Plenty Canada had been anticipating its October 21st Open House for many months, finishing up renovations and advertising the event numerous times on its various social media channels. Given the importance of the CampUs when it comes to Plenty Canada’s future as a carbon negative organization, it was critically important that the Open House went off without a hitch. First impressions are important, after all, and the organization wanted to ensure the public that the new space would be ready for any possible set of activities.
For almost 40 years, Plenty Canada’s office has served as an important gathering place for cross-cultural work. Over the past two years this remote rural headquarters has been transformed into a site that features significant solar energy generation, environmentally sustainable windows and siding, new sustainable heating and water systems, newly furnished rooms for classes and lodgings, and much more.
Luckily, the event was a smashing success! The overcast, slightly chilly weather didn't deter the numerous attendees one bit. The attendees weren't just from the local area either. Some travelled hours to visit the Open House, including representatives from the Bruce Trail Conservancy, the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, and our Six Nations office in Southern Ontario. Gathering under a large tent that was rented for the occasion, everyone came together for a series of wonderful presentations from experienced elders and educators, in between opportunities to tour the transformed CampUs buildings.
Programming ran from 9:30 in the morning with an opening address from Executive Director Larry McDermott, to 3:30 in the afternoon with a follow-up talk by Larry on the future of the CampUs. It is difficult to pick a single highlight among all the fascinating presentations. As previously mentioned, Tim Johnson and Amanda Harwood came up from Plenty Canada's Six Nations Bureau and provided a fantastic update on the Great Niagara Escarpment Indigenous Cultural Map. The visitors were also treated to a talk from celebrated Cuban Indigenous educator and long-time Plenty Canada collaboratorJose Barreiro, on Plenty Canada's Maya-Guatemala project, which empowers Indigenous women in the region to preserve their ancestral knowledge and values. Of great interest, of course, was Plenty Canada's CampUs reveal that took place immediately following the opening address, along with the announcement that the new building was officially certified Net Zero just a few days before the event. In fact, the organization as a whole is now Energy Negative!
In a program entitled Carbon Negative: The Sun Is Our Sources, recent testing has revealed that Plenty Canada nailed its net zero qualifying numbers, with a reduction from 9 to .75 (a lower number indicates a greater degree of air tightness). With the addition of 72 more solar panels the goal is to inspire other organizations and individuals to do their part to mitigate climate change while demonstrating to other not-for-profits, businesses, and even individuals, that achieving carbon neutrality or even negative carbon status is possible.
Other programs focused on Healing and Legacy Places, Land-Based Learning, Youth Programming, Community Based Governance of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Network, Indigenous Perspectives on United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Language Preservation, and Two Eyed Seeing To Share Knowledge of Ontario’s Breeding Birds.
Visitors were given the chance to tour through all of the rooms within each building. From the new accessible stairway and beautiful cobblestone walkway outside, to the sustainable energy systems and multiple rooms renovated for educational programs, offices, and lodging inside, pretty much everything about the buildings was brand new for most every visitor. The integrated design of the interior and exterior programming spaces was beautiful.
Overall, it seems that the new CampUs was a big hit! Those involved in the process are extremely grateful for the positive reception to the unveiling of the CampUs. Every single compliment meant the world to members of the staff; the organization will work hard to make sure that upcoming programming at the Plenty Canada CampUs lives up to the early hype. You won't have to wait long for news on new programming. With energy from the sun and water supplied by nature the complex has been activated.
— Breton Campbell and Tim Johnson