Alberta Ecotrust is excited to announce our third annual Environmental Gathering: Create the Future.

There is a need for a fundamental shift in the way Alberta’s citizens and organizations think about environmental issues and solutions. Rather than simply fight against what we as a society don’t want, we have to design and build what we collectively do want – a just, prosperous and sustainable future. An Alberta that celebrates the critical value of healthy communities and ecosystems, social and technical innovation, and includes all people, organizations and governments embracing truly sustainable practices for decades to come!

Has Alberta reached a tipping point on climate change and its impact on water and land use? We think so. At previous Gatherings, we focused on changing the climate of how Albertans work together on the environment, and breaking through barriers that hold us back. This year, there will be less traditional speaking spaces (such as panels), and more time spent on idea cultivation, effective collaboration, and re-imagination.

You should be there! Experience another exciting and strategic opportunity to connect with others who share your passion for the environment. Collectively, we will develop and deepen the skills required to change our course to sustainability and create the future we want, and more importantly – need.

Next March, join us to create Alberta’s environmental future through a solutions-focused and activity-based Gathering.


Date: March 8-10, 2018

Location: Mount Royal University, Calgary, Alberta


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We are really excited about this year’s program and hope you are ready for something a little different! We are still fine-tuning the program so the details, speakers, and presentations will posted here as they become available. What we can tell you is that design thinking, idea creation, experimentation and innovation are at the heart of this year’s Gathering and people will leave with new tools, skills and a big challenge to create their future. Stay tuned!

Thursday Evening – Networking Reception at Studio Bell

Location: The King Edward Hotel at Studio Bell, Calgary (location)

5:00 pm – 8:00 pm   Networking, Light Snacks and Cash Bar

The Environmental Gathering will begin with a networking reception at the renowned and restored King Eddy Hotel in downtown Calgary on the evening of Thursday, March 8th. Open to both invited guests and Gathering attendees, join your friends, colleagues and other environmental champions from across the province to connect, mingle, eat and drink in anticipation of two great days to follow!

Friday Morning – Big Ideas for Alberta’s Future

Location: Ross Glen Hall in the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning, Mount Royal, Calgary (location)

After an inspirational opening, participants will embark on an ‘impact journey’ aimed at accelerating a path to the future. You will meet Dr. Alex Bruton who, with colleague Jeff Couillard, will guide this journey over the course of the Gathering. The morning will feature a selection of organizations or individuals with inspiring and solutions-focused ideas having a clear emphasis on paving that positive path forward.

These big ideas for Alberta’s future will be delivered in a fast-paced, entertaining PechaKucha style format followed by longer conversations in small groups with the presenters to explore the ideas and approaches.

Confirmed Presentations:

Ingredients for a Zero-Waste, People-Driven Food Economy

Aman Adatia, Fare Community

Presentation Summary
Fare Community is a transformative hospitality group that takes a multi-faceted approach to creating an equitable and inclusive food culture that is viable, people-driven, and zero-waste. Our goal is to demonstrate how the hospitality industry can be a key stakeholder in poverty reduction (i.e. meaningful, living wage employment for citizens with barriers) and climate change (i.e. utilizing food surplus to create value add food products).

Transition to a Circular Economy

Christina Seidel, Recycling Council of Alberta

Presentation Summary
The circular economy is an alternative to the predominant linear “take-make-dispose” economy of production and consumption – a system that relies on the availability of large quantities of relatively cheap materials and inputs in the production of goods and services, and that produces significant volumes of waste. Regenerative by design, the circular economy keeps products, components and materials at their highest utility and value, at all times.

Carbon Pasture: The Cool Solution to Hot Planet

Sean Chuan, Agriculture Research & Extension Council of Alberta

Presentation Summary
All agricultural production originates from photosynthesis, which converts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into plant material, above and below ground. Agricultural lands make a significant contribution to the world’s carbon storage goals. Our goal is to achieve a 2 to 5% increase in soil carbon. This is likely to increase carbon stored in soil by 16 million tonnes, which could be worth as much as $480M in the future. Ultimately, this long-term project will benefit Alberta’s farmers by reducing erosion and improving soil health and ensuring farm sustainability. It will benefit Albertans and Canadians by increasing long term carbon storage.

New Ideas on Food Resiliency

Julie Walker, Full Circle Adventures

Presentation Summary
We can enhance the use public lands and designation of agricultural lands by incorporating a bigger appreciation of how native species are part of our food source. The public use of lands and living food systems can create a local, sustainable, economic future for multiple layers of our society. This talk will explore how we can interact with ‘wild lands’ to integrate foraging, tree DNA logging models, and forage rotation of cattle to restore and utilize the natural landscape.

Community-Based Monitoring & Citizen Science

Tracy Lee, Miistakis Institute

Presentation Summary
Coming soon.

Sustainability Forever! The Union Makes Us Strong…And Green

Caillie Mutterback, Alberta Union of Provincial Employees

Presentation Summary
What’s the rationale behind having an environmental committee in a labour union? We’ll invite participants to think about how the public sector can play a role in the environmental movement, and look at what is already being done by major sectors to address issues big (like climate change) and small (like recycling). We want to create a future where having a good job also means having a job that’s good to the planet.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Braden Etzerza, Mount Royal University

Presentation Summary
Abstract coming soon.

Environmental Bill of Rights: Action Today for Albertans Tomorrow

Jason Unger, Environmental Law Centre

Presentation Summary
Abstract coming soon.

Local Energy for a Global Community

Rajan Rathnavalu, Newo Global Energy

Presentation Summary
Abstract coming soon.

Walking the Talk through Walks the Talks

Marc Haine, Walk the Talk

Presentation Summary
How does a community shovel through all the rhetoric and misinformation about green initiatives and community sustainability? They bring forth subject matter experts to help incite community conversation, and they talk about it.

Walk the Talks is a community driven initiative in Devon, AB, that focusses on drilling down into information and creating respectful, open conversations in the form of monthly community gatherings, featuring subject matter experts at the top of their game. Walk the Talks is about stirring the pot on our perceptions, and learning what, as a community, we can do today that will have a positive effect on our future.

Zeroes and Ones: Creating our Low-carbon Future with Industrial Intelligence

Greg Bennett, AIRIA Cloud

Presentation Summary

Disruption is coming. A colossal tidal wave of aging infrastructure, shifting consumer demand and the rapid advance of technology is washing away the foundations of the modern industrial complex. It’s clear. Extractive industries need to be reimagined and redesigned for zero-carbon society or face irrelevance. Is there a path forward?

Join Greg Bennett, the co-architect of Clean Hydrocarbon to explore how we can create a clean future for extractive industries based on cutting-edge digital principles and emerging business models.

Evolution of an Alberta Energy Services Company

Adam Gagnon, ENMAX

Presentation Summary

Abstract coming soon.

Friday Afternoon – Getting to Big Value Ideas with Alex Bruton

Inspired by the Big Ideas for Alberta’s Future presentations, it is time to explore your own ideas! Alex Bruton will deliver an experiential workshop to help you design really big value ideas – the kind that can’t help but make significant change in the world around us because they’re highly impactful, highly feasible, and highly passion-nourishing. And you’ll take away the DIY tools for doing it again with colleagues, either on your own whiteboards or on the back of the next napkin you run into.

About Alex

Dr. Alex Bruton helps people (learn to) innovate. He’s spoken, led workshops, and guided innovators in places ranging from Moscow, to Mexico, to Seattle, to Waterloo, including an invited talk at Google. And he’s been recognized as Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year in Canada. He’s been an engineer, a manager, a several time entrepreneur (in both technology and social impact), and a tenured professor of entrepreneurship (in both business and engineering schools) – among other exciting roles. Today he teaches at the University of Calgary, he’s the founder and president of a practical open education and innovation design firm, and he is the co-founder of The Straight Up Business Institute. He looks forward to meeting and working with you!

Friday Evening – Networking Activities

It wouldn’t be an Environmental Gathering without numerous ways to connect and have fun with your new and old friends from Alberta’s environmental community. Whether you choose to do some stargazing outside of the city lights, explore an innovative district energy plant, or grab a beer at a local craft brewery, we guarantee you will have an amazing evening of good food and great friends.

*Note – the Friday evening activities are optional but we really hope to see you there! There is an additional cost that includes dinner and/or drinks. You need to purchase a ticket for the activity you would like to attend when registering on Eventbrite. Tickets will be made available soon as we are still confirming prices with venues and catering.

Dinner at the Rothney Observatory

Located on a hilltop in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the University of Calgary’s Rothney Astrophysical Observatory is a facility dedicated to expanding our knowledge of the Universe and educating the public about the wonders of Astronomy. Their site provides unobstructed views of the entire night time sky. Hop on a bus with your peers and come learn amazing things about astronomy and space science! Bus and dinner included.

Pints and Brewery Tour at Trolley 5

Trolly 5 believes a true craft brewery brings the community together through great food, beer and friendship. They are dedicated to their craft and they love to share it. Join your colleagues on 17th Avenue for a tasty selection of craft ales, a tour of the brewery, and a fun evening of networking. $20 gets you a flight of beer, a pint of your favourite ale, and a tour of the brewery. You are responsible for your travel to and from the brewery, and for any food you would like to order.

Dinner at the ENMAX District Energy Centre

District energy, or district heating, traces its roots as far back as the popular hot water-heated baths and greenhouses of ancient Rome. It’s more efficient, has fewer emissions and is more cost-effective than conventional heating systems. Underground hot water pipes connect to a heat exchange interface between the piping system and the customer’s heating system, creating a closed-loop system that takes up much less space in the building and is more energy efficient than traditional commercial boilers.​Located in the East Village, the Downtown District Energy Centre is capable of supplying heat for up to ten​ million square feet of new and existing residential and commercial properties. Join us and your friends from across Alberta as we sit down for a catered dinner and later go on a tour of the facility. You are responsible for your transportation to and from the District Energy Centre.

Saturday Morning – Experimenting and Testing Ideas with Jeff Couillard

The second day of the Gathering will shift our focus as we move beyond idea-sharing to idea-mobilization. In the morning, Jeff Couillard will deliver a keynote presentation on outcomes and storytelling, then working with Alex, lead us through some skill-building workshops on making ideas tangible through a range of experimental testing and prototyping. This will set the stage for the afternoon’s solution forums.

About Jeff

Jeff is an experienced leader in the nonprofit, education and community sectors. His vision is to help people (and organizations) change for the better, helping leaders build incredible teams. From leading multi-disciplinary professionals to facilitating change management, keynote addresses to small group facilitation, Jeff has a knack for engaging people in the conversations that matter.


Saturday Afternoon – Environmental Solutions Forum

Starting with the powerful story of the Iinnii Initiative on the Kainai First Nation and how collaboration leads to big wins by Leroy Little Bear, we’ll take the ideas we’ve cultivated and be challenged to re-imagine solutions while working with others in our Solutions Forums. The forum hosts each have a convening question around which a generative discussion can take place. Guided by a framework provided by Alex and Jeff, participants will join one of our hosted conversations and to do a deep-dive on a prospective issue as it relates to Alberta’s environmental future. One thing can lead to another so come to the forum with an open mind and be ready to join diverse voices around the table!

Confirmed hosts:

Working in Concert: From Fourth Grade Recorder Band to the Philharmonic

Heather Watson, Alberta Green Economy Network

Convening Question
How can we do a better job of sharing strategic goals, plans, programs, and events across different groups who are all engaged in greening Alberta’s economy? There are different models of collaboration across non-profits – and the first step is knowing what opportunities exist! In this interactive session – we’ll build a visual model of organizations in Alberta tackling climate change and environmental issues. Then we’ll work through an interactive activity modelling levels of inter-organization communication and collaboration. With our learnings from the activity, we will come up with tangible actions that can help us leverage our assets and team up where we can be most effective. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the groups operating on similar issue areas in Alberta, new contacts and ideas for inter-group collaboration, and tangible actions to increase the impact of our efforts to battle climate change and build a greener economy.

Rushing to Waters Near You

Nicole Kimmel, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry, Government of Alberta & Tanya Rushcall, Alberta’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program, Government of Alberta

Convening Question
Since Alberta has recently emerged as Canada’s leader in aquatic invasive species prevention, it is our responsibility to continue this trend with comprehensive initiatives supported by public and industry stakeholders. How can we better engage communities on the appropriate use of control methods to garner support for response activities?

Finding Common Ground: Collaborative Conservation Planning Across Organizations

Katie Morrison, Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society, Southern Alberta

Convening Question
How might conservation groups across the spectrum leverage common ground to work together or in complement to achieve conservation success?

Big, Tiny Change: Contemporary Art & Sustainability

Kristine Thoreson, Junction North Gallery

Convening Question
How can visual arts be used creatively within community spaces to communicate, model, and initiate sustainable practices and possibilities in Alberta?

Celebrating Identity, Networks & Catalyzing Climate Action

Suzanne Chew, University of Calgary

Convening Question
How might we leverage our core identities to build communities for climate action, starting from a place of shared values and common identity? What identity most defines us – are we mothers first, or fathers, oil sands workers, farmers, students? How might we celebrate and own this identity, by catalyzing climate action within the communities we know best?

Transforming Oil & Gas Liabilities into Community Assets

Juli Rohl, ReGenerate Alberta

Convening Question
How can oil and gas liabilities be transformed into productive assets for society?

K-12 School Districts: Declaring a Commitment to Sustainability & Climate Change

Olena Olafson, Calgary Board of Education

Convening Question
What role do K-12 school districts play in environmental management and sustainable development? What does a commitment to a sustainable future look like at a K-12 level?

Consensus Building in Engagement Processes

Luis Virla, University of Calgary & Dr. Jenny Lieu, University of Sussex

Convening Question
What is the best way to reach consensus within groups with various perspectives about sustainable development of natural resources in Alberta?

Amplifying Voices of Non-traditional Supporters of Environmental Issues

Kecia KerrCanadian Parks & Wilderness Society, Northern Alberta

Convening Question
How can we raise and amplify the voices of non-traditional supporters of environmental issues?



*We are still confirming our full program, and will post speakers as they are confirmed below.


Dr Alex Bruton The Innographer Keynote Alberta Ecotrust 2018 Environmental Gathering Circle


Dr. Alex Bruton, President, The Innographer

Dr. Alex Bruton helps people (learn to) innovate. He’s spoken, led workshops, and guided innovators in places ranging from Moscow, to Mexico, to Seattle, to Waterloo, including an invited talk at Google. And he’s been recognized as Entrepreneurial Educator of the Year in Canada. He’s been an engineer, a manager, a several time entrepreneur (in both technology and social impact), and a tenured professor of entrepreneurship (in both business and engineering schools) – among other exciting roles. Today he teaches at the University of Calgary, he’s the founder and president of a practical open education and innovation design firm, and he is the co-founder of The Straight Up Business Institute. He looks forward to meeting and working with you!



Jeff Couillard, Founder, Attainability Group

Jeff is an experienced leader in the nonprofit, education and community sectors. His vision is to help people (and organizations) change for the better, helping leaders build incredible teams. From leading multi-disciplinary professionals to facilitating change management, keynote addresses to small group facilitation, Jeff has a knack for engaging people in the conversations that matter.



Leroy Little Bear, The Innii Initiative

Leroy Little Bear is a veteran educator, a renowned academic and a model for all Aboriginal persons striving for success in higher learning. He is the founder of the Native American Studies Department at the University of Lethbridge—where he served as chair for 21 years—and he also went on to become the founding director of Harvard University’s Native American Program. He has co-authored three texts—Pathways to Self-Determination: Native Indian Leaders Perspectives on Self-Government; Quest for Justice: Aboriginal Rights in Canada; and Governments in Conflict: Provinces and Indian Nations in Canada—and helped write Justice on Trial, the report of Alberta’s Task Force on the Criminal Justice System and Its Impacts on the Indian and Métis Peoples of Alberta. A member of the Blackfoot Confederacy, Little Bear contributed to publications for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in the area of criminal justice issues, did the same for the Assembly of First Nations on constitutional issues and has provided legal advice to numerous Aboriginal organizations on land claims, treaties and hunting and fishing rights. He is now recognized as a leader in North America on the advancement and acceptance of North American Indigenous philosophies.



Chef, entrepreneur, and activist – Aman is now embarking on a new project, Fare Community, that is going to empower new food entrepreneurs, tackle food waste, and make Calgary a way more interesting place to eat!

Learn more about Aman.


Christina has been working to promote the role Circular Economy plays in an alternate economic model that promotes waste reduction and resource efficiency.

Learn more about Christina.


Julie has worked as an outdoor educator in Southern Alberta since 1985. Her specialty is learning and teaching about the wild edible plants.

Learn more about Julie. 


Sean believes that soil plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change.

Learn more about Sean.


Over the last 15 years Tracy has helped develop and implement seven citizen science programs aimed at addressing conservation challenges.

Learn more about Tracy.


Heather is dedicated to bringing people together for creative collisions and innovation.

Learn more about Heather.


Nicole supports the Alberta Weed Control Act through extension, weed control support and weed diagnostic services.

Learn more about Nicole.


Suzanne is a graduate student at the University of Calgary, researching climate change communication.

Learn more about Suzanne.


Tanya is the Provincial Aquatic Invasive Species Biologist and certified pesticide applicator for Alberta’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program.

Learn more about Tanya.


Kristine is a visual artist and instructor of studio art and art history at the University of Calgary.

Learn more about Kristine.


Caillie bridges sustainability, labour justice, and advocacy through AUPE’s Environmental Committee.

Learn more about Caillie.


Juli is the Founder of ReGenerate Alberta and the Engagement Lead at STRAAD Management Consulting.

Learn more about Julie.


Katie is a Professional Biologist who has been working in the environmental sector for over 15 years.

Learn more about Katie.


Jason has worked at the Environmental Law Centre for over a decade, with the aim of making law and policy more sustainable.

Learn more about Jason.


Olena is a professional engineer who has worked at the Calgary Board of Education for over 10 years.

Learn more about Olena.


Bio coming soon.

Learn more about Greg soon.


Dr. Jenny Lieu is a Research Fellow at SPRU in the University of Sussex.

Learn more about Jenny.


Luis D. Virla is PhD Candidate in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department at the University of Calgary.

Learn more about Luis.


Kecia is the Executive Director of CPAWS Northern Alberta. She is a prairie native with a background is in research and education.

Learn more about Kecia.




Who should attend?
The Gathering is designed for people who champion and protect the environment in Alberta.  There will be a strong focus on the role of the nonprofit sector and how sustainability and environmental NGOs can learn from and work with each other. Individuals and representatives from industry and government that are interested in Alberta’s nonprofit environmental community are also welcome to attend.

How many people from my organization should attend?
The Gathering is being designed as an active learning event. There will be a strong emphasis on not only learning, but on implementing solutions. The more people that attend from your organization, the more benefit you will receive.

Why Thursday, Friday, Saturday?
The program will begin Thursday evening and finish in the afternoon on Saturday. Approximately 50% of environmental nonprofits in Alberta are volunteer run.  We feel that hosting the Gathering on a weekday/weekend is an excellent compromise for those who have other commitments during the week.

When will program details be announced? 
Alberta Ecotrust and the Environmental Gathering Advisory Committee are actively developing a program. Further details will be released on this page in the future.

What is included with my ticket? 
Your ticket includes access to the Opening and Networking Receptions, and two full days of presentations and workshops. In addition to the regular programming, the Gathering usually features additional activities for attendees to connect and experience Calgary together. In the past this has included hikes, yoga, rocking climbing, a tasting at a local brewery, and more. These activities are usually provided at an extra cost for the participants.

Is there a preferred hotel?
We have made arrangements with the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino and the Hilton Garden Inn in Calgary for a discounted rate for the Gathering’s delegates. Reserve your room by February 6, 2018 to confirm your discounted rate.

The Grey Eagle Resort and Casino is a short trip away from the Mount Royal University campus. Use this link to obtain the discounted rate, or call 1.844.719.8777 and request to book with Alberta Ecotrust 2018 Gathering.

The Hilton Garden Inn is located in downtown Calgary. Use this link to obtain the discounted rate, or call 587.352.2020 and request the Alberta Ecotrust Block or use the code AECO.

How should I travel to Calgary?
If you are travelling from outside of Calgary, we recommend connecting with colleagues to carpool, or to travel by the Greyhound or Red Arrow bus services.

Do you offer a student discount?
Yes! We are pleased to offer students $50.00 off of our ticket price. Simply select the student rate when you register to attend.

Do you offer financial assistance?
Our goal is to provide a high quality event at minimal cost for attendees. Alberta Ecotrust is pleased to offer a limited number of bursaries to help participants attend the Environmental Gathering. If you require financial assistance please complete this form and submit it to Amy Spark at [email protected] by Friday, January 26th, 2018.

Can I volunteer? 
We have received a phenomenal response to our call for volunteers. Thank you! If you would still like to get in touch about volunteering with us, please contact Amy Spark at [email protected].

How can I support this event?
We are presently pursuing sponsorship opportunities. If you would like to be involved, financially or otherwise, please contact Wanda Spooner at [email protected] or 403.209.2245.

Sponsorship opportunities for the Environmental Gathering are available. There are a number of ways you and your organization can be involved. Please download our 2018 Environmental Gathering Sponsorship Package to learn more about our opportunities. If you would like more information about sponsoring this event please contact Wanda Spooner at [email protected].




GAME CHANGERS – Co-Presenting Sponsor


suncor logo environmental gathering 2018 game changer presenting sponsor


CATALYSTS – Silver Sponsor

ABCRC Depot Catalyst Sponsor Alberta Ecotrust 2018 Environmental Gathering





vida events logo environmental gathering 2018 change supporters bronze sponsor