Winter Speaker Series 2024

Winter Speaker Series 2024

January 18th to February 15th 

The Speaker Series returns with a new list of 5 talks with experts in their own fields. Cozy up at home, and the Speakers Series will be held over Zoom on Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30pm. Sign up for one talk, and you will be on the list for the series. Join in as many times as you like! Donations to MERA are welcomed (suggested $10 a talk).

If you would like to be added to the list for the speaker series please email admin


January 18, Finding Treasures Among Your Possessions

  • Summary: We all have belongings that pile up in our closets and, if we’re lucky, fill our homes with happy memories. How do we care for these things? Do we keep them? These belongings have a story to tell, and we want them to survive long enough to keep telling stories for the next generation. The Mississippi Valley Textile Museum has many items that have come from people’s homes: coverlets that kept them warm and blankets that grandmothers knit. We care for these belongings because they represent lives well-lived, and we want you to be able to care for your belongings, too. Join our talk to find out how you can take care of the treasures among your belongings!

  • Speaker: Born and raised in Chatham, Ontario, since 2007 Michael Rikley-Lancaster has been executive director/curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, where he has overseen the creation of two permanent exhibits about industrial wool processing, an oral history project preserving the experiences of local mill workers, the Millworkers’ Staircase and Riverwalk, and countless temporary exhibits that work to provide forums for contemporary issues. Previously,  he was assistant curator at the Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum and program coordinator for Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations with the Canadian Museums Association. He studied for a diploma in Fine Arts at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, before receiving a diploma in Applied Museum Studies from Algonquin College, Ottawa. 


January 25, How to Travel with a Clear Conscience: Tips and Tricks for Ethical Tourists

  • Summary: Being an ethical and responsible traveller means considering the consequences of our choices on the environment, local economies and the people who live there. Is sustainable tourism an oxymoron? Planes, trains and automobiles: how best to get around without a big carbon footprint? The good, the bad and the ugly: does putting eco- in the name of resorts, cruises and holiday destinations really mean anything? Are green hotels greenwashing? What are some ways your spending can benefit communities that host you and help provide good jobs and income opportunities for those who live there? Our speakers will discuss flying options and GHG credits, how to have clean drinking water without plastics, eating like a local and choosing low-impact foods, using search engines and local tour operators, understanding local money and markets, the benefits of learning the local language and customs, where to stay, and other alternatives to help you travel more sustainably and come home with a deeper understanding of the places and people you visit. This is an opportunity for all travellers and aspiring pilgrims of our planet to share ideas, experiences and questions. We hope you’ll join us!

  • Speakers: Ross Elliott has lived in McDonalds Corners with his wife Kathryn since 1999, and together they have travelled through at least 18 different countries, a similar number of U.S. states, and visited every province and territory in Canada except the Yukon and PEI. He’s a carpenter and building science consultant focusing on healthy, energy efficient and low carbon homes for remote indigenous communities. As a grandfather concerned about the environmental problems we are leaving future generations, he tries to bring the same commitment to the challenges of sustainable travel and the effects of tourism on local communities.   




  • Liz Maltby worked as a biostatistician for McMaster University, the Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa until her retirement in 2016. She has lived in three countries (Canada, England and Austria) and visited at least 40 others. She started working remotely in 1992, which allowed her to work while living in other countries as well as while travelling. She moved to Vienna, Austria in early 2012, exploring Europe on weekends and holidays. She spent 2015 to 2017 with no fixed address, exploring Canada, Europe and Southeast Asia. Excepting the COVID years, she generally has spent two to three months each year travelling within Canada and internationally. 





February 1 – What are These Things Called Podcasts? 

  • Summary: An introduction to the wonderful world of podcasts: what they are, a brief history, why they interest so many people today, and how to access and listen to them. An early adopter of these audio recordings, our speaker has expertise in all mass media. She will deliver a crash course in podcasts, starting at the beginner’s level, and move on to answer your questions about this relatively new medium. 

  • Speaker: Carrie Buchanan is a former Ottawa Citizen reporter and copyeditor, later a professor of journalism and mass communication. She moved to Perth in 2022 from Cleveland, Ohio, where she and her husband, Rev. George Buchanan, had lived since 2006, though both are Canadian. Carrie was born and raised in Montreal, earned her bachelor’s degree at Bryn Mawr College in 1974, then returned to Montreal, where she used her biology degree to work in a laboratory while starting a journalism career. In 1978, Carrie and George moved to Ottawa and started a family. She earned a master’s in journalism at Carleton, worked for 12 years at the Ottawa Citizen, then returned to Carleton for a doctorate in mass communication, the study of mass media. In 2006, she and her husband moved to Cleveland, where she spent 13 years as a professor in the Tim Russert Department of Communication at John Carroll University. She retired in May 2022. 


February 8, Exploring Cohousing

  • Summary: The concept of cohousing communities is not new. It is a method of housing ourselves in a responsible, supportive and efficient manner. It takes a variety of forms, which people all over the world have been drawn to for many centuries. As we became industrialized and individualistic, we forgot the value of socially housing ourselves. We now find ourselves isolated, energy weary and struggling to figure out how we can become more sustainable with finite resources. Cohousing communities of today maintain the individualism we are accustomed to, but combine it with historical social housing constructs. It is an excellent way to house ourselves with intent and acuity, in preparation for the challenges we face ahead.

  • Speaker: Linda Kruus was born and raised in Ottawa. After much travelling in Canada and abroad, she found herself drawn back, and is now settled with her two boys and her Colombian-Canadian spouse in the same neighbourhood she grew up in. Of Scandinavian heritage, Linda is drawn to community-minded thinking. An industrial designer by training, a logistics and management professional by experience, and an environmentalist to the core, Linda is a resourceful problem solver and a conscientious communicator. In her current role at Ottawa Cohousing, it is with practical facilitation and empathic people skills that Linda guides and supports her clients in realizing their dream of community creation.​​


February 15, In Search of Pristine Skies

  • Summary: Sanjeev Sivarulrasa began observing the night sky with telescopes in 2002, travelling to dark skies in Ontario and Quebec for visual observations and photographic work. He sees the pristine night sky as a meditative space that fosters awareness and creativity. In this talk, Sanjeev will discuss his practice as an artist and his travels to pristine observing locations in Ontario and Quebec. 

  • Speaker: A former member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Sanjeev was named Observer of the Year by its Ottawa Centre chapter in 2010. In 2014, Sanjeev launched Sivarulrasa Gallery in Almonte, Ontario, representing Canadian artists, both emerging and established. An active advocate of the arts, he has served on the Board of Directors of Canadian Artists’ Representation / Le Front des artistes Canadien, the Ottawa Suzuki Strings music school, and the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum. Born in Sri Lanka, Sanjeev holds a B.Arts.Sc. from McMaster University and law degrees from Osgoode Hall (LLB)  and the University of Ottawa (LLM).