Archive for May, 2012

May 28, 2012

Toronto maps: An incomplete index of interactive maps on the internet

Web-based mapping is fun, interactive and informative. Toronto has a great share of web 2.0 maps to enjoy.

Graphic representation of data is one of the best ways the internet has changed the way we access information. Geographic information specialists, like the amazing and proliferative Patrick Cain, are now welcoming non-experts into the fold (with Google maps and open source programs), and a wonderful range of maps about our city has emerged. Most are point-level data, the locations of places. Some are more complex. A few are quite strange.

But they’re worth a wander – feel free to share ones you’ve found!

Alcohol (retailers), Beerhunter

Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, AA Toronto

Animal rescues (domestic & wild), Toronto Star

Artists, Neighbourhood Arts Network, Toronto Arts Foundation

Baby Names, OpenFile

Backyard sharing, Growing for Green

Bed bugs, Bed Bug Registry (self-reports)

Bed Bug reports, Patrick Cain, Toronto Star

Bike routes & accident rates, Toronto Open File

Business Improvement Areas

Capital construction (planned), City of Toronto

Car ownership, Patrick Cain, Toronto Star

Catholic schools, Toronto Catholic District School Board

Census 2011: Population, Pop. growth, Density, CBC (select Toronto)

Census 2011: Demographics, Global News (drop-down list, opens to Mother Tongue)

City Wards, City of Toronto

Child Care locator, City of Toronto

Commercial Kitchens (versus Community Kitchens), Food Forward & Housing Services Corporation

Community meeting space

Community gardens, Toronto Community Garden Network

Community legal clinics, Settlement.org

Convictions for sale of tobacco to minors,Toronto Public Health

Crime, per capita, by neighbourhood & type, CBC

Criminal Charges, 2010 Toronto Star

Cycling

Culture (okay, this one is Mississauga)

Demographics (This is a cheat – it’s the City’s Wellbeing site)

Dog breeds, Global Toronto

Doorings, Doored.ca (map at bottom of page)

Donation boxes (charities)

“Eater Heat” (popular restaurants)

Farmers’ Markets, Toronto Farmers’ Market Network

Free Meals programs, Toronto Meals Programs

Free Parking

Food Premises Inspections, City of Toronto

Grow-ops, Global

Gun ownership, Toronto Star

Health, Toronto Community Health Profiles (another cheat – static, but comprehensive)

Heat vulnerability, Toronto Public Health

Heritage plaques

High Rise Construction, The Grid, 2011

Historical businesses and institutions, 2014

Historical photos, Blog TO, 2011

Home price increases, Macleans, 2014

Homicides: 2012, 2011, Victims since 1990, Toronto Star

Hot Dog/Street Vendors, Canada.com

Housing Assistance, Settlement.org

Immigration history, Toronto Star

Kisses

Little Free Libraries, Little Free Library.org

Military recruiting, Toronto Star

Neighbourhoods (administrative), City of Toronto

Neighbourhoods, Tourism Toronto

Neighbourhoods (self-organized), Toronto Star

Neighbourly-minded neighbours, 5 Blocks Out

Non-Profits, by Ontario riding boundaries, Ontario Non-Profit Network

Ontario wines at local farmers’ markets, Ontario.ca

Open Plaques, “Museum of the Streets”

Parking (Green P), City

Parking ticket hotspots, Global

Problems with municipal services, The Fixer, The Toronto Star

Public Art

Public Libraries

Public schools, TDSB

Public transit

Road Restrictions

Residents’ Associations & Neighbourhood groups, Dave Topping

Rental housing (Craigslist & Kijiji)

Running routes

Service Ontario Kiosk or Centre, Government of Ontario

Settlement Services, Settlement.org

Smells

Smoking, Toronto Star

Smoking Violations/Sales to Minors, City of Toronto

Spice City reviews of “ethnic” restaurants

Street Map (Open Street Map wiki)

Subway playlist (The Stationary Grove), MAP Communications Consulting

Sweets & treats, Yummy Baguette

Tech Start-ups, #madeinYYZ

Towing (where your car gets taken)

United Way Toronto member agencies

University of Toronto

Walking intersections (highest volume), Openfile

Walkscore (including Bikescore)

Waterfront

Wellbeing, City of Toronto

Working Poor, Globe & Mail, Metcalf Foundation report, 2012

Zoning, City of Toronto

May 17, 2012

Resilient neighbourhood economies in an age of austerity: No big lessons

Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan (Photo credit: Kennisland)

Ten years ago or thereabouts, the U. K. government undertook an ambitious program of neighbourhood renewal focused on 2,000 British communities. A decade later, independent evaluations are “somewhat positive,” according to  Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and former CEO of the Young Foundation. Recent efforts have been trying, in a way, to put right mistakes of the ’70s and ’80s, when richer people moved into re-habituated buildings, Mulgan told a group of Toronto community funders and organizations at a meeting organized by the Metcalf Foundation earlier this month.

“Big strategies won’t work, there are no silver bullets. Lots of small initiatives work best,” Mulgan said. Instead, he elaborated, the focus should be on schools, social capital, job opportunities, and simply getting money to circulate within neighbourhoods, creating a multiplier effect, and, the current times of austerity mean agencies and funders are looking for an impact in new and interesting ways.

Mulgan also challenged old-time thinking about taking projects “to scale” (growth), saying funders and agencies would do better to look at replication (spread). While Mulgan was arguing that small is beautiful, it goes against the push from many funders for mergers.

To prove his point about the need for multiple, smaller inventions, Mulgan offered a top ten social innovations from his own work on these issues:

  1. Last year, the Young Foundation looked at Birmingham to see what makes a city resilient. It compared low-income communities with similar demographics and their social networks. Communities which were more diverse were doing better than those with two or three dominant groups — different than what researchers expected.
  2. The Young Foundation also created a program which taught resiliency to 11-year-old in schools, focusing on those who in stressed communities. Results showed lower levels of depression and better schooling. The new finding was that resiliency could be taught.
  3. Deciding that the focus on improving schools was not enough because even the best schools have high rates of truancy and drop-outs, the Foundation developed a new form of schooling, a “studio school” where learning occurred through practical team-based projects. The move away from abstract pedagogy led to better student motivation and was particularly effective with students from low-income families. Piloted in Blackpool, the government is now using the model across the country.
  4. Young, Somali female colleagues convinced Mulgan to develop the Uprising program for 18 – 25 year olds.  Participants have to run a community campaign which is then connected to national level. Three years later it is now spread in neighbourhoods across eight cities. Mulgan noted that recruiting men and White people has been a challenge. This program sounds like very much like Toronto’s Diversecity.
  5. Mulgan explained his fifth example was important as money was disappearing. His organization, NESTA is very involved in time banks. Within Toronto, Timeraisers has used this as a model for volunteering among those who want to bid on art, but Mulgan described a model that acted more as a parallel economy in low-income communities. Bartering, he explained, is useful in communities without much access to resources and money. Linking the program to local institutions, such as housing or schools, local residents earn credits which they can then “spend” among themselves.
  6. Mulgan and his colleagues became concerned about the high number of young people with advanced university degrees who were having difficulty access jobs.  So they set up “finishing schools” which offered intensive training in everything from voice coaching to self-knowledge. Employment rates doubled. While this might not work in Toronto which has less of class stratification, the approach to explicit teaching of social/cultural skills and mentoring are valuable, Mulgan explained.
  7. NESTA  found that buildings and physical plants are not enough for non-profits, but that they needed media platforms as well. In contrast to “big media,” hyper-local media platforms emerged, attached to community organizations or secondary schools (where youth supported the work) within communities, creating hubs for economic and social exchange. Mulgan predicted these would be widespread within ten years.
  8. Urban farming, connected to local schools offers opportunities for apprenticeships and entrepreneurialism. Mulgan gave the example of one Australian school where students raised fish, learning biology, and then sold them door-to-door. Mulgan described pockets of land transformed from “boring grass” to fruit trees.
  9. In their work with Muslim youth, the youth identified the need for advice on daily matters that was Koranically-correct. So the website Maslaha, meaning”Public Interest,” was created. A group of Imams offers this “real-world” advice, helping youth straddle between secularism and Islamists, offering on-line advice on issues ranging from speed-dating to diabetes.
  10. Attempts at measuring resiliency through the development of a new tool: Wellbeing and Resilient Measurement (WARM). Community and individual levels, covering a range of topics from employment, happiness and readiness for the future. Started in Birmingham, this is being piloted in a few other European countries as well. The tool creates space for discussions about local priorities.

Ever pushing boundaries, Mulgan lobbed a final idea when responding to questions from the audience. Too much time is taken up for non-profit staff writing reports which often don’t get read when they are sent in. If funders, want to have a real impact, and ensure truth and transparency, program reports should be done by blogging.

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