Woman holding climate action sign in a park Brianna Aspinall, Project Manager, Park People Toronto and Founder, Carbon Conversations Toronto (BES ’13, Environment and Business)  

How do you turn a desire to make a change - but not knowing where to start - into something productive and worthwhile? Just ask Waterloo alumnus, Brianna Aspinall (BES ’13).

Brianna is the founder of Carbon Conversations Toronto (CCTO), a volunteer organization that provides a safe space for people to express their concerns about climate change while gaining tools and resources to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Motivated by her own feelings of fear and anxiety after witnessing the profound effect a climate change documentary had on her partner, Brianna realized she wanted to find a way to support others who feel the same despair and help them turn it into action. Not wanting to recreate the proverbial wheel, she looked for proven models that address the issue on a person-to-person level. She found Carbon Conversations UK.

“I saw a gap in climate solutions that focused on humans, and how we could respond to such immense challenge, and the Carbon Conversation UK group acknowledged this: they understood climate action was personal, that we needed to feel support and connection to others, and their attitude is one that aims to be judgment-free with a focus on the power of human creativity and collaboration.”

Brianna helped write the grant applications to pilot CCTO and secured awards from IMPACT! Youth Sustainability Leadership Program and Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Climate Action Fund. With funds in hand, she co-developed facilitator training and recruited nine program facilitators.

Group of people smile with a cakeBrianna with her team at CCTO

Today, CCTO has helped dozens of people create their own personalized action plan. Through a series of six in-depth training workshops, participants gain a deeper understanding of the issues, work through negative emotions, and learn how to take action. By combining psychology and behavioural change with factual information, Brianna has found a winning recipe: motivating people without judgment. She is looking forward to resuming facilitator training in the fall.

While Brianna dawns her climate champion cap in her spare time, her day job is Project Manager at Park People where she works to build stronger communities by animating and improving parks and placing them at the heart of life in cities.