The Future of Work
The nature and mode of 'work' has shifted, as we see trends such as growth in the non-profit sector, the building movement around producing open source products, recent rises in volunteerism, and more collective and collaborative work spaces (e.g., the HIVE in Vancouver, the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, and HUB Ottawa), which allow people to pursue their work focuses and interests, while still giving them access to social and intellectual capital and diverse networks. New opportunities for engaging in different work modalities and work-lives present themselves, there is increasingly less ‘business as usual’, and more integration of people’s passions, interests, lifestyles and (more critically) their social values a fundamental part of their work.
As waste does not exist in nature, with ecological systems continually recycling water, minerals and nutrients through an interplay between sunlight energy, primary producers (e.g. plants), consumers (e.g. animals) and decomposers (e.g. bacteria). Addressing our waste requires us to align with these cycles and engage in a type of production and consumption that will allow for our material outputs to return to these systems as inputs. This includes continually thinking about how to reduce the negative ecological impacts of waste in a manner that is adaptive to changes in technologies, economies and values over time. Communities and regions throughout Canada and around the world are attempting to tackle this challenge by implementing policies and best practices to manage their waste, such as life-cycle management, producer take-back systems, biomimicry, industrial parks, moving to zero waste, landfill gas recovery, carbon restorative buildings and many other innovations.
Rural spaces and communities act as the interface between human societies and the natural world, which positions them in a significant societal role, serving as the nexus between human populations and natural places. They have vital functions in harvesting and gathering the natural resources that are distributed to and used by communities of all sizes and urbanity. Hence, cities across the globe are interdependent with rural communities for fundamental needs such as food, energy and building materials for shelter. In addition, rural spaces serve as ‘gateways’ to natural environments, meaning they provide important opportunities for people to experience, recreate in, and connect with nature.
Mental illness is pervasive in Canada and affects everyone, either personally or through family, friends and colleagues. However, still many people attempt to suppress what they are feeling, avoiding treatment or confiding in friends and families to avoid the stigma of mental illness, so care is difficult. Psychologist and theologian, Marcia Webb, suggests that “[a]s a society, we shy from reminders of our frailty. If persons with mental illnesses are conceptualized as separate – as invisible within, or as intruding upon – mainstream society, then mainstream society may deceive itself and imagine that mental illness does not reflect universal truths about the human condition.”
The UN declared 2012 the International Year of the Cooperative, recognising the contribution of cooperatives to poverty alleviation, employment generation and social integration. But the contribution of cooperatives goes well beyond this. Some argue the model trains people in democracy, others argue the model contributes to peace and still others argue it contributes to sustainable development.
Multi-functional spaces integrate multiple uses or functions in overlapping time and space. The multiple amenities offered by through these spaces appeal to diverse community members, including activists, artists, academics and social entrepreneurs, allowing them to act as incubators for new ideas, knowledge exchange, shared experience and experimentation. This connection of diverse communities can inspire innovative thinking and provide opportunities for collaboration across traditional boundaries.
The United Nations General Assembly defines the concept of sustainable energy as “energy that is accessible, cleaner and more efficient…and…paves a path out of poverty to greater prosperity for all”. Achieving sustainable energy involves a complex process of developing energy systems in a manner that minimizes environmental and health impacts, creates economic opportunity, and ensures everyone has equitable access to power.
Food security, as defined by the World Food Summit of 1996, exists “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. It is an essential component of sustainable communities and food locality contributes to community resilience by reducing vulnerabilities to exogenous shocks.