- Get Involved
- Connect with Leaders
- Leadership Stories
- Research and Tools
by Alejandra Bravo
“Civic literacy matters because it allows us to really take hold of our own future, our own problems, our own issues. It allows us to become agents of change as we build our community.”
Andre Vashist, volunteer, Agincourt Community Services Association (Building Blocks partner)
Andre Vashist, a coordinator with Steeles-L’Amoreaux Youth Empowerment (SLYE), has long been working to connect Scarborough residents with many forms of participation and community advocacy. It’s never been hard for him to feel motivated: “I’m from Scarborough. I’ve lived here my entire life. … To be able to work on a larger scale, influencing government on larger local issues is a huge opportunity.”
Founding Butterfly Communities is just one example of the change Andre is working on. This self-funded non-profit supports Scarborough youth and residents, through facilitating neighbourhood consultations, identifying community issues and priorities; and developing and supporting residents as they apply for grants. Allowing for community members to learn from each other, the initiative organizes workshops, meetings and events, drawing on partnerships from different sectors.
Some of Butterfly Communities’ activities:
To deliver the How Government Works civic literacy primer as a Building Blocks leader, Andre draws from his community experience and love of Scarborough. He’s provided the training to members of Scarborough Civic Action Network (hosted by ACSA) and at Scarborough Centre for Health Communities.
Andre’s dedication and enthusiasm for his community, and his role in trying to improve Scarborough, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, is inspiring: “I don’t take this opportunity for granted. I’m very aware how important this work is for people in our community. The training residents are getting provides them with something that is a useful tool to help make their lives better. To be part of helping to lift up Scarborough in that way is amazing. I’m doing my duty as a person who grew up in a place that I love.”
Many of these community members are new to the process of influencing government decision making. According to Andre, they’re excited by the possibilities that mobilizing community can bring: “Every individual brings something different to the table. They might be curious about how things work. Or they have specific things that they’re really passionate about and they want to get mobilized and want to be around like minded people. There is a lot of interest and people want to know how to make change a reality.”
Next on Andre’s agenda is convening Scarborough youth to have their voices heard in the 2013 City budget process (PDF).
Building Blocks is in part funded by
By Ravi Jain, Artistic Director, Why Not Theatre
At present, theatre audiences in Toronto are not always reflective of the cultural make up of this city. While there are many funders, artists and institutions working to address this, challenges remain.
Our theatres, for the most part, are led by people who have grown up with a Canadian perspective. For them, it makes sense to program a show by George Bernard Shaw with Christopher Plummer, a classical playwright and a star actor; this is a formula that has worked for 50 years. While there are of course exceptions, for the most part, our theatres have not strayed too far from the model. However, in our diverse city, where nearly half of residents are born outside of Canada, many cultures do not have a reference point for either George Bernard Shaw or Christopher Plummer.
I want to shift the paradigm in order to provoke the relevance of theatre in society as well as make it more interesting and fun. I have the privilege of living in a city where I can do this. I am part of a unique hybrid generation that speaks more than one language and that identifies with more than one culture. As a theatre artist, I am interested in the role of theatre in reflecting who we are as a culture. Looking at who is going to the theatre is often the best measure of how we are doing.
Last year, I started asking some provocative questions. What would it look like if a major institution programmed a play in Mandarin? Or Portuguese? Or Greek? Or Urdu? If one show in a season was programmed in another language, would it not offer more opportunity to different artists, different voices, perspectives and audiences? How hard could it be to produce theatre that is more reflective and inclusive of how Toronto is changing? What if someone took a risk and cast a Bollywood star in the same play by George Bernard Shaw, or put a play in Urdu on a mainstage?
I decided to take that risk.
This month my theatre company, Why Not Theatre, is producing two shows in Toronto at the new Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre. The shows are from Mumbai and star Bollywood Superstar Naseeruddin Shah and his wife Ratna Patak Shah (a famous Indian film and TV star). One show, Dear Liar, is an American play based on the life of George Bernard Shaw, performed in English. It is the first time in the history of Canadian Theatre where a non-white actor will play George Bernard Shaw.
The second play, Ismat Apa Ke Naam, is based on a collection of three short stories by Ismat Chughtai (1915-1991), whose strong feminist ideology made her one of India’s most beloved, successful and controversial writers of her time. We are bringing this show back after a one night sold out run of 850 seats with a 200 person waiting list in 2011. It will be performed in Urdu.
As an artist and theatre producer, I consider that success.
As a Torontonian, I consider our city’s ability to lead through innovation in the arts a great source of pride.
MY Games has successfully used five “playbook” tips to reach newcomers. Learn more about them.
Congratulations to CBC’s Managing Director Susan Marjetti who received the 2012 Outstanding Leadership Achievement Award.
For Eric, business is about innovation – critical to that is differentiating yourself from your competitors.
From Jamaica to Durham to Scarborough, Mitzie Hunter’s journey has shaped her into the thoughtfully optimistic leader she is today.
Leader is a title. Leadership is an action. An action that requires individuals to deal with real situations, show courage and take risks.
Sheerin’s accomplishments are impressive and she’s an asset to our DiverseCity onBoard program and to the organizations on which she serves.
Kay BlairCongratulations to Microskills Executive Director and DiverseCity onBoard roster member, Kay Blair, who was named Chair, Board of Directors, William Osler Health System.
We would like to congratulate one of our 2011 DiverseCity Fellows, Brandon Hay, on receiving the African Canadian Achievement Award of Excellence for the achievements of the Black Daddies Club (BDC) .