Dawn Deydey is Wildsight’s coordinator for Beyond Recycling, a action-oriented sustainability program for kids in the Columbia Basin. She won a Canadian Hometown Hero award in 2013 for all of the amazing work she does in the Elk Valley to create a thriving community based on an environmental ethic. She is a roller derby girl and lives in a tiny home in Fernie, BC with her son and ukulele.
Lindsay Cuff: Hi Dawn. So, what is Beyond Recycling and what motivated you to want to launch it in Fernie?
Dawn Deydey: Beyond Recycling has a great story, which is all connected to pizza (by the way, it was started in 2006/07, so next year will be our 10th anniversary – wow!). So, the BR program was created by the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company at their first location in Canmore. They wanted to have a positive impact on their community, so they created multiple school programs focusing on sustainability. They got funding to expand their program from Y2Y (Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative) and chose to expand to Fernie (because they had family here).
We took the framework that the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company created and adapted it. We took their 12 page description of Beyond Recycling and turned it into a 20 lesson manual and tested it in two classes in one elementary school in Fernie.
We also had two other programs we brought into two other schools in Fernie: Zero Waste at the High School and Eco-Entrepreneurs at the Fernie Academy. These other programs were also incredible. With Zero Waste, the kids took fryer oil from the ski hill, turned it into biodiesel in the high school lab and then fueled the ski hill loader with it. That ran for three or four years. With Eco-Entrepreneurs, we helped the students create and run an eco-friendly business. We made soup for two years and then soap for two years after that.
LC: Wow, that’s amazing! So you’re obviously a do-er. Someone who gets in there and tries to create change on a real down to earth level. I actually had the privilege of visiting your tiny home recently. Tell me about it! What are the dimensions? What do you love about it? What’s challenging about it?
DD: The Nest (our tiny home) is 10×20 feet, so 200 square feet, plus two lofts upstairs. I love the tiny house for many reasons: it is so cozy and has forced me to simplify, which has led me to a lifestyle that allows me to spend more time doing what I love. The challenging part of living tiny is there isn’t much space for storing gear. All the bikes, skis, winter coats and summer toys all need a place to go—and that can be tricky in a tiny home.
LC: I imagine! Do you think it’s important to celebrate Earth Day?
DD: You would think that every day is Earth Day at Wildsight, but there is something special that happens when we can get together as a community to celebrate the earth. Earth Day celebrations allow us to connect, feel grateful for what we have, and hopefully inspire action.
LC: I like that. We can often get caught up in what’s wrong and forget to step back and connect, feel grateful and be inspired. Thanks, Dawn. You are a very inspiring woman and we’re lucky to have you on the Wildsight team.
DD: Thank you!