100 Resilient Cities

12 04 2017

Community building encompasses a range of efforts by a diversity of citizens to support, nurture, initiate and bolster the prosperity and health of a community. These can be large, organized efforts coordinated by government or grassroots efforts undertaken by individuals, families, or neighbourhoods. Community builders share an interest in the future of their communities, and a desire to see everyone in those communities realize their potential.

Resilient-city-feature-imageWith that in mind, this community builder has been interested in the work of 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation “to help cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century”. Their approach focuses on “urban resilience” – “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience”. Examples of chronic stresses include high unemployment, overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system, endemic violence, and chronic food and water shortages. Acute shocks are “sudden, sharp events that threaten a city” and include earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks.

Lest we think this urban resilience is important only for cities in developing countries or far-flung corners of the globe, it’s important to know that four of Canada’s largest cities are among the 100 (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver). Other member cities include Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Pune (India), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Semarang (Indonesia)Semarang Resilience Strategy - 2016-1.png and Yiwu (China). Using a City Resilience Framework, the 100 member cities are working to better understand and implement the things that make a city resilient – from health and wellbeing to leadership and strategy.

Members of the 100 Resilient Cities team and a panel of expert judges reviewed over 1,000 applications from prospective cities. The judges looked for innovative mayors, a recent catalyst for change, a history of building partnerships, and an ability to work with a ride range of stakeholders.

Member cities are moving forward with an inspiring and focused catalogue of initiatives aimed at positive, tangible community impact. In Greece, for example, the city of Thessoloniki has just released Resilient Thessaloniki – A Strategy for 2030 following two years of intensive participation as a 100 Resilient Cities member. In Chile, the city of Santiago recently committed 10% of its budget to building resilience as part of its first Resilience Strategy. And the city of Wellington has unveiled a comprehensive resilience strategy to prepare New Zealand’s capital “for the next 100 years”.

Resilience Strategies are more than a milestone — they are a roadmap, a call to action.

The 100 Resilient Cities platform is supported by private, public, academic and non-profit sector partners ranging from corporate titans Microsoft, Siemens and Cisco to international charities like Save the Children, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund. Other notable partners include The World Bank, the Advanced Research Institute at Virginia Tech, the Watson Foundation, the Asia Foundation and the Social Intelligence Institute.

According to 100 Resilient Cities, “Calgary hopes to insulate its economy from shocks caused by fluctuating oil prices as it develops more robust responses to natural disasters” and Toronto “is addressing rising inequality while developing responses to increasing severe weather events”. Looking forward to news about the initiatives and plans coming to all four Canadian member cities as a result of their participation.

[photos: 100 Resilient Cities]





Cohousing, Innovation & Intentional Living

6 04 2017

One of the projects that has been keeping me busy over this past year+ is a departure from my usual professional pursuits. It is proving not only stimulating but also challenging. More personal than professional, my interest in the cohousing movement began with my own examination of intentional living – trying to envision my later years and match my living arrangements with my aspirations, needs, and interests. I quickly discovered a glaring lack of existing options within my community. Looking for a one-floor plan (no stairs) other than a high rise will get you very little in the way of choices (and often involves paying for a lower level you don’t want and likely won’t use). Recalling many conversations over the years with friends, I knew I wasn’t alone in thinking about the future and seeking options that weren’t readily on offer. Hadn’t we joked about a hippie house full of aging women? Wasn’t there even a serious discussion or two about pooling our money to live comfortably in retirement? With that, I began researching options outside those currently available in my area…and cohousing quickly piqued my interest.

For those interested in cohousing specific to later life, I recommend Innovations in Senior Housing: the Complete Guide to Cohousing. It’s a comprehensive resource (and one of few specific to Canada) full of information and useful links. It was prepared by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria and Canadian Senior Cohousing Society with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC.

For those interested in my cohousing explorations in Hamilton, check out www.sisterssharingspace.wordpress.com where I’m blogging about the journey of a group of local women who have joined me, and sharing information and resources we are finding along the way.

Complete_Guide_0  hispanicgarden2 nws kwg 4





International Day of Happiness!

20 03 2017

The United Nations established March 20th as International Day of Happiness to “recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world.” The day has been celebrated since 2013. For this year, the UN chose those lovable blue Smurfs of cartoon fame to promote its 17 sustainable development goals on the International Day of Happiness. The “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign is designed to encourage young people everywhere to learn about and support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Happiness + sustainable development? Seems a winning combination sure to make even the grumpiest Smurf smile. Oh, and it’s also the first official day of Spring. Now there’s something to be happy about!

smurfs





Racial Equity: what will it take?

10 03 2017

My friend and colleague, Hildy Gottlieb, from Creating the Future, convened a really powerful conversation this week featuring diversity and inclusion advocates Desiree Adaway and Ericka Hines. Such a worthwhile discussion, full of honest and open ideas and observations. You won’t regret the hour you invest in listening to this conversation. If you do nothing else, tune it at about the 35:30 mark for the second half. You’ll be glad you did (and likely want to rewind for the full hour!). Thanks Hildy, Ericka, and Desiree, for sharing this and for the work you’re doing.

Here’s the link.

inclusive





The year ahead…

11 01 2017

shake the tree The Philanthropist has once again published predictions for the new year in the not-for-profit world, and a glance back at what 2016 brought to the sector.

What do you think were the most significant milestones for the sector in 2016? What do you anticipate for 2017? 

For the full article click here.





Change is in the air.

18 11 2016

cropped-fallingwater-2010-018.jpgAs colourful autumn leaves and temperatures drop, there is change on the horizon. After more than 5 years in the post, Karen Smith will be retiring from her role as Executive Director at Thrive Child and Youth Trauma Services at the end of this month.

“I am tremendously proud of the work our team has done over these past 5 years. Focusing on a clear vision, we expanded programs to serve more young people and their families. Highlights of our accomplishments included agency re-branding,  a physical relocation to better and more accessible space, and the growth of our supports for refugee and immigrant youngsters who have been affected by trauma.

So many people helped to make this a very rewarding period in my career, and I hope to stay in touch with many of them. Hamilton has been very supportive of this organization, and I know that will continue. It’s such important work.”

Karen will now turn her attention to other projects and interests, and will return to active consulting work.





Wrapping Up 2015

29 12 2015

Despite little activity on this page in 2015, it’s been a busy year. Too busy, it turned out, to devote much time to blogging. But if there had been enough hours in each day, there would have been posts sharing the ups and downs, excitements, challenges, and experiences that made up the last 12 months…

  • the renaissance of Hamilton, my hometown and a city finally sloughing off its industrial overalls in favour of hipper, more confident stylings
  • the launch of a new, aspirational name and branding for the former Community Child Abuse Council – now THRIVE Child and Youth Trauma Services
  • political change, and the promise of federal policy that seeks to return Canada to its peaceful role on the world stage, value women and children, honour Native peoples, and combat social problems with evidence-based initiatives
  • the journeys of refugee families, including those from Syria, who now call Hamilton home
  • a host of small triumphs, minor missteps, celebrations, losses, and all the poignant moments that fill a year and leave lasting impressions

As the year closes, here’s wishing everyone the very best for 2016 – may it be a year of more peace, greater fulfilment, and bigger steps towards the world we want to see for everyone sharing this planet. Remember that unless something is physically impossible, it is indeed possible. That means many if not all of our dreams and hopes are totally within the realm of possibility. So, follow those dreams and take those steps. Each one gets us each a little closer to our vision of the future.

Happy New Year.