Community dialogue event aimed at helping businesses go green

The Stratford Public Library and University of Waterloo are hosting their 11th Community Dialogue event on March 24 entitled, Greening our Businesses for the New Climate Reality.

Water activist Jennifer Pate discusses the impact plastic has on aquatic life as fellow speaker, Emily Chandler, and the evening's moderator, Coun. Kathy Vassilakos, listen during a Community Dialogue discussion on living with less plastic at the University of Waterloo's Stratford campus last year. (Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald)

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Following the City of Stratford’s recent climate emergency declaration and council’s commitment to developing a climate-action strategy, the Stratford Public Library and the University of Waterloo are trying to help local business owners do the same.

The library and university will host their 11th Community Dialogue event – this one entitled “Greening our Businesses for the New Climate” – March 24 at the University of Waterloo Stratford campus.

“This really came about because of a group in town called ClimateMomentum.ca,” said Robyn Godfrey, the adult outreach and collections librarian at the Stratford library. “They approached me late last year to talk about doing a series here at the library on good news climate stories.

“For instance, we did one on climate anxiety – people feeling like they were overwhelmed by the climate crisis and not knowing what they could do. … That was really, really well attended to the point where we thought we could expand one of the ClimateMomentum talks into the Community Dialogue series.”

Though the idea to bring together sustainability experts and business owners who have effectively and efficiently made their operations greener came about prior to Stratford council’s climate declaration, Godfrey said she believes much of the what the city will be doing to make its departments more climate friendly will be in line with the advice given at the Community Dialogue event.

The event will feature a panel of four experts who will each speak for about 12 minutes before the evening’s moderator, Coun. Kathy Vassilakos, opens it up to the floor for questions.

The panel of experts will include Truzaar Dordi, an experienced researcher and doctoral candidate in sustainability management at the University of Waterloo who works in the fields of climate finance, energy policy and risk management; Mat Thijssen, who has helped develop the City of Waterloo’s environmental sustainability strategy and its forthcoming climate-action plan; and Tyler and Bruce Whale, whose family has owned and operated Clovermead Farms in Alma, Ont., for seven generations and has been successful in making the farm greener.

“They’re living proof that (environmental sustainability) can be done. … They put in anaerobic biodigesters, which takes all of the waste from the cattle and turns it into energy. … It’s really quite amazing,” ,” Godfrey said of the Whales and Clovermead Farms.

In addition, Tyler Whale is president of Ontario Agri-Food Technologies, an organization involved with such projects as the Industrial Bioproducts Value Chain Round Table, which aims to help farmers across the province improve their operations’ environmental sustainability.

The 11th Community Dialogue event will begin at 6:30 p.m. on March 24 at the University of Waterloo Stratford campus. Those interested in attending can register at ticketfi.com/event/3732.

gsimmons@postmedia.com

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