This is my last post in 2012 and I’m feeling reflective. So many inspiring visions have been shared in this space. I’ve found it insightful and rewarding to read about what people want for Toronto. And I’ve been reminded of the value of an honest and open conversation. Continue reading
When it comes to poverty there is no perfect answer. It’s an incredibly complex problem. One that affects us all.
I feel fortunate to work where I work, with colleagues who are committed to our community. I enjoy coming to work every day. But I also recognize that not everyone has this experience. Continue reading
Different experiences, cultures, and worldviews are what make Toronto such a great city. They help to shape the social fabric of our city and make our society stronger. Continue reading
I love the way Graeme describes the potential of Toronto’s high-rise rental apartment buildings. He paints a hopeful picture of what the future could be. With community gardens, playgrounds and restaurants, things that bring neighbours together, these buildings could be more dynamic and more sustainable. Better for everyone. Continue reading
It’s hard to believe but it’s already been a month and a half since we launched our annual campaign and invited Torontonians to Imagine a City.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we started this conversation. I’d never blogged before and I had no idea how our community would react. But at the same time, I was excited about the new places Imagine a City could take us — and the ideas people might share.
A friend recently made my day when she said she checked imagineacity.ca every morning for new posts. She told me how inspired she was by our community bloggers. Just like her, I look forward to reading their personal stories and learning about their visions for Toronto. But I’ve also enjoyed what you, our readers, have had to say. Some of you wish more was being done to address the gaps between the many different communities in Toronto. Some of you want to support youth in new ways. All of you dream of a better future.
I’m really looking forward to reading more from you through the Imagine a City giveaway. We’re inviting you, whoever you are, wherever you work, whatever you do, to tell us what your ideal Toronto looks like.
This concept has extended beyond our blogosphere. A few weeks ago the staff at Xerox, as part of their campaign to raise money for United Way, asked their children to imagine a city through their Art of Caring project. You can see just one example of that creative artwork at the top of my post.
In some ways, I think taking part in any United Way campaign is a way of imagining a better Toronto. People give, volunteer and engage with us because they want to make our city stronger. They canvass their colleagues for donations, volunteer at a community agency, and they even climb the 1,776 steps of the CN Tower — all because they imagine a Toronto that’s full of opportunities.
We can all get caught up in our own busy lives. Imagine a City has reminded me how important it is to take a step back. It’s been an opportunity to reflect on some of Toronto’s challenges. I read posts from my fellow bloggers and think, in a broad way, about the kind of city United Way is partnering with others to create. It’s been (and continues to be) so valuable to me. I hope it’s been valuable to you too and you’ll keep engaging with us on the blog.
Three years ago, I got to be a mentor to a young woman taking part in United Way’s CITY Leaders program. She was ambitious, hard working, and just starting to build her career in social services. She called me the other day to tell me about her new job at a community agency and I was so excited to hear about her work and the progress she’s made. Continue reading
Every time I go to the Out of This World Café, I get more than a good cup of coffee, Continue reading
It’s been almost a month since we started this conversation. I’m excited about what you’ve shared so far and looking forward to more discussion and more comments. Reading your thoughts on Toronto’s challenges motivates me. To work harder. To think more deeply about United Way’s work in our community.
Saleem and Orville spotlighted the importance of youth services and the need to do more. Mario and Kadeem told us firsthand what having someone to talk to, who believes in you, can mean for a young person. And many of you have asked big, difficult questions.
That’s a good question.
Toronto’s downtown neighbourhoods have had programs like YouthReach — and other types of social services and programs — for many years. But as we’ve seen in our research, the inner-suburbs haven’t kept up.
To address this challenge, we started talking to our member agencies. Many opened satellite offices and hired mobile workers to expand their reach into areas like Scarborough and North York.
We also worked with the Government of Ontario to create the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), which supported youth-led initiatives and encouraged leadership and engagement in all thirteen priority neighbourhoods. Initiatives like Hammer Heads, which trains young people in the construction trade and works to connect them to jobs. And programs like Success Beyond Limits, which provides academic support to students who experience challenges in the classroom.
Over the last few years, I’ve visited many YCF initiatives like these. I met vibrant, smart young people who, despite numerous challenges, are lifting themselves up. These young people, like Mario and Kadeem, give me hope.
So the short answer to Mario’s question is we’re working on it. We’ve made progress, but these things take time. We have a long way to go. And as I’ve said before, we can’t do it alone. We need help from people across our city to make change happen.
As we continue in these efforts to change social conditions, conversations like this one about how we can move forward together remain vital. So I encourage you to write in. Tell us what’s on your mind. If you’ve thought about adding to this dialogue, go for it. Do you agree with what’s been said? Do you have a vision for Toronto that you want to share? We value every idea, thought and question.
Whatever your contribution, thank you for being engaged.
I got my first job working at McDonald’s when I was a teenager. I remember an odd combination of feelings on my first day — nervousness, excitement and pride all mixed together. That job taught me basic lessons that have served me well throughout my career. Show up on time. Provide good customer service. Work well with others.
This summer, I spoke to dozens of youth about the challenges faced by young people in Toronto today. Continue reading
Each day, United Way works with individuals and organizations across Toronto to build a better city for us all. It’s something we’re deeply committed to and passionate about. But even as we work it’s good to take a step back and reflect from time to time — to think about the kind of city we’re working to create.