the bi-weekly Sierra Club Chinook Group email newsletter
* Distribute special email alerts in a timely fashion
* Regularly update our website
* Maintain and regularly update social media channels
* Gather statistics for all communication channels and make recommendations for improvement
* Maintain accurate branding for print and online materials
* Serve as media relations officer and media spokesperson for Sierra Club Chinook Group
* Attend monthly meetings


* 60-90min orientation of the organization and current communications strategy and tools


* 10-15 hours per month
* Flexible hours and option to work remotely


* Professional experience & leadership skills
* Letter of recognition after commitment of 3 months or more
* Networking opportunities with other non-profit organizations


Long-term, Ongoing (6+ months)


  • excellent communication skills
  • attention to detail
  • social media skills
  • experience with MailChimp an asset
  • media relations skills an asset
  • communications or public relations degree an asset


communications, social media, environment, sustainability, outdoors


Please contact Kristin at chair[at]

Green Challenge #9 – Dry Cleaning

Conventional dry cleaners are not only toxic to us, but they are also some of the worst offenders when it comes to urban groundwater contamination.

To cut your dry-cleaning footprint:

  • Buy clothing that does not require dry cleaning.
  • Strive to use dry cleaners that are more environmentally friendly and use better and less toxic solvents, such as hydrocarbon (Eco-solv and similar) which are marginally better (at least they biodegrade) or SystemK4 based solvents, which seem to be significantly better (non-toxic and biodegradable new generation cleaners).

There are quite a few Eco Solv using dry cleaning places in Calgary and at least one chain that I could find that uses System K4. Check out Dry Cleaning Calgary at

Want to learn more? A while back Green Calgary’s Ask Ashley column has discussed dry cleaning and greener options.

What is the Green Challenge? Every other week we will suggest an action to empower you to protect and restore a healthy planet. They are usually small and simple steps to reduce your carbon footprint and do something good for the environment. Thank you for stepping up and taking on the challenge!

Green Challenge #8 – Moss Art

We found a great summer break activity at Homesteading Self Sufficiency Survival – Painting Moss Art! Let your children beautify the garden shed, a fence or a rough concrete wall. They will have lots of fun preparing their moss paint, creating a motive and before they go back to school in September the moss will have grown into a beautiful image. Although I’m not on summer break my inner child is already collecting moss to get creative ;-)

How to do it

  1. Crumble 3 handfuls of moss and add to blender. Pour 3 cups lukewarm water into the blender.
  2. Add 2 tbsp water retention crystals or gel.
  3. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk.
  4. Pulse blender periodically until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Pour into proper container for painting/storing.
  6. Paint onto wood or rough concrete.
  7. Mist weekly or more often if required due to weather conditions/climate. Since Calgary is rather dry you probably have to mist it every 2-3 days.
Painting Moss Art

What is the Green Challenge? Every other week we will suggest an action to empower you to protect and restore a healthy planet. They are usually small and simple steps to reduce your carbon footprint and do something good for the environment. Thank you for stepping up and taking on the challenge!

Flood advisory: Don’t use water outside!

Update on the recent flooding by The City of Calgary:

Calgary’s water quality remains good. There is no need to boil water as the water from your tap is clean and safe to drink.

Our water treatment plants are fully operational, however systems continue to be challenged to meet demand for water.

As a result, city-wide mandatory outdoor water restriction was issued this morning under the Water Utility Bylaw for the city of Calgary. Effective immediately and until further notice, the use of tap water outdoors is suspended. The following outdoor activities are prohibited:

  • Washing down outdoor surfaces, exterior building surfaces, sidewalks, driveways, or walkways of any sort.
  • Watering of lawns, gardens, trees and shrubs by any method; also ensure that sprinklers on timers are turned off.
  • Using water for filling outdoor decorative features, fountains, pools or hot tubs.
  • Using water for construction purposes such as grading or compaction.

There are exceptions to the Water Utility Bylaw. They include:

  • Washing outdoor surfaces for health and safety reasons for childcare facilities, food and beverage establishments and kennel and animal care facilities.
  • Washing of vehicles to follow health and safety regulations.
  • Watering of plants, shrubs and trees offered for sale.
  • Businesses that have a license to operate exterior window washing services and car washes.

Calgarians can continue to use rain water captured in a rain barrel to water outdoors.

A few easy things you can do:

  1. If you still have some clothes to wear, hold off washing your laundry until the situation has improved.
  2. Take really short showers (less than 2 minutes). Turn off the water while you soap up.
  3. Reduce toilet flushing. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.
  4. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving.
  5. It might be a no-brainer with all the rain we are getting…but don’t water your lawn or anything else in your garden. Turn off the timer on your sprinklers.
  6. Use water from your rain barrel to water indoor plants.
  7. Cook less and eat more cold meals like salads and sandwiches.

15/30 Nature Challenge:

Take your book outside! Finish those last few pages of our book club book happening tonight at Pages book store more information here and the book we are reading and discussing tonight is Food City by Jennifer Cockrall King. See you there!


14/20 Nature Challenge

Have a meeting outside today! If you have a small meeting scheduled at work, see if you can take it to a nearby table and hold the meeting there. Don’t be surprised if the productivity is boosted! Outdoor business meeting

13/30 Nature Challenge

Go for a run! Instead of going to the gym today take your routine outside and get some fresh air while working out.  images

12/30 Nature Challenge

Have an outdoor BBQ! Invite the neighbours and some friends over and eat outside! BBQ-with-friends

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