Radar Scores

Last Friday, the presentation by Radar youth held at the AGH gave YAC members a chance to speak to the group, congratulating them on getting their show together, inviting members to join them at HCF, and getting into the spirit of fun and community engagement. The evening was a chance for families, friends and colleagues, along with more senior members of The Well, to wish the youth good luck as they follow their dreams and pursue their goals.

Radar, you did a super job!

McMaster Hits a Home Run

I just returned from a fantastic announcement at McMaster that felt more like a pep rally/church revival than a staid academic affair. Minister Sophia Aggelonitis and MPP Ted McMeekin were on hand along with Colleges and Universities Minster John Milloy to announce a $45M committment by the province to complete the long awaited and much needed new humanities and social sciences building. Mac Chancellor “Red” Wilson, whose extraordinary $10M gift launched the campaign, gave an impassioned presentation on the power and importance of a liberal arts education in preparing the leaders of tomorrow. Congratulations are in order to the Province and to many McMaster students, faculty and board volunteers who contributed to the campaign. A special acknowledgement for leadership goes to new HCF Board member and Mac President Dr. Patrick Deane for his leadership in getting it done.

Social Inclusion and Pan Am 2015

I was pleased to emcee “Playing for Keeps”, a dialogue on social inclusion and Pan Am 2015 held today at Liuna Station in Hamilton. Toronto Community Foundation CEO Rahul Bhardwaj kicked it off with a challenge to the diverse audience of stakeholders to ensure Hamilton takes advantage of this historic opportunity to create a legacy of inclusion that lives well beyond a 2 week athletic event. Incoming HCF Board Chair Dr. Gary Warner followed with a compelling description of diversity as one of Hamilton’s most valuable assets in leveraging the investments that will come with hosting the Games. The morning culminated with a provocative keynote address by Dr. Jim Dunn of McMaster who described previous attempts (both successful and spectacularly unsuccessful) to parlay investments in major athletic infrastructure into lasting economic and social benefits with some critical lessons for Hamilton to consider. Thanks are in order to the OntarioTrillium Foundation for funding and facilitating this important community conversation.

Waterloo Region Approves Light Rail Transit

Congratulations are in order for Waterloo Regional Council which just yesterday overwhelmingly approved construction of an $800m LRT system (with a $250M municipal contribution). http://www.therecord.com/news/local/article/548497–rail-plan-passesMaybe once in a generation you get a chance in public service to make a game changing decision. Finding the courage and vision to do the right thing in the face of severe (if often unfair) criticism demonstrates remarkable leadership.

The Art Crawl Rules

Invited to a reception for the CORE youth presentation at last Friday’s Art Crawl, YAC members discovered yet another exciting dimension to our city’s downtown. These CORE youth, who may have had a difficult time in main stream education, are earning their high school diplomas  in self-directed arts-related programs. Their interpretations of the positive side of the Code Red Spectator series were an awesome set of photos, paintings, dance moves and raps.

Having supported these youth with a YLCAP grant, to see the results of what they had been able to accomplish was yet another motivator for  YACers to respond, “Way to go, CORE”.

Two Hamilton assets from the outsider perspective

Last week HCF had the pleasure of spending time with Sarah Frost, a recipient of a Travelling Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Sarah’s award is allowing her to travel to Canada, the USA and South Africa to explore community engagement approaches to improving well-being and increasing social capital. In her blog Sarah recounts some of the highlights from her time in Hamilton, most notably, her afternoon with David Derbyshire. Sarah’s blog can be found here:http://sarahefrost.blogspot.com/2011/06/face-based-not-place-based.html#comments

Last night, as I had a few minutes alone with my iPad (once my partner, Sarah, and the kids had fallen alseep…) I reviewed articles gathered for me on one of my favourite apps called “Zite” which, essentially, a magazine for which you set your own preferences and interests! It’s awesome: http://www.zite.com/ Anyway, last night’s selection included this gem from Edmonton:http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/Anti+poverty+businessman+delivers+impassioned+speech+Edmonton+event/4945528/story.html?cid=megadrop_story

Nice to see some outside light shining on two of our best!


A decade of service to Hamilton

This morning I attended Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion’s Report to the Community, along with CEO Terry Cooke and our incoming chair, Dr. Gary Warner.  We heard about some of the amazing things they have done over the last year to help Hamilton be a more inclusive community and reap the benefits of its diversity.

Many people understand that HCCI grew out of Strengthening Hamilton’s Community Initiative, a response to the firebombing of a local Hindu temple in the days following 9/11.  What fewer people know is that although this was a catalyst, the idea for an organization like HCCI was seeded even earlier by Dr. Warner and the Hamilton Specator’s Howard Elliott.

Beyond the great work they do in helping Hamilton employers access the deeper talent pools, one important area of HCCI’s work  is civic engagement, which includes giving  newcomers the knowledge and the confidence to make a difference where they live.  They provide a six-week intensive “civics” course  to help new Hamiltonians understand how our systems work and how they can make a meaningful difference. Graduates from another program on “community mobilization” leave their training feeling prepared to volunteer their time and expertise on committees and boards throughout the city.

As HCCI says its about “emotional integration”.  It helps newcomers cement their attachment to our city, and its near and dear to our hearts at the Foundation as we work to strengthen Hamilton’s quality of life as an inclusive and sustainable community.

The Report to the Community was a well-earned celebration of the last year’s accomplishments, while acknowledging there is still much to be done.  Thanks HCCI, and best wishes for your continued success in making diversity the norm.

Learning about the Holocaust in Hamilton

I attended a very special graduation ceremony last evening at Temple Anshe Shalom to honour and hear testimony from 83 local high schools students who were lucky enough to be part of this remarkable partnership between the Asper Foundation and the Hamilton Jewish Federation. The 10 week program culminates with a visit to the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. (the most extraordinary and moving historical exhibit that I have ever witnessed) and the thoughtful and moving presentations by the students made clear that it was a life changing and affirming experience. Congratulations to all the students, parents, educators and partners who participated with particular recognition to our own Madeleine Levy who has been the program’s spiritual guiding force since it’s inception.