The new Amherstburg Community Foundation is woke - definition: “a slang term, a byword for social awareness”.
Admittedly the term “woke” refers more to issues concerning social and racial justice, but I also believe it can stand for other things that intersect with those two issues. For instance - climate change, better parks, walkable streets, civic leadership - things that can make or break the sustainability, healthiness and inclusiveness of communities like Amherstburg.
So how did the president of the Amherstburg Community Foundation come to be woke? A couple of years ago I read a book by the former Dean of the Rotman School of Management, Dr Roger Martin. His book “Fixing the Game” got me thinking about the civil foundation and how one might contribute to it. Specifically Martin introduced me to the concept of being a “brick layer”, the idea that leaders and corporations can choose to have a negative, neutral or positive impact on their community. To have a positive impact that he called “adding bricks to the civil foundation”.
So when I was asked by the Mayor to start up the New Amherstburg Community Foundation I looked for other like-minded leaders who were woke to the idea of adding bricks to the Amherstburg foundation. Today’s foundation board of directors is made up of community leaders who have collectively lived in our town for over 230 years and are definitely woke to the greater potential of Amherstburg and committed to the potential of making our town a better place to visit and an even better place to live. We will do this by raising funds to invest in community initiatives that are consistent with our foundation values of healthy, inspiring and inclusive.
On July 3 the new foundation launched its first wave of fund raising for four local initiatives. We believe that they are all worthy of your consideration and support.
Carnegie Library Refresh: While other Essex county libraries are being revitalized our town library is getting neglected and left behind. Robust towns absolutely need strong libraries. The “Citizens for Carnegie” led by Shannon Bailey have a refresh concept that includes colourful wall murals, over 700 new titles, some comfortable seating, and an expanded computer hub. Fundraising target: $40,000.
Beaudoin Park: There is ample proof that parks are key to the health of a community. The current park is an under utilized wasteland. The town has budgeted $170,000 for a revitalization, but the money doesn’t go far enough. An additional investment of $55,000 will add amenities that interest children, resurface paths and sports courts, as well as create areas for seniors.
Amherstburg Freedom Museum: For forty years the Freedom Museum has been a symbol of courage, determination and freedom in our community. In keeping with their mission they wish to create a youth mentorship program and host a “Freedom Leaders” speakers’ series to discuss the challenges to freedom in the 21st century encouraging a dialogue for positive change. They are looking for $39.000 to complete this important initiative.
Holiday Beach Cycling Trail: An investment of $75,000 will create a 4km nature and cycling trail that will tie into the ever improving cycling network in Essex county. At the same time this project will create and restore wetlands around the course to enhance water quality, control flooding and help address our climate crisis.
Click on the Community Initiatives section of this website to learn more about how each of these four powerful initiatives will contribute to making our town healthier, more inspiring, and inclusive.
At our launch we also announced our “Thought Leaders” speaker series. The purpose of the three lectures is to bring accomplished speakers, whose international and domestic expertise, allows them to talk about what makes communities more livable for all. In other words to make residents woke to what is possible for Amherstburg and to get all of us to dream bigger and aspire for more. Our first lecture is on August 27 and features Gil Peñalosa who is recognized as one of the most influential urbanists in the world. His topic is “Creating a Vibrant and Healthy Community .. or become Irrelevant”. Click on the Events section to purchase your tickets. Seating is limited so don’t delay.
We encourage you to get WOKE along with our board. Don’t sit back and let the town evolve without your participation. Get involved and personally add bricks to the Amherstburg foundation.
Now none of these town initiatives will ever happen without your support and your donations to the Foundation. As Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, once said “we all need to be the pebble in the pond that creates ripples for positive change”.
So Get Woke and Stay Woke
President of the “new” Amherstburg Community Foundation
A shorter version of this article originally appeared in the “Letters to the Editor” of the River Town Times Wednesday, July 3, 2019