Growing up, my younger brothers, sister and I had lots of up-close and get-outside-get-dirty encounters with nature. The first house we all lived in backed onto a forest in Camlachie, Ontario, where we would play for hours adventuring through the little paths, trickling streams, fallen trees, wild flowers, crawly creatures, rain, snow, and sunshine, sometimes pretending we were animals or woodland fairies. When I was in about third grade, there came plans for a new subdivision in the area— my mom fought to protect the forest and helped save part of it from bulldozing.
When I heard about Robin Hoodies, I was excited to see a company making such a serious commitment to positive environmental action and impact. 50% of profits dedicated to rewilding; something so desperately needed if we hope to restore and preserve even some of the wildlife that has been destroyed or displaced (or is under imminent threat of that same fate). Robin Hoodies offers an important answer to a question that I kept asking myself: how can we do better to respect and protect the incredible and precious nature that surrounds us?
I’ve been a teacher for about 8 years. One major draw of a career in education for me was the opportunity to work with future generations and hopefully get them thinking critically about how they can have a positive impact in the world and how they can take action for social and environmental justice (which are so very intertwined). Following university, beginning teaching, and then upon returning home to South Western Ontario and living here again, taking it all in, it smacked me in the face how much had changed in my hometown since I had been gone, how much green space had been lost, or former wetland turned farmland, now turned subdivision, or commercialized.
Thankfully, I quickly learned that I was not alone in my despair and frustration at what was (is and has been for years) happening with the local environment off the shores of Lake Huron and the St.Clair River. Following a presentation I saw at our local library on the topic of plastic in the Great Lakes, a former teacher of mine and lifelong environmentalist introduced me to a multigenerational group of activists, advocates, professionals in many fields from law to engineering, to science, to the arts and education. With this group and alongside a small but passionate team of my high school students in the spring of 2019 we lobbied City Hall to declare a Climate Emergency. Sounds like a no brainer, for sure-but when Council voted in favour of the declaration I was so happy (and relieved). Sarnia, Chemical Valley, had formally acknowledged the Global Climate Emergency.
So, a small step in the right direction, but the question then became: what next? Schoolyard and community clean ups are a common occurrence, we’ve now got this awesome zero-waste grocery and lifestyle shop Great Lakes Refill Co and other local groups like Climate Action Sarnia-Lambton and @SarniaSustainability hosting educational outreach and great events like the (pre-pandemic) Sustainable Speakeasy, a virtual speaker series on environmental topics, native plant sales, and spring and fall tree planting events. I am proud to be part of a community that is in some ways so engaged in environmental action. But I still have a lot of questions and concerns.
There seems to always, ALWAYS be something in the works that threatens native wildlife and green spaces whether that be the plans to pave over and put a road alongside a kilometre long section of a beloved local nature trail, or developers taking over green spaces to commercialize or build subdivisions and luxury homes. When these kinds of decisions are made, despite common knowledge and common sense about the state of the global climate and important local sustainability issues, it means we must find other ways to enact the change we need to see in the world and our communities. Instead of trying to convince lawmakers and decision makers why it's more than“worth it” (spoiler alert: it IS) to rewild a piece of land or protect a forest...Robin Hoodies takes a different approach and just does it... buys land and gives it back to the wild. And I LOVE that. We need this happening. Everywhere. And that’s why I’m so excited to join the Robin Hoodies team as their first Ontario-based branch partner.
As biologist Rachel Carson wrote in A Silent Spring (1962) “We stand now where two roads diverge. But unlike the roads in Robert Frost's familiar poem, they are not equally fair. The road we have long been traveling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at its end lies disaster. The other fork of the road — the one less traveled by — offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of the earth.”
Here we are nearly 60 years later, Carson’s words hold true, and Robin Hoodies is taking that path less traveled, the path in the right direction. So cozy up in one of our hoodies, lace up your hiking boots, and join us down this path of hope.