To create something, you must first be able to picture it. Such visions often sprout from a seed that already exists; something you want to reach its potential. This is very much the idea behind the current #Picture2050 photo contest, organized by the Toronto Climate Action Network (TCAN), and sponsored by The Atmospheric Fund (TAF). TCAN volunteer Sarah Sackville-McLauchlan explains why this contest is so important.

Inspired by the City Council-approved TransformTO climate plan, the #Picture2050 contest invites residents to visualize what they want to be part of a healthy, equitable and prosperous Toronto in the year 2050. By considering which seeds of that future city already exist now, we can picture the climate-friendly city we want to live in.

Citizen-photographers of all ages – anyone with a camera or camera phone – can seek out and share those seeds of the future city that have already been planted. Once gathered, they will form a visual story. The city we want is already here to a significant degree, but those seeds need to be watered for that potential future to flower!

The variety and diversity of the seeds for growing an equitable, low-carbon city are often far greater than we know. There are more obvious elements such as community gardens, trains, streetcars, and people installing solar panels, but there’s more to the kind of city we want. Activities such as neighbourhood parties and community poetry nights, and low-carbon and socially beneficial jobs like teaching, nursing, or being an artist, strengthen our communities. Yes, low carbon initiatives encompass solar co-ops and other community green energy projects, but also pot-luck dinners, community theatre, neighbourhood food security projects and bike repair workshops, which can build a sense of shared social and ecological responsibility for our city. It is this diversity and ubiquity of living, working, and caring together that the contest also seeks to showcase.

My hope is that highlighting the extent to which a healthy, equitable and prosperous Toronto is already here will inspire residents to take action to help bring about the full transformation of our city. Wouldn’t it be great if residents could look at our city in new ways, and to fall in love with our vibrant, diverse and awesome Toronto anew? A sense of hope, connectedness and ownership will help ensure that our city has the resident engagement and resources it needs for a low-carbon, climate-change-ready future. TransformTO is a long-term project, but we need to start now.

So help bring our future city to life by submitting your photo at – it only takes a few minutes. The deadline is Friday, January 12. Together, let’s #TransformTO!

Sarah Sackville-McLauchlan is a doctoral student in the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University. Her work focuses on the intersections of climate justice and Disability justice. She also seeks to express these issues and struggles through music and writing, which she creates and performs as PhantomFemme. Sarah is a member of the People’s Climate Movement and volunteers her time to support the climate engagement initiatives of TCAN’s member groups.