My neighborhood and Eliza Gilkyson, bridged

One of the things that I enjoy about living next to Riding Mountain National Park is the exposure to nature’s wildlife, daily rhythms of hoarfrost, sunshine, winds, and moisture conditions. They are the local weather sensors that I use to monitor what it’s like “in my neighborhood” each day. I use these sensors in addition to the weather report.

As I drive into the park, up to Dauphin, or out to Erickson, I regularly see muskrat, deer, moose, coyotes, and sometimes elk and the odd Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, or Great Gray Owl (Manitoba’s bird). This video is one that I recently shot of muskrats over a couple of days. Their area of swimming and movement was being reduced daily by colder temperatures and the formation of ice.

This is an important two-week window in 2010, when over 15,000 people are gathered in Cancun, Mexico for COP16 (The Conference of Parties and Climate Change) to discuss, develop policies, and share new information about the impacts of human activities that are creating climate changes at an unprecedented rate.

I was looking for a music track to fit to the muskrat behaviour captured in the video. Eliza Gilkyson recently offered up a CD of rare quality called Beautiful World, about our planet. I used her song Unsustainable, as the background track for this video. I hope that you enjoy the bridging of my neighborhood with that of Eliza Gilkyson’s song, the planet. She muses about our pathway to “unsustainability”, and wonders how we go back to the drawing board to engage humans in making our communities, economy and life support systems truly sustainable. I have reproduced the lyrics to her song below.

Unsustainable, by Eliza Gilkyson

unsustainable, unmaintainable
we’ve gone too far and now it’s uncontainable
let’s tear it down and start all over again
reprehensible, indefensible
the way we are is truly incomprehensible
back to the drawing board
start all over again
madly, we loved you madly
we would have gladly maintained the status quo
badly, we’ve behaved badly
and now, sadly, we’ll have to let you go
you’re so
unforgivable, results unriddable
to make a perfect garden so unlivable
back to the drawing board
start all over again
madly, we loved you madly
we would have gladly maintained the status quo
badly, we’ve behaved badly
and now, sadly, we’ll have to let you go
you’re so
unsustainable, unrestrainable
our rationale is simply unexplainable
let’s tear it down and start all over
back to the drawing board
start all over
let’s tear it down and start all over again

An Austin, Texas songwriter, I invite you to listen to Eliza’s songs.

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Bees, Bears, Bio-Diesel, and Birds – New Golf Course Management

It’s been my pleasure to watch Greg Holden and the management team at Clear Lake Golf Course over the last 16 years shift the management regime from a traditional turf management approach to one that integrates all aspects of sustainability into its operations. Today, May 1, 201o, the Globe & Mail featured the Clear Lake Golf Course in Riding Mountain National Park in article about four top “green golf courses” in Canada.

Brain Kendall, author of the article writes..”…All across Canada, courses are dramatically cutting back on the use of water and pesticides, welcoming home birds and animals once regarded as pests, restocking ponds with indigenous fish and coming up with ingenious initiatives to transform the image of a sport long under attack by environmentalists… ” He tees up his article on Canadian environmentally friendly golf courses by featuring Tees With Bees (Bell Bay, Cape Breton); Make Way With Bear (Stewart Creek Golf & C0untry Club, in Alberta’s Bow Valley); Cravings At Clear Lake (Clear Lake Golf Course, Manitoba); and Birdies and Birdwatching (Victoria’s Cordova Bay Golf Course).

Greg won a Manitoba Eco-Network‘s top environmental award in 2009 for the work that they have been doing. And, the Clear Lake Golf Course was also a finalist in last year’s Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s national awards of excellence in the category of “sustainable tourism”.

Earth Rhythms (a Riding Mountain-based learning adventure company) offers a personalized behind-the-scenes electric golf cart experience for small groups by advance reservation.  Turning Green Into Gold – featuring Greg’s stories about thousands of gallons of water saved, innovative gardening tips, use of natural pest fighting agents, an understanding of bio-diesel used in golf course maintenance vehicles, and short excursions to his favorite clipping’s nutrient piles, being at the heart of his “gold compost” resource stream production centre, and seeing some of  innovations in sustainable best practices are featured. This short, 2-hour program will turn your head, inspire you, and hopefully enable you to follow this up with a new appreciation for the history, ecology, and outstanding golf that is offered at Riding Mountain’s Clear Lake Golf Course.

Way to go Greg and team! It seems appropriate to tip our hats to Greg as the new 2010 President of the Canadian Golf Course Superintendent’s Association. This modest leader and pioneer in best practices of sustainable golf course management has much to offer visitors, golfers and the golf industry. He’d be the first to be cautious in handing out advice – but, he is willing to share his own experiences. His are first-class stories of carbon footprint reduction, recycling, and turning waste into resource streams.

An excerpt from this unique “experiential tourism program” will be experienced by 15 international travel buyers from India, China, Japan, the UK and Korea during the first week of May, 2010 as part of Travel Manitoba’s hosting of Rendezvous Canada – an international marketplace for travel buyers of distinctive Canadian experiences.

Clear Lake Golf Course - a Canadian leader in sustainability

The business case for sustainability, an interview with Bob Willard

The Business Case for Sustainability – What’s in it for you?

Bob Willard PresentationI recently attended the Manitoba Conservation Districts Annual Convention in Brandon.  The Conservation Districts are doing some great work on the conservation and sustainability front.    I attended a session on the Business Case for Sustainability and had the opportunity to meet Bob Willard, author of several books including most recently The Sustainability Champions Guidebook (How to Transform Your Company), The Next Sustainability Wave,The Next Sustainability Waveand The Sustainability Advantage.

Bob’s presentation was straight-forward.  If you can get an opportunity to see his presentation, do so.  It is well worth it.  I went twice, to both of his presentations, because the information was so compactly presented and in a way that over 200 farm producers and rural folk were able to understand.  That’s really good, because this is a challenging topic no matter what your profession or experience is.   The ability to connect the dots and clearly communicate about the risks, responsibilities and rewards or benefits of becoming a more sustainable enterprise is something that has been needed for a long time.

I interviewed Bob right after his presentation, because I was inspired by what he provided, and interested in his perspectives about sustainability and tourism.  Grab a coffee, or a juice and put your feet up.  This guy has some really neat ideas.  Check out his website Sustainability Advantage. In particular, see the 90 second video introduction from Bob personally.  Well done!

Interview with Bob:

Bob has helped me to articulate  a framework that helps me to bridge my passion for tourism with the business case for sustainability.  I hope that this interview will help you to shift your business towards sustainability.  The planet needs you to do it.  Climate change needs us to act in more innovative ways.  And, wouldn’t it be great to be able to do it in ways that actually increase your profits.

Sharing

What are some suggestions that you have about improvements in your tourism business that have led you forward on the pathway to sustainability?   I would be really interested in hearing your suggestions or examples, so that we can help our entire tourism industry to begin taking the small steps toward sustainability.

Travel and tourism will be tremendously affected by the outcomes of the Copenhagen Climate negotiations, as well as by forthcoming cap and trade legislation that will be passed both in the US and subsequently in Canada.  Not IF, but WHEN.  I think that it behooves all of us to start building in a smart, small-steps approach to sustainability into our annual business plan for our tourism companies.  What do you think?

Clear Lake Golf Course – A vision about sustainability as “just doing the right thing”

These are ordinary folks doing extra-0rdinary things.  Ian Sarna, General Manager and Greg Holden, Superintendent of the Clear Lake Golf Course in Onanole, Manitoba are disappointed, yet happy to be in Saint John.  They were one of the finalists in the Parks Canada-sponsored Sustainable Tourism Award.   They have just witnessed 350 guests from all across Canada learn about the Clear Lake Golf Course during the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s national gala dinner and presentation of awards of excellence.  As Ian and Greg would say, “sustainability is not something separate from what they do”.  It’s just part of doing business right.   And, they’ve been doing it right for 16 years.

TIAC - Canadian Tourism Summit Gala dinner and National Tourism Awards of Excellence

IAC - Canadian Tourism Summit Gala dinner and National Tourism Awards of Excellence

Two other Manitoba tourism partners went away with the coveted Nova Scotian crystal trophies – The Air Canada Business of the Year to Wa’Chee Lodge from Churchill;  and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre Event of the Year award to Folklorama.

The Clear Lake Golf Course had a vision 16 years ago of managing a golf course that exemplified and enriched the national park mandate.  They have delivered on that, in piles of compost, 300,000 litres of water saved annually with their composting toilet systems, recycling of all wastes and garbage, and use of bio-diesel.  As Greg says, “we’ve learned to turn what we used to call a waste stream – daily garbage from the restaurant and clippings from the golf course – into a resource stream”.  This has saved on annual financial expenses for purchase of inputs, and helped to establish a low carbon golfing experience at Riding Mountain National Park that is the best in Canada for demonstrating environmental leadership, giving back to community, and maintaining a very profitable business model.

I, too, am disappointed that they did not bring back crystal to Manitoba.  But, Greg and Ian both experienced the passion and pride that is part of Canada’s tourism industry….it was alive and tangible all evening long, as various tourism businesses were acknowledged, won crystal awards, or students won sustainable tourism scholarships, or we heard stories of excellence.

My sense is that the story of the Clear Lake Golf Course and golfing may not be completely understood, as a significant contributor to tourism.  The scale of the Clear Lake Golf Course’s annual revenues, re-investments, the work of their charitable foundation, and the leadership role that the golf course has taken from an environmental management perspective is world class.   No other golf course in Canada has taken the remarkable steps that this golf course has.  You will see the Clear Lake Golf Course nominated for other provincial and national awards.  Stay tuned!

Congratulations to the entire team at the Clear Lake Golf Course for having made it as a finalist in the TIAC annual tourism awards.   Well done!

Clear Lake Golf Course (Onanole, Manitoba) is national finalist in Tourism Industry Awards

Clear Lake Golf Course - No 17 Green - a signature golf experience

Clear Lake Golf Course - No 17 Green - a signature golf experience

There is a buzz happening in Onanole, on the heels of the recently completed Sonics and Sojourns Festival of Learning and Music.  We have just learned that the team at the Clear Lake Golf Course (in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba) is short-listed as one of three finalists for the Parks Canada-sponsored Sustainable Tourism Award in the annual Tourism Industry of Canada’s national tourism awards.  This is a big deal!

The Clear Lake Golf Course is already a Canadian and world leader in operating with a new model of business savvy in a carbon-constrained world.   Their 16 year operation of the Clear Lake Golf Course includes one of Canada’s finest examples of green golf course management, a restaurant featuring local foods, a waste vegetable oil recycling and bio-diesel program, and investments that they have provided to support our community’s Onanole Community Centre.

This is what is meant by Triple Bottom Line accounting – when a business is profitable over the long term, environmentally accountable throughout its operations, and socially responsible through its human resource operations and support of local community. A great example of a sustainable business.

Great job Clear Lake Golf Course team !  Which includes leaders like Greg Holden, Ian and Lydia Sarna, Scott Shelbourne, and Ilse Mohn and many others who annually provide great service, welcome visitors each year, or carefully apply garlic extracts or tea tree oil on the golf course.   We are proud of you!

Clear Lake Golf Course environmental management approach praised

August 22, 2009  – Great article in the Brandon Sun about the responsible environmental management approach at the Clear Lake Golf Course, in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba.  Canada.  Read the article here.

In a really good tribute to triple bottom line accounting, the Clear Lake Golf Course is demonstrating that environmental leadership, profitability, and social responsibility work together as a sound business management practice.  There are lots of nay-sayers out there who keep saying that “green jobs” or the new green economy or a strong government policy framework that reduces carbon emissions will cost our economy.  I don’t believe it, not for a moment.  As with any shifts in business management or economic frameworks, it involves sound research, a commitment to sound business principles, and a systematic approach based on underlying principles or core values that are about care for our planet.

Clivus Compost toilet at Clear Lake Golf Course

Clivus Compost toilet at Clear Lake Golf Course

The Clear Lake Golf Course, because of a strong commitment from Parks Canada management over 16 years ago, in which Riding Mountain National Park required the bids for the 25-year management of the Clear Lake Golf Course to include an operational plan for environmentally sound management, shifted things.  Instead of “business as usual”, the golf course had to demonstrate major improvements in management of water, chemicals, turf management as well as being fiscally sound and turning a good profit that was in the interests of golfers, the management company of the golf course, and Parks Canada as the lessor.

The management team including Ian and Lydia Sarna and recent Manitoba Eco-Network award winning golf course superintendent Greg Holden have done all of that and much more. So have many of their other team members in the kitchen, the restaurant, the grounds operation, the bio-diesel, and in the pro shop.  Our hats off to this team.

Read this excellent two-page spread by Joanne Villeneuve, in the Brandon Sun that profiles all of the many environmentally responsible tactics that are being used on the Clear Lake Golf Course.  This course is a demonstration to the rest of the world of how golf courses should be operated, in my view.  As a long-time golfer, environmentalist, and business owner, I am proud to have this golf course in my backyard.  Earth Rhythms regularly features Greg Holden in our customized group programs.

New deli eatery in Onanole

We’ve got a new eatery in Onanole this summer.  Sisters Quinn and Jasmin Greavett have launched an alternative to the often poor quality, fast food chains that typically accompany tourism travel routes and destinations.  As many writers and investigative journalists are uncovering, our “Fast Food Nation” does not often provide the most nutritious foods, and many of them have high food miles associated with them (imported from other countries with a high carbon emission associated with the distance they travel to get to our province).  If you are interested, you can learn more about FOOD MILES and calculate food miles for individual food items.

Quinn describes their approach, “.. .When creating our menu, we really wanted to have something that was a bit different that people would be interested in trying, and that would taste great.  We wanted to branch away from the typical burger and create a menu where each burger had a distinctive flavour.  All our burgers, sandwiches, and deli salads are home-made and we use only fresh ingredients, which we try to purchase locally.”

This is great.  The tourism industry needs more of this type of food service and entrepreneurial approaches.  It supports local producers, is better quality and nutrition, and offers alternatives to the fast food formulas and supply chains that often accompany many restaurants and chains.  We wish them well.   “…Our deli salads are family favorites and some we have created.  We basically got the menu ideas from things that Jasmin and I like, and we also did a few trial and error taste tests on people and adjusted our menu based on their feedback.  But, so far, so good!”

The following is their current menu (obviously, subject to change, as they learn and get feedback from customers).  We hope that you will try out the new Deli in Onanole this summer.

Menu

Mexi burger – a spicy beef burger served with guacamole, refried beans, salsa and cheese

Greek burger – beef patty served with feta cheese, tatziki sauce, fresh cucumber, red onion,lettuce and tomato

Canadian burger – a beef patty mixed with a sweet maple bbq sauce topped with cheddar cheese, smokey maple bacon, and fried onions

Classic burger – our most traditional beef patty lightly seasoned

Chicken burger – an all white meat chicken breast served with mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion

Veggie burger – a vegetable patty made with fresh cick peas, cous cous, spinach, cilantro and spices.

Thai Tuna burger – tuna mixed with ginger, soya, flax seeds, and carrots served with a home made teriyaki sauce

Clear Lake Golf Course offers new cuisine in 2009

I have had the opportunity to experience the cuisine of Executive Chef Ilse Mohn and Sous-Chef Chad Robinson on more than one occasion this year. As well, a number of other local people have been experiencing their flavors this summer. The verdict: very good quality, great service, new!

Bison carpaccio appetizer with Manitoba Bothwell cheese

Bison carpaccio appetizer with Manitoba Bothwell cheese

One group that we had here last week had requested a unique lunch menu as part of a customized GPS adventure quest that we created for their sales team.

I worked with the team at the Clear Lake Golf Course (Riding Mountain National Park) to create an imaginative and never-before delivered combination of flavours, textures and presentation that left our group not just satisfied, but clearly surprised and delighted.

I love this aspect of experiential tourism – crafting one of a kind experiences that under-promise mystery and intrigue, while over-delivering surprises, moments of delight, and in the words of one member of our group, “I’ve been here before several times, but never had this…It was great.”

Great cuisine is something that people will travel for long distances, to experience.  In particular, we featured local bison, Manitoba cheese, local herbs, local baking, local recipes, and local berries in the saskatoon tarts (that we made under the watchful guidance of Ilse herself).  Congratulations to Ilse and Chad and the entire team at the Clear Lake Golf Course restaurant.  Keep it up!

Merlin dines on robin in front yard

Merlin on ground with robinYesterday, While meeting with a couple of people to plan the September field activities for the  Riparian habitat workshops at Onanole’s Sonics and Sojourns Festival of Learning & Music, we happened to look up from our planning discussions and saw a male merlin mantling a fresh kill.  As we watched, the merlin (a small falcon) proceeded to feed on the robin for about 20 minutes.  After this, it picked up the half-remaining body and moved to a new location for a “picnic lunch”.

Merlin with robin in talons

And, then he headed off.  Merlins typically feed on small birds (starlings, robins, finches, swallows) and small mammals, snakes, and insects.  About 80% of their diet is small birds.  When it took off with so much of the robin in its talons, I wondered whether there was a female and young at a nest that were needing to be fed.  We live on the edge of mature aspen and balsam poplars, with lots of open grassy meadows and nearby (half mile) is the south boundary of Riding Mountain National Park.  When I see this kind of amazing natural occurrence, I am deeply reminded of the depth of biodiversity we have on this planet.

It brings sharply into focus the responsibility we have to educate and inform our elected representatives to shift their policies and laws to deal with climate change.  Yvo de Boer, the UN Climate Chief offers four (4) important political essentials that we have to get right at the UN Climate Change Conference December 7 – 18, 2009.

What a great Christmas gift it would be to our children and grand-children to offer them a new global climate treaty that moves all of our countries towards a 350ppm CO2 atmospheric carbon target.  This will be the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (also known as COP 15) and the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 5). According to the Bali roadmap, a framework for climate change mitigation beyond 2012 is to be agreed upon at Copenhagen at this conference.  Maintaining a healthy atmosphere as part of our everyday community and business livelihoods contributes to biodiversity and a rich, healthy planet.

Greg Holden shares his appreciation for 2009 Environmental Award

 

Greg Holden, Superintendent of Clear Lake Golf Course receives Environmental Award

Greg Holden, Superintendent of Clear Lake Golf Course receives Environmental Award

On June 9th, in Winnipeg, Greg Holden from the Clear Lake Golf Course was awarded the 2009 Manitoba Eco-Network environmental award in the Special Category, recognizing his leadership and commitment to environmental sustainability.  Anne Lindsey, the Executive Director introduced the awards.  Celes Davar shared a few words about why he nominated Greg, and introduced Greg.  

The inscription on the award reads…

“The Manitoba Eco-Network Environmental Award presented to Greg Holden, Given in recognition of significant contributions to the awareness and protection of Manitoba’s environment.  June 9, 2009”

Congratulations Greg…from everyone in this community!

See and listen to Greg’s thoughts and appreciation at the award ceremony in this short video highlight.