Leading the Charge for a Sustainable Future
For Megan Myles, sustainability is simple: it’s about creating more livable communities.
Sustainability is a big word. A term with many interpretations and applications, it gets thrown around all over the place. It might refer to efforts to protect the environment, strategies to promote social and economic well-being, or principles to guide ethical and responsible actions.
And hey, let’s be honest, sometimes “sustainability” is just about brand building, obscuring meaning with vague usage.
For Megan Myles, sustainability is simple: it’s about creating more livable communities. The key to achieving sustainability is also simple – it’s collaboration. Myles believes that “everything starts with a conversation; that’s how you get things done.”
Sitting over coffee, chatting about the challenges of community building and sustainability, Myles points out that the most accessible and accountable layer of public service is local government. With experience on all sides of multi-tiered community tables, she would know.
With a background that boasts having setup the Lion’s Head Farmers Market, launching the Fitz Hostel – a business that truly understood not just sustainability but also the importance of a show-don’t-tell approach to it – and serving as a Northern Bruce Peninsula Councillor between 2018 and 2022, Myles knows her way around community tables. She’s passionate about building communities for a better tomorrow.
Today, she lives in Owen Sound and works at Grey County as a Climate Change Outreach and Engagement Coordinator. She’s in the final stages of pursuing a Master in Rural Planning and Development and is an active volunteer with The Sustainability Project.
Scaling up to meet the challenge
With a goal to create a culture of sustainability in communities across Grey Bruce, The Sustainability Network has a vision that’s optimistic, and a strategy that’s working - challenge existing narratives and affect change through education, outreach, and networking to "cross-pollinate" all the other contributors in sustainability.
2023 was one of the hottest years on record, ever. And while some may celebrate the warmth, at the community level local governments are being faced with the increasing cost of climate change and a growing realization that it’s only going to get tougher. “The challenges are big,” says Myles, as we discuss roads and rain, local watersheds, biodiversity, and food security. Huge, I might have said, but encouragingly the network of passionate humans in the Grey Bruce community is as great as the challenges are.
Myles is keen on keeping things simple. She points out the need for community organizations and groups to come together to enable more value for money in a climate that sees increasing pressure on funding. She’s enthusiastic about how quickly volunteer groups can work, an agility that sometimes eludes local municipal staff and elected officials.
Coming together in partnership, she says, is the best way to deliver value with limited funding. The Sustainability Project has seen success with this approach, avoiding duplication of efforts while ensuring community buy-in and advocacy through continued engagement and networking, a great example of which is the Miyawaki (Tiny) Forest in Wiarton.
What’s next for Myles? Reflecting on her past roles and ongoing evolution, she notes she’d never label herself a maintainer, often looking forward to “a bigger challenge to take on.” Climate action is certainly that. Whatever is next for Myles, in the form of resources for municipal teams and community members, or policy design with a view to incentivizing the right behaviour, you can bet sustainable community will be at the centre of it.
For more about what’s happening locally, connect with The Sustainability Project at their next Thirsty Thursday event at the Rumpus Room, happening March 7 from 7pm. These informal monthly events see people coming together to chat all things sustainability and showcase the great work happening all across Grey Bruce.
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