How Trent University Preserves Canadian Architecture

Like other art forms styles come and go in architecture; and when styles go in architecture it can result in demolition of buildings (and thus history). In Canada university and college campuses sprung up in the 60s to accommodate the influx of baby boomers so the style of these campuses reflect the style of the times. Trent University captured the Canadian architectural style the best and, unlike other schools, has embraced their buildings as a reason students should attend. Hopefully other institutions can find the value in their older buildings – even if they look “ugly” today.

Today, Trent is engaged in a careful renovation of its original Bata Library, while new projects – including a new student centre by Teeple Architects – are being guided by attention to the original campus.

In this way, a small institution is setting an example for the entire country: how to retain Canada’s modern heritage, which is both critical and in a moment of real danger.

No wonder. Thom and his talented colleagues blended careful attention to the site, beautiful materials and fine craftsmanship. The buildings, crafted by Thom’s team, including Paul Merrick, are full of complex spaces and details that echo and rhyme with one another. Walking through the original campus is a sensory feast of complexity and nuance; if you ever had the idea that modernist architecture had to be inhumane, this place will cure you of that notion. In the Great Hall at Champlain College, the buttresses and high ceiling make it seem “Hogwarts-like,” as one student told me; but the structure is a lattice of very modern concrete that weaves together skylights and wood slats.

Even the landscape, often overlooked in modern sites, has been well conceived. The pathways across campus are paved with an orange brick, which feels right under your feet.

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For Inspiration Follow the Local Learning Process of a Gardener


Bees are amazing little creatures that have been around far longer than humans but now they need our help. As byproduct of industrialization and the overuse of pesticides colony collapse disorder has hit the bees and hard. There is something we as individuals can do to help the bees -start gardening. One person in Toronto has set out to document how she goes about designing her garden to help bees (and other insects) and share that knowledge with everyone. It’s a great site filled with some fun nuggets of information.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for your garden check it out. Her most recent post looked into why bees are amazing and how to identify them:

Over the summer, the native flowers we planted attracted a wide range of pollinators, including a number of native bee species. Using the City of Toronto’s useful (and well illustrated) resource, Bees of Toronto: A Guide to Their Remarkable World, I’ve done my best to identify these garden visitors in the photos below (hint: click the photos to seem them at full size). Once you start to look for these charismatic little creatures, they’re surprisingly easy to find.

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David Byrne Launches Good News Site

David Byrne, artist extraordinaire, revealed his newest project to the world and I love it! Reasons to be Cheerful is a reaction to the bizarreness of 2017 and the craziness that 2018 has already witnessed. In an attempt to highlight the positivity in these turbulent times Reasons to be Cheerful sets out to remind people that there is always good in the world.

In his announcement post he writes “If it Works Copy it” and I agree!

What is Reasons To Be Cheerful?

I imagine, like a lot of you who look back over the past year, it seems like the world is going to Hell. I wake up in the morning, look at the paper, and go, “Oh no!” Often I’m depressed for half the day. It doesn’t matter how you voted on Brexit, the French elections or the U.S. election—many of us of all persuasions and party affiliations feel remarkably similar.

As a kind of remedy and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news that reminded me, “Hey, there’s actually some positive stuff going on!” Almost all of these initiatives are local, they come from cities or small regions who have taken it upon themselves to try something that might offer a better alternative than what exits. Hope is often local. Change begins in communities.

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Thanks to Trevor!

Working Less for a Better World

happy workers in a factory

Do you feel like you’re working too much? You are. Decades ago economists and influential thinkers projected that leisure would be the biggest problem during the 21st century for the workforce. Sadly they were wrong because they didn’t predict that the 1980s we’ve seen policies that favour profit abound all else. This meant that the push for more leisure floundered.

Not forever though. As work issues increasingly invade our leisure time people are starting to push back. This is good to see! With more jobs being automated the justification for overworking people seems less valid.

Less all work a little less, here are some reasons why.

Accidents? Overtime is deadly. Long workdays lead to more errors: Tired surgeons are more prone to slip-ups, and soldiers who get too little shuteye are more prone to miss targets. From Chernobyl to the Space Shuttle Challenger, overworked managers often prove to have played a fatal role in disasters. It’s no coincidence that the financial sector, which triggered the biggest disaster of the last decade, is absolutely drowning in overtime.

Climate change? A worldwide shift to a shorter workweek could cut

the CO2 emitted this century by half. Countries with a shorter workweek have a smaller ecological footprint. Consuming less starts with working less – or, better yet – with consuming our prosperity in the form of leisure.

Unemployment? Obviously, you can’t simply chop a job up into smaller pieces. The labor market isn’t a game of musical chairs in which anyone can fit into any seat and all we need to do is dole out places. Nevertheless, researchers at the International Labour Organization

have concluded that work sharing – in which two part-time employees share a workload traditionally assigned to one full-time worker – went a long way toward resolving the last crisis. Particularly in times of recession with spiking unemployment and production exceeding demand, sharing jobs can help to soften the blow.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Good Companies Have Good Indigenous Relations

Standing Rock #DAPL

With greater awareness of environmental and social issues investors have asked companies to report on how their activities impact communities. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports are standard for large corporations nowadays which let investors (and interested parties) see what the company has been up to reconcile any negative impacts the company has perpetuated. Increasingly, investors are asking for CSR statements to include indigenous issues since companies that ignore local concerns tend to perform worse, a good example of this is the recent debacle of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In Canada and around the world, we are entering a time where the prudent company is the company that secures Indigenous consent before beginning activities, involves Indigenous peoples as partners, and works with them to establish a clear framework for ongoing relations in order to renew and maintain relationships. For investors, strong Indigenous relations are a marker that a company is a stable investment, with management foresight, solid partnerships and prospects for sustainable growth.

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