NAME: Chris Winter, Founder of Climate Action Canada
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE: on the cusp between Parkdale and Roncesvalles.
FAMILY/PETS: My wife, Nancy; our son, Aran; ourdaughter, Eva; and Wickham, the dog.
CAREER: I like to describe myself as a radical pragmatist, finding practical solutions to challenging issues. Most
recently, I’ve been working on ways to link climate action with social benefit. There has to be ways to use carbon funds to both reduce climate emissions and improve our quality of life at the same time.
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENTS: The best successes I’ve had all seem to have to do with community: designing a low-cost community action program; a Doors Closed campaign working with community groups and Business Improvement Areas to thank stores that kept their door closed while running air conditioning; and co-founding Janes Walk. But hopefully the best is yet to come with Climate Action Canada on the national scene, and in setting up a Green 14 community group for Parkdale and Roncesvalles.
1. WHAT IS YOUR BEST MEMORY OF OUR COMMUNITY?
It has to be the blackout, August 2003. At the time, I was the Executive Director of the Conservation of Ontario, but on August 14th it was my day to work at our co-op daycare. We were all sitting outside with popsicles when the power went out: two adults and six two year olds. Gradually word spread that this was big. We spent the evening looking at the stars from our backyard, listening to the new son a battery radio and Mel Lastman warning everyone not to burn candles. Then we walked the streets, where bars and restaurants were lit by candlelight and people were helping direct traffic. It was actually one of the most beautiful moments of community spirit that I have ever seen. I’m reminded of it every year when we light our candles and walk for Earth Hour.
2. HOW WAS EARTH HOUR THIS YEAR? Any time we get a hundred people in a community out to celebrate their commitment to climate leadership, it’s a success. Multiply that by hundreds of communities around the world and it is a huge success. But the real success for the Queen St. and Roncesvalles Ave. walks this year is that thirty people signed up to start a Green Neighbours group, which is wonderful.
3. WHAT IS YOUR BEST FAMILY MEMORY?
Without a doubt, it is the year we spent traveling the world two years ago. Each day gave us new experiences and memories. It was also an absolute eye-opener, not just for the kids but for Nancy and me as well. If I learned one thing, it was the importance of culture in both creating and solving problems. For example, our first experience with the chaos and cacophony of Indian traffic gave way to an appreciation of the absolute absence of road rage even in the thickest of traffic jams. I think we came back with a better appreciation of why we should celebrate the richness of cultural diversity in Toronto, and how important it is to participate in building community.
4. WHAT DOES THE WORD COMMUNITY MEAN TO YOU?
Community is much more than a geographic area, or a group of people. To me, community is how we interact and support each other. It’s how we make this a great place to live.
5. IF THE WHOLE COMMUNITY WERE LISTENING, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THEM?
Be active. Enjoy what our community has to offer, and get involved in the groups or projects that make our community better. And if you want to help organize a Green Neighbours group sign up on our community survey.
If you want to sign up for Green 14, you can do so here: