Newsletter: June 2023
JUNE 30, 2023 –
A Message from our President
I write this as I conclude a visit to my home country during which I have often taken German public transit. And what a joy that has been. The cost of a monthly transit pass to travel anywhere in Germany is the equivalent of only $65 Canadian. At that price, transit is an affordable and convenient option for many. The buses even have USB chargers along all the seats!
Accessible, affordable public transit is what Small Change Fund had in mind when we launched our Get on the Bus program this month. The goal is to provide free transit passes to highschoolers in cities nationwide. Why?
We learned about an initiative in which students in Kingston, Ontario were given training and free transit passes and their usage skyrocketed: from 28,000 to almost 600,000 annual rides in just a few years.
So, we engaged Dan Hendry, the Kingston leader who accomplished this success, and he’s working hard to replicate the Kingston model across the country. Already, we have 3-4 other municipalities interested and moving forward, and well over 100 people attended our recent webinar on this project.
Once you read about the many benefits, some unexpected, of this approach it becomes a no-brainer – just like USB chargers on transit vehicles.
Ontario Residents Want Greenbelt Protected
Through our Keep the Greenbelt Promise campaign we are organizing people and communities to demand that their MPP protect the Greenbelt and reverse the cuts. As part of this campaign, we are supporting volunteers who deliver leaflets and lawn signs, as well as circulate petitions at farmers’ markets. Recently, residents at the Orangeville Farmers’ Market distributed flyers, gathered 200 signatures, received donations, distributed 25 lawn signs and collected names for the “I will come to a rally” mailing list. The same week, our campaign placed a full-page ad in the Orangeville and Caledon Citizen newspapers. It’s not too late to Save the Greenbelt: join the campaign today – sign up to volunteer, request a lawn sign or make a donation.
Celebrating the Life of Jenni LeForestier
By Mike Balkwill
More than 200 people attended the Celebration of Life for Jenni LeForestier at the Caledon Ski Club on Sunday, May 28th. Jenni was a committed local activist and partnered with Small Change Fund on our stop sprawl initiatives.
I talked with Jenni frequently over the past four years because Jenni ‘knew stuff’. She had the command of countless details about the potential impact of the proposed Hwy 413; about gravel pits and quarries; about farmland, expansion of urban boundaries, urban sprawl and much, much more. Jenni also had the ability to interpret the broad meaning of these specific issues and tell people the larger picture. She could say ‘this is what’s coming and we need to prepare’. These were just two of Jenni’s many talents.
I never had a chance to talk with Jenni about the history or meaning of her last name ‘LeForestier’. Google says it’s French for ‘keeper of the King’s forest’ but I like to think of Jenni as a ‘keeper of the people’s forest’. She inspired many – and her spirit is carried in the lives and work of all she met – and in the forest that she helped to ‘keep’. Donations in memory of Jenni fund an education trust for her daughter.
We are pleased to welcome Abigail Acedera to our team as Operations Manager. Abigail has a strong professional background in finance, operations management and social media. At Small Change Fund, she is responsible for accounting and HR, as well as providing support for project management.
Abigail has a BSc in Management Accounting and began her career in the finance industry. As a freelancer she has provided support to top executives, managed social media platforms and facilitated recruitment and onboarding processes. In her leisure hours, Abigail finds joy in the company of her loved ones and enjoys outdoor activities. Abigail is a dog lover and has two adopted dogs, Bronco and Nala.
Too Close to Home
By Abbie Branchflower
Nova Scotia is known for many things: its natural beauty, hospitality and seafood among them. What my home isn’t known for is wildfires. At least, not until this spring. As of late May, the province has reported 176 wildfires so far this season – 106 more than this time last year. My heart breaks for those who lost their beloved pets, their homes and all the little things that make up a home in the recent fires. I’m extremely thankful that neither myself nor my family were in the region of the fires.
Of course, the impact of the fires goes beyond the immediate, and terrible, consequences. My family in Halifax struggled with dangerous air quality for several days and even much further away I suffered from awful headaches, as did many others I spoke to. All of us were on high alert, anxious, desperate for rain and heartbroken for our fellow Nova Scotians. As an animal lover, the stories of people forced to let their horses loose or unable to get back to their homes for their pets devastated me and haunt me still. And of course, the wildlife suffered, too. It’s undeniable that climate-related natural disasters are getting more frequent, more severe and more widespread. If I’m honest, I do often feel powerless. But doing nothing is not an option, so I continue to do my part to fight against the climate crisis. I hope you will as well.
Small News Bites
- Check out this great blog post by Ontario Nature, featuring our campaign to Stop the Hallman Pit.
- Happy 52nd birthday, Ontario Place! Help us save this iconic landmark and essential Toronto greenspace!
- Our Director of Storytelling, Jim Diorio, experienced some “small” actions that made a big difference in his recent trip to Owen Sound. Check out his story for some feel good vibes!
Want to give to the project that helps all the projects? You can donate directly to Small Change Fund to keep us going and growing for the benefit of grassroots projects nation-wide. Thank you for your generosity!
Happy summer, everyone!
The Small Change Fund Team