reThink Green brings together ideas, partners, and resources to build a more sustainable community.
“We see ourselves as community builders,” says Rebecca Danard, executive director of reThink Green. “The next 10 years are crucial in addressing environmental challenges, particularly climate change. We are working towards creative and collaborative solutions that will involve our whole community.”
In 2006, local environmental groups worked together to co-ordinate the first Earth Festival. This success led to the creation of the Greater Sudbury Environmental Network, which was re-branded as reThink Green in 2010. Today, reThink Green is a registered not-for-profit organization with a board of directors and a staff of seven who operate out of an office in downtown Sudbury.
The Greater Sudbury Earth Festival, started as a small indoor festival, has become a large outdoor event that attracts a wide audience to connect with local vendors, and offers a unique opportunity to learn more about Sudbury’s environmental initiatives. It is one of the largest environmentally-focused events in Northern Ontario.
reThink Green’s Shared Platform provides support to community-lead grassroots projects such as Sudbury Shared Harvest, Clean Air Sudbury, Plastic-Free Greater Sudbury and SUN Co-op.
“reThink Green is at the center of Sudbury’s environmental network, and works closely to support the growth and success of our community’s many grassroots green groups. We enable them as they work to make a lasting positive impact on the Greater Sudbury community,” says board chair Kyle McCall.
In 2016, reThink Green was nationally recognized by Green Communities Canada for their innovation and 10 years of organizational resilience.
With support from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, reThink Green launched Green Economy North in the spring of 2015. Green Economy North is a program to support a network of local businesses and organizations who are setting and achieving sustainability targets. The program has attracted more than 40 members across northeastern Ontario including small businesses, churches, mining multinationals, utility companies, post-secondary institutions and municipalities.
In 2017, reThink Green received funding from FedNor to make the program bilingual, enabling sustainability coaching in both official languages. Green Economy North convenes, empowers, and celebrates businesses as they set and achieve their sustainability goals. Business champions are applauded for making a difference to reducing their carbon footprint at an annual Evening of Recognition – the third annual event will take place April 25 2019.
The Wahnapitae First Nation is a member of the Green Economy North program. Former Chief Ted Roque says the program has allowed his community to increase capacity in the energy sector, lower energy consumption, set tangible sustainability targets, and be a part of a larger network of like-minded individuals. Green Economy North members such as Wahnapitae First Nation have access to technical workshops, networking events, and one-on-one coaching to reach their targets.
reThink Green’s newest program, Smart Green Communities, supports smaller municipalities with limited resources to generate detailed energy and emissions inventories, conduct building energy audits, facilitate community consultations, and prepare funding applications for grants and incentive programs. Program participants include Central Manitoulin, Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, Billings Township, Gore Bay, Blind River, Town of Spanish, Township of Sables-Spanish Rivers and the Municipality of French River. Recent funding from the Independent Electricity Systems Operator and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities have allowed the program to develop a multi-year municipal staff training and collaborative energy planning program.
Since 2006, reThink Green’s “efforts demonstrate the leadership and collaborative spirit, tenacity and hard work needed to be true community builders,” says France Gelinas, MPP for Nickel Belt.