Boosting Community Action for Sustainability
contributed by the Ottawa Eco-Talent Network
The Ottawa Eco-Talent Network (OETN) is a new not-for-profit organization dedicated to achieving successful community action on sustainability in Ottawa. Co-founded in 2012 by John Karau and Rebecca Aird, the OETN has completed several pilot projects and is now moving into full-time operation thanks to a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
OETN director Jason Garlough (third from left) participating in a panel at Impact HUB Ottawa's Launch Some Good event this past September. Left to right: Peter Landry, Environmental Consultant; Barbara Hayes, CampTech; Jason Garlough, Ottawa Eco-Talent Network; Melissa Smith, Business Development Bank of Canada; Michael Jay of Welch LLP; Jason Pearman, HUB Ottawa co-founder. Photo: Impact HUB Ottawa.
All Ottawa non-profits and community groups with projects or issues related to sustainability are invited to submit a project to the Network. Project application forms are available on our website.
Recently, OETN hired its first executive director, who is excited to begin supporting the existing network of OETN advisors by matching their talent, skills, and passions with local organizations whose projects could benefit from professional advice.
"For me, sustainability has a lot to do with making the best use of existing resources," says Jason Garlough, who joins OETN as executive director after co-founding Hidden Harvest Ottawa a few years ago. Hidden Harvest works hard to make the best use of some of the city's renewable resources--harvesting fruits & nuts hiding out in plain sight.
"In much the same way, the Ottawa Eco-Talent Network is making the most of our area's human resources," says Garlough.
"[W]e have so many talented people in this city who are passionate about different environmental issues...just imagine the impact if, through skilled volunteerism, their passions could be matched to local projects that would make best use of their talent."
OETN advisors are active and retired professionals. "Our advisors apply their expertise and experience on behalf of community needs--they are the motor and raison d'tre of the OETN," says Karau, who served as director of sustainable water management with Environment Canada.
"Advisor backgrounds range from alternative energy, conservation, climate science, infrastructure, forestry and urban design to transportation and water management," he adds. Others advisors also offer skills in communications, project planning, and organizational development.
The OETN is looking to expand and further diversify its advisor pool. People who are interested can visit the Network's website and fill out the online Advisor Questionnaire.
To date, most of the OETN's pilot projects involved collaboration with post-secondary faculty and students, at both undergraduate and graduate levels. While being mentored by OETN advisors, students provided additional research or implementation assistance relevant to the needs of client organizations. Working together, they enhanced the research and technical capacities of other non-profits and community groups.
Past OETN clients include the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Centre Eco-District, Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, and Sustainable Living Ottawa East (SLOE). For example, OETN advisors assisted in the production of three videos for the Eco-District, and worked closely with SLOE to explore sustainability options in the development of a major site in Old Ottawa East.
The PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.
Thank you to Sustainable Eastern Ontario, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for sponsoring the Winter 2015-2016 edition of the PEN.