Waterloo Region – A Symphony of Design

A Symphony of Design, the Urban Design Video Celebration, is a presentation of the promotional video consisting of introductory and summary messages highlighting the quality of architecture and urban design projects in the Waterloo Region. The video features a number of vignettes of specific buildings and urban design projects in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo that demonstrate examples of architectural or urban design excellence. Partners included CTT Inc, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation.” – (via Exchange Magazine Article)

Net Change Week Live Webcast in Waterloo

Date:
 June 10th, 2010
Time:
 The Future Panel – 12pm to 2:00pm EST
 The Cybersecurity Panel – 2:30pm to 4pm EST
Location:
 Accelerator Centre, Meeting Room 2

Net Change Week is a week dedicated to exploring the intersection between social technology and social change. Hosted at the MaRS Discovery Centre in downtown Toronto, Net Change Week will host some of the most renowned thought leaders in the field of social technology and social change that will challenge, inspire and inform participants from diverse areas such as education, popular culture, childhood development and philanthropy.
 
In an effort to spread the ideas generated at this event in Toronto, the Net Change organizers have set up a live webcast of the event that will be broadcasted across Canada. As part of the event at MaRS, questions and comments will be sent from the satellite locations to MaRS to generate a cross-Canada discussion on issues relating to social technology and social change.
 
Social Innovation Generation (SiG) at the University of Waterloo will be hosting a live webcast of the event in the Waterloo Region. With the various synergies occurring in the region between academia, the technology sector, and social change enterprises, Net Change Week provides an opportunity to discuss how we can harness the energy of technology for the greatest impact.
 
SiG will be broadcasting The Future Panel and Cybersecurity Panel from the events occurring for Net Change Week at MaRS.
 
The Future Panel will be compromised of world-renowned web strategists, futurists, and culturists discussing the future of the web and the world. It will go beyond current strategies. Speakers will be challenged to think next level. Where is this technology leading and how can we harness its energy for the greatest impact? Some concepts that will be explored include; How 21st century communication is changing our society and how it is helping us address some of the world’s toughest problems in new ways.
 
Featuring:

Dr. Gerri Sinclair, Executive Director, Masters of Digital Media Program at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media, Great Northern Way Campus

John Thackara, Author of In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World and Director and Founder of Doors of Perception

Dr. Lucy Bernholz, Founder and President of Blueprint Research & Design, Inc and author of the blog, Philanthropy2173

This panel will be moderated by Jesse Brown, a humorist working in print, radio, television and film.

The Cybersecurity Panel will focus on concepts such as Internet filtering, censorship of web content, and online surveillance that are all increasing in scale, scope, and sophistication around the world. Current tools for Internet control go beyond mere denial of information. This panel will discuss cybersecurity, with specific implications for Canadian foreign policy. They will explore such questions as; when is it in the public interest to allow the free flow of information; and when is it in the national interest to control it?

Featuring:


Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario

Ronald Deibert, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto

Moderated by Jesse Hirsh, internet strategist, researcher, and broadcaster


Date: 
  • June 10th, 2010
Time: 
  • The Future Panel – 12pm to 2:00pm EST 
  • The Cybersecurity Panel – 2:30pm to 4pm EST
Location: 
  • Accelerator Centre, Meeting Room 2
  • 295 Hagey Blvd., 1st Floor, West Entrance
    Waterloo, Ontario N2L 6R5

Community Conversation Series May 25

Community Conversation Series May 25

On May 25, Opportunities Waterloo Region will be hosting their monthly Community Conversation Series on the topic of Waterloo Region’s municipal elections. The focus this year is to increase voter turnout especially from communities that are often overlooked or undervalued when it comes to issues that are on the table during the elections. In 2006, voter turnout for the municipal elections was 26.5%. That is almost 3 quarters of our population that don’t have a voice in our local government.

In order to help our community explore its potential to increase voter turnout Chi Nguyen, current Director of Participation Process at MASS LBP will be the keynote speaker at the Community Conversation Series.

Here is a little bit about MASS LBP:

So, join us on May 25 at the Victoria Park Pavilion at 9:30 to talk about how we are going to increase voter turnout to make this the best community to live in where each citizen has an equal voice in local government.

Please visit this link for more information and to register: http://eventswrv.posterous.com/community-conversation-series-may-25

WICI

Brief:

Design a website for a new university department at the University of Waterloo called, The Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation. Included in the design is a content management system to organize and display a large amount of pre-existing content including papers, videos, and blog posts.

Description of WICI:

The Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI) facilitates transdisciplinary and collaborative research promoting innovation and resilience within— and beneficial transformation of— the complex adaptive systems at the core of human well being in the 21st century. Within the University of Waterloo, WICI acts as a “centre of centres” for research on complex systems. Within southern Ontario, WICI activities bring together scholars, practitioners, and policy makers working on both theoretical and applied complex systems problems. Beyond the immediate geographic scope of Southern Ontario, WICI uses online and interactive technologies to disseminate its findings and to engage vigorously with complexity researchers around the world.

Chevron’s Oil Exploits in Ecuador

I recently watched the documentary, Crude, by filmmaker Joe Berlinger. It has received wide praise and awards including an official selection at Sundance, best documentary of the year from the National Board of Review, and an International Green Film Award from Cinema for Peace.

“A fascinating and important story. CRUDE does an extraordinary job of merging journalism and art.”Christiane Amanpour, CNN Chief International Correspondent

In short, Crude is about Chevron’s oil exploits in Ecuador, the consequent environmental damage caused by the oil extraction operations, and the adverse health effects on the local, indigenous culture. It has been cited as a ‘David versus Goliath’ landmark court case that involves profit over human rights, profit over environmental protection, and profit over freedom of speech. The plaintiffs are suing for 27 billion which is the estimate costs of the damage to the environment, the indigenous culture, and the health of thousands of Ecuadorians. This is set to be the most lucrative case involving the environment.

Continue reading “Chevron’s Oil Exploits in Ecuador”

Chevron’s Oil Exploits in Ecuador

 
I recently watched the documentary, Crude, by filmmaker Joe Berlinger. It has received wide praise and awards including an official selection at Sundance, best documentary of the year from the National Board of Review, and an International Green Film Award from Cinema for Peace.
 

“A fascinating and important story. CRUDE does an extraordinary job of merging journalism and art.”Christiane Amanpour, CNN Chief International Correspondent

In short, Crude is about Chevron’s oil exploits in Ecuador, the consequent environmental damage caused by the oil extraction operations, and the adverse health effects on the local, indigenous culture. It has been cited as a ‘David versus Goliath’ landmark court case that involves profit over human rights, profit over environmental protection, and profit over freedom of speech. The plaintiffs are suing for 27 billion which is the estimate costs of the damage to the environment, the indigenous culture, and the health of thousands of Ecuadorians. This is set to be the most lucrative case involving the environment.

Crude Trailer

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Quickly, the viewer becomes aware that it is a very complex case involving many parties and influencers. In addition, while the documentary overall favors the plaintiffs in the case, they do provide a balanced perspective on the evidence being presented that support each side. Both sides of the case are also using the internet very extensively in their pursuit to declaim the opposition including the site, ChevronToxico and Chevron’s own Ecuador Site. This documentary is largely a story about a court case and the complexity of the law system between the US and Ecuador. It also involves political affiliations and considerations between a more socialist Ecuador and capitalistic United States.

A Web of Influence (created by Chevron, so it is biased in favor of Chevron)

Trial timeline link (provided by ChevronToxico, the main website supporting the plaintiffs)

Brief Historic Timeline:
– 1964 to 1990 – Texaco drills for oil in Ecuador
– 1992 – Texaco hands over operations to Petroecuador
– 1993 – the lawsuit is filed in New York City
– 2001 – Chevron takes over Texaco and inherites all debts and liabilities
– 2008 – Damages estimated at 27 billion by court-appointed experts
– 2010 (a few days ago) – Chevron subpoenas the filmmaker, Joel Berlinger, for obtain over 600 hours of footage from Crude and wins.
(it is much, much more complicated than this simple timeline)

The Ecuadorian People are the plaintiffs and are represented by a group of lawyers from both Ecuador and the US with financing backing from a prominent law firm in the US. The law firm, Kohn, Swift & Graf PC, makes it clear that they are involved in this case because it is a “lucrative case for the firm” (Joe Kohn). Also involved, are several large environmental groups including Amazon Watch and Amazon Defense Front. While Amazon Watch is a US activist group involving many celebrity spokespeople such as Sting and James Cameron, Amazon Defense Front is a grassroots collection of Ecuadorian NGOs.

In this case, the ‘David’ is not as small as you might think, because the financing backing of a prominent US law firm. However, the head lawyer is the stereotypical ‘David’ and comes from a very humble background from the jungles of Ecuador, and the area of the jungle where the environmental dispute is occurring.


Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Pablo Fajardo

Pablo Fajardo is the lead Ecuadorian lawyer involved in the litigation and has been fighting this case for almost 16 years. He was raised in the jungles where Chevron’s exploits took place. He also works at a human rights claims office in Ecuador that provides advice and guidance for the Ecuadorian people. He has been awarded with CNN’s Hero Award for his landmark work with the Ecuadorian People as well as being a feature in Vanity Fair’s acclaimed Green Issue. Pablo grew up in the jungles where Chevron has been operating for nearly three decades and has witnessed first hand the environmental damages taking place there. He has been personally touched by the dispute raging in the jungle including watching his friends die from cancer, as well as, his own brother being killed amongst the complexities of the dispute.

Chevron’s Strategy

As explained throughout the documentary, it is Chevron’s strategy to prolong the case for as long as possible to, essentially, bankrupt the plaintiffs. However, much of the evidence uncovered through the litigation process has been equal among Chevron and the plaintiffs. The documentary ends by stating that case is still on going and no final decisions have made yet. It now seems to be dependent on a PR campaign to oust Chevron for their activities and lack of responsibility in Ecuador.

Main issues:
– Chevron (under the name Texaco) operated in Ecuador from 1964 to 1990 until handing over operations to the state-run Petroecuador
– Petroecuador has a very poor record for environmental protection and has been blamed for part of the environmental degradation
– The plaintiffs have not been involving Petroecuador in the case because it changes the lawsuit against Chevron
– Chevron claims that because President Correa is in favor of the case against Chevron, the plaintiffs have not focused their efforts on Petroecuador. Chevron claims that they are the ones being sued because they are a US based company and have the money.
– Much evidence supports that there is indeed environmental degradation in the jungle because of oil exploits, but Chevron claims that it is not their responsibility because they haven’t operated there for the past 20 years
– The plaintiffs argue that Chevron (under the name Texaco) set up the oil operations in such a way that environmental degradation was inevitable and did not take proper precautions to protect the drinking water. Thus, Chevron needs to take financial responsibility for their part.
 
Considerations:
– Only in 2008 does Chevron announce to its shareholders that they are involved in a multi-billion dollar liability in Ecuador. This can be considered borderline illegal because Chevron has been misleading its shareholders over a very important issue in its financial stability.
– Chevron has conducted its own assessments on the health of the indigenous people and have determined that there is no substantial difference in the prevalence of cancer among its population compared to other similar socioeconomic populations. They claim that poor sanitization and sewage is to blame for the rates of cancer and diseases.
– However, the evidence (conceived by court-appinted experts) that there has been environmental damage caused by oil exploits is hard to ignore when considering the rates of cancer and diseases in the area.
 

Technology and Peace: UPeace offers new course

The United Nations University for Peace is offering an exciting new course called, Technology and Peace. The course is being taught by AshokaPeace’s Nick Martin. The course will teach how technology is currently shaping the peace-building and conflict management process. It will also explore the potential that technology has for peace.

Here is the course description:

“Course Description: The advent of new technologies has fundamentally changed the capacity for processing and exchanging information in the 21st century. NGOs and governments, and companies alike are just beginning to understand the potential that these tools and systems can have in analyzing and addressing a range of social problems. This dynamic one-week course will explore how technology is being used to transform conflicts, build more sophisticated statistical models, fight diseases, monitor elections, distribute food, design better economic development measures, and much more. It will also consider some of the key challenges related to access, implementation, scale, and evaluation that working with technology presents. The course is designed for professionals from both the private and public sectors to assist them in developing strategies and skills to benefit their organization amid this rapidly evolving landscape. Participants can expect a hands-on and interactive learning environment with a variety of real world examples from organizations working in the field.”

I hope that this course will be put up online for free for people to learn from, share and contribute to–which is, of course, in the spirit of what technology allows us to do. While there is a lot of resources out there on the peace-building process it requires careful curation of the educational content. When an organization or individual approaches a conflict that needs mediation and a peace-building process, it would be beneficial if they had the credentials and knowledge of how to deal with the conflict from an accredited institution. By institutionalizing the educational content of peace-building and conflict management, careful academic consideration can be applied to the curriculum.

Check out this slightly outdated video on the United Nations University for Peace:

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For more information, please visit their website at: http://upeace.org

The Mythic Story of the Hippo’s Tears

An African school girl tells the mythic story of the Hippo’s Tears about a friendly hippopotamus whose tears bring water to her village that is suffering from drought.


About Hippo Water:

“In many countries, traditional water collection involves carrying a 5-gallon (20-liter) bucket on the head. This practice puts a great burden on the body and can damage the spine, neck and knees over time. A full Hippo Water Roller only feels like 22 pounds (10 kg) when rolled over level ground, making it possible for almost anyone to transport 24 gallons (90 liters) of water in much less time and with greater ease.”