2017/2018 Presidents Address for the AGM
I would love to sit here and share that this past year was experienced with complete ease and flow both personally and as the President of the Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association….but…. I cannot. This year was FULL and in moments hairy at best. My role as president took a few paused breaks. With a son who became ill and the passing of two close family members, I was taken away numerous times and it is only now that I am fully arriving home. In spite of these pauses in “business as usual”, I was actively present for sooo many amazing experiences, events, tours, documentaries and overall social gatherings with and on behalf of the LSLA. Despite the last minute changes or shifts, the board was able to come together to ensure that our engagement with this community was a priority. I am ever grateful for this LSLA community and how it continues to eb and flow, grow and change.
We started last year off with a change up for a few board members. We had a beautiful soul, Camille Fairbanks of Southern Alberta Zero Waste join our board. While Camille was only with us a few short months ( as she and her family moved to Arizona), her impact and inspirations still guide our decisions as a board today. Thank you Camille!
The LSLA offered a yearlong series of workshops entitled “Sustainable Saturdays” , in which participants could engage in hands on DIY and sustainable skills once per month at a financially accessible rate and in community. A few of these workshops ran with enough participants but overall the program was sorely underutilized and ultimately cancelled in June. The LSLA board has discussed and will continue to discuss its role in providing these workshops, the advertisement and engagement of them for the future. As always, we have an open door policy for collaborating with those folks who have a skill, passion or concept to share.
The LSLA attended the ever growing Seedy Saturday and LOVED every minute of it. We talked all things sustainable and specifically cover crops and healthy SOIL. Shannon Flemming and Mandy Sandbach held the fort down with only a little seed acquisition on the sideJWe are sooo thankful for our friends at Environment Lethbridge for putting on such an amazing and necessary event for our community.
Over the course of the winter the Fruit Rescue Volunteers were found at Naturistas: your feel good shop, sampling their locally picked, fresh pressed and hand mulled apple cider. This juicing adventure turned out to be a total hit and later in the summer, became the driving force in the purchase of the LSLA’s very own commercial juice press. Our ever dedicated Applefest! Coordinator, Dil Jopp, put together an incredible and one of a kind fundraiser on behalf of the FRP to raise the last monies needed to purchase our own commercial apple press. The fundraiser was a huge success and we ordered the press the next day. Thank you Dil and all who sponsored, sung, donated, or attended this event.
The Fruit Rescue Program ( FRP) has been working toward the purchase of their own portable commercial apple press for the past couple of years and with the funds secured, the press was ordered and put to use immediately. The FRP participated and organized 16 picking events, once or twice per week. They picked such a variety of fruit this year. Apples (sooo many apples), plums, pears, strawberries, currants of all kinds, raspberries, cherries cherries and more cherries!!! Our data base of picking volunteers grew this year by more than two times for a total of 85 people . Pat Hodd, Jennifer Tarnowsky and Peter Wynnychuk are SOO dedicated and incredibly hard working with the FRP. We are very lucky to have their insight and dedication to rescuing this fruit. Our plans for the 2018/2019 year with the FRP are forming now and will likely blow your minds! We are going to be coming to YOUR area soon!
Leading into Applefest! And summer, we had two amazing media opportunities for the LSLA, FRP and Applefest! We were contacted by the city of Lethbridge and they offered us to have the front page of the culture and recreation magazine for July! Of course we said YES PLEASE! In addition to this incredible exposure, our friends at Quirk magazine offered an article on the LSLA for us as well. Thank you to Dill Jopp for making this last minute deadline happen amongst the chaos at the time.
Our signature event, Applefest! 2018 was another success. Coordinator, Dil Jopp, rocked it again. Dil secured some well needed and deeply appreciated funding from our friends at the heart of the City grant for the Applefest! Celebrations. This year’s event saw our ever consistent sponsors, Purple Carrot Health Food and Wellness, Solar Optix and Anonymous donor sponsoring Applefest! 2018. We recognize that it takes more out of small business to be donating in this fashion and we are so thankful for this support of sustainability here in Lethbridge.
Applefest! 2018 was a Smokey hot day. It was gross outside and offered a bit of a hang-up in terms of attendance. We are sure that the awful conditions led to a lower attendance this year. Our vendors and musicians alike were pleased with the outcome and our volunteers stepped up in a big way yet again. Our workshops were moved to the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the space was donated by our friends at the SAAG. This made a really great quiet space for learning. These workshops were under attended but the speakers were no less informative and keen.
As we prepare for the AGM, the LSLA board has recently held a social event to encourage those who might be interested in becoming a member or board member of the LSLA, to get to know the organization and where they might want to contribute. The board met this past weekend for a dreaming day. This day was a retreat space for the board to share what this year was and was not for them. An opportunity for each member to share where they are at and what they will choose moving forward. I believe strongly in the process of evaluation at the end of a year, project, event etc… If we don’t audit the use of time, resource, volunteers and impact, we will never understand what was meaningful and what requires change or letting go of. After the course of this full day retreat , a few items were clear for the existing board.
One, we would all like to slow down our pace and focus on the community relationship and connection piece. We realize that while we can run at a fast pace, what makes an organization (group of people) sustainable is that they have a strong foundation of connection and relationship first. Once this foundation is nurtured and grows organically, the rest will follow. We are after all…humans… interacting with other humans first. The “LSLA” is but a nominalization used to express a group of individuals like Mandy, and Dil and Jennifer and peter…etc.… who gather together in community.
Two, We need to focus efforts on updating our bylaws, policies and create an operational manual that is in alignment with who we are NOW. The LSLA has been through so many changes in the past years and it is time to allow the birth of this in bylaw form.
Three, We want to celebrate! You will see that our number of meetings will be cut back to the minimum of 4 per year rather than every month. We want to have gatherings and be social without any more admin stuff than we are required to. This is going to mean monthly gatherings that get to have specific or general focus. Ie. Zero waste gatherings, permaculture Lethbridge, members of community speaking at our gathering, knowledge sharing. All of this in a relaxed and easy location. As always, family friendly and to be sure… pot lucks too!
Four, It is time for a letting go and rebirth of Applefest! As we have created it in the past. Now…..this is still being birthed but what I can share is that the FRP has tapped into an amazing flow of community and opportunity to focus on local food production. How regenerative is that!! Our ability to reach communities within Lethbridge and outside has grown exponentially and we intend to explore the MORE of this.
So with all of those little secrets shared, I feel complete for the 2017/2018 year. I am ever grateful that each and every member of the LSLA is indeed a part of my Ohana ( chosen family). One of the things that I hold dear in my life is the integration of my passions and family without separation. This group has really formed into a cohesive and supportive loving “community” for me. In our unique journeys into sustainability , we have discovered something so much more…. The 2018/2019 year will be time to nourish and further create the foundational blocks of an intentional community who serves ourselves, each other, Lethbridge and area and Gaia herself.
Thank you for your participation in your life
Mandy Sandbach President of Lethbridge Sustainable Living Association