President's Panel to Explore Community Sustainability

September 24, 2009 - News Release

President Alastair Summerlee will host a panel discussion Sept. 29 as the final event of Sustainability Week at the University of Guelph.

The "Intertwined: Roots to Sustainable Communities" discussion will include local business leaders, community organizers and academics who will explore the nature of sustainability and its relation to healthy communities.

The President's Panel will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. in War Memorial Hall. The event is free and open to the University community and general public.

The event features Guelph mayor Karen Farbridge, restaurant owner Bob Desautels, singer/songwriter James Gordon, and U of G student Zoe Barrett-Wood.

The panel is intended to serve as a reflection and culmination of Sustainability Week. The annual U of G event is designed to provoke, inspire and connect people with the many ways they can contribute to sustainable communities.

Farbridge will discuss the role of community building and social and environmental balance in achieving sustainability. Prior to first being elected mayor in 2000, Farbridge was the director of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group-Guelph. She’s also taught courses on cities, democracy and government policy at U of G.

Desautels, the owner and founder of The Neighbourhood Group of local restaurants, is considered a leading example of the “buy local” marketing strategy/philosophy. He’ll discuss the importance of serving locally-made food and beverages to support the local economy and minimize the food miles of ingredient transport.

Gordon is an activist who is involved in numerous social justice, environmental, arts and other community-based grassroots organizations. He was the first president of the Guelph Civic League, a collaborative network of neighbourhood groups and citizen-led organizations. He is also the co-founder of Wellington Water Watchers.

Barrett-Wood will talk about the role youth have to play in the future of sustainability. A budding entrepreneur and environmentalist, she has worked as an eco-volunteer in Costa Rica, started a recycling program, and has organized numerous events to raise environmental awareness and promote youth volunteerism.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, at 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338 or, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1