The new year is off to a promising start for us and for our remarkable partners. We have many stories to share from our Fellowships, events and gatherings, and our grantees. Topics range from imagining how our cities can be better designed, to exploring ways to address the difficulties social assistance recipients face, to fostering greater opportunities for artistic work to achieve its potential. I hope you enjoy this newsletter and welcome your comments.
Sandy Houston, President and CEO
Changing Lanes: Blueprints for a New Road Order
Metcalf’s Environment Program hosted an informative and lively event last December featuring two exceptional city builders. Janette Sadik-Khan (pictured above) drew on her experience as New York City’s Transportation Commissioner, and more recently as a Principal at Bloomberg Associates, to deliver a keynote exploring how we can reimagine and redesign our cities around people. Following the keynote Janette was joined on stage by Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner for the City of Toronto, for a fireside chat on rethinking mobility and public spaces. If you missed the event you can see highlights on video.
Addressing barriers to self-employment for OW recipients
This is the first in a series of guest posts by Metcalf Innovation Fellow John Stapleton that explore the difficulties that social assistance recipients face. John’s focus is primarily on newcomers who are searching for a way to be self-reliant, and on situations in which barriers are particularly acute. Titled Solitary Confinement, these posts stem directly from Metcalf’s Resilient Neighbourhood Economies (RNE) project, which focused on building sustainable economic opportunities for low-income people.
2016 Environment Program information released
Metcalf’s Environment Program has three focus areas. In 2016, applications to Cycle City and Electrifying Movement will be by RFP and invitation-only. Applications to Enabling Solutions are due April 13, 2016. Enabling Solutions funds efforts to advance fiscal policy reforms, to research and communicate low-carbon solutions, and to develop cross-sector support for sustained climate leadership at the provincial and national levels.
Information session for Metcalf's 2016 Creative Strategies Incubator
Close to 90 people from a cross section of performing arts organizations gathered, on January 21, for an information session hosted by Metcalf’s Performing Arts program. The event was an opportunity to discuss the 2016 Creative Strategies Incubator focus issue: providing greater opportunities for artistic work to achieve its potential. Michael Trent, Director of Performing Arts, led the group through an in-depth examination of the focus issue. Letters of interest are due on or before March 7, 2016.
Real-time lessons in rethinking program design and delivery
Metcalf Innovation Fellow Sarah Schulman and her team are facilitating a six-month prototype of new practices to help and support street-involved adults. Every few weeks they are capturing real-time lessons learned and sharing them on their blog. A post from the first six weeks addresses how they are reassessing the role of drop-in centres and thinking through the best mix of interventions — from basic to psychological and relational needs. The team is also creating a dashboard with highlights of the week, and publishing videos that demonstrate how they are prototyping their ideas.
Creating healthy communities through the air we breathe
Toronto Environmental Alliance’s INHALE project, supported by Metcalf, is designed to improve air quality by empowering people to monitor their local air. Volunteers attach mobile air particulate monitoring equipment to their backpacks, bike handlebars, or baby stroller handles, and walk, run, or ride through their neighbourhoods collecting air quality data. Results are then shared with the broader community. Toronto Environmental Alliance has released a video about the initiative.
2014 Creative Strategies Incubator learning network
The 2014 Creative Strategies Incubator is now halfway through its three-year learning network. This cohort is addressing audience engagement and community building. Participants recently completed a Q&A to share how their initiatives are taking shape and to formally share what they are learning. One of the important issues that has come to light is the importance of finding the right tools and metrics that enable a company to measure and evaluate the efficacy of its strategic initiatives.
caterToronto collaborating with City of Toronto in Food Venture Program
Metcalf grantee caterToronto is one of two organizations selected to help deliver the City of Toronto’s new Food Venture Program. The Food Venture Program provides assistance to food entrepreneurs through business training, mentorship and grant opportunities, and ongoing advisory services. caterToronto is helping to reduce barriers to low-income entrepreneurs by proving additional financial and training support.
York University unveils solar-powered electric vehicle charging station
In December, York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies officially plugged in its new solar-powered electric vehicle charging station. The charging station is part of an initiative, funded in part by Metcalf, to craft an accessible and affordable electric vehicle strategy and to develop policy recommendations for expanding renewable energy-powered personal transportation.
Social Enterprise Toronto hosts conference in March
Metcalf grantee Social Enterprise Toronto is hosting its second Social Enterprise Toronto Conference on March 10. The theme is Communities driving social enterprise. The conference will be an opportunity for the social enterprise community and stakeholders to explore how to support social enterprises through strong local networks and, in turn, leverage the power of social enterprise to create employment and build community resilience.