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! 



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.


Young Urbanists

June 21, 2018 in Uncategorised

City-building activities don’t often include the voices of the kids, which means we’re all missing out. Not only do they provide refreshingly imaginative ideas, but building cities that are kid-friendly is good for everyone.

As Enrique Penalosa, the mayor of Bogota, Columbia, says, “Children are a kind of indicator species. If we can build a successful city for children, we will still have a successful city for people.”

For today’s episode, you’ll hear from a group of kids in grade 1 and 2. John recently presented to a local school about urban planning and asked the kids to design their own cities. The results were pretty awesome, so we thought you needed to hear what they had to say. Some ideas included building more walkable neighbourhoods, providing diverse housing options for people, creating accessible schools, and… embedding trampolines into sidewalks. Did we mention that they were all under the age of 9?

According to experts on childhood brain development from the University of Minnesota, children spend up to two thirds of their time in imaginative play. This time spent pretending helps kids come up with alternative ways of thinking, which results in increased creativity and better problem solving.

So maybe, we should ask kids for their ideas more often to tap into their creativity for how to build better cities.