Meet Local Climate Leader Sue Brandum - theHumm October 2020

Meet Local Climate Leader Sue Brandum - theHumm October 2020

Sue Brandum is a local climate leader who has been instrumental in creating the Climate Network Lanark (full name Climate Action Network of Lanark County, Smiths Falls and Region). In this month’s column, she talks about her background, how she came to be so involved at a local level, and how she and many others are working to improve the future prospects of all of us.

Can you describe your background and how you came to be involved in environmental activism at the community level?

Sue Brandum: Back in the late ’80s I had transitioned from being a reporter and journalist observing and documenting things, to a corporate and government writer writing about big-picture issues. It still wasn’t enough — I wanted to be involved, to be making, creating the pictures. I joined a neophyte organization called the Coalition for a Green Economic Recovery. Its founders included Jack Layton. We were now in the deep recession of 1990, and the NDP government of the day was seeking ideas to help get our province out of recession and working again. The Coalition challenged itself to come up with a few ideas that created good work and economic activity and rejuvenated the natural world. When they came up with 50 ideas, they knew they were onto something. The government thought so too, and adopted a few of the ideas. It took until 1996 for others including Greenpeace to acknowledge that we had to both create jobs and save the natural world at the same time. It was no longer a competition between one or the other, even though today there are still some who are stuck in that old paradigm. Wayne Roberts and I then documented those ideas, and many more, in a book titled Get A Life! How to Make A Good Buck, Dance Around the Dinosaurs and Save the World While You’re At It.

Those were the real, grass growing between the toes, grounded ideas that I wanted to be a part of, at the community level. When I then moved here to Lanark County, I got involved with the Rideau Environmental Action League and started to implement some of them, including home energy audits and backyard composting, caring for your well and septic systems, and creating the REAL Deal Reuse Store as a social enterprise that has created local jobs, generated revenue for REAL, and put, literally, tonnes of good materials into the local Circular Economy.

But many of those programs that I ran were what are called “incremental”, they were based on taking small steps. We’re so long past that, we need to take giant steps now if we are to slow the decline, nevermind turn things around. And it has become abundantly clear to me that we have to work at the local level on the climate crisis. We can’t wait for international collaboration, we can make big changes “right here, right now,” as Greta Thunberg would say.

It’s also clear to me that I rely on my community for my security in a very insecure time — for food, for shelter, for companionship, for all sorts of supports. It’s a two-way street, I can’t take from my community without giving back, without supporting all my neighbours and local businesses. While I have long volunteered, I chose to run for municipal office in my township, Drummond/North Elmsley in the last municipal election. I so enjoyed running, meeting people at the door, and it was informative. I saw firsthand the change in the wind about the public concern for the climate crisis, and that people wanted action. That was the final straw for me, that pushed me into starting this new organization.

One initiative that many people aren’t aware of is that Climate Network Lanark was able to bring the architecture of a Local Climate Action Plan to the County Council and have it unanimously adopted. Can you describe that process and what it means to the wider global movement to help mitigate issues related to the climate crisis?

A few years ago, with the prodding of our predecessor (an informal group called the Lanark County Climate Action Network), the County signed onto the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Partners for Climate Protection program. This required them to develop a plan, but nothing was happening. Climate Network Lanark had met, had some 200 people engaged, and decided to move the County along. We met with and talked to Councilors about how critical the climate crisis was, and we organized the public to express their concerns. We presented to Council in October 2019 to what many said was the greatest public turnout ever in those chambers. Council ratified the motion in January 2020 and later budgeted $200,000 for the two-year planning process, required staffing and some actions.

While ecoPerth opened the door to local level climate action 25 years ago, it’s becoming clear that Climate Network Lanark is in the vanguard of bringing climate action down to this lower level of government in collaboration with the community. Many have mistakenly thought the climate crisis has to be addressed only on an international or national level, yet our municipal governments have authority over or influence just about 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions! More Canadian communities are forming community climate action networks now.

The LCN has people involved on 10 different working groups focused on the Climate Crisis and the Action Plan. Can you describe briefly what each of these groups is working on?

Communications (active). While each Working Group will do some of its own communications, we have a central group that is coordinating outreach to the local and social media, our own network members and local government and community leaders, that includes information on the effects of climate change here, actions we can all take, and activities that are under way.

Compost / 4Rs (first meeting Oct. 20). Organic waste in landfills releases methane and in Lanark County we have a lot of organic waste in landfills. This group is just getting going.

Energy (energy efficiency, renewables and supply, active). Focusing on home energy and increasing renewables here.

Farms (part of our ALUS steering committee, active). Working on bringing the Alternative Land Use Services organization here which would pay farmers for taking the actions they do that benefit us all and move to regenerative agriculture and working on a local testing program for carbon.

Food (local food / food security, first meeting Oct 22). We’re facing great food insecurity, yet we have great local opportunities that need support and growth.

Forests and Nature-based Climate Solutions (active). Taking advantage of what nature can provide us by increasing vegetation, forests and natural solutions can get us more than a third of the carbon storage we need.

Local Government (active). Working with the County to develop a Working Group that will advise the County on its Climate Action Plan and integrate the lower-tier municipalities and the community into the planning process.

Transportation (first meeting Oct. 27). Promotion and development of Electric Vehicles and public transportation systems.

Youth. We have a special Youth Working Group that is just getting organized and will be defining its own interests in the next little while. We’re especially inviting more youth to join.

Is there a need for more community members to help out the grassroots environmental work via the CNL? And if so, do people need any special skills?

We’ve got about 200 people engaged with the Network right now, some 70-80 serving on the various Working Groups. Of course, we need and welcome more people. Volunteering is always a great way to learn and develop new skills, so don’t hesitate to contact us even if you feel you don’t have anything specific to offer. That said, we are looking for experienced people with leadership skills for a couple of the Working Groups, for help with a database, with research and with fundraising.

Can you describe what people on an individual /family level can do to support the goals of the Climate Network?

One of the slogans of the youth in the climate movement is “System Change, Not Climate Change.” For the past 20-30 years, we’ve focused on individual action. What the youth are saying, and they are so right, is that we need to multiply those individual actions into societal changes, into system change. Everybody converting to electric vehicles isn’t going to solve our problem. We need to reduce our need for transit, live closer to where we work and have public transit to take us there – imagine having a service that sends an electric car to pick you up at home, and a few of your neighbours from their homes, then delivers you and them to your respective workplaces, and is partly subsidized because it’s a public transit system! That’s system change. And it’s viable in our local, small town, rural region. The Network will soon be covering our website as well as general and social media with actions people can take, right here, right now.

Act personally, act in your groups, and push for political change.

Lastly, can you say what your hopes are for the future of living in Lanark County — related to the inescapable issues of sustainability?

We all know we live in a special part of the world here in Lanark County and Smiths Falls. We are, on this Earth, in an enormous mess, with quite frankly a not promising future. We are fast heading to a 4-degree Celsius increase, if not greater, and our simple survival requires us to hold to a 1.5-degree increase. We’ve already increased by 1 degree, so we don’t have much wiggle room. Not lying, we are in for very hard times. But, my favourite slogan is “Change… or Be Changed”. I would far prefer to have a say over the changes that are coming, to have some capacity to manage them, because my community is informed and thinking and preparing, rather than to be taken off-guard by calamities. I know we have the breadth and thoughtfulness and ability of people here to do this.


Dear Readers, - theHumm October 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Hi Humm Readers! Did you know that Kris and Rob Riendeau, owners of theHumm, have been behind the scenes championing, promoting and empowering artists in the Ottawa Valley for over two decades? And that Kris’s superstar mom, Sally Hansen, has done nearly 250 incredible in-depth interviews with local artists to share their work on theHumm’s cover each month? Not only that, theHumm has shared almost every event from Burnstown to Westport on their calendar, and is constantly promoting local makers, co......


Ginny Fobert — Don’t Quit; Prove Him Wrong! - theHumm October 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

A disparaging remark by a fellow exhibitor spurred Ginny Fobert to expand her artistic horizons. In 2013, at only the second showing of her beautifully composed photographic prints, another exhibitor — a painter — confronted her angrily and asserted, “This hurts my eyes. I can’t look at it! You don’t belong here — photography isn’t art.” Proving him wrong has been an exciting and rewarding journey.

A glance at the back of her Trading Card (on the back of this page) sho......


Spider Web-inar: Hallowe’en Shorts
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Here’s the scoop, folks. Our area is home to a dizzying array of community theatre organizations, and you can hardly throw a diva fit without hitting a wildly talented actor, costume-maker or stage manager around here. But alas — their talents are in danger of atrophying, and they may be on the verge of driving family members insane with incessant monologuing and singing in the shower. At the same time, those aforementioned organizations are struggling to pay rent and bills as month after month goes by ......


Recreating Creativity: Virtual Vernissages, Outdoor Trunk Shows, Online Art Tours! - theHumm October 2020

By Miss Cellaneous

Caroline Ji: Blue Hour at Sivarulrasa Gallery

From October 14 to November 20, Sivarulrasa Gallery in Almonte is pleased to present a solo exhibition of paintings by artist Caroline Ji. Caroline Ji: Blue Hour can be viewed in person during regular gallery hours, Wednesdays to Sundays from 11am to 5pm.

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Putting Some FUN in Fundraising!
Studio Theatre Perth Presents Nosferatu with an Original Score
- theHumm October 2020

Studio Theatre Perth is one of the town’s treasures, but it’s been a tough year for this community theatre. Pandemic shutdown and restricted openings are taking a huge bite out of the group’s financial resources.

“Our lease comes up for renewal in April, and unless we can raise enough funds before that, we won’t be in a position to renew,” explains Kat Watring-Ellis, chair of the promotions committee.

That would mean the volunteer group would have to walk away from their little gem of a ......


Rockin’ on Russell Street
An interview with Patrick Maloney, Owner of Bowie’s in Smiths Falls
- theHumm October 2020

theHumm is reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to use their gifts and skills in these challenging times. Patrick Malone is the owner of Bowie’s — an amazing live music venue in Smiths Falls. We contacted Patrick to find out how a musician approaches running a music venue, and how those venues are stayin’ alive through COVID.

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Rural Root Presents Bad Auditions… On Camera - theHumm October 2020

Hot on the heels of their successful Zoom production of Couples, Rural Root Theatre is bringing another virtual play to your computer screen!

In Bad Auditions… On Camera by Ian McWethy and Carrie McCrossen, a casting director has one day to find an actor to fill the role of a lawyer in a crime procedural. But what seems like a simple task proves impossible when the pool of actors includes stage thespians who cannot tone it down for the screen, performers completely unable to keep themselves in frame, and an actor who seems to believe this is a toothpaste commercial.


From Anne Shirley to Shirley Deugo-Fulton
Two Kindred Spirits Who Invite Us to Be Thankful in October
- theHumm October 2020

By Sarah Kerr

I’m so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers. I wish I wrote that. But no, some of you literary buffs may know those are the words of Lucy Maude Montgomery and her famous redhead from PEI, Anne of Green Gables. I had the pleasure of re-reading this 1908 classic to my 5-year-old this summer and I have to say, I was enraptured by the beauty of Anne’s simple world, and her vocabulary! Her zest for life and enthusiasm over the wonder of the natural world leaves us so much scope......


Meet Local Climate Leader Sue Brandum - theHumm October 2020

Sue Brandum is a local climate leader who has been instrumental in creating the Climate Network Lanark (full name Climate Action Network of Lanark County, Smiths Falls and Region). In this month’s column, she talks about her background, how she came to be so involved at a local level, and how she and many others are working to improve the future prospects of all of us.

Can you describe your background and how you came to be involved in environmental activism at the community level?

Sue ......


Front Yard Homesteading - theHumm October 2020

By David Hinks

Driving or walking around town, I am struck by the number of households that have chosen to rip up the front lawn and replace it with all manner of vegetables, shrubs and flowers. I like to think of these innovative individuals as a new kind of homesteader, breaking sod to give life to a sterile space that formerly required high inputs of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and water.

I suspect that there are many motives for ripping up the lawn and planting — I know that for some ......


Resources for School-Aged Kids - theHumm October 2020

By Christine Row

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In every local library, parents will find a collection of leveled junior readers. Children can work through the levels at home or try read-along CDs as an alt......


Downtown Smiths Falls — Revitalized! - theHumm October 2020

By John Pigeau

When we think of autumn in Ontario, our thoughts normally turn to the beautiful and often awe-inspiring colours of forest foliage — the golds and reds and scorched orange and browns that mark the changing of the seasons. We think of children in their adorable and sometimes spooky Hallowe’en costumes, too. And we’re always reminded, whether we like it or not, of the cooler weather — and the cooler weather to come.

I submit to you that many of us, almost reflexively when......


End of an Era - theHumm October 2020

By Glenda Jones

It was inevitable. After 27 years of faithful service, my beloved clothesline pole succumbed to woodpeckers and rot, and slowly fell to its demise last Monday, sporting a full line of clean white clothes that floated into the ponds. I knew it was going when the line got slack a couple of weeks ago, and I gingerly gave the old tree a poke. It resonated like hollow wood, and swayed.

When we moved in here I didn’t have a clothesline, and strung ropes hither and yon between the trees. This......


October at the Mississippi Mills Youth Centre - theHumm October 2020

By Sara Fortin

The Mississippi Mills Youth Centre has a variety of free, COVID-safe youth and community focused programs that change monthly. We focus on offering fun, educational and healthy living activities that foster a positive relationship between youth and their community. Below are some of the highlights of our programming for the month of October.

From October 5 to November 9, on Mondays from 3–4pm we are hosting in-person Forever Young! Ukulele programming. Youth and seniors are welcome to regis......


Fall Weekends (and Fulton’s Pancakes!) at Cedar Hill Tree Farm - theHumm October 2020

Cedar Hill Christmas Tree Farm will be open for weekends this fall! On Saturdays and Sundays from September 26 to November 1, they will be open from 10am to 3pm, and Fulton’s will be serving outdoor Pancakes on the Porch!

This is a great opportunity to come stroll around the beautiful farm and enjoy glorious fall colours. Bring your Christmas list and start your Christmas shopping early! You can pick up Fulton’s products and many other local gourmet food items, enjoy Fulton’s maple taffy on snow,......


Youth Centres Coalition Launches Food and Nutrition Security Project - theHumm October 2020

The Youth Centres Coalition of Lanark County is proud to announce the launch of the Food and Nutrition Security Project. This initiative will be facilitated by the Coalition, which includes Carleton Place Youth Centre, Lanark Highlands Youth Centre, Youth Action Kommittee and Mississippi Mills Youth Centre. This project has been made possible by United Way Ontario East through the Emergency Community Support Fund from the Government of Canada.

This project will help meet the unique nutritional needs of youth across Lanark County and strengthen access to hygiene products, personal prot......


Hike for Hospice 2020 Will Look a Little Different - theHumm October 2020

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But this is a different year, and it requires some creative thinking to figure out ways to raise funds and invite our community to be involved with the organization i......


Keeping Men Connected During COVID - theHumm October 2020

Every Monday evening at 7pm the Hackberry Men’s Shed has been holding, and will continue to hold, e-meetings via Zoom.

Zoom meetings are by invitation, and so far notice of these meetings has gone only to current members. But if there are men in the communities of Carleton Place and Mississippi Mills who would like to find out about Men’s Sheds and meet (virtually) some of the guys, they should send an email to and include their name and email and ask to be invited to the meeting. T......


The Brickbox
A Young Adult Novel by WL (Bud) Gorman
- theHumm October 2020

Jude Zander is a shy, inexperienced small-town girl who has disguised herself as a boy and is on the run from an abusive father. She desperately wants to find her mother who left her without warning.

Jude has never been in a city before. Soon after she arrives she is confronted by hookers, bikers and street punks... and she avoids the police because of an incident with her father. Her only contact in the city is an aunt who wants nothing to do with her. Alone and without survival skills, Jude......


An Uncharacteristically Short Note from Weetabix - theHumm October 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Travelling on his stomach has been made difficult by Covid-19. For obvious reasons it is hard to write about food and food establishments in these uncertain times. The muse is restless and demands attention; the Editor is tolerant and so untethered but not unhinged Weetabix returns to these pages.

A recent visit to Almonte was made by car and in stealth mode –beautiful day, nice scenery and lots of happy people out enjoying the obvious amenities. What could be wrong with any of that? Well, one hopes not much. But there in plain sight is the ‘elephant in the room’. We are, unfortunately, ......