Head over to Kitchener Public Library and Civic Park on September 10th in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day. The event offers a wellness fair, charity BBQ, and the annual butterfly release. This day acknowledges "those who have experienced suicide attempts, ideations, or losses of loved ones, and to come together as a community to strengthen suicide prevention awareness and efforts."
The event runs from 4:30-6:30pm and is family friendly. Here's an overview of the evening's events:
4:30-6:30pm Wellness Fair
4:30-6:30pm Charity BBQ
6pm-6:30pm Community Butterfly Release (Civic Park, beside the library)
This weekend you'll want to head over to Victoria Park to celebrate the 14th LINK festival, a celebration of African and Caribbean art, music, and culture. The festival runs both Saturday and Sunday and is free to attend.
There will be lots of family-friendly fun happening with crafts, face painting, games, and emergency vehicles to explore. There will also be lots of drumming, dancing, and great music all weekend. On Sunday you can also join in the fun of the Family Carnival Costume Parade.
Find out more about the festival in this article. More details about the weekend's festivities can be found on the LINK website. #365ofgoodWR
City resolution #21 from Brent Toderian states that we should "get involved with (or create) community and advocacy organizations, especially ones that are for things, not just against things." Well, if you have been following along with the #365ofgoodWR project this year, you should have no shortage of organizations that you can connect to! Today is the 231st day of the year, meaning there have been just about that many posts about the great things happening in our region, many of which are looking for volunteers, donors, and general support. Are you connected with a local organization? If so, which one and what motivated you to connect with them originally?
There are several calls out to artists open right now. Take a look at a few of them below and share widely.
Doon Pioneer Park Community Centre Public Art Competition
"Artists/artist teams are invited to submit proposals for a one-stage competition to provide a site-specific work of public art that combines an artistic vision with functionality for an outdoor seating installation at Doon Pioneer Park Community Centre, Kitchener, Ontario. Open to all emerging and established artists/teams residing in Canada." Submissions deadline is Sept. 23rd, 2019 at 11:59pm.
Rotunda Gallery artists
"With all of the visitors we see at Kitchener City Hall each day, our Rotunda Gallery can be the perfect space for visual artists to share their work - and their talent - with the community. Visual artists are invited to submit proposals for month long exhibits." Submissions are due Sept. 22nd by midnight.
"Each year, the City of Kitchener invites artists, who live and work in Waterloo Region, to apply to be our community's next Artist in Residence. This encourages local artists to engage and collaborate with the community while developing their practice or interests. We welcome and encourage applications from artists of all ethnic or cultural backgrounds and gender identities, from Indigenous to immigrant, able-bodied to living with disabilities, binary to non-conforming." Deadline for submissions is Oct. 31st, by midnight.
I'm not a huge fan of fiction and almost all my reading tends to fall in the non-fiction category. Because of that, there's not many book clubs that I fit in to, given their tendency to focus on fiction. However, this one caught my eye both for the style of the book club and the important themes and topics they're exploring. It's the Reconciliation Book Club and is offered in partnership with Words Worth Books and the University of Waterloo.
Here are the details: "We'll meet the first Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Words Worth Books to discuss the latest book in the series. At our inaugural Sept. 4 meeting, we'll discuss Karen Stote's An Act of Genocide: Colonialism and the Sterilization of Aboriginal Women (Fernwood, 2015). Professor Stote will join us for the discussion. All are welcome." #365ofgoodWR
Here's another opportunity for you to provide feedback to the City of Kitchener. This one is about the Economic Development strategy for the city. Check out the 'Dear Change' video and then answer a few questions to help define the city's economic development plan.
From the website: "Change is all around us, but in Kitchener, we own our change. We make, we innovate, we fix and make it again. But most importantly we make change together. We Make It Kitchener. Help shape the City's next Economic Development strategy for 2020 and beyond, by taking the survey." #365ofgoodWR
Kidspark is celebrating its 31st year on August 18th. Come to Victoria Park to celebrate! This free event offers music, art, entertainment, and loads of family fun!
There are 2 main locations for these fun activities in the park. For one day only Roos Island will be transformed into 'Discovery Island' which will be filled with all sorts of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) activities to explore. You'll also have the chance to take in an interactive story at the gazebo throughout the day.
The KPL Main Stage is in the Victoria Park Commons (near the clock tower) and it will offer a wide variety of events including drumming, dancing, magic, and Erick Traplin of course!
There will also be a Try-athlete zone, a rock climbing wall, the community train station, and you can park your bike with Kitchener's Bike Check program. Find out more details on the Kidspark website. #365ofgoodWR
Marit Collective is hosting yet another interesting (and important!) discussion evening - tonight! It's entitled Finding Common Ground Across Communities.
Here's the description about the event:
"How do we have discussions across social barriers? How do we find common ground with all our differences? How we do bring people together? How do we expand our circles & our reach to explain our concerns and unite within our community?"
The event will be at The Causerie and starts at 6:30pm. It's free to attend but any 'pay what you can' donations will happily be used to support the costs of running more events just like these. There will also be light refreshments available.
And here's a little more information about Marit Collective:
Marit Collective is a social organization that encourages a culture of depth and thoughtfulness through exploring personal insight and human connection. We create space for respectful discussion and consciousness-raising within our own groups and community, working at the personal level to foster more empathy and awareness of each other. We believe that individual shifts in understanding can lead to larger societal evolution in an increasingly polarized world.
I spent this morning hanging out in Council Chambers as I wanted to hear more about the speed limit review. I had also registered to speak to this issue. The main points I tried to address were: yes, let's reduce speed limits to 40km/hr - or maybe even 30km/hr; changing signs alone will likely not result in much change so let's also consider the importance of street design for this issue; and let's skip the 'pilot' aspect and implement this immediately this Fall. The TL;DR version is that the pilot passed with almost unanimous support.
But for those interested, here's a little more detail!
Staff stated that this approach would be just one tool in the toolbox alongside a variety of other city and citizen led initiatives. The upcoming Complete Streets plan was mentioned several times as being another important tool to help slow down our streets and make them more welcoming to all residents. In that plan, they specifically address streets that will have design speeds of 40km/hr (as opposed to being designed for faster speeds and simply putting up signs to attempt to have slower speeds).
Overall, there were some great key messages coming from staff though I was discouraged about the big emphasis on 'education and communication'. Those things are important of course, but without other measures such as street design and traffic-calming measures, they won't accomplish much I fear. Thankfully those other measures will also be used, but I wish they were emphasized more in today's discussion.
It was noted that Kitchener has been in discussions with the city of Waterloo and the Region as well. This is considered a 'Joint Services Initiative" with Waterloo and it sounds like Waterloo is looking at putting in speed reductions to 40km/hr in their upcoming master plan.
A couple of Councillors asked questions about the logistics for removing the pilot aspect and implementing this citywide this Fall. Staff had some reservations about it in terms of budget, communicating the importance/need for this to residents, and a couple of other issues. Councillors Johnston, Michaud, Marsh, and Chapman all saw some benefits to just implementing this now without a pilot. All other Councillors believed that a pilot was needed in order to gather quantitative data before proceeding with a more fulsome reduction in speeds. There was some reference to the importance of qualitative data as well (mostly by staff) but I worry many on Council were far more interested in quantitative data (for example, needing to see that speeds are reduced by x% in order to view this pilot as a success - I have concerns about this approach but I'll save that for another post!)
Mayor Vrbanovic wondered if we could consider making the standard 'city speed limit' 40km/hr unless otherwise posted. Staff believe the Highway Traffic Act would prohibit that and speed limits can only be reduced on the neighbourhood level. The mayor favoured the pilot, but I was excited to hear him reference Vision Zero with the hopes that Kitchener would explore what becoming a Vision Zero community could look like for Kitchener.
There was discussion of changing driver 'culture' versus driver 'behaviour'. Some thought changing behaviour seemed a more appropriate goal than changing 'culture'. One staff suggested that driving culture is 'that you drive what you're comfortable driving' (that can be impacted by street design, speed limits, etc). He went on to say that we need to change what people are comfortable with (meaning we need people to not be so comfortable driving so fast).
Alright, there was a lot more that was said in the almost 2 hour discussion on this, but I'm guessing I have only like 2 people who have made it this far ;) The original motion was slightly amended by Mayor Vrbanovic to include reference to this being only phase one of slowing down our streets. You can see the amended motion in the photo. It passed with 10 votes in favour. The only dissenter was Councillor Chapman. Based on her earlier comments in strong support of an immediate implementation of the reduced speed limits, I assume her dissenting vote was related to that and not that she didn't want the City to move ahead with reduced speed limits. #365ofgoodWR
This is just a quick note to say that a #365ofgoodWR post is coming later today. I spent my morning at a Council Committee as they discussed the speed limit reduction pilot project. I'll provide a more fulsome review of how that played out later today, but the main takeaway is that the pilot project did pass almost unanimously. More details to come shortly...