When I Go Wild, people and nature thrive

I’m an urban guy. I live and work downtown in Canada’s most populated city and worked at the crossroad of cities and sustainability for nearly two decades as a city councillor and mayor.
But I’m also a nature guy. I’m a regular rambler of High Park and the Humber Valley and I head up Canada’s largest conservation organization – WWF-Canada – where our goal is to help people and nature thrive.
Bottom line – just because I’m urban, doesn’t mean I don’t go wild from time to time.

David Miller and Jessi Cruickshank experiencing nature at the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto. © Rebecca Spring/WWF-Canada
David Miller and Jessi Cruickshank experiencing nature at the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto. © Rebecca Spring/WWF-Canada

As spring finally heats up in the east, I’m reminded of all the reasons why I get outside and like to go wild and immerse myself in nature. Of course, exercise is important (for me and my dog Jimmy) and it’s nice to clear my mind, but as I do it, it reminds me why protecting nature is an important daily responsibility.
If you happen to catch me gazing at Grenadier Pond, I may be taking a breather or mulling over a difficult decision, but I might also be contemplating the benefit of the pond’s natural edge for fish habitats and for mitigating flooding during heavy rain storms. I might also be considering how to get people out in the park to help nature thrive by participating in a community planting event.
I’m a firm believer that getting outside and going wild isn’t just important for physical and mental health, but to help you understand your place in the world. It helps each of us foster a stronger sense of responsibility for nature.
When you experience nature and conservation within your community, your impact grows beyond your single act. It can inspire others around you to keep the value of nature top of mind.
Two weeks ago WWF-Canada launched Go Wild – a national program that invites people to share their best ideas for getting their community involved in helping nature thrive. You can share your ideas online at wwf.ca/gowild until April 15. The top five ideas will be chosen and awarded micro-grants of up to $1,000 to help put them into action.
With Go Wild, we’re looking for the most innovative and interesting ideas for connecting people to nature in their community. We’re looking for creative, action-oriented projects that are tailored to community. Winning ideas may inspire actions to celebrate nature, or generate solutions to challenges that threaten nature, and might even involve training community members in monitoring the health of their local ecosystem.
My own Go Wild idea is inspired by my own experiences – I’d like to bring my High Park sanctuary to new areas of the city by collaborating with park managers and communities to organize a spring planting to naturalize a new waterway in my community. Not only would we have fun, but people would learn more about nature’s value in their community – and might consider that value in future decisions.
Why don’t you tell me your idea? I’ll be tweeting and retweeting my favourites over the next six weeks using #WWFGOWILD.
Visit wwf.ca/gowild for more details on how to apply.