Conversations on Affordable Housing
I have mentioned my interest in supporting better access to affordable housing in previous posts. I continue to read and watch a variety of things on this topic as I try to learn more about what is needed to create a city with diverse and affordable housing options. In that regard, I have been watching this video from the Tamarack Institute that looks at some of the best practices on this issue and takes a close up look at some specific examples. If you're also interested in affordable housing, it's worth a watch. If you're interested in additional reading and videos on affordable housing, please check out the Waterloo Region Yes In My BackYard Facebook page as we share a variety of resources there. #365ofgoodWR
Gaukel St Plans
For most of us, when we think of streets, we think of vehicles driving from one place to another. However, we are seeing more streets being designed for people, and less focused on getting vehicles through as fast as possible. These people-friendly streets often slow down traffic (or redirect it to nearby arterial routes altogether) and encourage people to linger and explore. In fact, they remind me a lot of this Jane Jacobs quotation where she encourages us to really look at cities, "While you are looking, you might as well also listen, linger and think about what you see." There's so much to see, listen to, and think about in well-designed streetscapes.
That's why I'm pretty excited about a reimagining of what Kitchener's Gaukel St could be. This past summer, a pop up experience happened over 4 days on Gaukel which included picnic tables, basketball, and even live theatre. There's now a working group exploring options for Gaukel Street improvements and you can learn more about the possibilities and have your say in this survey. #365ofgoodWR
Digital Media Studios
Well, it seems that the Kitchener Public Library is once again being featured in my #365ofgoodWR project. They have recently opened up their Heffner Studio, an audio and digital media production lab at the Central branch. "Featuring four audio recording studios equipped with the latest gear, a selection of instruments, professional grade peripherals including 3D printers, 3D Scanners, Virtual Reality, and graphic design tools, Heffner Studio will be the community hub for audio and digital creation." Learn more about this space as well as the Chapter One project, "KPL's podcast series created to capture the stories of our community and amplify them throughout the Waterloo Region and beyond. Recorded in the library’s Heffner Studio, the series will inspire, inform and entertain by featuring the unique and diverse voices of our community."
It's been great to see these kinds of options become available in our region. The Working Centre has also developed the Commons Studio. This space, which is "one of The Working Centre's Community Tools projects, encourages community filmmaking through the sharing of skills, knowledge, equipment & resources." These kinds of services open up opportunities for many to create unique digital media productions. If you haven't yet, consider visiting both the Heffner Studio and the Common Studio to learn more.
Film Festival - last day!
Have you had a chance to catch any of the screenings for the Waterloo Region Global Migration Film Festival? Today's the last day to do so! Celebrate International Migrants Day by screening the last 2 films of the Film Festival: “Libertai” and "Haru’s New Year” at the Kitchener City Hall Rotunda, 6pm. Enjoy complimentary popcorn, fantastic films and great conversations on migration with Alice Shin, Haru's New Year's film maker, Bring on the Sunshine and local newcomer youth. Admission is free! #365ofgoodWR
Many of my #365ofgoodWR posts highlight great things happening in neighbourhoods by neighbours. I was lucky enough to sit on the #lovemyhood neighbourhood strategy project team. And, generally I'm just a big fan of all things neighbourhood-related :) So I was excited to see that Kitchener has come up with a way to recognize the work neighbours contribute to our city. Read details about the new Good Neighbour Recognition program below:
"From raking leaves, to shovelling snow, to hosting street parties, Kitchener neighbourhoods are home to good neighbours of all kinds. To recognize individuals, whose efforts make Kitchener a better place to live, work and play, the City of Kitchener is launching a Good Neighbour Recognition Program – allowing residents who have been touched by the kindness of a good neighbour the opportunity to say thank you.
“In neighbourhoods across Kitchener, good deeds by good neighbours happen every day,” said Mayor Vrbanovic. “These small acts of kindness make a big difference in our community and they play an important role in creating the kind of caring and inclusive city we can all be proud to call home.”
Beginning Jan. 1, residents will have the opportunity to nominate a good neighbour online or by phone for all acts of kindness, community volunteerism, and neighbourhood pride. Nominations will be accepted year-round and every individual, group, business, and organization that is nominated will receive a thank you card from their neighbor, with signatures from the mayor and members of council in recognition of their efforts. Nominees will also be entered into a bi-monthly draw to win great prizes.
“Kitchener really is a city of good neighbours,” said Councillor Dave Schnider. “They make our neighbourhoods stronger, friendlier and more connected. By recognizing a good neighbour, we as a city show that we value and appreciate their contributions.”
To learn more about the Good Neighbour Recognition Program, click here.
A LOT of Gifts!
If you celebrate Christmas, you may currently be experiencing that last minute stress of just what to buy for certain people on your list. Some of my family and I have agreed to a 'no gifts that you have to dust' rule. Instead of buying so many 'things' we opt for experiences like dinners together or tickets to events. So, I'm always looking for gift ideas that line up well with this approach. This week I came across a great one, through the Library of Things (LOT). Take a look at this description of what they have on offer:
"We have a LOT of Gifts!
Whether you are someone who revels in finding just the right item to give a person, or someone who would rather gift an experience, LOT has lots of gift ideas!
Our new gift certificates allow you to gift your loves with a ton of fun, adventure, and exploration, such as:
The End is Near
It's hard to believe but there's only a couple more weeks left in 2019 which means the #365ofgoodWR project is nearing its end! I definitely had times I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get a post out every day, but as the year went on, it just became habit to write a little bit each day about the good happening in our region.
As 2020 approaches, I'm starting to think of how to continue in some way with writing. It likely won't be an everyday endeavour, but I'd like to at least write weekly. I have a few ideas I'm considering, but if you have any thoughts on what you'd like to read more about, please feel free to comment below!
Well this kind of #365ofgoodWR post is right up my alley. Cycle WR has compiled a summary of 2019 and 2020 (proposed) bike projects and plans from the City of Kitchener. Check out the details here. Clearly, Kitchener has been busy improving cycling and trails options in the city. And the 2020 budget outlines more great things to come.
If you're excited about these changes like I am, please take a moment to email Kitchener councillors and the mayor to let them know. Thanks Cycle WR for this concise summary and your ongoing work in support of a cycle-friendly community!
To each their own
Last week I had a Twitter exchange with someone who "would like people to stop saying if better (transportation) options exist I can use alternative transportation as though I don’t like my car". They ended the exchange with "to each their own".
I couldn't help but reflect on that statement - to each their own. The phrase seemed problematic to me, and as I reflected on it more, this is what I came up with:
I think the phrase is saying that we can all make whatever decision we think is best. Which I don't necessarily have an issue with until I dig a little deeper. To me, it seems to imply that all things are equal and we simply weigh the 'facts' and make a decision that works best for ourselves. Unfortunately, I don't believe everything is equal. Policies, practices, and culture all impact how people make decisions.
I don't necessarily want to get into a deep philosophical discussion here, but I will say that through the #365ofgoodWR project I have seen many people who have identified some of those imbalances and injustices, and are doing their best to rectify or improve them. I think of the folks addressing issues of poverty like the Working Centre and the Social Development Centre; organizations building community like the Kitchener Public Library and Community Centres; individuals and groups using their artistic skills to create beauty and also to challenge our thinking like CAFKA and Green Light Arts; and organizations creating welcoming spaces for newcomers like Reception House and the Multicultural Centre. In fact, I would think each individual and organization I have highlighted over the past 11 months has, in some way, rejected the idea of 'to each their own' and instead embraced a "we're all in this together" approach. And our community has benefited greatly from their work.
Cycling and Trails
I've had the chance to help out with the City of Kitchener's Cycling and Trails Master Plan over the last year. Anyone who follows this blog knows that I think we need to improve active transportation options (such as walking and cycling) in order to create a more inclusive and equitable city. Check out this video the working group team helped put together.
Also, if you'd like to talk more about cycling in our region, come on out tonight to Graffiti Market between 7-9pm to connect at Cycle WR's Folks and Spokes monthly social. Not only is it a fun evening with great people, I hear rumour of some prize giveaways! #365ofgoodWR
About this Blog
A blog to highlight some of the great organizations and people in our community!