Dustin is making the world a better place. Meeting with Dustin was one of my favourite interviews so far. It started with him suggesting we sit in a tree. How could I say no? You might be able to tell from the photo that the tree is basically growing sideways along the ground - very comfortable to "sit in." After I took my notes and was bothered by some wasps (Dustin=unfazed), he gave me a mini-orientation of the food forest recently planted in the river valley.
Dustin is a nature lover. He grew up in Barrhead then moved to Edmonton for his Bachelor of Education. He now teaches high school science and leads Urban Ag High, a hands-on program from Sustainable Food Edmonton for students to learn about urban agriculture. He consults on sustainability, urban agriculture and permaculture for Northlands Agriculture Education Strategy and City of Edmonton's Food Council. He's also part of the City's Urban Beekeeping Pilot Project. Dustin is obviously passionate about all kinds of sustainability and permaculture projects (and is growing his consulting business, so email him!).
In July, he led about 100 volunteers who put together the river valley's first food forest. It's a good thing he showed it to me, because I was envisioning a vegetable garden tucked away in the river valley (it's not). As he explains on his website, "the food forest captures water, increases biodiversity,... cleans the air while sequestering carbon" and there is no maintenance required. And, of course, it's all edible!
By the time our meeting was over, I could tell that Dustin is a thoughtful individual who is really passionate about making our city a better place. I'm glad he's an educator so he can inspire the same passion and conscientiousness in the students he teaches.
Dustin's Favourite Places
drink// Tzin - 10115-104 Street
He loves the vibe in this cozy little wine bar. The owner (a sommelier) is usually doing all the serving.
eat// Sabor Divino - 10220-103 Street
Again, it's the atmosphere that he loves. The food and space is great. Dustin loves how the old warehouses downtown can be forever "recycled" into different spaces: restaurants, offices, stores, etc.
drink// The Empress Ale House - 9912 Whyte Avenue
Dustin's go-to place for a pint of beer.
go// Food Forest - mouth of MacKinnon Ravine along North Saskatchewan River
Obviously. A labour of love, that's for sure.
Dustin's Recommended Reads
read// Ecocities by Richard Register
A city is a place for making connections - social, economic, ecological, ideas and opportunities, etc. A well designed city maximizes these connections.
read// What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly
He read this a couple summers ago and he's still processing this one. The book argues that technology is just an extension of our minds or another branch of life, and its up to us to decide how to use that.
read// Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
The author explains how ideas are a product of the conditions around their conception. Sure, Gutenberg invented movable type, but the conditions for him to do so were there to foster the innovation. The conditions around us allow us to expand the adjacent possible.
Dustin's Words of Wisdom
He tells his students that each step in life builds upon the last. Our ideas and interests naturally meander, and that's a good thing. He doesn't have the same interests he had 10 years ago, but he's glad he had them or it wouldn't have led to who/where he is today. Looking back, I'm guessing a lot of people can relate to this in their own life. I know I sure can.
Dustin is the first to draw a graph! As connections increase, so does resilience. This can apply to many things in life: personal wellness, idea generation, innovation, community building, anything really.