Nature-inspired climate change innovations

2 08 2017

melting ice CANVA

Five innovative and inspiring new ideas for saving the world from climate catastrophe have been announced by the uber cool Biomimicry Institute. Nearly 100 entries came from 28 countries, all vying for the chance to bring their ideas to market. There’s even a Canadian entry included in the announcement – among additional winners from the student competition was an honourable mention for the entry from a team at the University of Calgary.

We know that our planet is hurtling towards some scary consequences of a century-plus of resource-pillaging, but the question remains – what do we do about it? That’s why we are proud to announce the 2017 Biomimicry Global Design Challenge winning teams and their proposed solutions to mitigate, adapt to, and reverse climate change.

One winning entry mimics the temperature regulating properties of leaf-cutter ants’ mounds. Another “emulates the mechanisms of blue crab and bay grass and their mutualistic relationship within the ecosystem of Chesapeake Bay” to connect low-income communities to designated cool spaces via an affordable transportation system. Yet another of the ideas takes inspiration from  winged seeds, bromeliads, and forest leaf litter.

Check out the winning ideas and be inspired,  here.

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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]





January 28: talking about mental health

25 01 2015

The more we talk about mental illness, the more we combat the damaging stigma that keeps so many from seeking help and finding support. It’s not hard. It’s a conversation that needs to continue all year long, but January 28th is a good day to begin. Watch for events where you live or work, check social media, and have a conversation about mental health with someone you care about.

Bell-Lets-talkSimple conversations can make a big difference.

Add your voice to the national discussion. #BellLetsTalk

 

 





Children’s Mental Health Week

4 05 2014

Children’s mental health is important every day, all year long. But one week is set aside annually to focus on children’s mental health issues and awareness, and that week is May 4-10 this year. Take a moment to think about the many challenges, circumstances, conditions, illnesses, traumas, experiences, and other factors that can contribute to the mental health problems facing so many children. Then ask yourself what our community, our society, would be like if all children were happy, healthy and thriving…and what will we need to do to make that happen? child mental health week





1 in 3 Canadian Adults Have Experienced Child Abuse: New Study

23 04 2014

child abuse report

 

A just-published, first of  its kind study has found what many in the field have known for some time – child abuse has a lasting impact on many Canadians. This new research confirms the link between serious adult mental health problems and experiences of childhood physical abuse, sexual abuse, and witnessing intimate partner violence.

Findings from the national study highlight the urgent need for a child abuse prevention strategy in Canada. Lead author Tracie Afifi of the University of Manitoba told CBC News that her team’s findings “indicate that 32 per cent of the adult population in Canada has experienced child abuse (i.e., physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or exposure to intimate partner violence) and that child abuse has robust associations with mental conditions”.

The study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found physical abuse to be most common (26%), followed by sexual abuse (10%) and exposure to intimate partner violence (8%). The authors highlight the need for reporting child abuse as well as understanding treatment implications.

To read the full journal article, visit www.cmaj.ca

 





Talking about children…

17 04 2014

ngugi_wa_thiongo“Talking about the survival of children is not an act of charity. Children are the future of any society. If you want to know the future of any society look at the eyes of the children. If you want to maim the future of any society, you simply maim the children. Thus the struggle for the survival of our children is the struggle for the survival of our future. The quantity and quality of that survival is the measurement of the development of our society.”

Kenyan novelist Ngugi wa Thiong’o





Happiness…can change the world

18 03 2014

March 20 marks the United Nations International Day of Happiness. The Kingdom of Bhutan, known for adopting Gross National Happiness as a measurement of its people’s prosperity, started the initiative for a day devoted to happiness. All 193 UN member states then adopted the resolution creating a day to inspire action for a happier world. On the first celebration of the Day, in 2013, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “let us reinforce our commitment to inclusive and sustainable human development and renew our pledge to help others. When we contribute to the common good, we ourselves are enriched. Compassion promotes happiness and will help build the future we want.”

This year, March 20 will also mark the long-awaited first day of Spring (spring equinox) –  something to be very happy about after a long and snowy winter!

For more, visit http://www.dayofhappiness.net or www.facebook.com/Intl.DayofHappiness