January 27, 2014

Opening Toronto's Streets

On November 16, 2013, I attended an Open Streets Summit at Ryerson University which was hosted by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. The summit featured two guest speakers – Gil Penalosa (Executive Director of 8-80 Cities) and Dani Simons (Creator of Summer Streets) – both of whom discussed open streets initiatives in Bogota, Colombia and New York City respectively. The summit concluded with a 30-45 minute panel discussion featuring Curt Harnett (Chef de mission for the Pan Am Games), Dr. McKeown (Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health), and Jacqueline White (Toronto’s Director of Transportation).

January 20, 2014

Making Government Budgets Better

By the end of January, the City of Toronto will finish this year’s budget process. It is one of the most important government processes, but also one of the least understood. To reflect on the budget process and how to improve it, I interviewed Alex Mazer, co-founder of Better Budget TO and councillor candidate for Ward 18 (http://www.alexmazer.ca).

January 13, 2014

Time to Ask the Tough Questions

Amanda Lang’s book, “The Power of Why,” was written to demonstrate the role curiosity plays in fostering innovation in business and our everyday lives. Innovation is not necessarily about coming up with big, revolutionary ideas. Instead, it can arise from small improvements, the combination of existing ideas, and continuously asking questions. For instance, the Four Seasons hotel chain was based on founder Izzy Sharp’s question of why hotels were discomforting and customers were considered temporary and anonymous. Instead, he felt customers should be treated as honoured guests and the rooms should be equipped as if it was what he wanted in his own home. He was also known for adopting McDonald’s idea of consistent service, though certain employees ridiculed the idea of a luxury hotel chain learning from McDonald’s.

January 06, 2014

Combining Cycling with Political Advocacy

Happy New Year, Heal4Life!

If there is one organization which combines two of my favourite activities, those being political advocacy and cycling, it’s Cycle Toronto. It’s a membership driven organization with over 2300 members advocating for a healthy, safe, bike friendly community. On September 4, 2013, I interviewed Laura Pin, who has volunteered with Cycle Toronto’s Street Smarts Program for two and a half years and is the captain of the Ward 14 Advocacy Group in Parkdale High Park, which she helped reinstate. She was named Ward Advocate of the Year at the Toronto Bike Awards on November 26, 2013.