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The Rainbow Community and Pollinators in Calgary: Reflections on "Third Wednesday" Presentations from March and April 2024

On the Third Wednesday of the month, St. Brigid's hosts a presentation followed by discussion on Zoom which provides an opportunity for community bonding and spiritual nourishment. Community member Veronika Malek has written the following recaps and reflections on the wonderful presentations we had in March and April.

March 20, 2024: Jane Oxenbury - The Rainbow Community

On our recent 3rd Wednesday our Jane Oxenbury gave a comprehensive and very human overview of our rainbow community citizens and their challenges and struggles.

Jane covered the oftentimes misunderstood terms used to describe individuals living a gender and sexual diverse life (GSD), and the meaning of various pronouns used by these individuals.

Her covering of the history of our culture’s reaction toward the GSD community told us that although life is becoming somewhat easier (and mostly because of improved legislation) we have a way to go before our children trying to sort out their sexuality get the support they need to make good choices for themselves. Too often GSD individuals are stressed by lack of parental support, lack of school support, and generally the ongoing prevalence of micro aggression toward them personally. These assaults on their self esteem, too often leads to poor decision making and suicide.

How can St. Brigid offer support to younger and older GSD individuals? We say publicly that we are an inclusive church but how do we show it to people who come in our doors? One way that has been identified is the welcoming table which has been reported to be truly welcoming. But how do we show the GSD communities that we are willing to be available to them for nurturing their spiritual side? How do we tell them that we are open to them and their needs? Would it be even more welcoming if St Brigid had an actual formalized process like the United Church has in becoming inclusive? Then we could display the rainbow flag with more confidence and assurance. And we could advertise ourselves in the GSD newsletters and blogs.

There is much to think about. What do we want our next steps to be to build on what we learned?

April 17, 2024: Prof. Mindi Summers from the U of C - Pollinators in Calgary and how we can attract them

Mindi started the presentation by telling us how important pollinators are to our wellbeing. If we continue to eradicate insects from our environment (by using pesticides, contributing to climate change), we risk having no pollinators to ensure food plant growth and maturation.

She also explained how we can identify a bee from other “wanna-bees," that is, other insects that can also pollinate plants. For those of you who are curious about that, bees have the following characteristics: they are furry, and have four wings and carry pollen on different parts of their bodies such as their legs or lower abdomen. Other “wanna-bees” such as flies have very large complex eyes, two wings, short antenna and are not furry.

Mindi and her students are working to improve bio-diversity in the population of pollinators in Calgary. So far they have identified 199 different kinds of bees in Calgary.

To attract pollinators to our yards, she recommends we leave some areas of our gardens “wild” so that bees can burrow into the earth to over-winter, leave some leaf cover, and plant native plants which our native bees seem to prefer, such as Goldenrod and Fireweed.

To assist Mindi and her students we recommend donating to their fund. On the following site, there is also an opportunity to help the students with their research by identifying insects that we have in our gardens or parks. You can find more information at the following sites:

Follow-up Links from Mindi Summers (UofC) to Everyone:

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