Green hero: Christina Sharma
- April 22, 2010 9:48 AM |
- By Your Voice
Last week we asked the CBC News community to send in nominations for an Earth Day green hero.
Pamela Gough nominated Christina Sharma, founder of Project CHIRP! (Creating Habitat In Residential areas and Parkland):
"She is an outstanding example of the 'power of one': the concept that each person can make a difference for the environment through individual action. Christina Sharma has made the GTA a greener and more hospitable place
for songbirds to survive."
Profile: Sharma's vision is to prevent the future depletion of migrating birds and wildlife populations by changing the actions of individuals in Toronto. She has been a volunteer educator with the Canadian Wildlife Federation since 2001. In 2002, she received the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for her public education on how residential properties can support wildlife conservation. She founded Project CHIRP! in 2007, and uses the design of her property as a teaching tool for songbird conservation. Through her outreach and educational activities, as well as her personal example, she has inspired thousands of citizens to take individual actions by planting natural gardens, buying shade-grown coffee, filling bird feeders and creating ponds with catchment water.
In celebration of Earth Day, we sat down with her to learn more about what makes her a green hero.
What does Earth Day mean to you?
One word: EVERY DAY. Earth day is important in that it may be the first day or first time that someone does something to help the planet! But it's something we should try and live every day.
How would you describe yourself?
Passionate, an optimist, inquisitive, self-motivated, assertive, empowered by roadblocks - they don't seem to phase me - and overall happy and content with what I do.
How did you first become interested in migratory birds?
A friend helped me install a native garden and downspout pond. My original No. 1 goal was to attract frogs with the pond. Beautiful birds were showing up in my yard, due to the trees and shrubs that provide berries, seeds and shelter - and the downspout pond. I started asking questions, doing Google searches and discovered that many were migratory song birds. I learned first-hand about migration and Toronto being a major migration route! I had no former background in songbirds other than the native birds I saw at my bird feeder.
Do you have a favourite bird species?
Two, if I may. The goldfinch: with its sweet, plaintive song that's very endearing. They keep me company through winter. And the chickadee: industrious and very determined. It's a fighter, a cheeky little thing. That's what I feel I am. He's closest to my heart for his character.
What's the most interesting part of your job?
Definitely the people I meet. What makes them tick? What are their concerns and challenges? How do I motivate people to believe in the power of "action" vs. "inaction."
Seeing how very alike we all really are, and how we are all trying to find the solutions.
What have you accomplished that you are most proud of?
Getting over my fear of the unknown, and not being afraid to take risks. I didn't know if Project CHIRP! was going to work, or what the response would be. I felt concerned enough that I had to so something. For me, my biggest accomplishment was having the guts to do it. Believing in myself and that what I am doing is worthwhile. I'm continuing to take risks. There are more things I want to do.
How can people help birds in their region?
Through habitat creation: planting shrubs and trees. They produce berries and seeds. You have a food source and you've added shelter. Also include a year-round water source, like a heated birdbath.
What changes have you made in your own life to reduce your carbon footprint?
The list is long:
• I work from home.
• A Prius was our first and only car, bought in 2001.
• We use green electricity from Bullfrog Power.
• Installed first-edition low-flush toilets.
• Use energy-saving light bulb
• Rain barrels.
• Environmentally friendly cool metal roof.
• A lot of native trees, shrubs, and a vegetable garden that focuses on local/native plants.
• A soaker/drip hoses, programmed dishwasher.
• Installed bamboo flooring, redirected fireplace heat, and keep our heat set to 62 degrees [F] all winter!
• We don't cut the lawn or use a push mower (eco-grass), or use pesticide
• We use green cleaning and laundry products, as much organic food as possible and we drink only Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center coffee.
• Most importantly, I'm a very light consumer. I believe: instead of treating yourself to stuff, try treating yourself to a service.
If you were to tell our people the single most important environmental action they should take, what would it be?
Simply TO ACT! It's different for everyone. What empowers you, or pulls at you? If something makes you angry or worried, take some action. See what makes you tick and do something about it!
Project CHIRP! is a songbird conservation initiative in which the survival needs of song birds are met through the creation of Canadian Wildlife Federation-certified songbird habitats on residential properties.
To learn more about Project CHIRP!, please visit www.projectchirp.com.
Do you know a green hero in your community?
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