Editor’s letter: Fall 2018

What a summer. It has all of the climatologists out there saying, “I told you so!” While we all loved soaking up the extra sunshine that we received this year it is another telltale sign that our climate is changing and, just as the scientists have been predicting, we can likely get used to more frequent hot, drier summers and warmer, wet winters. Perhaps not a bad thing if you desire a more tepid climate, however, the reasons for these changes and the other implications of the rise of the mercury will have tremendous impact on the way we live in the future, especially in our coastal communities. But just as our climate is changing we can see all around us a shift in the way many individuals are now thinking about their own carbon footprint. The choices that we make everyday, no matter how small, can accrue with other like-minded actions and have a global impact of their own. This issue brings you two stories of inspiration from families who, through their individual approaches to conscious living, are being mindful of their relationship with the environment. They are proof that sustainable ecosystems are attainable and not an unachievable goal for the decisions we make in planning and design.

In our cover story we are introduced to the concepts of permaculture through the eyes of Raina MacDonald and Reuben Irons. Their landscape is their home and they are creating connections with all aspects of their local environment with extensions of their own ideals to have what they need to be as self-sustainable as they can be as they live, work and play in their own backyard. You will also find, as you flip through our pages, an update on the timber-frame build that we have been following for the past year. Shauna Heighton and Andrew Parsons have blurred the lines between some very old ideas of building with some very new technologies to create a new home that they hope will have very little impact on the earth.

As a province, Nova Scotia has been addressing the implications of climate change and understands that our energy providers and industries need to change before it is too late. We are not the leaders of the pack but we are getting there. By 2030 electricity generation in Nova Scotia will be provided by a significant increase in renewable energy sources and the monitoring and verification of industry green house gas emissions will put pressure on our industries to perform. While Canada attempts to make the targets set out in the Paris Agreements and reduce green house gas emissions by an additional 30 percent by 2030 there are many things that we can do as individuals to provide momentum for the shift away from carbon-based energy towards green sources. I am optimistic that regulations and enforcement will get us where we need to be. I believe there are good people with the right intentions, however, I also believe that green technologies need to become more affordable. Right now it can cost beyond 20 percent more to build a passive or net zero house (a house that produces as much energy as it uses). Many Canadians cannot afford the upfront extra costs even though the return of investment will provide eventual payback. We are still a decade or more before the more stringent building codes set out in the Paris Agreements are fully in place. In the meantime, if we are going to all work together for low carbon communities we need our mortgage providers to be kinder to individuals who want to build green. There is so much to learn and to talk about with these issues and it is my intention to keep the ecology of our communities a priority in future issues of At Home. I hope you enjoy all of the aspects of our fall issue. Maybe you will be inspired to take a road trip to Amherst or Arisaig (stories from both ends of our shore), make some jelly, roast some beets, read a new book or just turn out the lights and when the evenings get chilly, instead of turning up the thermostat, wrap up in your favourite cozy blanket. Wishing you a happy fall. I hope you take time to enjoy another beautiful season on our North Shore.   

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Crystal Murray
Crystal likes to think about her forays in journalism like interval training. " I have had a wonderful freedom to be home when I needed to be and work when the spirit moved me. In the spaces between I have learned things about myself, my family and my community that I hope will find a rightful place in the new and refreshed pages of At Home on the North Shore. "