Inspiration from the Arts

From the Article in Innovators magazine December 2020 called Why Artists Will Change the Planet, Claudia Rinke writes, “We are living in challenging and exciting times. The world is changing fast and not as we’ve known it. How should we address complex global issued from inequality over pandemics to climate change?”

MaryAnn Griffin’s (Lucy’s sister) photo won an award in the Creative Category at Toronto Camera Club

“Art has the ability to move people and offer new experiences. Art presents reality in a way that may change the vision and perspective of the audience towards the world. Be it a painting, drama, song, a novel or film, art may motivate people to think about life positively or differently. Art offers a unique way of understanding the meaning of life and how beauty and pleasure could be part of existence. It combines the imaginary world with reality and encourages people to change their thinking and perceptions. Good art has the power to engage the world to change the world.”

Rinke says “I do think that art and creativity truly have the power to change societies and the world. It will take collective effort of artists, institutions and individuals to envision a better future and to take steps toward this vision. As the playwright Jonathan Larson said ‘ The opposite of war isn’t peace; it’s creation.’ “


Note: Claudia Rinke’s Film NOW abut the climate movement won the international Golden Nymph Award in 2021 as best environmental documentary.


Lucy had the privilege of going to the Edmonton Folk Festival and the Edmonton Blues Festival and was moved by the music, and inspired by songs about taking care of Mother Earth. Susan O’Neill of Ireland shared her powerful 2017 song “Our Mother is Begging to Breathe“. Here is a link if you would love to hear this song.

So many songs have been written about caring for our planet and the plight of animals going extinct. . Rolling Stones Magazine in April 2020 edition “Earth Day: Now or Never: The Race to Save the Planet The Crusade of Greta Thunberg” featured 15 Pro-Environment Songs. Here is what was on the list:

  • The Beach Boys, “Don’t Go Near the Water”
  • Jack Johnson, “The 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle)”
  • Crosby and Nash, “To the Last Whale”
  •, S.O.S. (Mother Nature)”
  • Kenny Loggins, “Conviction of the Heart”
  • The Eagles, “The Last Resort”
  • Three Dog Night, “Out in the Country”
  • Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton “Big Yellow Taxi”
  • John Denver, “Sunshine on My Shoulders”
  • Miley Cyrus, “Wake Up America”
  • Celine Dion, “Skies of L.A.”
  • Dave Mathews Band, “Proudest Monkey”
  • Julian Lennon, “Saltwater”
  • James Taylor, “Gaia”
  • Yes, “Don’t Kill the Whale”

10 Most Endangered Species in Canada

Listening to this music, we hear many musicians make reference to endangered and extinct species. One quote we read recently said that if the bee goes extinct the planet will only survive four years. Wow! Here is a list of the most endangered species in Canada:

  • Peary Caribou
  • Leatherback Sea Turtle
  • Vancouver Island Marmot
  • Wolverine
  • Beluga Whale
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Rusty-patched Bumblebee
  • Sea Otter
  • Narwhal
  • Burrowing Owl
Burrowing Owl photo credit Lucy

As a birder Lucy is aware of projects in Arizona and Alberta that are set to help increase the numbers of Burrowing Owls. She visited one of these sites that had man-made tunnels for the owls to burrow in. Above is a Burrowing Owl at one of these sites.

Earth Day: 15 Pro-Environment Songs

Inspiration from Words of Wisdom

“Being born as humans to this earth is a very sacred trust. We have a sacred responsibility because of the special gift we have, which is beyond the fine gifts of the plant life, the fish, the woodlands, the birds and all the other living things on earth: We are able to take care of them“. Onondaga Nation Clan Mother, Audrey Shenandoah

Photo credit Allan Terplawy

Inspiring Inventors and Ideas for Avoiding Plastic

New Invention: Solar hydro panel captures 10 litres of clean drinking water out of the air per day.

The Nature of Invention

Fresh perspective and inspiration can come from many places, happily, and often times, serendipitously.

We would like to share some un-related stories of invention and innovation that we happened upon by chance recently, which we found energizing and oddly then inspired us to reflect on our daily habits with “fresh eyes,” asking ourselves what more we might be doing to shrink our carbon footprints.

We say “oddly”, since these stories of invention are not about climate change or global warming per se, and yet, however, we find a connection in a broad sense, through the hope in the future they inspire us with as they showcase the best of what might be achieved via human ingenuity and perseverance, aimed at solving real world, seemingly intractable problems. The stories of youthful inventors are especially inspiring we find. Teen inventors, such as Ann Makosinski, who “was inspired to help her friend in the Philippines who couldn’t study or read in the dark and had no lights in her home.” So, she invented a battery-less flashlight. Anne’s story and many more fascinating stories of invention are profiled in this 44-minute episode of David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things: The Nature of Invention, accessible on CBC Gem   ( and on Youtube (

In it, we learned about “biomimicry” or “bio-inspiration,” via the story of Canadian doctor, Jeff Karp, and his lab at Harvard Medical School where they invented “heart glue”. “…He was asked to find an adhesive to deal with septal defects in babies — a hole between the chambers of the infant’s heart. When he encounters challenges, Karp often turns to nature for inspiration, a concept called biomimicry, or bio-inspiration. In this case, he looked at creatures like the sandcastle worm, slugs and snails. Their secretions contain components that can repel water, which is exactly what’s needed in the wet, messy environment of a beating heart.”  We appreciate this fascinating documentary, including the opportunity it offered us to learn about and marvel with “fresh eyes” at, Nature’s wonders.

Not all the profiled inventions necessarily have the “wow factor” of Karp’s “heart glue,” but they still make a big impact in improving people’s daily lives by solving practical problems. Such as Lift Labs’ invention of the Google spoon, aimed at helping people with essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease eat a meal with dignity and ease. The spoon is profiled in this short Youtube clip.

Ideas for Avoiding Plastic Use

One of the common traits shared by the inventors is their capacity to look at the world/problems with fresh eyes and perspectives, coupled with a can-do attitude, agency and motivation ‘to act’. Somehow this inspiring energy propelled us to take a renewed look at some of our own daily habits with ‘fresh eyes’, wondering what we might do differently or better to reduce our carbon footprints further. For Catherine, there are two A-Ha’s and immediate areas to make change to reduce plastic bottle waste. Even while we both are avid recyclers and composters, appreciating these services offered by Toronto and Edmonton municipal garbage collection, the A-Ha for Catherine came in realizing that a new approach to her taste for carbonated water would avoid for the need to recycle bottles altogether. So, now she intends to make her own bubble water, rather than buy bottles of it shipped to Canada from Italy and France – much gentler on resource consumption, including transport, and waste production. In her household, on average this should obviate the need for at least 300 bottles per year.

According to this government of Canada piece profiling Soda Stream (not an endorsement),

“…just 32 people working together in Canada are able to prevent a whopping 217 million single‑use plastic bottles and cans from ending up in our landfills.”

“That is exactly what happens every year thanks to SodaStream, the at-home sparkling-water-making machine that turns tap water into carbonated bubbly water on your countertop, according to Rena Nickerson, SodaStream Canada’s general manager.”

“SodaStream’s environmentally friendly home carbonation systems are centred on a sustainable circular return and reuse system.”

“The canister that provides carbonation is refillable rather than disposable, and the accompanying plastic bottle for the final product lasts up to three years. The compact system, which includes reusable BPA‑free bottles and concentrated sparkling drink mix, greatly reduces the use of recyclables and disposables.”

“It’s kind of staggering how big of an environmental impact we are able to have. Canadians understand; they get it. They are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint.”  (

Eco Laundry Strips

Thank you, Lisette, for putting this cool innovation on our radar – eco laundry strips. Who knew?! Another way to avoid for and divert 100s of plastic bottles from ending up in landfills and oceans.

According to one provider, TruEarth (not an endorsement), “Each laundry strip packs ultra-concentrated, hypoallergenic, eco-friendly cleaning power into a tiny, pre-measured strip of liquidless laundry detergent that you just toss in the wash. Its low-sudsing formula works in all types of washing machines, including high-efficiency (HE).”

“Every 32-load package eliminates 1 plastic jug from potentially ending up in landfills and oceans.”

“According to #TruEarthMovement, 7 312 201 plastic jugs elimated to-date.”  (

Canada – Single-use Plastics Ban – December 2022

David Suzuki reminds us in this Now Toronto piece about Canada’s list of six single-use plastics that will be banned beginning this December, including single-use plastic grocery bags. Mostly, we both have made the shift already to bringing our own re-usable bags when we shop. However, Catherine still acquires some plastic shopping bags for use in emptying the cat’s litter box, in order to avoid “the yuck factor.”  Some changes are harder to make than others!  But, we can do it!! She is now motivated to make this final shift in practice, letting go of “convenience,” and plastic bag use entirely, in favour of more eco-friendly options such as using the biodegradable compost bin bags for litter box disposal too. (

Plant Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies

We were dismayed to learn that our beloved monarch butterfly is now on the endangered species list! For those of us with garden space, please consider planting milkweeds. According to this CP24 piece, it is one tangible impactful action we can take that will really help.

“What can home gardeners do to support the monarch?”

“If everyone reading this planted one milkweed plant, the benefit would be palpable. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) is the only plant monarch caterpillars eat, and it’s where the adult butterflies lay their eggs. Without it, the species simply could not exist.”

“ ‘But not all milkweed is the same,’ says Dawn Rodney, chief innovation and growth officer at the National Wildlife Federation in Reston, Virginia. For instance, ‘there is an invasive species called tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) that we’re seeing more and more, and people are not understanding that it does more harm than good.’ ” (CP24–

A Better Way to Look at Trees (The Atlantic)

Rebecca Giggs writes in The Atlantic on “A Better Way to Look at Trees,” profiling new research on the forest and “the paradigm shift” in our understanding of “what a tree is – tree botany in its essentials – feels utterly changed.” 

“Meg Lowman and Suzanne Simard are two pathfinders who have worked for decades in this field (that is, the forest), and they have now written books not just to instruct, but to reorient and inspire.” To learn more –

New Favourite Tree

While volunteering at this year’s Leaside Garden Society’s Garden Tour, Catherine “met” for the first time, her new favourite tree – the larch, pictured above. To learn more about larch (larix) trees, see Encyclopedia Britannica resource at: and be on the lookout especially for the Japanese Larix Dianna for its spiral cascading graceful beauty.  Happy summer gardening and touring!