Building Up Well-Being

August 6, 2018 in Design, Health

How we design our cities impacts how we feel.

From green spaces and tree-lined streets to walkable ‘hoods and lively public places, there are many design considerations that can increase well-being.

And then there are the fifty-storey skyscrapers, ten-lane highways and endless acres of parking lots, which are argued to lead to increased stress and decreased well-being.

This idea of designing cities to maximize well-being has been a hot topic in recent years. But how does one actually measure the relationship between urban design and mental health? Can we quantify and analyze how urban design choices, such as tall skyscrapers, make us feel?

Today’s guest is doing just that.

Robin Mazumder is doctoral candidate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. He is studying the psychological impacts of urban design. His research is inspired by his passion for urbanism, his front-line experience working as an occupational therapist in mental health, and his interest in human-centred design.

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Canada’s Communities

July 25, 2018 in Art & Culture, Community, Politics

Last weekend, two of us from the team went to Winnipeg for the national Canadian Institute of Planners Conference. In collaboration with the Manitoba Professional Planners Institue, this conference attracted urbanists from across the country. The conference covered many topics, from the importance of music venues and motels to why storytelling is key for city building.

We wanted to share snippets of stories about Canadian communities, so we went to the streets and conference halls to ask planners what challenges their communities are facing. We heard a variety of responses.

We recognize the many challenges facing communities across the nation, but we didn’t want to end the conversation there. The theme of the conference was soul, grit and authenticity.

Paul Kennedy, host of the CBC Radio Show Ideas said in his keynote that: “Soul is what you find when you don’t know what you’re looking for. You’ll find it when you listen.” So we thought we’d listen to others and ask: What gives your community soul?

Whether dealing with growth or decline or anything in between, cities from coast to coast to coast face challenges when preparing and planning for change. But when a city encourages social interactions and strong feelings of connection, communities can cultivate soul, which can lead to solidarity and strength.

As Jane Jacobs once said, “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings that we must fit our plans.” 

We had a great time with the fellow CIP delegates this past weekend. Big thanks to Sheena and CIP for setting us up at the conference. And thank you to everyone who participated in this podcast episode! 

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More Food, Less Waste

July 9, 2018 in Community, Food

Across the world, a surprising amount of food doesn’t get eaten. Roughly one third of food is lost or wasted every year world-wide.  In Canada, approximately 40 percent of the food produced in the country is lost or wasted. The cost of this waste is estimated to be 31 billion dollars every year.

And while so much food is going to waste, many people are experiencing food insecurity.

One in 8 Canadian households are food insecure, amounting to over 4 million Canadians, including over 1 million children. Lacking access to good food has variety of negative physical, mental and social health impacts.In recent years, the idea of food deserts has entered the discussion about food and cities. Food deserts are areas where there is little to no access to affordable, nutritious food. Often in these areas, the only local food options are fast food chains or corner stores.

We wanted to talk to someone who is helping to relieve some of the food waste and food security problems that our cities face.

Today’s guest, Lourdes Juan, is the founder of the Leftovers Foundation where she’s helping provide good food to those in need.

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