November 2018 – People’s Vision for Herongate

November 2018 – People’s Vision for Herongate

JustChange is thrilled to announce the winner of its November 2018 grant: People’s Vision for Herongate

Herongate is one of Ottawa’s most diverse, yet lowest income neighbourhoods. Located in south Ottawa, between the Heron-Walkley junction to the east, Albion to the west, and Heatherington to the south, the area’s rate of core housing need (a metric of affordability, suitability and adequacy) is over triple the city’s average.

Almost 70% of the land in Herongate is in the hands of private, for-profit entities, with one landlord in particular single-handedly controlling 23% of all the land in the neighbourhood. The only non-profit land is pockets of social housing, and residents have very little control over their urban future. Speculation has turned the land in Herongate into a valuable commodity, and tenants are feeling the burn. With massive displacement currently underway, it has become clear that the for-profit monopolization of Herongate has not benefitted the residents—it has only served to deepen the pockets of corporations.

Tenants are being evicted en masse and rents are increasing as demand for housing increases, a direct result of the large-scale changes foisted on Herongate. The critical issue is whether any plan to redevelop the neighbourhood will only exacerbate the problems and result in further displacement of residents.

People’s Vision for Herongate aims to tap into residents’ local knowledge and lifetimes of lived experience to create a permanent platform for a truly local vision.

This group of committed local residents told JustChange they will aim to develop an intensive program of participatory planning, building off the momentum of the City of Ottawa’s Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhoods (BBRN) consultation process from summer 2017. They will work with urbz, an experimental urban collective based in Geneva with over 10 years of international participatory planning experience. This will be the first project of its kind in Ottawa.

One concept for realizing their project, which they hope to make a reality, is to establish a semi-permanent presence in the neighbourhood near a large vacant lot. Local residents would be able to engage with each other during regularly-held hours. Workshops will be held to encourage end-user control and participation in the planning, design and construction phases of development. In the end, the vision is for the development of a master plan for the site and to lay the foundation for Ottawa’s first urban land trust.

With the JustChange grant, People’s Vision for Herongate will use the funding to get off the ground. Become a non-profit, financing the community office, engaging urbz, and developing printed materials. This is the first grant they have received, so while it will not complete their journey, we do hope it will set them on the right path.

Please join us in support of People’s Vision for Herongate at JustDrinks from 5-7pm on November 7th at Happy Goat on Laurel.

October 2018 – Ecology Ottawa and Green Infrastructure

October 2018 – Ecology Ottawa and Green Infrastructure

JustChange is pleased to award their latest grant to Ecology Ottawa for their Green Infrastructure Campaign.  Ecology Ottawa is a not-for-profit, grassroots and volunteer-driven organization who works to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada.

Ottawa has seen its share of extreme weather, most notably the tornadoes of this past and the floods of 2017. 2017 was Ottawa’s wettest year on record! As rainwater falls and runs off of impermeable surfaces such as roadways, buildings and sewage systems, it introduces more pollutants to Ottawa’s creeks, streams, lakes and rivers. Ecology Ottawa will bring stormwater management to each and every home in flood-affected communities using a door-to door campaign. Each one of us can reduce wet weather impacts, enhances cities’ resilience to climate change, and improve air quality, just through a couple small changes.

Green infrastructure, or the use of living and built systems to slow down, soak up and filter rainwater where it falls, is an innovative solution increasing adopted by cities around the world to Green infrastructure includes everything from trees and urban forests to rain barrels, downspout redirects, and raingardens.

Ecology Ottawa will target communities affected by flooding in Ottawa, engage residents in one-on-one conversations at the door about green infrastructure, and give out downspout extensions to residents who are interested. The nature of green infrastructure projects means they require little maintenance and upkeep.

JustChange loved the participatory approach to changemaking in this application. It gets everyone involved and looking at the places they live in a new way. It brings something as huge as climate change down to a small can-do modification with a large impact.


Join us for #JustDrinks as we celebrate Ecology Ottawa’s participatory placemaking climate change project on October 17 at Bar Robo, 5-7 pm.

August  2018 – Hall of Power

August 2018 – Hall of Power

A group of high school seniors are challenging the stigma associated with hip hop in the Ottawa arts scene and in the general community.

In their upcoming photography exhibition, titled Hall of Power, John McCrae Secondary School’s senior photography class utilizes portraiture to shed light on the vital role that hiphop plays in giving a voice to people of all ages and genders.

The portraits highlight local hip hop artists who embody the students’ message that hiphop can be a powerful platform for discourse around mental health and female empowerment. In addition to showcasing these artists, the show hopes to bridge the gap between the local arts scene and hip hop scene, and speaks out against the disparity in funding and attention generally given to hip hop artists.

The students hope to display the show at multiple Ottawa venues in the coming months, including The Origin Arts & Community Centre, The Flavour Factory, John McCrae Secondary School, as well as at various arts festivals. They hope to leverage this platform to inspire and educate their peers about the opportunities available for young artists in the community, and to highlight the importance of the arts as a powerful avenue for social change.

To support this group of students and artists, please join us for #JustDrinks at 57 Lyndale Ave on August 21st at 6:00pm!

May 2018 – The Birth Talks Presents!

May 2018 – The Birth Talks Presents!

Around the world, about four babies are born each second of every day. The circumstances under which they are born vary drastically. Each birth story is different and unique – and does not always follow the strictly joyful narrative we tend to hear. For too long, these complex stories have remained untold, especially for women and girls from marginalized communities.

In an exciting new initiative, birth advocate and midwife-in-training Mai Ngo is teaming up with Naomi Tessler of Branch Out Theatre to give us The Birth Talk Presents!, an innovative and transformative community project that will work with women from diverse backgrounds to help them write, perform, and heal through their stories, poems, and monologues. Building on the success of Mai’s Femmy Award-winning podcast, The Birth Talks, the six-week theatre program will conclude with a public performance to share stories from women of all backgrounds, through an intersectional feminist lens that considers how race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, age and ability affect a woman’s experience of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. The performances will go beyond mainstream narratives of pregnancy to discuss loss, access, privilege, joy, pain, life transition, mourning, and – most of all – healing and resilience.

You can learn more about their project and support their crowdfunding campaign at this link

Join us to celebrate Mai, Naomi, and the women of The Birth Talks Presents! at Just Drinks on May 10 at the Happy Goat Coffee Co. on Elgin St. at 6pm!!

March 2018 – Timsle Inc.

March 2018 – Timsle Inc.

A few years ago, second-year university student Quayce Thomas found himself confused, unhealthy, and spiraling into depression and substance abuse. He was soon diagnosed with bipolar disorder following an episode of acute psychosis. Quayce was able to tackle the challenges of the condition with the help of a well-resourced and knowledgeable support network, learning together about the importance of good health, developing good routines, and being well. Quayce’s case is not unique; between the ages of 18-24, students have a heightened risk of developing a mental health condition.

Quayce’s own experience has fueled his drive to continue to learn more about mental health and the potential that cultivating a healthy lifestyle holds. Enter Timsle, the social health platform he co-founded, which combines an investment model and a social accountability network to focus on helping people build healthier, more active lifestyles and make small positive changes to their routines. The innovative online platform allows friends and family to choose categories through which they can support their loved one living with a mental health disorder. Timsle takes the focus off the struggle and frames it as a challenge for health improvement between those living with mental illness and those who care about their success.

To celebrate Quayce and learn more about Timsle, join us at JustDrinks on Tuesday, March 13, 6:30pm-8pm at Pressed Cafe on Gladstone.

January 2018 – Algonquin Aki Media Project

The Algonquin Aki Media Project aims to support the creation of media by and/or for Algonquin people [*Aki is the Algonquin/Anishinaabemowin word for land or territory]. The main focus of this project will be to raise money in order to financially support individual proposals for written or multimedia stories, and also connect successful applicants with mentorship – from Algonquin people with cultural knowledge and connections, and/or from media makers (Algonquin or otherwise) with know-how and skill-based expertise.

This project’s mission is to support the representation of Algonquin people and issues in the media, and to build community and connections around that. This includes supporting Algonquin media makers, educating and engaging non-Algonquin media makers, and providing opportunities in and beyond the media to center Algonquin interests within the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin (‘eastern Ontario’ and ‘western Quebec’). The media this project can facilitate will nourish greater overall comprehension of – and action on – what is important to Algonquin individuals and communities and the Algonquin Nation as a whole.

Come learn more about this fascinating and important project at the next JustDrinks on Wednesday, January 17, 6pm – 8pm at Impact Hub Ottawa