Green Street is a national program encouraging young peoples’ active participation in creating a sustainable future. Working in collaboration with their schools and communities, Green Street supports students in not only learning about the world in which they live, but also in looking after the world they are inheriting. Students are supported in actively participating in meaningful projects over time.
The Foundation envisions a more robust, sustainable society, built in part by school-based support, encouraging young people to act in the present with other members of their communities in creating a more equitable and responsible future for Canada.
The Foundation launched Green Street in 1999 with the goal of encouraging active participation by young people in environmental stewardship. Its strategy centered on supporting voluntary sector organizations in offering to schools quality programs that responded to both student interest and teacher need.
While the program goals and core values remain the same, the strategy has evolved considerably. Green Street has gone from trying to ‘fill gaps’ (such as a lack of environmental education in schools) to trying to ‘open up spaces’ where relationships can be forged and creative initiatives can emerge in support of education for sustainability. Since its inception, Green Street has offered an online platform for students and teachers to access a variety of quality-controlled programs offered by environmental organizations. The site has now expanded to facilitate connections among multiple actors and resources in support of local innovation and the emergence of a national movement.
For more details, please see Making the Path as We Walk It: Changing Context and Strategy on Green Street.
- Young people learn when they engage in a learning process. Engaged learning builds on students’ passions and inspires their hope for the future. Engagement is facilitated by opportunities to act, to form relationships (with other people and with place), and to understand “big ideas” (meaningful and integrated content). School-community action projects provide ideal vehicles for this sort of engagement.
- Engaged teachers are the key contributors to engaged education and therefore supporting teacher engagement is essential. (In the early stages of this program, an attempt was made to target students via television and the Internet. It rapidly became clear however that students were not well placed to influence the types of programs that would be used in their schools and the target audience soon shifted to teachers.)
- The community/voluntary sector has an important role to play in supporting students and teachers--and young people are tremendous resources for their communities. School-community collaboration can benefit everyone involved.
- Voluntary sector organizations that specialize in offering educational programs are a significant source of support to schools and are essential contributors to overall program design. At the same time, it is important to ensure that students and teachers retain the strongest voice in defining their own needs.
- Education for sustainability is less limited by provincial curricula than by cultural images of education (e.g. students at desks in a classroom with a teacher in front). Therefore, creating space for innovation in education (which builds on the strengths of students, teachers and communities) is a prerequisite for transformation.
- Local innovations can spread through a network of support and exchange supported by effective use of communication tools. However, creating a functional on-line forum that meets the needs of the diverse participants in this process and connects them to one another presents a major challenge.
- While education is a provincial jurisdiction in Canada, much can be learned by making inter-provincial connections. Bringing the Quebec experience to the attention of the rest of Canada has been particularly beneficial and has resulted in the adaptation and broad dissemination of approaches originating in Quebec.
- Innovation in education is a process that in itself involves continual learning; continual program readjustments are therefore required to adapt to a changing landscape.