January 2019 – Foodlocker

January 2019 – Foodlocker

For so many of us, the beginning of a new year represents a fresh start; an opportunity to set new personal goals, to check out sweet events in the city, and to try different experiences. For certain Ottawa residents, however, facing this brand new year is daunting as it potentially presents another year of living in food insecurity.

For many youth, this issue is particularly prevalent. With youth representing a third of Ottawa Food Bank users, many high school students have no reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Food insecurity can have a major impact on a student’s ability to participate and perform in school, and the unfortunate stigma associated with accessing services is a consistent barrier.

Enter FoodLocker, an initiative spearheaded by a group of Ottawa high school students which uses technology to link food insecure students with healthy and free food. A unique program combining food bank services with technology, FoodLocker is an app which allows students to access food in an easy and confidential manner. Through the app, students can select and order a food box that best suits their needs. These food boxes, curated based on Health Canada’s food guidelines, contain different meal options along with sanitary products. Once a box is selected by the user, a volunteer will deliver it to an empty locker somewhere in the high school for the student to pick up.

FoodLocker is highly innovative: it operates within one’s school to remain convenient, caters to the individual’s needs, and is completely confidential so all youth feel comfortable using the program. Making food available in schools ensures that all students can gain access to the fuel they need to get through the school day, and without having to take too much time out of their day. JustChange is pleased to support such an exciting initiative!

Please join us to celebrate FoodLocker at JustDrinks on January 13, 2019 at the Bridgehead Roastery in Ottawa from 2-4pm.

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.