Baking Under an Ottawa Sun

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July, 2005

And not the one owned by Quebecor… (Sorry, it’s the heat.)

Reports surround us, sweat drips onto our keyboards, but our smiles are as big as ever! Why? Because we’re living vicariously through our bike tours – even though they’re slipping by faster than greased up mountain bikes heading down a rocky slope. Prairie Tour has already packed up their bike boxes, and Coast 2 Coast will arrive at our door in less than a month with close to 5 provinces under their collective belt. But of course, at Otesha, we don’t dwell on the past. We’re always looking to a better, happier (and more sustainable) future. So let’s cut to the check-in – heading East to West!

The Great Lakes Tour hit the road last week, and they’ve already dazzled audiences (mostly of the younger-camp-going variety) across the Niagara peninsula. But their presenting prowess isn’t the result of some kind of fair-trade magic. Nope, it was just plain old practice and preparation. These 15 sustainable superheroes – from Mellow Yellow to Recycle-zor – came together for 4 days of training at the Frogpond Farm organic vineyard and winery. Camping out on the property of their incredibly generous and enthusiastic hosts, Jens Gemmrich and Heike Koch, the GLT team bonded while mastering the arts of public speaking, theatre, group living, and gourmet campstove-top cooking. G.L.T. – way to be!

With the huge skies and vast fields of the prairies behind them, Coast 2 Coast is ready for Ontario’s lakes, trees, and HILLS. The June that brought them to central Canada was a wet one, filled with torrential rainstorms, tornado warnings, and also, apparently, lots of final exams. So as students were being funnelled into desk-filled gyms across the country, Coast 2 Coast switched their focus to community and youth groups. Wonderfully, there’s even been a role reversal, where Coast 2 Coast has been on the receiving end of presentations. One of these was in Portage la Prairie at the Residential School Museum, where they learned about the history of Residential Schools in Canada to which first nations youth were sent. Teaching, learning, challenging, adapting: Coast 2 Coast – you’ve got a right to boast!

The Prairie Tour coasted into their final destination of Yorkton, SK on the sunny Saturday afternoon of June 18th after fending off flooding, campground evacuation and tornado warnings for the previous few days. The PT crew’s final days on tour in Yorkton were the perfect swan song to an incredibly rewarding journey. They were warmly welcomed into the community by youth, parents, teachers and even a local radio station! By this time PT was in peak performing shape and they totally rocked out in their presentations to over 1000 elementary and high school students in 3 days, concluding with an incredibly affirming reception from the very energetic student body at Sacred Heart High School. After pensive debriefing sessions and tearful good-byes at Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park, team members of Otesha's inaugural regional tour dispersed on June 26th. As they peddled from Alb to Sask – in the sun they (sometimes) did bask! 

Meanwhile, BC Tour has less than a month and a half until they switch from rolling desk chairs to rolling sustainability machines (hint: bikes). They’re really pumped to test-run four brand-new workshops, and are continuing to plan Otesha-fests and ‘Sustainability Soirees’ – evenings or full-day events combining dialogue, eats, art and susty fun! They’re looking to set up these events in Hazleton, Queen Charlotte City, Duncan, Port Hardy, Smithers, Houston, Courtney, Prince Rupert and Parksville. Please contact to help out or participate. Heading north and far west – BC tour you’re the best!**

And finally, in general Otesha news, we’ve recently had the honour of receiving two accolades. One is a prize fromYouthActionNet, which awards youth leaders whose projects promote social change and connect youth with local communities. The other is from the Ecology Action Centre, and is called the Tooker Gomberg Award. This one is for the person or event that most creatively and brilliantly ‘made the news’ in the past year. So thanks to everyone out there in Otesha-land who makes it all happen. Have a happy summer – drive a hybrid not a hummer… (or a bike) : )

Postcard of the month: "I will recycle and try not to bring food with wrappers to school! and I will compost!" - Lauren, Age 9 (Yorkton, Sask)

**Please note: The Otesha Project, founded upon a philosophy of structured but non-hierarchical decision-making, hesitates to label one tour in particular as being the ‘best’ without first achieving consensus on the matter. However, in this case, we desperately needed a word to rhyme with ‘west,’ and could not resist the allure of the word ‘best.’ Of course, we openly admit that this allure may have been associated with the intriguing prospect of using asterisks in our journal. That is, by using the word ‘best’ it seemed that we would be provided with an excuse to inaugurate this textual technique. Thank you for reading. Please enjoy the rest of your e-mails. Good night.