USP Community Development Panel
On January 22, 2013, INI 437Y: Experiential Learning in Toronto & the GTA welcomed Urban Studies alumnus Anthony Fernando, Senior Manager, Public Affairs from the United Way of Greater Toronto (UWGT) and from the Centre for City Ecology (CCE) we welcomed Gillian Mason, Director and Heather Ann Kaldeway, Project Manager & Communications Coordinator to participate in a panel discussion on the theme of community development.
We heard from Anthony Fernando about the work that the UWGT is doing to promote the development of strong neighbourhoods and community leadership in the city. He focused his comments on both the macro and micro environment in which the UWGT is involved in community development – from the broad perspective of the organization’s fundraising efforts on behalf of dozens of local organizations and also in terms of producing research reports and supporting neighbourhood initiatives such as the Victoria Park Hub.
Gillian Mason, and her colleague Heather Ann Kaldeway spoke about the career paths that brought them to work in a small, grassroots organization aimed at encouraging citizen participation in the planning process. One project that the CCE is spearheading is called TENT: Toronto Envisioning Neighbourhoods Together in which it is understood that community planning efforts must include local residents in order to be effective and inclusive. They are currently working with a group of local residents at the East Scarborough Storefront in which participants are learning how to use a program called ‘Sketch Up’ in order to map and better understand their neighbourhood, community goals and needs.
The final question that we asked the panelists was to provide some advice for students as they begin to think about entering the work force. All panelists agreed that having a passion for what you do is key to both professional success and personal fulfillment. Anthony Fernando concluded his remarks by reminding the students that they were already studying in the best university in Canada, and advised them to look towards the future with optimism and excitement.
By Shauna Brail