It's the Labour Day long weekend and who doesn't love a long weekend?! With your extra time off this weekend though, you may want to spend a few minutes learning a bit of the history of the Labour movement and how this day came into effect. There's a lovely synopsis on the Canada's History website, where it starts off stating, "What evolved into just another summer holiday began as a working class struggle and massive demonstration of solidarity in the streets of Toronto."
Once you've brushed up on your Labour Day history, head over to Waterloo Park this Monday to celebrate the continued work of Labour organizations. The Waterloo Region Labour Council is hosting its annual Labour Day Picnic from noon to 4pm. There will be free food, face painting, games, and more! #365ofgoodWR
I have highlighted the work of Reep Green Solutions previously but do want to mention them again as they have several interesting workshops coming up as well as an exciting event called the Fresh Air Feast.
The Fresh Air Feast takes place in Waterloo Park on Sept. 14th from 11am-2pm. In celebration of 20 years of empowering people to live more sustainably and address climate change, Reep will be hosting this near zero waste community celebration. There will be live music, games, eco-swag, and a vegetarian feast. All for just $5! Register here if you'd like to attend.
There are also a number of workshops that caught my eye. The first is entitled "Finding a Perfect Match: Right Tree for the Right Place" and is on Sept. 25th. Trees can be a costly (but worthwhile!) investment so it makes sense to plant the tree that will do best in your yard. Reep is here to help you with that!
The other workshop that interests me is a tree identification workshop, called "What Kind of Tree is That?". It is offered on the morning of Oct 5th. If you're like me, you very much enjoy walks in treed areas of our region but struggle to identify many of those trees. I've got maple, oak, and walnut trees figured out but I'd love to know many more. This workshop will be followed with a walk around the neighbourhood to put your learning to the test! Registration is required for each of these classes. #365ofgoodWR
City Resolution #23 from Brent Toderian is an enjoyable one, though if you're like me, a challenging one to set time aside for. It encourages us to "start reading (or read more of) the many great books on smart city making and community building out there, not as a professional, but as an engaged citizen. See my hashtag #UrbanismBookClub."
There really are so many great books on community building and creating equitable, liveable cities. Your local library will be able to get you started. You can also head over to your favourite bookstore (such as Wordsworth Books) to pick this one up: House Divided: How the missing middle can solve Toronto's affordability crisis, by Coach House Books.
The Waterloo Region Yes in my Backyard group will be hosting a book club night on that book and would love to have you join in the discussion. If you don't have time to read it, but would still love to discuss housing options in our city, please join us. The date and location will be decided upon shortly. You can follow along here for more details. I'm excited to read this one (just picked it up at Wordsworth this week) as it's recent and it's in the Canadian context. Here's a synopsis of the book:
A citizen's guide to making the big city a place where we can afford to live. Housing is increasingly unattainable in successful global cities, and Toronto is no exception - in part because of zoning that protects "stable" residential neighborhoods with high property values. House Divided is a citizen's guide for changing the way housing can work in big cities. Using Toronto as a case study, this anthology unpacks the affordability crisis and offers innovative ideas for creating housing for all ages and demographic groups. With charts, maps, data, and policy prescriptions, House Divided poses tough questions about the issue that will make or break the global city of the future. #365ofgoodWR
I try to attend, or at least watch live, all Kitchener Council meetings (I proudly wear my Council Nerd title!) and this past Monday was no different. Now, if you follow me on Twitter at all, you'll know there was definitely some frustrating things regarding cycling projects that occured at that meeting. But fortunately there was also some pretty great stuff too. And since this is the #365ofgoodWR project, let's focus on the latter.
Councillor Johnston put forth a motion to reaffirm the city's commitment to religious freedoms for all faiths and denounced Quebec's Bill 21 legislation. Councillor Galloway-Sealock made a slight amendment to that motion that ensured the decision would be shared with the government of Quebec. This passed unanimously. There were several delegations that spoke to the need for municipalities and elected officials to set the tone of wholeheartedly welcoming newcomers to our city. Several women involved with the Coalition of Muslim Women (who I have highlighted previously), including Fauzia Mazhar, spoke and there was a very passionate speech from Meena Waseem. Immigration Partnership of Waterloo Region also shared an informative presentation on the value and importance of welcoming immigrants to our community. It felt like an evening of important and necessary discussion and I'm thrilled that the motion passed with overwhelming support from all councillors.
Have you visited one of Kitchener's 14 community centres lately? If not, you may want to do so soon. Fall programming registration just opened last week and many community centres offer diverse classes that are affordable (and sometimes free). Classes include zumba, 3D printing, swimming lessons, lunch hour fitness, piano lessons, and so much more. My 'home' community centre is the Downtown Community Centre and there are several free programs being offered this Fall including a Family Music Class with Great Lakes Music Together. There's also a variety of STEAM classes being offered there this session as well, including Robotics Fun with Stemotics and Scientists in School workshops. You can visit the website of the community centre closest to you or use the Active Kitchener page (where you can also register online for classes). #365ofgoodWR
Recently I was in St John's and as I turned a corner, I saw a man laying out on the sidewalk, seemingly unconscious. There were 2 others standing nearing him monitoring the situation. I heard an ambulance coming up the street. We inquired if any assistance was needed, but by then the ambulance had pulled up beside the man. It's not the first time I have come across a person who may or may not be in distress. I have seen people laying on a sidewalk, bench, or a storefront 'cubby' area and always do a quick assessment of whether I should intervene. Likely to the frustration of some previously sleeping folks, I have shaken awake a couple of people I have come across as I wanted to make sure they were in fact okay. But I am never fully confident of when I should intervene or when I should just let people be. How does one know when a behaviour is simply different than my own experience and when that behaviour is a sign that someone is in distress and in need of support? I have often said that I wish there was a course to help me better assess these situations. Well, now there is. Take a look at the description of this Active Bystander Training class offered by the Mennonite Central Committee:
This class "provides participants the opportunity to see themselves as potential Active Bystanders who can intervene when they are witness to abusive, isolating or stigmatizing behaviour. The training teaches them about pro-social behaviour, making them more aware of why they may be hesitant to intervene and encourages them to consider taking action in the future. The program focuses on behaviours relating to interpersonal violence (such as abuse, bullying/hazing, physical violence, dating/relationship violence, and sexual violence) and signs of loneliness or emotional distress.
From a community perspective, priming (Active) Bystanders to intervene when they see problematic situations can improve feelings of individual ability and effectiveness and encourages caring and support for others. Bystander Intervention Training provides an impetus for personal action and helps potential Active Bystanders to envision how they can be a part of improving our community in an everyday way."
The class runs from 2-5:30pm on Sunday, Sept. 15th at the Community Room at 50 Kent Ave. The class costs $10 and you need to register. #365ofgoodWR
Eryn O'Neill has her work on display locally and it's well worth a visit to check it out. She'll have her work "Desire Paths" on display in the Rotunda Gallery at Kitchener City Hall for all of September. This series is "the result of months of repetitive outings, in all conditions to gather visual information to formulate a cohesive body of work. Eryn uses running as her direct physical engagement to the structured urban landscape. These small, seemingly insignificant features commonly referred to as desire paths, or desire lines, meander throughout the city, offering up an alternative to the predetermined path." The opening reception is Sept. 5th from 5-7pm.
You can also see her work "Urban Interactions" on display this week at Art Incubate (an Art$Pay initiative) in Waterloo.
Learn more about Art Incubate and Art$Pay in this article by Glodeane Brown. #365ofgoodWR
Our Region is facing an increasing number of deaths due to drug overdose. Fortunately we have organizations like Sanguen and are soon to have a permanent site for consumption and treatment services in Kitchener. Each August, Sanguen hosts an Overdose Awareness Day to commemorate those who have died from drug overdose and to also raise awareness about the issue. Cambridge held its event on Aug. 19th and there will be one in Kitchener (Victoria Park, near the washrooms at David Street) on Aug. 26th from 4-6pm. There will be speakers and activities, and naloxone kits will be available. Read more about the event here and here. #365ofgoodWR
The YMCA offers a variety of conversation circles throughout Waterloo Region. This is a great opportunity for newcomers to meet new people while practising English. Classes are free and no registration is required. Below is a list of locations offering classes this Fall. The attached image includes information related to classes in Kitchener and Waterloo but click the link to find additional posters for classes elsewhere. #365ofgoodWR
English Conversation Circle for Adults in Kitchener-Waterloo: Conversation circles across Kitchener-Waterloo during the day and in the evening.
English Conversation Circles for Adults in Cambridge: Every Monday starting September 16 - August 22, 2020 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm at Chaplin Family YMCA French Conversation Circles for Adults in Kitchener / Les Tables de Conversation en Français: Every First and Third Tuesday of the Month / Le 1er et 3eme Mardi de Chaque Mois, from 4:00pm - 5:30 pm at Chaplin Family YMCA
Today's #365ofgoodWR reminds us to pay attention to our city's budget. City Resolution #22 from Brent Toderian says "when it’s budget time at City Hall, pay really close attention. It’s where the truth of your city’s aspirations is revealed. Insist that your political leaders show in detail how their spending decisions actually match the city vision they’ve approved in their plans." Brent has also said it this way "your city's aspirations aren't found in its vision. It's found in its budget." I couldn't agree more.
Over the years, I have sat on a number of committees and boards and talk often comes down to the vision statement. And I have seen some pretty impressive vision statements over the years. However, when talks turn to the budget, many of those ideals found in the vision statement are simply not reflected in the budget.
Now I'm not a numbers person at all and I understand that most of us do not find budgets very exciting. I mean, how many of us have even mustered up enough interest in our own financial situation to create and follow a budget? And now I'm asking you to follow the (much larger and more complicated) budget of an entire city? I get that. But, yes, I'm going to encourage you to do it still. There are many ways you can stay informed and get involved...and none of them require a degree in accounting!
You'll likely want to start with your municipality's website. For the City of Kitchener, they have a page called 2019 Budget. There, you'll find a number of links ranging in complexity from infographics to a more comprehensive look at the numbers in detail. Also, you can usually watch city council meetings online or television. And finally, you can simply email or meet with your Councillor to share what priorities you'd like to see reflected in the budget. This Fall, we'll start hearing more about the 2020 budget for each of our municipalities. Take a moment to learn a bit more about your city's budget and share your feedback with elected officials.