Bronwen Young lost her home

...on August 21, 2011. She wasn’t the only one: on that day an F3 tornado tore through Goderich, took one life, injured 37 more and damaged or destroyed 25 buildings and 100 homes.

You can’t prepare for that level of devastation – not beyond studying the precursors, instituting warning systems and issuing alerts. Not every storm rolls into a tornado, though; and building resiliency to them all is crucial to every community. Bronwen is teaming with WorldRooted: the Art Project for People in supporting this very cause.

“Paper quilling is an art made of shredded paper that has been coiled and manipulated into shape to make 3D art,” says Bronwen as she offers a glimpse at one work-in-progress, a wave-inspired heart called “Love by the Lake”. She’ll exhibit her work at Toast the Coast – an evening of art and science, cocktails and jazz by the lake – and donate 25% of the proceeds to the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation.

“The energy of the lake is raw and powerful,” says Bronwen. “The Coastal Centre is doing work to help prevent the lake eating the land. You wouldn’t think it would just eat your house, but it happens. The lake is powerful enough to take it.”

This power hits harder in spots that have already been weakened. Where natural cover is lost, sun heats the ground more severely. Soils erode more abruptly. Storm water sheets across man-made surfaces, flooding the spaces where we live. Runoff surges toward the coast, carrying pollutants and inorganic fertilizers with it, which potentially damage wildlife populations while feeding the algal blooms that nurture bacteria such as E. coli.

Summers feel hotter. Good beach days are fewer. Sometimes, the places we know and love get swept away. We can help mitigate the loss by keeping and planting trees, which can reduce the intensity, volume and toxicity of storm water runoff, plus save us 25-50% in energy bills annually.

Also, we can just plain love it while we’ve got it.

Devin Sturgeon is a photographer of storms. Having grown up all over Ontario, he’s found his true home along the shores of Huron. “The lake makes me feel open-minded, free in my head. Inland, I felt lost and faraway. I realized that I need the water by my side,” he shares.

Devin’s unique body of work projects his devoted passion with expert freshness. “There’s a lot of water, and there’s a lot of land, and there’s a lot of wind. You’ve got all those elements together, and when it gets stormy it’s really cool seeing them all interact.”

Devin is lending his photographic voice to the Coastal Centre, too, with nine other WorldRooted artists who strive to “add to the beauty”. They stand at the crossroads of art and science, creating a visual record of their world and inviting others to participate actively with this ever-changing planet.

Devin chuckles. “I’m sure we could break down the science of my brain, of why I like the lake; but I just know that I like it and I need to have it with me.”

Bronwen agrees. “I have an absolute respect for what nature is and how absolutely crazy it can be. It can also be fantastically wonderful.”

You can follow their journey at #carriedtothecoast and buy tickets to the May 4th event at Beach Street Station, the Coastal Centre’s office on the Square, or at www.lakehuron.ca/toast.

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