Falls Brook Centre: Educating for sustainability
As we crossed the state of New Brunswick, the highway we chose passed through large forests and for many kilometres we did not see any sign of buildings. The only vehicles that drove on the highway were the trucks loaded with wood, stemming from the interior of this vast territory where there are various logging companies. Finally we arrived in Glassville, where we wanted to visit the Falls Brook Centre project. We camped on the property and it wasn’t until the following day that Shannon appeared, the director of this project which for years has mainly dedicated itself to environmental education and raising the awareness of the population, at the same time that they conduct socioenvironmental projects in other parts of the planet.
Shannon did not know much about our project, but she, a very animated and warm person who likes a bit of action, appeared very interested when we told her our idea. The place where we were is the demonstration area, where they offer activities for both schools and groups of people interested in learning about various fields of sustainability. The project itself started after the climate change conference in Rio 92’, where they understood the importance of starting to do something. They established themselves as a charitable organization with the intention of helping communities from around the world to take a step toward sustainability.
On an international level, they conducted projects in India, instructing how to make super-efficient stone ovens or solar kitchens and giving them notions of self-management and governance; they also developed ecological restoration and food safety projects in Central America, among many other activities. In Canada, they used an old bus which they equipped with green technologies and various examples of renewable energies; bicycle generators, solar panels, windmills… and drove through the entire province, stopping at schools and communities, holding workshops and explaining the importance of these practices, the problems of climate change and incentivising them to apply these practices in their communities as well as pressuring the government to offer aid for their acquisition.
Currently, they are developing various programs with the goal of incentivising the province’s communities to be more sustainable, holding workshops and conferences about how to plant in an ecological way, how to make dry sinks, renewable energy and things of this nature. They bring groups of students to the farm to teach to them to cultivate while caring for the land, encouraging schools to do activities outdoors using their infrastructures, and they include these types of activities in curricula.
In July, they are organising a festival called Free School where everyone can participate free of charge and where the exchange of knowledge is fostered. Each person teaches what they know; they promote activities related to sustainability, but leave the door open to all that want to share some knowledge. “One of our newest projects is the creation of wet fields, where we create ecosystems for ducks whose survival has been seriously threatened as a result of various human acts.” Shannon explained to us, showing us the lake that’s at the end of the property. They obtained the support of an organization that is dedicated to the preservation of the ducks and creating habitats for them. In one of the workshops, they explain the importance of the ducks and all of the life that surrounds them, incentivising the creation of new spaces and raising awareness of the importance of their existence. We managed to attend a workshop for children where they had fun with the didactic games proposed by the organizations and with the activities they carried out over the course of the day.
“We want to create a relationship of trust and cooperation with the community, with whom we often have to be careful in regards to how we address certain topics, since many people have a closed and traditional vision of agriculture and lifestyle; thus, according to how the situation is presented, they can feel attacked and offended, which is something we do not want.” She commented when we asked about some of the difficulties encountered when they discuss such topics. “But after all these years of activism I can see a change in the mentality of the people and youths; little by little they understand the importance of what we do.”
Falls Brook Centre depends on subsidies and help received from various entities, the government or individual persons. Although not always, sometimes this determines the programs that are developed or the language that they have to use in order to be able to access those resources. They would like to be able to be self-sufficient and be able to generate their own resources, but it is a difficult task: “We work a lot with schools, but many don’t have money for activities like this one, but if it was included in the school curriculum, the government would understand the importance of this type of education; we could give more workshops with which we would generate more income and reduce our dependency on external money”. She told us, that the institutions lack awareness regarding this education that is so important to making coming generations more aware and have more contact with nature.
Shannon is a person of action and initiative, with big ideas and organisational capacity; for this reason, she is the one coordinating various groups of the province in order to implement wind energy and solar panels on a large scale in various municipalities and houses with the goal that dependence on fossil fuels decreases.
After the two days we spent there, we were already almost part of a family that has very interesting ideas and has been at work for many years trying to make a difference. People like her and some of the team we met show us yet again that it is possible to achieve what we wish for and although we may not do so perfectly, it is important to do it believing in what we achieve and always with the desire to improve.
Writed by Joel Jansa
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