World Food Day: Don’t forget the new urban poor

Maria Medina Cacseere tending her chard crop in her urban garden in Manchay, Peru.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Food and the Sustainable Development Goals

Today is World Food Day, one of the 127 observances or international days marked by the United Nations. Amongst these many conscience-raising days, the most important, to my mind, are the ones that strongly relate to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were agreed and published in September 2015. World Food Day, celebrated today, October 16, is such a day.

As with other international days, there is a specific, focus each year. In 2017, the theme, as described by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is:

Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.

As the FAO says: The world is on the move. More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since the Second World War due to increased conflict and political instability. But hunger, poverty, and an increase in extreme weather events linked to climate change are other important factors contributing to the migration challenge.

Leave no one behind

Like all of the SDGs, food (Zero Hunger) cannot be managed as a goal in isolation. A more holistic approach to understanding and taking political and financial decisions that serve the best interests of the planet and its people is the right way to maintain and create sustainable development. Even if that path is bumpy and bendy, the journey has to be taken and ensure that no one is left behind.

Migration across and within countries

While some big and challenging movements of people involve migration across national borders (according to the FAO, there were 244 million international migrants in 2015, which is 40 percent more than in 2000) the majority, an estimated 763 million moved within their own countries rather than abroad (2013 figures). These are not people simply moving from one town to another to improve their livelihood by picking up a new job. It’s a more desperate upheaval of families, driven by political strife, military conflict, and crop failures.

Movement to the cities: the case of Manchay, Peru

Much of that in-country migration is from poor rural districts to urban centres, a trend that has been seen across the world so much so that more than half of the world’s population now resides in cities. Peru is one such country where people left poor, isolated Andean communities in their masses in the 1980s as they escaped terrorism and sought refuge and a new place to live on the outskirts of Lima. New peri-urban settlements have appeared, grown and continue to grow around the capital city, which due to the arid, desert-like landscape, means they came to places bereft of infrastructure. At the start, there is no water supply and no waste collection. Public transport is either non-existent or means crowded small buses that get you to a job if you can survive the hours-long daily commutes.

Manchay is such a community that has built up from zero to more than 100,000 people in just a couple of decades. Infrastructure has been developed and some families now have running water connections. But most depend on water tankers though, which is an expensive part of the household budget for the new urban poor. The transport network has grown but the commute is still wearing and recent price hikes on the buses triggered civil unrest.

Food and the urban poor

The idea of growing your own food in these urban desert conditions seems daunting but there is an emerging interest, supported by training from a local agricultural engineer, a local church and pastors and development aid from Canada that is doing just that. Their program of urban gardens or biohuertos will be the subject of a future article.

For today on World Food Day, it’s important to reflect on communities such as Manchay that have received the rural poor. Think about what it will take (better investment, business opportunities, capacity building, inclusive political intervention and grassroots determination) to put food squarely on the development agenda table in poor urban, as well as rural areas.

More images from Manchay

For more photographs of Manchay, Peru please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography.

SDG Conference in Calgary: Together 2017

If you got this far, you are surely interested in sustainability and the SDGs! If you live close to Calgary (or are prepared to travel) you may be interested in the SDG Conference coming up at University of Calgary on October 23-24, 2017. Its called Together 2017 and you can find out more with this link.

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Four Fire goals in Olds

Mia Bierd shoots a well-balanced shot for Calgary Girls Hockey Fire White during their game at Olds Sportsplex versus the Grizzlys in the Alberta Female Hockey League (Bantam Elite).
© J. Ashley Nixon

Shotgun start

It was the first of what would be 45 shots and it went in. Less than two minutes into the game and the Fire White were in the lead at Olds Sportsplex against the Grizzlys. The home team goalie, Misty Rey put in a brave performance, including facing down a strong breakaway shot, but with two more goals in the first period and an insurance goal in the second, the Alberta Female Hockey League game went the way of the Calgary team. Meanwhile, at the other end, Ali Kieren quietly got on with business between the pipes, giving her a shootout from 18 shots.

Hailey Wiltshire scored Fire White’s first, assisted by Jordyn Hutt, shoveling in a backhander over Rey’s stretched-out glove. Hannah Suto got the second from a shot that went low right before the goalie could get across her line. Ella Kitchen made it three when she tipped in a power-play shot from the blue line by Caolan Marks with five minutes to go.

Power-play goal

The teams traded a couple of penalties for free in the second period but the third visit to the box, a tripping offense by the Grizzlys, came with a cost. From a faceoff right of the goal area, Jordyn Hutt took a shot that bounced off the goalie’s pads and Sara Gaiser popped the puck across the line. No further scoring in the third period, giving a  final score: Olds Grizzlies 0-4 Fire White.

Fire White now has two wins from two games in the Alberta Female Hockey League.

Up next: Three games next weekend beginning Oct 20, GHC Bantam Elite Fire White versus Bonnett’s Energy Peace Country Storm at Henry Viney Arena, Calgary.

More action

For more photos from the game please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography


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Fire Storm Cyclones

Jennifer Nixon, GHC Bantam AA Fire White, making one of the plays that got her the team Fierce Award in the 7-0 win over Lethbridge Cyclones in the Alberta Female Hockey League.
© J. Ashley Nixon

The quiet before the storm

It was an evenly paced first period, the quiet before the storm. Calgary Girls Hockey (GHC) Bantam AA Fire White were hosting Lethbridge Cyclones at Henry Viney Arena in the season opener of the Alberta Female Hockey League. Things started to warm up in the last five minutes as Fire White went short-handed. Ella Kitchen won a face-off inside the Cyclones zone and took a quick wrist shot, saved by Kinlee Fahselt. With six seconds to go, she was almost beat, save the crossbar, as the puck sounded off from a slap-shot taken out from the left hash marks by Gracie Gilkyson.

Cyclones hit

Immediately from the start of the second period, the Cyclones were hit with speedy attacks from Fire White. The first goal came within three minutes, a straight left shot from Mia Bierd that went through some defensive traffic and into the net.

After ten minutes it was 2-0 when Hannah Suto sent in a speculative shot from the left wing. Three minutes later, Ryann Perrett put herself in the right place in front of the net to pick up a rebound from a shot by Chyenne Risling, pushing the puck past the goalie’s right skate. Caolan Marks scored her first goal with three minutes to go, unassisted with a hard shot blasted in from the left wing.

Fire White defense hold tight

Lethbridge had the chance to get on the score sheet with a power play after seven minutes of the third period but the Fire White defense held tight. Marks got her second goal after 14 minutes of play and made it a hat-trick with another blaster from the blue line that surprised the Cyclones goalie. Bierd got her second goal from a scramble in front of the net that saw the puck slip through the goalie’s pads.

Final score: Fire White 7-0 Lethbridge Cyclones.

Up next: GHC Bantam AA Fire White vs Olds Grizzlys. For more photos from the game please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography

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Dub steps up for MRU rugby @MountRoyal4U

Dub steps up. Dylan Dub scores for Mount Royal University rugby in their game versus the University of Regina.
© J. Ashley Nixon

A fine day for rugby, the first day of October. Save, that is for the pickup wind, just about cold enough for wingers to put hands in pockets when convenient. The Mount Royal University (MRU) men’s team were hosts to the University of Regina, who progressed this season from the sevens game to the full 15 aside.

Despite the wind and leaves flying into their faces, the MRU team did enough in the first half to take the lead 17-0. The visitors from Regina made something of a comeback in the second half but MRU hung on to win, 24-15.

The highlight of the game, played on the Univesity of Calgary Dino’s pitch, was a try from Calgary Saints back row forward, Dylan Dub who shrugged off a scissor-like tackle to go over under the posts for MRU’s third try.

You can see more of that play and other photos at J. Ashley Nixon Photography.

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Hornets swarm back over Canucks to clinch Calgary championship


The Calgary Hornets begin their comeback over the Canucks with a try in the 40th minute.
© J. Ashley Nixon

With the first half just about done and trailing by a score of 31-8, it looked like game over for the Hornets at Calgary Rugby Park. But the tide can turn in rugby. The momentum can swing. And it did, big time. The play of the day saw the yellow and black army going in hard between the posts and with the ball in hand, a second row forward crashed through the Canucks defense for a try. A simple conversion and they were back in contention, hungry for a win.

First-half swings

The Hornets actually opened the scoring after seven minutes with a penalty followed, a couple of minutes later, by a try out on the left wing. That triggered a reaction in the Canucks backs who found their running form to score five times in quick succession. Canucks captain, Jake Bentley got the first one breaking through a couple of defenders to go in under the posts. Chad Spence, coming in from the right wing, did the same three minutes later. Centre, Derek Arnold got the third try for the Canucks after they swept the ball left, taking a nicely timed pass from Luke Demeter. Arnold was not stopping there. The Dragon fired down the left to squeeze in just inside the corner flag. He then set up the Canucks best play of the game, when he grabbed a dropped ball inside his own half then put in a fabulously timed and weighted grub kick from 30 m out for Captain Canucks to pick up the ball and go over the line. It was the last time the Canucks would score in the game.

Hornets hit back

Heartened by their try at the end of the first half, the Hornets continued their revival after the break with a try from loose forward #7. The conversion was good and it was 31-22. The Hornets were on the move again after 30 minutes with another try, 31-27. Then came the winning move from a line out, close to the Canucks line. With clean possession, they scored from the resulting ruck and, with a magnificent conversion by the fly-half from 10 meters inside the touchline, the Hornets took the lead, 31-34. The Canucks hit the panic button and sent in a wave of desperate attacks. Right at the 40-minute mark, the last

The Canucks hit the panic button and sent in a wave of desperate attacks. Right at the 40-minute mark, the last play, out on the left wing, might have sent the result their way. But Derek Arnold was unable to hold onto a difficult pass from his winger and add to his big bag of points and other brilliant contributions to the game. Final score: Canucks 31-34 Hornets.

Congratulations Hornets and good luck in the final of the Alberta Cup.

For more photographs of the game, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography.

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Defining the library as a connective and democratic space for learning: Riddell Library and Learning Centre, Mount Royal University

The Riddell Library and Learning Centre, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Libraries old and new

Libraries have operated as repositories of printed information and knowledge for centuries. One of the oldest and most famous in Europe, the Bodleian Library (Oxford), opened in 1602. Common practice then was to chain up their enormous tomes so they couldn’t be removed by their selective, thoroughly thoughtful users. Others, like the Library of Congress (Washington DC) and the British Library in London, vie for being the biggest in the world, depending on the indicators you choose, holding millions of physical items in stock. Some prestigious libraries are still kept out of common public use. The Library of Parliament in Ottawa, for example, is generally only open during a guided tour, although it is always in the public eye, on the Canadian ten dollar note as a holographic feature.

Calgary’s new edition, the Riddell Library and Learning Centre (RLLC) which was officially opened on Sept 7, is sure to make a significant contribution to the Alberta chapter of these global networks of learning with its exciting bold look and sustainable design focused on users and their intellectual interactions.

You won’t find a chained book here but you can hook up to a treadmill desk and get a work out as you learn. Or you can pop into one of 31 group rooms that have been designed to enhance collaborative work. Later this semester you will be able to take a break in the library café. And there’s lots of room on the four floors and plenty of seats (1,800 of them), some by a real (gas) fire and others in nice and peaceful soft furnishings for those who want to study quietly, and comfortably, on their own.

First of two new libraries for Calgary

Like the New Central Library (NCL) being built over the C-train tracks in East Village, Calgary, the RLLC was designed by a team that includes Calgary Architects, Dialog and constructed by Stuart Olson. The NCL, due for completion towards the end of 2018, will have similar dimensions to the MRU building (around 22,300 m2) and both are targeting for LEED Gold status (to recognize sustainable attributes of design such as energy and water use and the use of natural light).

Access point for information and knowledge for all of the people of Calgary

The Hon. Marlin Schmidt, Minister of Advanced Education, Government of Alberta was one of the dignitaries to open the new facility and recognized the value to the broader Alberta community of this $88.4 million provincial investment, which was augmented by a significant donation from the Riddell Family Charitable Foundation. Minister Schmidt commented that the RLLC “will become an access point for information and knowledge for all of the people of Calgary so they can pursue any kind of kind of academic interest or project.” He added, “it will draw people together so that they can learn from each other and develop our communities.

Containers and conveyors of information and knowledge

MRU Librarian, Dr. Carol Shepstone was asked how much information and knowledge exists in the new library. “There’s certainly containers of information,” she said and listed the 300,000 print books on the shelves, the half a million e-books, and 70,000 electronic data bases that the library subscribes to. “But I think there’s so much more,” she said. “There’s audio, there’s visual. And then there’s the information that we share with each other. The knowledge that students have, that they exchange with each other and build on those ideas. And the knowledge that faculty brings.”

Designing a building for a learning community

The rapid transfer of information between users, made possible through digital technology, has become more important than books on shelves in libraries now. Creating this capacity for sharing – both the technology and the right ambiance-is a vital part of the design process in building a new library. So, what has MRU done? “I think that really ties into the kinds of spaces that we have,” said Dr. Sheptsone. “It’s those places where students can sit and exchange ideas and engage intellectually, whether it’s in the café, sitting by the fire place, in group rooms, even silent contemplation on your own” she added.

I wanted to get the views from the designers as well so I asked John Souleles, the architect in charge of the team at Dialog, which of the thousands of design elements, were the three most important ones in making this a learning community? He believes that the whole notion of collaboration starting with the relationship between architect and client leading into designs that work for students to work together is one of those important themes. “One of the most important salient features is the connective tissue between all of the spaces in this facility where you can see the exchange of information happening and the realization that as much learning and as much intellect happens outside of a structured classroom as it does inside of a classroom,” he said.

Souleles described how it was important that the project should create a community facility. “It (must have) its arms outstretched to the community, its spaces are not exclusive to the university it’s not elitist, it’s a democratic type of space so that anybody of any knowledge, intellect, faith, religion or point of view is welcome in the library.”

Sustainable building ethics: the right to light

His third important feature is the sustainable ethic of the project itself, especially what he calls “the right to light”. “We’re tracking LEED Gold but in addition to just the metrics of a sustainable building, and the energy efficiency is the notion of a right to light, the natural light, the ventilation, the communicative nature of the spaces and understanding exactly how and where you are at any given moment in time so the views and the connections to the community become really important.”

Mount Royal University, in partnership with the architects and builders at Dialog and Stuart Olson, have come up with a new definition for the library as a connective and democratic space for learning. For MRU students and faculty, as well as the community of Calgary and beyond, learning just got more of an exciting, fun and pleasant thing to do.

For more photos of the Riddell Library and Learning Centre at MRU, please visit J. Ashley Nixon Photography

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Wippert wins final stage as Huffman holds on to Yellow in the Tour of Alberta

Wouter Wippert (Cannondale-Drapac) wins the final Stage of the Tour of Alberta in Edmonton.
© J. Ashley Nixon

Wippert and Huffman

Dutch rider, Wouter Wippert (Cannondale-Drapac) got the stage win again today, making it two wins from him and three for his team in the ATB Tour of Alberta which finished in Edmonton today. Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling), who won the first stage in Jasper, tucked into the front finishing group and kept on to his Yellow Jersey to win the overall race title by a margin of 18 seconds. With his team mate, Kuss Sepp finishing second overall, Rally also took the Best Team classification.

Red, White, Green and Polka Dots

In the other awards, Alec Cowan (Silber Pro Cycling) picked up enough points on the day to take the Polka Dots (King of the Mountains).  Jack Burke (Aevola) had a solid tour, winning both the Red and White Jersey’s for Best Canadian Rider and Best Young Rider respectively. Wippert also held on to his Green Jersey to take the EllisDon Sprint Leader Classification for the race.

Calgary in 2018?

Big crowds turned out on a beautiful day to see 82 riders from eleven teams complete the fifth running of the ATB Tour of Alberta. The 124 km course started and ended in Sir Winston Churchill Square, following its now well-established 11 lap circuit down to the Valley Road along the North Saskatchewan River, around the back of Victoria Golf course and back into the city centre. Here’s hoping that the tour organizers and the City of Calgary can work things out to get a stage in CowTown for number six in 2018.the sixth

Here’s hoping that the tour organizers and the City of Calgary can work things out to get a stage in and around Calgary for the sixth running of the Tour of Alberta in 2018.

Images from the Tour of Alberta 2017

For more cycling images and the Tour of Alberta please see J. Ashley Nixon Photography

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