What Comes Naturally: Putting a Face on Sustainability in Canmore

The opening of Canmore's sustainability photo exhibit / community celebration - What Comes Naturally - was held Wednesday evening (February 18th) at the Town Civic Centre. I wish you all could have been there for it.  The show comprises 31 large, colourful photographs and hanging banners distributed from one end of the Civic Centre to the other, and features dozens of Canmorites who are working to make their home a more sustainable place on the planet.

The diversity of portraits ranges from the high school students who paint rain barrels and auction them off at the annual ArtsPeak Festival to Mae Riva, the 91-year old life-long resident who has for decades been (and remains) the driving force behind the local Meals-on-Wheels program.  There are developers, community development facilitators, mountain bikers, trail builders, solar panel installers, environmental educators, wildlife protectors, and even a banner of your friendly Biosphere Institute staff.  And, writ large on the main wall in the Civic Centre Hall, is a statement about Canmore's commitment to sustainability and The Natural Step.  Mayor Casey spoke in glowing terms about TNS and the progress the Town has made over the past three years, and there was no doubt he was genuine in his appreciation and acknowledgement of all the folks who have contributed. The show will be up for a year and no doubt capture the attention of thousands of people.

What I liked most about the show -- and this didn't strike me until I walked through it -- was how it literally shows the face of sustainability in Canmore.  The diversity of people who are involved, shown doing whatever it is that they do, demonstrates sustainability in a wonderfully accessible, eye-catching way that feeds directly into the right side of the brain. 

My own brainwave for the evening was the idea of putting together a PowerPoint show of the images plus the short written profiles that go along with them. I plan to use a few of the slides to end the community presentations I do, a finale that will bring all that TNS theory right down to the here and now: this is what a community on the road to sustainability looks like and, folks, it’s not only not scary, it’s down-right attractive.   I'm also recommending the show be linked to our just-being-launched Learning Network, not so much to crow about Canmore’s latest venture as to demonstrate a neat new tool for community engagement. 

As Mayor Casey was talking about The Natural Step to a Sustainable Canmore program, I had memories of Chad and Pong leading the ABCD training; Bob Willard and Sarah James and Alex Zimmerman and others leading their “Ideas Marketplace” workshops in that same Civic Centre; and Kelly suddenly realizing that if she held the TNS International Board meeting in Canmore it would mean Kalle could be speak at our community sustainability forum.  As I thought about it, I felt pretty darned good about what's come out of all the work that started back in 2004.  As we say here in Alberta, "Good on ya!"