You're invited to Turn Up the Volume with the Social Development Centre at their Annual General Meeting. It's on June 25th from 6-7:30pm at St John Church in Kitchener. Guest speakers include Brian Doucet (Canada Research Chair, University of Waterloo), Wellbeing Waterloo, and Suzi Gursoy (Participant Action Group). The event is described as follows, "We will be turning up the volume to project the strong and courageous voices of those currently on the margins and assist in making them a part of the mainstream. Our initiatives are like constellations, recognizable from afar and moving together in sync: Civic Hub, Peer Internships, Supports for Lifelong Engagement, Strong Neighbourhoods, Participatory Advocacy & Research. There are numerous ways we can combine and connect them to initiatives that share the same vision."
The Social Development Centre brings diverse voices together to find common solutions to issues such as affordable housing, inclusion and democratic participation, and consumption and treatment services. They strive to "amplify lived experience voices across the board and continue creating safer spaces for conversations that do not shy from difference and opposing views." Learn more about their work by attending this month's annual general meeting. #365ofgoodWR
Given the recent passing of Bill 21 in Quebec, which many suggest will disproportionately affect Muslim women who wear the hijab, today I want to share the report on Islamophobia in Waterloo Region. This report was prepared in partnership between the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council and the Coalition of Muslim Women.
The authors of the report note that because so many of us believe that Canada is such a great place to live, it can be challenging for us to have authentic conversations on tough topics such as racism and islamophobia in our communities. From the report: "To disrupt such notions, we need to normalize very difficult but necessary community conversations on Islamophobia. Through open and respectful dialogue, we can achieve shared understandings that can lead to collective actions. Addressing Islamophobia and all forms of hate crimes requires an “all hands on deck” approach." The report seeks to provide information about the extent of islamophobia in our community and help to generate solutions. Take some time to read the report and also connect with the work of both WRPRC and the CMW. #365ofgoodWR
I'm a big fan of Globe Studios. There are so many excellent local artists creating in this space, it's hard to not feel appreciation for what's happening here. But I also really believe they have a unique model that helps support those artists by striving to keep studio space affordable. If you're not familiar with Globe Studios, take a look at this article in The Community Edition to learn a bit more.
If you are familiar with them and, like me, see the importance of keeping them around, take a moment to read this article from The Record. It speaks about the importance of creative hubs, the ongoing challenge of increasing rents, and the benefits of offering tax benefits to dedicated creative hubs. It looks like the idea already has the support of ward 9 councillor Debbie Chapman. If it's an idea that you think is worth pursuing, take a moment to reach out to your councillor to let them know. #365ofgoodWR
Have you heard about the Community Company? They are a local company that is "empowering individuals experiencing adversity within our community through entrepreneurship." By collaborating with people experiencing adversity (such as homelessness, a workplace injury, etc) these contributors work with the Community Company to create unique products for Community Boxes. These boxes each have a theme and can be purchased for yourself or as a gift. Each contributor is paid a wage for their contributions to the boxes. You can learn more about the current Community Box and the contributors here. Find out how this company came to be in the link. #365ofgoodWR
Kitchener is updating their Cycling and Trails master plan and they want to hear from you. Fill out this short survey to provide your feedback on your current use of trails, suggestions for improvements, and what is needed to get folks to cycle more. As someone who sits on this committee, we want to hear from everyone on this but are particularly interested in hearing from those people who are interested in cycling but have concerns or challenges around doing that currently.
You can also fill in the Important Destinations map which outlines key destinations in our region that should be a priority when improving cycling and trails. Both of these surveys close at the end of this month.
Here's a bit more information about the Master Plan from the City of Kitchener: "Our new Cycling & Trails Master Plan will serve as the catalyst for building a city where people willingly and joyfully choose active transportation for getting around. We’re partnering with Urban Systems, Dillon Consulting and 8-80 cities to draw on their expertise in “all ages and abilities” cycling and trails networks and to deliver a fun and inclusive community engagement process that gets more people involved and out on their bikes."
You can stay up-to-date on this project by subscribing to Bike Kitchener updates. #365ofgoodWR
Next Friday, June 21st, is National Indigenous Peoples Day and there are a variety of events happening from now until next weekend in honour of the day. There's an indigenous art market running until this Sunday; Kitchener Public Library is showing the movie Indian Horse; there's a Solstice Sunrise Ceremony; and many more events and opportunities to learn more.
Wellbeing Waterloo recently shared the following information about National Indigenous Peoples Day: "June 21st – the summer solstice and longest day of the year – marks National Indigenous Peoples Day, started in 1996 by the Governor General of Canada.
The day celebrates the contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people of Canada. It also serves as a reconciliation measure to recognize the history of Canada’s first peoples and is one of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (80).
Events are held in observance of National Indigenous Peoples Day across the nation. Some First Nations, Inuit and Métis people choose to take the day off as a holiday. Many host public events that include feasts, dances, drumming circles, sunrise ceremonies, concerts and movie screenings."
Perhaps you'll join me this week in taking some time to become familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation 'Calls to Action' as well as the recently released Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Let's reflect on actions each of us can take in response to these important documents. #365ofgoodWR
It's time to look at the next suggestion in Brent Toderian's City Resolutions and this one is timely for all the wrong reasons. Resolution #13 is "Support local arts and culture with your feet and dollars every day, so you won’t have to fight to save them when they’re under threat of closure. Support local stores and services, especially those like bookstores and theaters that not only support the local economy more than chains, but also contribute to local culture and character. Support stores, cafes, and other businesses that choose designs that strengthen the sidewalk and street, and contribute to the neighborhood. See my hashtag #StickyStreets."
Its unfortunate timeliness is due to this week's announcement that IMPACT19 has lost a major source of funding resulting in several changes and cuts to this Fall's festival. You can read details about that funding loss and what it means for the festival in this article.
It seems in this current climate of cuts and searching for 'efficiencies', that supporting our local arts and businesses is needed more than ever. If this isn't yet part of your routine, take a moment to identify a local arts event or festival, a local cafe or restaurant, or another local business and make a plan to support it this week. Also, spread the word about your favourite local events and businesses so others can also support them. And comment below about some of your current 'local' favourites. #365ofgoodWR
Following up on yesterday's theme of affordable housing, I share this article from The Record on Kitchener's affordable housing strategy. The article states, "the strategy, to be crafted over the next year and a half, will spell out Kitchener's housing priorities and a plan of the actions the city can take to boost the supply of affordable housing." An advisory committee made up of staff, councillors, development industry representatives, and residents will help shape the creation of the strategy over the next 18 months.
I'm excited to see the city recognize the important role it can play in addressing our lack of affordable housing. Last year when I was campaigning, this issue was discussed often. In fact, I wrote a post about how we should create a "citizens' committee on housing" so residents could have more of a say in the types of housing developments to be built in our city. You can read more about those ideas in my post from last Fall.
I look forward to seeing this team put together and hearing about their progress as Kitchener looks to take a bigger role in affordable housing issues. #365ofgoodWR
How great is this? Bikes and affordable housing together in one event! On June 22nd you can participate in the Bike-A-Thon in support of MennoHomes creating affordable housing in our region. The waiting list for affordable housing in our community continues to rise and now exceeds 4,400 households. MennoHomes is in the early stages of developing an exciting new project in Waterloo Region. You can support this project by collecting pledges and participating in the bike-a-thon. Since there is no registration fee, all funds raised will go directly to this new project (donations qualify for a tax receipt). #365ofgoodWR
Bike-a-thon details: Registration starts at 9:00. (if you register online, this process is much quicker!) At 9:30 we will gather for a short greeting along with some words of instruction. Everyone then proceeds to the Kissing Bridge Trail and either head towards West Montrose or Wallenstein. (approx 16 km round-trip either way)
You can travel alone, with your friends, or with someone you've just met. It's not a race! Some participants complete the full 32 km loop while others just go part way. A stop for ice cream in West Montrose is a highlight for many.
We ask that you pace yourself so that everyone is back at the church for a BBQ lunch at noon. After the lunch and door prizes, you will still have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of your day.