YAC Attacks

All those folks who support our award-winning Youth Advisory Council are coming together this afternoon to hear what their efforts have meant. Parents, donors, family members, and maybe even some grantees, will gather to admire storyboards of YAC’s adventures as they have taken on the challenges of making their city an even better place to live. The seeds of philanthropy these youth carry forward are in place and will be growing and producing for many years to come – and this very strong team has had such fun doing it all.

Back to NYC

I will be in Toronto this afternoon for a board meeting of the Canadian Urban Institute and then heading to Buffalo airport for a flight to NYC. A couple of whirlwind days scheduled in the Big Apple. This includes meeting with Clara Miller, CEO at Heron Foundation. Heron is arguably the leading voice in Community Investing in North America, an area that HCF is actively pursuing. I will also be reconnecting with Rick Kahlenberg at Century Foundation to discuss the importance of income integration in public education. My day concludes with a reception at Hillman Foundation where Steve Buist of the Hamilton Spectator will be receiving a prestigous award for social justice reporting for his work on the Code Red series.

When I am not working I hope to check out the extraordinary High Line linear park that has been developed on the bed of an old elevated railway across Manhattan as well as the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side. Oh and you can’t go to NYC without walking a bunch of great neighborhoods and seeing a Broadway show!

A Bright Day in Vancouver

Vancouver-the Sun coming up over Grouse Mountain is breathtaking. Canada’s Governor General David Johnston opens our Community Foundations of Canada Conference this morning. The day ends with a keynote by Bill Clinton. In between those two heavyweights, Spec Publisher Dana Robbins and I will be leading a session on the importance of Code Red/Vital Signs to Hamilton’s future.

The right thing to do

This morning I listened to the Governor General ask a spellbound audience at the Community Foundations of Canada conference,  to consider the impact they could have as individuals.  He asked them to consider their efforts not as a drop in the bucket, but rather as a drop of food colouring in the water.  It was a commanding metaphor in a commanding speech.

Later, Hamilton Spectator publisher Dana Robbins told the story of the paper’s courageous stand against poverty in our city.  The audience members, representing communities from coast-to-coast, were clearly intrigued by the notion of advocacy in the mainstream media, and asked whether the move had attracted new advertisers or readers.  Dana responded candidly that, if anything, the reverse was probably true — but it was just the right thing to do.

The two messages were each unique, distinct and thought-provoking in their own ways.  Together, they were a powerful challenge to each of us to consider what we can do to strengthen our communities.

The Amazing Don MacVicar and the Eva Rothwell Story

Its Friday so let’s have a bit of fun.


Check out this 3 minute C.T.S. television profile of the amazing work being done by Don MacVicar and his team at the Eva Rothwell Centre, building capacity and hope in a challenged inner city neighborhood.

As an added bonus, if you watch closely you will see an aging former Westdale point guard relive old glory by knocking down a 3 pointer on the Raptors hoops donated by Ron Foxcroft in honour of Larry Paikin’s service to the community. Former Hillfield benchwarmer Jeff Paikin watches this incredible demonstration of athletic prowess with obvious envy.

Where are the borders for civic engagement?

I woke up, as usual, to CBC’s Metro Morning, and an interesting discussion with David Wolfe, the RBC Chair in Public and Economic Policy at the Munk School of Global Affairs. He was talking about  civic action and civic engagement, something near and dear to our hearts at HCF. Mr. Wolfe discussed how a city’s problems are too broad and too complex to be solved by government alone, and the role of civic engagement in economic development. He acknowledged the engagement that is already taking place, but had thoughts about changes that he felt were needed.

Mr. Wolfe was primarily referring to Toronto in his remarks, but there were some clear  parallels with our own city.  Most provocatively, he talked about the need to think more broadly as an economic region, including the 416, the 905 and even the 519 area codes – similar to what Richard Florida had to say at Hamilton’s Economic Summit a few years ago.

It was great food for thought, and I wonder what thoughts you have?  Have a listen.

Presenting Code Red at CFC Conference in Vancouver-Just Ahead of Bill Clinton

A few HCF staff and board will be attending the Community Foundations of Canada national Conference in Vancouver May 12-14th. I am particularly excited about HCF’s leadership in a number of sessions including this one described below in the conference program:

“On the Record: Why a City Newspaper and a Community Foundation Joined Forces to Fight Poverty Presenters: Terry Cooke, Hamilton Community Foundation; Dana Robbins, The Hamilton Spectator Building awareness and understanding of a community’s most pressing issues is critical to a community foundation’s work. While securing coverage is challenging, the media’s role is crucial in a successful awareness campaign. Find out how and why The Hamilton Spectator agreed to take on a leadership role and engage with Hamilton Community Foundation in addressing poverty in the community. This initiative culminated in Code Red, the paper’s groundbreaking investigative reporting series that brought troubling neighbourhood disparity to the front page, and finally to the partnership with Vital Signs as an ongoing awareness building tool.”

The Spec’s Steve Buist just received a well-deserved nomination for a prestigious Michener award for his work on Code Red. 

The good news is that Dana Robbins and I will get a chance on the national stage to talk about the important poverty work that HCF and the Spec have taken on. The bad news is that later in the program that same day a fellow named Bill Clinton is delivering the keynote address and apparently he is a pretty good public speaker.