Today, May 17, is the International Day Against Homophobia. Having learned from my friend Deirdre Pike, however, let’s call it the International Day Against Phobia of our LGBTTTIQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-spirit, Intersex, Queer, Questioning…or for those of you who only see the world in 140 characters bytes: LGBTQ) communities.
Despite real breakthroughs in the LGBTQ rights movement, homophobia remains all too prevalent today. Clearly one incident is too many…but even with progress to date, the stats are alarming. A meta-analysis of 25 international studies shows: 4 times risk of suicide attempt in LGB people; 1.5 times risk of depression or anxiety disorder in LGB people, 3 times greater risk of substance use disorder in lesbian / bisexual women, and 2 times greater risk of depression and panic disorder in gay / bisexual men (King et al, 2008).
For LGBTQ youth, the story is not any prettier. According to Egale Canada (2011) more than 40% of LGBTQ students report having experienced sexual harassment in school in the last year; 75% of LGBTQ students and 95% of trans students feel unsafe at school (compared to 20% of heterosexual students) and approximately 28% of LGBTQ youth drop out of high school because of discomfort or fear in the school environment.
A vibrant, inclusive Hamilton is one where every member of our community can live, work and play free from harassment, discrimination and bigotry. And Hamilton is on its way. Local organizations such as http://www.thewellhamilton.ca and http://hamiltonpride.org are wonderful resources to our entire community. Both Hamilton Police Services and the City of Hamilton have established committees that seek to reduce barriers to the LGBTQ community.
But there is much work that remains to be done. HCF is a proud supporter of International day Against Homophobia and encourages you to learn more at http://www.homophobiaday.org/.
I had the pleasure of attending the Rotary Clubs of Hamilton event last evening honouring this year’s Paul Harris Fellowship Award recipients. All are deserving of the honour and include HCF’s very own Terry Cooke, former Chief of Police Colin Millar and Pearson Dunn CEO George McCarter.
The atmosphere was wonderful and the event well planned. District Governor Rick Sterne’s remarks were a nice reminder of the good work done by Rotary in this community and around the world.
This morning’s Hamilton Spectator included an article about the event and the recipients that is worth reading if you are interested in more information.
On Monday evening I had the good fortune to attend an education session presented to our Women 4 Change contributors. The presentation was given by Suzanne Brown of Neighbourhood Development Strategies with the City of Hamilton and our very own Grants Manager, Sharon Charters.
The sessions focus was on supporting root causes and concluded with a well led and thoughtful discussion about how to structure your philanthropy that was guided using a parable (by Steven E. Mayer) about saving babies. It is worth reading and can be found at http://effectivecommunities.com/pdfs/ECP_SavingBabies.pdf.
Talk about polar opposite evenings. Last night I wore my tux and attended the Hamilton Police Senior Officer’s Mess dinner at the armouries. Nobody does tradition and honouring public service like the coppers, and as an Honourary Chief and former Board Chair I look forward to the event every year. We should be thankful each and every day for the many members of our police service who put themselves in harms way to keep us safe and the Mess Dinner is a great time to do so.
Tonight I will be in jeans to hear my neighbour Tom Wilson together with his band Blackie and Rodeo Kings rock the house at Melrose Church on Locke St. at the finale of the amazing Live on Locke music series. The standing room only crowd will be a great testament to a bunch of amazing volunteers lead by Tom, Jim Fyshe, Beth Webel and many others who made it happen.
Only in the Hammer. This is a great town!
The timing was perfect! On Canada’s first recognized National Philanthropy Day, November 15, 2012, a new initiative was launched to inspire and enable the women of Hamilton to be leaders in philanthropy while focusing on improving the lives of girls and women in this community – Women 4 Change.
The room at Liuna Station was filled with 100 women (and two men) who heard inspiring and motivating remarks from Sandra Stephenson, Sheree Meredith and Beth Webel. There was also wonderful discussion about how to make the greatest impact in our community for women and girls.
The founders of this initiative have been busy over the last year working to shape this fund into one that will be transformative with a desire to foster independence and self-confidence, remove barriers to success and promote positive relationships for women and girls in Hamilton.
At the event everyone was asked two questions:
- If you had $20,000 where would you invest it to positively change the lives of women and girls in Hamilton?
- What would help you to have greater impact as a philanthropist?
Let me know what you think by responding to email@example.com.
For more information about Women 4 Change visit our website. You can also read the Spectator’s op-ed about women, philanthropy and collective impact.
I was recently honoured to attend a meeting where 20 neighbourhood leaders from across Hamilton gathered to participate in the inaugural session of the Neighbourhood Leadership Institute.
The NLI was established by Hamilton Community Foundation and has been shaped in partnership with the City of Hamilton’s office of Neighbourhood Development Strategy. HCF and the City view the NLI as critical “infrastructure” to our collective neighbourhood work. Local leaders engage residents – their neighbours – and provide focus to community activities in ways that funders and government cannot. Developing and refining leadership skills is a way to support and sustain longer-term transformation in neighbourhoods; it builds capacity and human capital which help drive neighbourhood change both in terms of technical expertise and ability to create and sustain a common vision.
At present, under David Derbyshire, the NLI provides high quality resident leadership training through a series of monthly sessions on a range of topics including: resident engagement, resolving conflicts, grant writing and more. In time, however, there is a range of opportunities the NLI will explore to enhance the impact of our community work. This might include training professionals who wish to engage in neighbourhoods and with residents; or providing a stepping stone to more formal community development education opportunities in Hamilton!
I had the privilege to welcome participants on behalf of HCF and, better, to sit with them and listen to stories reflecting their commitment and passion for their neighbourhoods and for our community. I look forward to learning more from these dedicated community leaders and to sharing with you the evolution of the NLI.
It’s coming to the end of another beautiful fall day in Hamilton and a perfect time to reflect upon the important milestone that last night’s City Council meeting represented for the Hamilton Community Foundation. As I listened to the inspiring presentations by the citizen-led planning teams, filled with vision, courage and hope, I was reminded that none of it was possible but for the initial and consistent leadership of HCF in partnership with the City.
Our work in assisting challenged neighbourhoods is hard, complex and will continue for a generation. Success is far from guaranteed. But without the early leadership of Carolyn Milne and Joe-Anne Priel and the support of earlier HCF boards, none of it could have happened. Without the skill and dedication of workers such as Sharon Charters and David Derbyshire over many years, we would never have gained the essential trust and commitment of our citizen partners.
And finally, because of the initial leadership of Sheree Meredith and the current leadership of Matt Goodman and his HCF team, together with Paul Johnson and Suzanne Brown and their City of Hamilton team (with unwavering support from an outstanding City Manager and Council), that early vision has culminated in actionable neighbourhood plans that will change the future of Hamilton for the better.
Last night was a historic moment of hope and possibility in Hamilton City Council chambers. Thanks to all of you and many others whose names I will have overlooked for caring enough to lead and for making a profound difference. Our great city owes to each of you a debt of gratitude.
In addition to celebrating another year of solid accomplishment, today we said a sad goodbye to several board members who have completed their service to HCF. Board Members Robert Crockford, Eric Girt, Geoff Hogarth, Sarah Murphy, Graham Browne, and PJ Mercanti all leave a positive legacy of contribution. We also thanked our departing past Chair Dr. Lindsey George for her long and distinguished leadership. Finally, outgoing Board Chair Dr. Gary Warner proudly passed the torch to incoming Chair Paul Gibel. HCF tradition of strong governance continued today. Gary been a great leader at HCF and in the broader community. We move forward with confidence in our Board and Staff leadership and optimism about the impact we are making on the changing trajectory of Hamilton.
I am excited to be presenting this afternoon to the Revitalizing Downtowns Summit http://www.revitalizingdowntowns.net/. My panel includes senior leaders from Community Foundations in both Cleveland and Indianapolis with some amazing experience in partnering to develop great public spaces. The conference also includes some remarkable people like Pam Blais and Ken Greenberg who have done so much to shape thinking about urbanism in Canada and around the world. We are really fortunate that the conference has come to Hamilton for the first time, signaling both hope about the future of our downtown and challenging us to action the lessons of so many other cities that remain far ahead of us in renewal.
As the parent of two students in Hamilton’s public secondary system, I was especially interested in the two guests for the Foundation’s final Vital Signs show for the season: HWDSB director John Malloy, and board chair Tim Simmons. While I confess that my children’s school is not one of those directly affected by the accommodation review , I know many families who are and I have a sense of the depth of emotion that goes beyond the pages of the newspaper.
I hope you will take the time to watch the program. It presents clearly the board’s rationale for the tough decisions it is making. Both Mr. Malloy and Mr. Simmons are clear that declining enrolment and deteriorating facilities are concerns, but the focus is on putting resources into what kids need to be successful – now, five years from now and beyond.
More important than the decisions already made are those that lie ahead, with respect to programs, boundaries and transportation; decisions that are intended to create the type of diverse learning environment in which research shows students learn better. As Mr. Malloy states, by offering more access to the range programs that kids need to be successful, “we open doors that, right now, they don’t know exist”. He recognizes the complexities and the concerns but asserts that diverse programming that attracts a diverse student body is one of those things that works. Creating that kind of learning community and engaging the community around that guiding principle, he says is “important, significant and challenging work…but our work wouldn’t be finished until we went there and that’s our plan.”
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one thing that is indisputable for me is that the school board and its trustees are making brave decisions, with the community’s best interests at heart. They are fully aware of the associated emotion and the difficulties, but also steadfast in their belief that we must take a long-term view for the success of the Hamilton’s students.