Finding Solutions for Climate Change with the Joan Feynman Climate Change Fund (formerly Community Sparks)

TRURO – Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia has given $13,605 in Joan Feynman Climate Change (formerly Community Sparks) Grants to seven youth-led, climate change related projects in rural Nova Scotia. Joan Feynman Climate Change Grants are designed to support innovative, community-based action, and to empower young people to make a meaningful difference in their region on their own terms. Youth between the ages of 13 and 25 who live in rural Nova Scotia were encouraged to apply for the grants.

“The grants are intended empower youth to turn good ideas into direct action on climate change,” said Susan Hirshberg, an early donor to the fund.  She noted that youth are often already leaders on climate change issues in their communities and that they are a valuable resource for creativity, energy, and passion to help solve the thorny issues surrounding climate change in Nova Scotia.

The Centre for Local Prosperity received a Joan Feynman Climate Change Grant which enabled rural youth and facilitators to attend the Youth Climate Change Retreat at Thinkers Lodge in Pugwash in July 2019. Participants discussed how to develop solutions for climate change on a local level, how to work with community members, and ways to raise resources.

Youth leader Alexandra Parsons says the goal of her project ‘Trails’ is to encourage rural youth to participate in outdoor recreational activities on cross country trails in the area, and to promote the potential of rural trails and how they allow access to other initiatives like community gardens and outdoor recreation areas.  “The funding will help create signage and information packages to promote our ecologically friendly project.”

Neil Morrell’s project ‘Garden for Future’ will contribute to Bridgewater’s sustainability, resilience and capacity to address climate change in several ways. Participants will create a community garden where people can gather to teach and learn gardening skills, spark climate action, and share good, local, organic food. “Sharing good food with whoever needs it will ensure this project benefits all by improving local food security,” says Neil. Surplus harvest from the garden will be donated to the Bridgewater Inter-church Food Bank, and throughout the season, participants will host special events, giveaways and workshops.

Youth leader Ronnie Noonan’s project is called ‘Pictou Landing Documentary’. Pictou Landing First Nations and other coastal communities are often the first to see major impacts of climate change in Nova Scotia through sea level rise and coastal erosion, and many have already put adaptation plans into place. “Through public forums and discussions, our project team will allow the community to decide what direction the documentary will take and what they want to communicate, which will also encourage more collaboration in the future.”

Potlotekewaq Maljewe’k Etoqta’tijik (Potlotek Youth Cooks) is a program that will focus on the youth of Potlotek First Nation that are attending grades 10 through 12. “This program will provide participants with essential life skills and will teach them how to prepare and cook traditional Mi’kmaw and contemporary foods,” says youth leader Brandi Johnson. Participants will read recipes both in Mi’kmaw and English and will have the opportunity to use the Mi’kmaw language in real life settings, like community events, traditional gatherings, powwows and mid-winter feasts.

Anthony Isaac’s project ‘Plant-based Meat Alternatives’ involves the construction of a green house where participants will learn to grow and harvest protein-rich meat alternatives (peanuts, broccoli, chia seeds and lentils). Anthony says that once the produce is successfully distributed and promoted, there will be the potential to continue producing protein-rich meat alternatives for retail at farmers’ markets.

Tuckamore Homestead will partner with youth leader Kiersten Paul for her project ‘Bumblebees’. They cultivate honey in beehives on their property and will provide beehives for Kiersten to use. “The goal of the project is to learn about beekeeping and to create data on the impact that bees have on the local environment,” says Kiersten.

RCFofNS has held a training with the grant awardees and other young people who were either hoping to engage in projects in the future or who already had been involved with climate change projects in Nova Scotia. The goal was to answer questions, provide support and to build a community of problem solvers. “Every generation and every community has its own gifts to bring,” says Susan Hirshberg. “Our real strength is how we can weave them together to support each other”.

“Youth out-migration is a critical issue in rural Nova Scotia,” says RCFofNS Chair Jean Ward. “We need to enable our rural youth to create the future they want right here at home, and to find solutions for urgent local priorities like climate change. Joan Feynman Climate Change Grants are essential to the process.”


Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCFofNS) has been making small grants to rural community organizations since 2004, in an accountable and transparent way. Its grant programs have supported local groups whose work is focused on youth, environment, leadership, seniors, and rural innovation in the province, including Mi’kmaq communities. 

For more information, contact:    

Jean Ward, Chair, Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCFofNS)  [email protected]