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.

What if we were all connected?

25 04 2015

I have recently learned about, described as “a Facebook-led initiative bringing together technology leaders, nonprofits and local communities to connect the two-thirds of the world that doesn’t have internet access”. The projects it supports are aimed at removing barriers for the 2 out of every 3 people who can’t get online. It’s got powerful potential, and it’s a collective effort that spans the globe.internet

It’s the people, however, that really make so compelling. The first I read about were Erika and Esmeralda, two young girls in Bolivia who share a friendship and a love for inventing. Using scraps and ingenuity, they are inspiring and pushing each other towards a better future. Without the internet. Wow.

Check out their story here:

Calling all dreamers…

18 01 2014

IdealistAmi Dar and the team at are about to start something, and practical dreamers everywhere will want to hear about it. On March 11, 2014 they will launch “a new network – online, on the ground, in cities, villages, schools and workplaces” to join together people all over the world who want to work together on 3 global challenges. But the challenges aren’t hunger, or poverty, or disease, or world peace (or then again, maybe it is about that…). The challenges Ami and team have in their sights are big challenges, but they may surprise you. As he puts it, “These challenges are quiet—you’ll seldom hear about them in the media—but they affect all of us. And if we can tackle them, all our other problems will be easier to deal with”.

  1. A big gap between our good intentions and our actions.
  2. Our problems are connected, but we are not.
  3. The world is full of good ideas that don’t spread quickly enough.

The goal is to bring together a network of people to tackle these challenges – “an ecosystem of possibility”. To find out more about the project, the March 11 launch, and how to join in, here’s the link:


1 in 3 Women

4 04 2011

Ontario’s new Sexual Violence Action Plan: Changing Attitudes, Changing Lives addresses a “serious and pervasive” problem in this province. It speaks frankly (“violence against women devastates lives – it has no place in society and it will not be tolerated”) and includes a commitment of $15 million over four years ($5.2 M for public education campaigns, $1.6 M for professional training and education, $3 M for sexual assault centres, $3.7 M for interpreter services, $1.95 M for anti-human trafficking initiatives). 

Many Ontarians don’t realize the alarming statistics surrounding sexual violence and its prevalence in the lives of far too many women. One in three women will experience some form of sexual assault in their lifetime. Sexual violence crosses all social boundaries, affects women of every age and cultural background, and has devastating impacts on the lives of victims and their families as well as the well-being of society as a whole. [Laurel Broten, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, Sexual Violence Action Plan, March 2011].

The plan updates the Province’s former “domestic violence” action plan (2004) and addresses crimes such as sexual assault, sexual exploitation through human trafficking, sexual harassment, and sexual exploitation using technology and the Internet. It focuses on sexual violence against those 16 years of age and older (the Plan reports that separate initiatives are being developed for children and for men).

Many people only think of sexual violence as a very violent crime that happens between strangers – the perpetrator lurking in a dark alley or in the bushes. In reality, most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim – an acquaintance, date, friend, colleague or family member – and often it occurs in private places, like the victim’s home [Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan].

The Plan acknowledges that current statistics are alarming and that women across Ontario live in fear. The crime that is sexual violence won’t be curtailed successfully by any one effort or approach alone, thus it is heartening to see prevention as well as post-incident response included in the Province’s approach. The stated vision in the Plan is that “Ontario is a place where all women live in safety, and are free from the threat, fear or experience of sexual violence”. Published progress reports are promised after two and four-year intervals (2013 and 2015).

No less than 16 provincial Ministries are listed in the Plan as partners in the effort and members of the Ministerial Steering Committee on Violence Against Women, and the Plan highlights several collaborative approaches. It is nonetheless unfortunate that the leadership in launching this Plan came from the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. Sexual violence is not a “women’s issue”. But the Plan does include a request from the Province for changes to the Criminal Code of Canada and that’s a positive step in the battle against electronic victimization (among the newest threats). Also welcomed is the Province’s financial investment in education, prevention and victim response initiatives.

For a full version of the 23-page Plan click here: Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan 2011.


Searching for Porn?

31 01 2011

I ask this question because, astoundingly, the statistics collected for this web page tell me that among the top search phrases that lead people to this page are those of people looking for porn. “Illegal girls” is one such phrase. “Young porn” is another. There are search phrases in Russian and others that include graphic references. Ironic isn’t it? A search for illegal images or pornographic content relating to children connects you to the web site of a consultant whose work includes partnering with the very agencies trying to stop child porn and support its victims!

If you found this page “by accident”, take a moment to look around this site before you continue your search for child pornography (you won’t find any here). Read some of my past posts about the damage done to children by our sexually toxic environment, and think about the part you are playing in inflicting that damage. Read about the agencies who are struggling to keep up with waiting lists for trauma treatment services that are in such huge demand. Ask yourself if you’ll still be interested in the same search parameters 3 or 5 years from now, and then (assuming the answer is no) think about whether a passing interest is worth the pain it causes (child porn + fans = kids + trauma). If the answer is yes, on the other hand, please seek help.

Talking About Mental Health

28 01 2011

Clara Hughes

You may have seen Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes on television recently promoting Bell’s “Let’s Talk Day” (February 9th). To find out more about this day in support of mental health, check this site:

The campaign is described as one aimed at raising awareness and encouraging dialogue about mental health. It is reported that 1 in 5 Canadians will experience some form of mental illness during their lifetime. It’s an important conversation. Hughes has offered up her own personal experiences as one of those affected by mental illness in order to strengthen the dialogue. The site includes a video with her story.

Also of interest, the Canadian Journal of Mental Health has published a special issue devoted to the recent Service Enhancement Evaluation Initiative (SEEI). It details four years of evaluation inside Ontario’s mental health system and specifically the impact of more than $160 million invested by the province. Dr. Lindsey George, Mental Health Program Director at the Hamilton Family Health Team, was one of the principal investigators and is a guest editor for this special issue.

To access the issue follow this link:


Safer Internet Day

22 01 2011

Check out the link below to receive information from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection  about Safer Internet Day, February 8, 2011 (including a reminder closer to the date if you’d like one):

CCCP’s web site also offers valuable information and tools, so check that too:

You’ll find education, awareness and prevention materials as well as research, a parent survey and access to CyberTip!ca, a tipline for reporting online sexual exploitation of children.

Resources for children and teens of all ages are provided, and are suitable for passing along to young people who use the Internet or text messaging, or are otherwise active online. A wealth of valuable information to be shared.

The Twinkle in Mohawk’s Eye

19 11 2010

Hamilton may be known as a university town, but right now it’s Mohawk College adding some sparkle and polish to the steel city. The new campus renovations, including an impressive new Learning Exchange building, are the twinkle in Mohawk College’s eye, and that eye is apparently fixed confidently on the future. Great expanses of glass, some of it in a rainbow of subtle colours, command attention along the new Fennel Avenue facade. Lettering on the new

(Photo: Mohawk College)

sign (with new logo) is some 5 ft. tall. The new Cummings Library has enhanced wireless access, e-learning and an innovative “collaboratory”. Common spaces abound, with sofas and large booths as well as more traditional seating. And, yes, there’s even a Starbucks. The college calls it “a new campus for a new decade”.

(Mohawk College)

This week the college is hosting several events that are part of The Hamilton Music Awards, and is one of the presenting sponsors. Showcasing local talent and honouring area musicians, this is a fitting venue for Mohawk College to encourage and attract young music students and connect with its community. Rob MacIsaac, President, describes Hamilton as “a great place to learn” thanks in part to Mohawk College and “a great place to call home” thanks in part to the musical icons and upcoming stars being recognized this weekend.

The festival and conference portions of the 5-day event are now on, with the Industry Awards on Saturday evening and the Hamilton Music Awards on Sunday evening (including a lifetime achievement award to Lighthouse founder and Hamiltonian Ronn “Skip” Prokop). Many talented people will walk the halls of Mohawk College for these events, including young talents whose future may well include enrollment at Mohawk. The new campus additions bode well for tomorrow’s student body and for Hamilton, with exemplary environmental design features and an obvious nod to learning comforts. Named the Centre for Entrepreneurship, Learning and Innovation this is the college’s largest-ever project and it is aptly named. The official opening won’t happen until January 2011 but already it’s apparent that the campus has been transformed.

Turns out Hamilton isn’t just a university and college town, it’s home to some of the most innovative educational facilities found anywhere. And, for Mohawk College, this most recent achievement came without aid of federal funds (requested but denied when infrastructure money was being allocated). That’s no small accomplishment, and something to be applauded.

From Dr. Seuss to Porn

20 10 2010

Parent Evening

The Community Child Abuse Council of Canada presents a special evening for parents on Monday, October 25 as part of its Child Abuse Prevention Month activities. The free evening event features Cordelia Anderson, a recognized expert in child maltreatment. Anderson will engage parents, caregivers and foster parents in a dialogue about what she calls our “sexually toxic” society and how to help children navigate this potentially dangerous landscape.

Pre-registration is required: call (905) 523-1020 ext. 14 or visit the Council’s web site: for more information.

On Tuesday, October 26 Cordelia Anderson will be the featured speaker at an all-day symposium for professionals. The focus of the day includes the sexual development of children and the impact of today’s cultural norms and sexually permissive media. For full information visit or call the Council: (905) 523-1020 ext. 14. Registration fee is $75.00 per person and space is limited.

Connections – if you work with women who have substance abuse issues…

5 09 2010

I will be facilitating four regional networking sessions across Canada later this month for Connections, a knowledge exchange network for agencies serving women with substance abuse issues.

The goal of Connections research is to improve services for women with substance use issues and their children in Canada. Children born to women who used substances during pregnancy are at greater risk for health and developmental problems. Women who continue to use substances after childbirth may have diminished capacity for parenting and have their own social and health problems” (from the Connections web site).

If you work in the substance abuse field, and particularly with women, check out the Connections web site and watch for us in St. John’s, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Vancouver.