Tuning into nature with the 2020 TD Park People Grants
June 11, 2020
During the COVID-19 pandemic when much of the human realm has retreated indoors, the natural world has reclaimed many of our urban spaces. A family of foxes camped out underneath the boardwalk in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood, while a humpback whale was spotted swimming in Montreal’s St. Lawrence River. In this time of crisis and chaos, we can find comfort in knowing that nature is carrying on around us.
Vancouver’s Still Moon Arts Society beautifully weaves together art, nature and community. Typically, events like their beloved Moon Festival happen in person in Still Creek and the Renfrew Ravine.
This year, through a TD Park People Grant, Still Moon Arts Society invited Vancouverites to tune into nature and create a virtual symphony of bird songs.
The creative chorus was a way for Vancouverites to celebrate bird month.
“Bird watching and listening are valuable on your own because you can do it anytime anyplace and it helps you connect to our other-than-human neighbours with whom we share the habitat,” says Carmen Rosen, Artistic Director of Still Moon Arts.
The creation of the community and bird collaboration began with an online talk facilitated by environmental educator Sara Ross (RedSara). Participants learned about the birds they might encounter in the early dawn and what birds are singing about as the sun starts to rise.
All of this was to help participants become better listeners and observers of the dawn chorus. The real magic happened at 5 am the next day, when people headed outside their homes in the light of dawn to record a minute-long audio clip of the bird sounds in their neighbourhood. They then shared their individual bird recordings with Still Moon Arts, who compiled them into a playlist aptly named Spectacular Dawn Chorus.
Across the country, community park groups like Still Moon Arts Society are connecting people to parks and nature when they need it most.
“We hope that by helping people stay connected to nature, the TD Park People Grants will relieve some of the stress and isolation we know people are experiencing right now. The incredible creativity of Canada’s community park groups shows how they contribute to making our communities both greener and more resilient,” says Carolyn Scotchmer, Executive Director of TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.
Now in its third year, TD Park People Grants have provided 290 grants to support 707 events in city parks. This year, as part of the TD Community Resilience Initiative, a comprehensive program that TD launched to address the pandemic’s impact on communities, TD and Park People pivoted the TD Park People Grants to meet the changing needs of communities in Metro Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Greater Toronto Area, National Capital Region (Ottawa-Gatineau), Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax Regional Municipality.
This year, TD Park People Grants will support 163 community groups, who will host over 326 awesome nature-based activities that foster environmental education, sustainability and stewardship.
Other inspiring TD Park People supported programs across the country include:
- Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Canal Waterway stretches over 100 km, with plenty of opportunities for visitors to help steward their park while maintaining physical distancing guidelines. Over a week in June, the Shubenacadie Canal Commission is inviting people to clean up their corner of the waterway and to snap a photo to share through social media to inspire others to participate.
- In Winnipeg, where the TD Park People Grants are offered for the first time this year, the Glenelm Neighbourhood Association’s Tree Plant-a-Palooza will create small teams and plant new trees in three of their neighbourhood’s city parks. The tree plantings will allow people to get their hands dirty while maintaining strict physical distancing guidelines.
- Biodiversity along the park’s forest boardwalk in Toronto’s Scarborough neighbourhood is highlighted in this virtual tour hosted by Friends of Guild Park.
We know that connecting people to their parks and green spaces is more important now than ever. Through the TD Park People Grants, we are continuing to make our parks and green spaces equitable environments that foster meaningful social connections and improve the local environment.
Be sure to check the TD Park People Grants website and our social media for details on all the great events in your community.
Thanks to our generous supporters
Cover photo credit: Chao Cheng