one world- by Luc Zandvliet for Georgian Bluffs Climate Action Team

I am trying to wrap my head around climate change. Thinking about climate change seems overwhelming, thinking about tackling climate change daunting! We see the arrival of different bugs attacking our trees, we feel the changes in temperatures, and we worry about extreme water levels in Georgian Bay.

As much as these are depressing news items, they also feel outside of the control of individuals. They are such big topics that it seems they need a much larger entity to address them. Accepting that assumption leaves me with a sense of powerlessness about an issue for which many of us feel deeply.

I’m not an expert, I do not have an environmental background, and I would not call myself an activist by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, I’m concerned. I am not the only one. Residents in many towns and municipalities in Grey and Bruce Counties have taken the initiative to set up groups to discuss, plan, and to prepare for climate change. I’m one of those residents. These are grassroots initiatives that revolve around topics important to their members. By definition, these topics are locally relevant, practical, and vary from exchanging pragmatic ideas to supporting the municipal climate change agenda. We’ve been talking about how to rejuvenate soils to thinking about local recycling options to the importance of buying our food, while taking a climate lens into consideration.

Someone gave me a way to think about climate change that really hit home, because it made a lot of sense to me personally. The model they described only consists of three elements:

- Be aware of climate change and acknowledge its effects
- Take action in your day to day activities to reduce climate change
- Build resilience to better deal with the consequences

Think about it as a triangle:climate triangle

The model is simple, yet makes sense because it is realistic and hopeful. It allows us to change our approach from sitting back and waiting for the inevitable to happen to something that we still can influence and for which we can prepare.

Being aware of climate change and its effects is the first step. We all read and hear about climate change, but what does it mean? Some excellent local initiatives are worth looking at. For example, just Google “Resilience: Transforming Our Community” and you will find an inspirational film by Liz Zetlin and John Anderson, set in Grey and Bruce County. It is very much worth watching as it features local people we know and relate to and explains their perspectives and ideas.

Secondly, let’s focus our efforts to reduce the impacts of climate change. There are remarkably many things that we can do that are within our power, especially when we look at the decisions we make daily: where we buy our food, what food we eat and its production; how we insulate and heat our homes; where we spend our holidays and how we get there; the cars we drive; the plastics we use. All these decisions allow us to be in a position to have a small but meaningful impact on climate change, which is a hopeful perspective. Buying food from local producers through the “Eat Local” co-operative, reducing trips into town, and putting up solar panels are some of the changes our household has made.

Thirdly, building resilience is about making sure our system is robust and able to withstand shocks to the system. Many people in our area have become more food independent by starting a composting site and garden in their backyard. Some Owen Sound residents use websites like to share practical examples about how to make soil. Building resilience is also about taking care of our mental health to deal with the anxiety that climate change can bring on. Taking up hobbies that require little resources but are fulfilling like dancing, Tai Chi, singing in a choir, wood carving, and pottery are all skills you can learn at any age and make the good times better and the bad times more bearable.

I find it empowering to think about climate change as three components of a model. Climate change is no longer something that feels unmanageable and scary. We live it, and we can do something about it every day by the types of choices we make. Now that’s local action!!

For more info on local initiatives and events, see or email [email protected]