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





EXCLerator Project: women as leaders

28 09 2014

The Women & Diversity EXCLerator Project is the first of its kind to present a comprehensive overview of women’s representation in senior leadership positions in Hamilton and Halton’s most prominent organizations. In a project report recently released by YWCA Hamilton, in partnership with McMaster University and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Group, an analysis of women in leadership across nine sectors provides a benchmark for measuring future progress.

“Ensuring women are proportionately represented at the decision-making table makes sense from a social and business perspective. Fair representation of women in top positions impacts organizations’ policy choices, improves their ability to serve communities, increases innovation and creativity in problem solving, and advances perceptions of institutional legitimacy”.

Board_of_DirectorsThe report shows that women are underrepresented in senior leadership positions across all sectors in Hamilton and Halton. The EXCLerator Project will continue to collect and analyze data on women in leadership across these communities, with an emphasis on recognizing barriers and then setting goals, devising strategies, and measuring changes in inclusivity over time.

To view the full report, visit www.ywcahamilton.org

 





Unacceptable realities…points to ponder

29 08 2014

Something more personal for this post…an update after a considerable hiatus from blogging. I blame Facebook, in part, because of the distraction it provided to this newby. It took several months to discover what I really wanted to get from the site, and how to make my participation meaningful. But it has been my busy professional life that has taken most of my time and attention. Always rewarding, at times frustrating, ever changing, it both commands my full attention while I’m “in it” and necessitates downtime that is just that.

The sexual abuse of children continues to make headlines, along with these same crimes against women. Issues of gender inequality, gender-based violence, exploitation, pornography, cyber bullying, rape culture, sexting, and the debate over the educational curriculum for sexuality and human relations have become so commonplace in news reports that I worry we are numbing to their seriousness. And, on most days, I am hard-pressed to understand how these vitally important issues are not front and centre in our political and public policy discussions. These very issues are the bedrock of my work, each and every day. I notice the headlines, pay attention to the news coverage, am saddened by the disclosures, and outraged by the appalling lack of change. These constant reminders of the work still to be done creep into my off-work hours, make regular appearances in my dreams, and urge me onward. No, I am not obsessed or inappropriately burdened by these unacceptable realities. I manage to keep a healthy (most days) balance. But these remain unacceptable realities.

A friend told me recently that there was a disturbing pattern to many of my posts on Facebook. He said he understood why so many of my posts related to the issues that relate to my professional work, but he “just couldn’t read all of them” and found many of them “too disturbing”. And, sadly, I know he’s not the only one.

So, by way of updating this blog and sharing what has been keeping me busy of late, here are a few points to ponder:

  • today, here in my own community (as in many others), 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday
  • in Hamilton, the city I am so proud to live in, overall violent crime has decreased but not sexual crimes against women and children or child pornography
  • the agency I lead, the Community Child Abuse Council, employs the equivalent of 3.2 full-time staff and a team of consulting clinicians who provide direct trauma treatment to children and youth experiencing the trauma that results from sexual abuse – we have a perpetual wait list
  • we also work to address the unique mental health needs of immigrant and refugee children and youth who are experiencing symptoms of trauma – from war-torn countries, experiences in refugee camps, violence, loss, and upheaval – there is a waiting list for this program too
  • we turn every dollar provided by government towards these services into $1.70 – in blunt terms, we spend a significant amount of time and energy raising money to serve the children who need our help, and on any given day the provision of these crucial services may well depend on bake sales and raffles
  • the Council has an incredibly generous circle of supporters with whom I am in regular contact  – their commitment to making sure these essential services are available to youngsters in our community is beyond admirable, yet they are but a tiny proportion of the caring population in Hamilton

children_threatsI share these points not to claim any undue burden or regret – I love the work I am doing and I could not be more committed to this cause. I share these points for consideration by people like my friend who bristled at the content of my posts on Facebook. Or for any readers of this blog who may have wondered why I had been absent of late. I share them because it is important to me that the nature of the Council’s work be understood – an entire community’s response to the sexual abuse of children and youth is resting almost exclusively on the shoulders of one small agency. How fortunate we are to have an exceptionally specialized and seasoned clinical team of experts doing this work. How wonderful it is to know that this agency is accomplishing great things on a daily basis thanks to the tireless efforts of staff who care deeply and volunteers who are passionate. How reassuring to know that the Board of Directors at the Council is comprised of individuals with integrity, careful stewards of public funds, and diligent ambassadors for a cause far too often overshadowed.

Yes, many days I am tired. And I do get frustrated. But I continue to give my all to this remarkable organization and the youngsters it serves because the work we are doing is making a difference. Every day I see the results of treatment programs that are effective. And every day I am fortunate to be around some of the bravest young people you’ll ever meet. They are what matters. Helping them to get beyond the trauma, heal and move forward, that is what counts. We believe thriving children create thriving communities, so everything we do to help our young clients get back on track is ultimately an investment in the future of our community. That inspires me, that commands my attention, and that keeps me focused.

If you find me posting a recipe or a travel link on Facebook, you’ll know it’s been an especially good day.

Postcript:

To date, the most-searched phrase that lands visitors here on my web site is “children girls porn”. Sadly ironic, and another reason for this important work to not only continue but to knock it out of the park. You can help – have a conversation, share resources, point others towards these issues, support the work that is so important to ensuring our youngest community members can go on to be thriving, contributing future leaders.





Marking International Women’s Day

8 03 2014

A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult. – Melinda Gates





Neighbourhood and Maternal-Infant Health in Hamilton

3 02 2014

Mother-ChildA few months ago, the team of researchers conducting the Neighbourhood Study of Maternal and Infant Health in Hamilton hosted an invitational meeting to present their findings and to gather input from community members interested in this work. Their research focus looked at whether or not neighbourhood variations could be found in selected maternal-child health indicators. Does it matter if a new mother has lived in particular neighbourhood for a long time? Does neighbourhood play a role in pre-term birth?

The meeting was intended to get people talking about the research findings (including maps showing health indicators, like obstetrical complications, by census tract) and to hear from those who work in these neighbourhoods as well as those whose primary interest is maternal or infant health. It was seen as a starting point for sharing what the researchers learned, and seeing what the community might do to further their work or implement their findings.

 

The meeting was facilitated by Karen Smith. The link to the summary report is here: Neighbourhood Study of Maternal and Infant Health in Hamilton INVITATIONAL MEETING SUMMARY REPORT





Get on board the PINK BUS!

11 09 2013

Hamilton will be one of 90 stops on the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation 2013 Pink Tour, with the Pink Bus making a visit on September 12th in the parking lot at North Hamilton Community Health Centre (John St. N.) from 10am to noon.

It’s all about breast health, encouraging women to become aware and to act. Inside the bus, visitors will find a variety of learning formats/aids to educate them about breast health. Organizers hope eligible visitors will be inspired to take action right away by booking a mammogram on site. Those wanting more information about the program can pick up pamphlets, and all visitors are invited to sign the outside of the big pink bus as a signal of their commitment to action.

 Pink-Bus-Tour-CK1The goals of the Pink Tour:

1.     Educate the general public on the importance of breast cancer screening

2.     Encourage eligible women to sign up for a mammogram (as part of the breast  screening program)

Check out the tour poster here:  PINK TOUR_POSTER_5x11_MAY15_EDITABLE (2)

or visit http://www.cbcf.org/pinktour

 

 

 

 





Happy International Women’s Day!

8 03 2013

Borrowing from another excellent message distributed today by Miss Representation (www.missrepresentation.org), here’s a reminder to think about change as we celebrate women and girls in all their potential…

toddlers and tiaras

Today is International Women’s Day, so let’s take this collective moment to pledge to end the oppression of women worldwide – in all its forms. Let’s pledge to end not only the overt violence directed at women daily, but the institutional sexism holding us back and the destructive representations of women in the media which contribute to that same culture of negating women and denying them their equal seat at the tables of power. After all, as long as the media hypersexualizes and objectifies women, they normalize treating women as second-class citizens and objects for the male gaze, which further contributes to violence against women.

Katy Couric

We encourage you to spend this special day not only supporting those organizations creating change in the treatment of women globally, but thinking personally about how you can make an impact on the lives of women and girls everywhere. Each of us can play a small part in transforming the way our culture views, values, and treats women and girls.