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]





What if we were all connected?

25 04 2015

I have recently learned about http://www.internet.org, 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 internet.org 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: http://connect.internet.org/story/erika-esmeralda





GoldieBlox – engineering for little girls

14 02 2014

Debbie Sterling, an engineer from Stanford, found few women in her university class and decided young girls needed more encouragement to experiment with engineering and innovative design concepts. Her research led to the revelation that 87% of the world’s engineers are males, and to the development of a combination storybook and toy building set designed specifically for little girls – Goldie Blox. Her original crowdfunding launch successfully reached its $150,000 target in less than 5 days (watch the launch video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-AtZfNU3zw) and GoldieBlox is now a series. The first building set, incorporating a belt drive, is available online and at select Target and ToysRUs stores along with #2  (wheel and axle) and #3 (hinge) in the series. goldieblox

For more about GoldieBlox, check out the web site: www.goldieblox.com

Thanks, Debbie, for recognizing the need to cheer on young inventors, and for tapping into young female minds with something more than pink packaging.





A Win-Win-Win for Children, Families, Communities

30 09 2013

It’s about helping children after the trauma of abuse. The focus is supporting parents and caregivers. And we all benefit.

That’s the winning combination behind the Community Child Abuse Council’s entry in the AVIVA Community Fund competition this year.  It’s a simple concept that, with your support, could do a great deal of good.

The Community Parent Support Program

  • A series of facilitated group programs to support parents and caregivers whose children have been sexually victmized, or who have problem sexual behaviours (including sibling incest).
  • Developed by an experienced team of professionals and offered by the Community Child Abuse Council over the past several years – with solid results.
  • Parents (including foster parents) and caregivers (including grandparents) learn together and get the support they need to understand what their children are going through. In a safe and supportive environment, they strengthen their knowledge about sexual abuse and its impact on families, and enhance their ability to support their children. And, importantly, their involvement in these groups has been shown to have a positive impact on children’s treatment outcomes.

Now, the Council has an opportunity to share this proven model with others, supporting parents and caregivers in any community (even remote ones and those without specialized treatment options for children). The proposal will see the program published, packaged, and distributed widely, together with the materials and supports needed by facilitators to deliver these groups in any community. These innovative resources will be affordable, adaptable, and ready to implement in any community, anywhere. And, to make this a win-win-win scenario, any revenue from the project will be reinvested into the Council’s child abuse prevention, education, and treatment programs. That means more treatment for local kids in need, more prevention work, and more community-focused educational initiatives.

Voting begins today – September 30th – and it’s easy to vote. Just go to the AVIVA Community Fund web site, find the “register” button at the top right of the page (takes 30 seconds, and only required on your first visit), and once you’re registered, select the Community Parent Support Program and vote!

Here’s the link: http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf17152#.UkHqha-RE2Y.email

You can also search for the Council’s project on the AVIVA Community Fund web site using (idea) number is ACF17152.

Please tell your friends, use your social media connections, and help generate as much support as possible for this proposal – with your help, and enough votes, it will move on to the next rounds and one step closer to the funding that will make this important project possible.

In the first round, you can vote 15 times (but only once per day for the same project). So, please, use those votes to help put valuable and vital resources in the hands of caring communities where they can do the most good for families who need them.

Thank you so very much.





Hamilton Changemakers

13 07 2013

park_kids

What if all children in Hamilton were thriving? What would that make possible? What conditions need to be in place for that to happen?

 

These were the central questions that brought together a room full of Hamiltonians this past week to think about creating the future we all want for our community. The afternoon gathering was hosted by the Community Child Abuse Council, Alternatives for Youth, and Hamilton Food Share. These three agencies have applied some of the thinking and approaches developed by Creating the Future, a “living laboratory” devoted to social progress co-founded by Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis. As local early adopters of this work, these agencies have been inspired to pursue vision-driven change in what many would see as very different areas of endeavour – child abuse, addiction, hunger. In fact, all share similar visions of a thriving community.

Seeing an opportunity to join together in this shared pursuit, these 3 organizations invited their key partners and supporters to gather for a conversation about what would be possible if we all aimed for the same goal: a thriving community. The resulting “Gathering of Changemakers” event brought together 40+ community leaders, thinkers, and visionaries from across a wide swath of the Hamilton community, including health, social services, policing, business, service clubs, funders, and others. Special guests, Hildy Gottlieb and Dimitri Petropolis of Creating the Future, engaged the gathering in a series of discussions focused on highest potential and the steps needed to realize our shared vision of a thriving Hamilton.

inspire

 

And what a conversation it was! We learned that while we may sometimes disagree on the “how”, we share the same aspirations and values – we want everyone in our community to thrive, knowing that our community overall will thrive as a result. And, despite some early doubts about whether this goal is actually achievable, we learned that we already know what is required to make our desired future happen. Just as we’re able to get to the airport on time when we leave on a trip, we are able to identify the steps we need to take in order to get to our shared goal. We work backwards to figure out what we need to do (e.g. what time to set our alarm so we don’t miss our flight). The starting point is our vision, and from there we simply need to identify the favourable conditions that will get us there. It’s something we do every day, in virtually every part of our lives, but we aren’t doing it in our efforts to achieve the future we want for our community.

It’s going to take practice. We’re going to have to ask different questions, and challenge some of the assumptions we’ve inherited about people, systems, and the impact each of us is having on the future of our world each and every day (whether we do so consciously or not). And we’re going to need more Hamiltonians to join us in this ongoing conversation. We’ll be working on these things, and talking to each other about next steps. And we know this isn’t going to result in overnight change. But imagining what would be possible if all children in our community were thriving has us excited enough to keep moving forward in this direction – finding our commonalities, working from our shared values, and aiming at the highest possible potential for the community we all care about so deeply.

Stay tuned!

 

 





Street children – changing our view

12 04 2013

street kids international

Street Kids International (Street Kids) was founded in Canada in 1988 (and now has offices in the UK and US). Its mission is to provide vulnerable youth with the tools they need to move themselves out of poverty and into gainful employment.

Today, April 12th, marks the annual International Day for Street Children and as part of their campaign this year Street Kids International has created a two-minute animation to raise awareness and mobilize action for the estimated 100 million street children in the world. They want the world to see it, which is why they’re asking websites and TV stations to air the clip and spread the word through their networks.

This short animation engages youth throughout our global village, zooming around the globe from The Philippines to Sierra Leone, and finally in front of the CN tower in Toronto. It shares the important message that even though poverty exists everywhere, street youth are resilient and creative and, importantly, that we are all connected. In doing so it challenges the common myth that street youth are delinquents or lazy, and welcomes viewers to “Challenge Perceptions and Change Reality.”
The video is being shown online as part of a social media campaign coinciding with the International Day for Street Children. By sharing the video, we can help to raise awareness of this worldwide issue.

View/download the animation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kltKwly3qLw&list=UUHCejrlblzmE7JJ_yJPtzuw&index=1

Let the change begin!





5 Days in Tucson

5 03 2013

After a few years of waiting and wanting, I finally got the opportunity to travel to Arizona last week to take in one of the amazing immersion courses offered by Hildy Gottlieb and the team at Creating The Future (www.creatingthefuture.org). It was worth the wait. Described as a course for “changemakers”, the week brought six of us together (the immersion courses are always limited to a maximum of 10 participants) with Hildy and with CTF co-founder Dimitri Petropolous for an up-close-and-personal exploration of the values, principles, approaches, and thinking that help to aim us (and others) towards our highest potential. Hard work, that. But when done in the company of awesome thinkers and community builders, it was both exhilarating and transformational. I came away feeling like I’d got my mojo back…inspired to reach higher and inspirebetter equipped to bring clarity and vision to my life, my profession, my community. How awesome is that!? The work Hildy and Dimitri are doing has resonated for me since I first stumbled upon The Polyanna Principles and began to explore the thought framework behind Creating The Future. What they’re doing is open and accessible – meant to walk the talk and act as a living laboratory so that we can all see what it looks and feels like to engage community and create an intentional future. Even their board meetings are completely open, online, and welcoming for anyone who cares to join them (just one of many examples of their efforts to show and model while they do). I think it’s the authenticity behind all of this work that first drew my attention and continues to engage me most.

Thanks Hildy and Dimitri. And thank you to the amazing changemakers I had the privilege of spending this wonderful week with. I can’t wait to apply my learning, to hear about your successes, and to build on what we started.