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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

International Walk To School Month

International Walk to School Month gives children, parents, school teachers and community leaders an opportunity to be part of a global event to celebrate the benefits of walking. In 2009, millions of walkers from around the globe walked to school together hoping to create communities that are safe places to walk.

Last year a record 40 countries participated in the 2009 International Walk to School events, and new countries are joining this international event all the time. An international event can create a higher level of awareness of the issues within the community that surrounds the journey to and from school.

For many parents around the world, the car has become the main means of transporting children to and from school. The reasons of convenience, work commitments, safety concerns and general changes in lifestyle in a growing economy are just some of the factors influencing their choice of the car as a mode of travel to and from school for their children. Of course, in rural areas the bus is used to transport students to school; however, once the student is at the school, and in a safe territory they should be encouraged to exercise by short walks on school property or near-by.

The proportion of journeys to school made by car has increased considerably in the last several years, with the effect being a gradual decline in the numbers of children walking to and from school on a regular basis. This shows the lack of daily exercise for our students that need to exercise in order to stay healthy. Remember the old stories from your parents or grand-parents that HAD to walk to school up-hill both ways in the snow?

The general themes that are promoted during the International Walk to School month (IWALK) include: increasing daily physical activity, improving safety, enhancing the environment, developing community cohesion, promoting social interaction and reducing traffic congestion, pollution and speed near schools.

For students who cannot walk to school, encourage recess or lunch walking clubs and have students track the number of kilometers they walk. Challenge the entire school to walk across Canada or the world by walking to school/at school and keeping track of their kilometers.

To learn more about this international event visit T-shirts and other “walk to school” gifts can viewed at:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Take Me Outside Week

Take Me Outside Week is organized through Recreation Nova Scotia in partnership with Sense of Wonder Environmental Education and the Sharing Nature Foundation. From September 20th to September 26th, this event, in Nova Scotia, supports a back to nature movement for our children and youth.

This movement has two goals: first to encourage nature and environmental programs and activities among organizations, schools, individuals and families; and second to expose our youth to nature experiences and activities. People and organizations that are taking part can register at There you can list what you plan to do in regards to exposing youth to nature. Some examples include going for a bike ride, a hike, gardening, etc.

Another example could be the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Every September, Canadians from across the county head for the shore to help clean up litter and make a positive impact on their communities along the shore. This may be a fun way for everyone to be involved and get outside. This cleanup activity is slated from September 18th to September 26th. This is a hands-on conservation activity that can give a person an environmental one of a kind learning experience. If you would like to be involved in this outdoor activity you can register your cleanup site at

Another event that is happening this weekend is the Cumberland County River Enhancement Association Second Annual Fundraising Dinner and Auction being held September 25, 2010 beginning at 6:00 p.m. The location of this significant event is the Amherst Fire Hall. This fund- raiser will feature both live and silent auctions and raffles for all outdoor enthusiasts. The funds raised will go to the continuing operation of the Williamsdale Hatchery.

The CCRE is a local group created to work with the community to foster the conservation and restoration of our freshwater ecosystems in Cumberland County. For more information on this group and the fundraising dinner you can go to

With all of these great outdoor activities to choose from it should be easy to get our young people outside, away from their computers, and have fun while learning in the great outdoors at the same time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sussex Hot Air Balloon Fiesta

This past weekend was the hot air balloon fiesta in Sussex, New Brunswick. Since the weather on Saturday was not great I made the trip early (5:30 a.m.) to Sussex on Sunday to see the balloons launch at 7:00 in the morning. It was a long drive at such an early hour but well worth it. According to a brochure that I read the best time to fly is just after sunrise when the winds are at their calmest and the air is more stable.

A hot air balloon acts like a big bubble, and attached to the bubble is a basket, which is made of wicker and woven by hand, for the pilot and passengers, a heat source, and fuel. When the balloon first arrives it is folded into the basket along with all of the equipment needed. Once it is laid out for inflation it may be as long as 60 feet and nearly as wide. Air is then forced into the balloon and then the pilot will ignite the heat source, which is typically a propane burner, and aim the flame directly inside the balloon. The air inside the balloon needs to be heated to temperatures of 100 to 250 degrees greater than the air outside. As the air begins to heat, the balloon will begin to rise to a position above the basket and then it is ready to go!

The balloon itself is made of reinforced fabric called rip-stop nylon. This material is very lightweight, but very strong. The fabric is then coated on the inside to prevent leaks. Once in the air the pilot will go wherever the wind takes him, but by selecting different altitudes and wind currents a trained pilot can fly in any direction they want to go. Since the balloon has no forward propulsion systems, its speed is determined by the speed of the wind.

When it is time to land there is a vent at the top of the balloon that is opened to dump some of the air and the pilot light on the propane burner is blown out. As the air inside the balloon begins to cool the whole kit and caboodle will begin to descend to the ground.

Hot air balloons work on one of two principles. The "hot air rises" principle is at work in balloons with propane tanks aboard; the propane heats the air, the air rises, the balloon floats. In other words it is truly full of hot air.

The burners in an hot air balloon generally run on propane. The propane is kept in pressurized tanks on the floor of the basket. It carries 30 to 40 gallons of liquid propane, which passes to the burner throught flexible hoses. When the valve opens and the pilot light is lit the flame may shoot out as much as 10 to 20 feet and make a loud “whoosh” sound.

Propane is a relatively clean fuel, but the balloons require quite a bit of it in flight – an amount comparible to running your gas grill for three days. The propane does emit some pollutants, including carbon dioxide. However, the amount of pollutants emitted by balloon burners is small compared to cars, motor boats, and SUVs. In the big picture hot air balloons have a very small effect on the environment.

Propane is a petroleum by-product that is usually extracted when making other oil products. In this way you could argue that it's making the most of an energy source. It also burns much cleaner than some other types of fuel and hot air balloons are a relatively efficient mode of transportation as it can go pretty far on very little fuel.

Lisa Emery, B.A. is currently living in Amherst. Lisa invites comments to her columns. You can contact Lisa at:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hurricane Earl

During the past few years, Canada has had to deal with five or six hurricanes a year. There is really no way to accurately predict how many storms in the Atlantic will affect Canada. The predictions for this year say that we will have an active hurricane season with up to five large storms in the Atlantic Canada region between August and November. So the question is – Was Earl the last because it was the fifth named storm or the first of five large storms to sweep into our region?

A hurricane is formed by a group of thunderstorms that circle around each other and form a vortex. This group of thunderstorms continues to spin in tight formation until, in the centre, the eye is formed. The meteorologist watch the eye to see when and where the hurricane will make land fall since this is where the hurricane will pack the greatest punch. Earl landed on the South Shore near and definitely affected the areas around Halifax and Lunenburg.

The winds were very strong in the Amherst Shore area causing the trees to bend from the force. At around 2:00 there was absolute silence. The wind had completely stopped blowing and there was the eerie feeling of “what just happened”?

The resident’s nearby began to cleanup any downed branches from trees and inspect their properties for damage. By this time the power was out. At 3:00p.m. I received a phone call from my cousin in Ottawa that was watching CNN and the announcers described where Earl was and where he was heading. The eye or the centre of the storm was directly over – Amherst Shore. They stated that as soon as the eye area had passed we would be in for round two of the winds. This did happen but thankfully Earl had blown himself out over land and the winds were not as strong as they were during the first part of his windy event.

Imagine – Amherst Shore was being described on CNN and we all missed it because the power was out and the weather channel who was supposed to keep our local stations up-to-date was busy describing the area around Halifax and not letting us know what was happening in other parts of the province. Oh, the shame of it - caught without the story by CNN.

The Gulf Stream becomes an important factor when predicting Hurricanes in our region. Scientists know that the ocean has been warming up on a yearly basis due to more heat in the atmosphere. This has an effect on all storms from thunderstorms to hurricanes.

In Nova Scotia, we can expect warmer average temperatures, higher sea levels, more extreme rainfalls and storm flooding, and more-frequent and extreme storms. Preparing for these changes poses particular challenges in Nova Scotia because most of our population lives along the coastline.

Hurricane Earl may have been a bit of a dud in some areas of the province including the Town of Amherst but continued vigilance of these storms and preparations will become very important for everyone.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Eat Atlantic Challenge

On September 2, 2010, the Eat Atlantic Challenge is trying to encourage Atlantic Canadians to eat only food produced in Atlantic Canada for one entire day. The goal is to promote the economic, health and environmental benefits of eating food that is produced right here in Atlantic Canada.

By Eating Atlantic you are supporting farmers from all over Atlantic Canada who make a living producing food for our tables and in turn retain money and jobs in our communities. There are family farms in the area that have been growing food and sharing food in Atlantic Canada for generations.

A few examples of this would be McCains French fries in New Brunswick or Cavendish from PEI, Ganong’s chocolates from Saint John, Blueberries and Maple products from Oxford Frozen Foods, wines from Jost in Malagash and the list goes on.

Atlantic products can easily be found in each of the four food groups: fruits and vegetables; meats, seafood and other protein products, dairy products; and grains. Do you love fresh fish and seafood? Some of the local seafood that can be purchased include: Lobster, blue mussels, oysters, trout and salmon.

Eating nutritious and balanced meals is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At this time of the year it is easy to find the necessary fruit and vegetables for a healthy lifestyle. By eating home-grown food we will know more about how are food is grown and have a say as consumers about how and where our food is grown.

The Eat Atlantic Food Challenge has been set up by the Atlantic Co-op Food Stores. Those who pledge to take part in the challenge automatically qualify for a chance to win a gift basket of Atlantic foods, valued at $250, donated by the region’s Co-op food stores.

So challenge your friends to eat Atlantic or you can also make the pledge yourself by going to

The Emeryvine Retail Shop - A Full Assortment of Clothing, Gifts, and Accessories with photos and art designs. There are also Environmentally Friendly Products available.