Nature’s Place part of Ontario Museum Association webinar
By Chad Ingram
Published Jan. 24, 2019
Nature’s Place, part of the Minden Hills Cultural Centre, was featured in a webinar hosted by the Ontario Museum Association and Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice last week.
Cultural centre curator Laurie Carmount was one of three speakers in the webinar, designed for those working in the cultural sector and titled Museums and Climate Change: Implementations for Your Practice.
“The coalition has been trying to get a sense from museums what they’re doing and what’s going on [in terms of climate change action],” Carmount told the Times, explaining this meant connecting with curators and program developers about how they’re incorporating climate change awareness into their exhibits and activities. She said that environmental consciousness has come to the forefront of the cultural sector in recent years.
“I think it’s part of the museum world, in a way,” she said.
The cultural centre had made a submission to a blog run by the coalition last year.
“I think it was a huge honour that we got asked,” Carmount said.
The webinar’s other two speakers were Shiralee Hudson Hill, lead interpretive planner for the Art Gallery of Ontario, and Ian Kerr-Wilson, manager of heritage resource management for the City of Hamilton.
Carmount told participants about Nature’s Place, a sustainable, low-impact building of straw bale construction. Once named R.D. Lawrence Place for the naturalist and author who called Haliburton County home in the latter part of his life, Carmount explained the building contains a number of Lawrence’s manuscripts and personal possessions, and read a quote from him that relays the interpretive centre’s philosophy.
“Nature is careless of the individual, but careful of the species,” she said. “We have reversed the maxim. We are careful of the individual, and careless of the species. That is the road to extinction.”
Carmount explained that the key to Nature’s Place is its partnerships with a number of community organizations, such as the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust and Environment Haliburton. These groups have helped design wall panels in the centre – one by Environment Haliburton looks at the implications of climate change in Haliburton County, for example – and also hold events at Nature’s Place.
Carmount spoke of other activities, such as a community recycling exhibit and an exhibit that looked at consumer products before the advent of plastic.
“We are continuing to apply, and rethink our collections from, this viewpoint,” she said.
“The most important part we concentrate on for climate change action programming, however, is working with our youth, not just through displays and information, but by creating hands-on programming,” Carmount told webinar participants, giving an example of the gardens at the cultural centre, where young people grow flowers, herbs and vegetables for themselves and the community, learning various gardening techniques including those for urban gardening, and what to grow in rocky soil.
Throughout the webinar, Carmount gave credence to the environmentally minded community groups of Haliburton County that volunteer their time and expertise to make projects happen.
“Our community, I would say, is maybe more aware than most . . . I think the number of actual groups that are wanting to advocate, in some manner, for the environment is quite high.”