Publications, opinions, and speeches


Six things to refresh and inspire you this summer

Published on 25/07/2022

The sun is in the sky well into the evening these days. The temperatures are warm, and the city where I live is predictably bursting with the energy that is Summer in Toronto.

And yet.

These past couple of years have been a grind that few of us have experienced before, professionally and personally. It’s taken a lot to keep moving, to constantly work for change. I feel myself needing a refresh, a reminder of why I chose this work, of why and how I can continue to be of service to others.

So I thought I’d ask a few leaders in our network:

What are you diving into to refresh yourself this summer? What is something that you read, watch, or listen to that inspires you to continue being creative and of service in your work?

I didn’t predict the variety of responses that we got, or the myriad ways that people draw inspiration from all around them. But maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised — because we are a sector full of curious, creative, and caring people. And this list reflects that wonderfully.

With the second half of the summer stretching out in front of us, I invite you to plug in your headphones, strap on your dancing shoes, or find yourself a comfy chair. Enjoy.

What are you diving into to refresh yourself this summer?

image: BuffyI’m listening to Buffy, a new show from CBC Podcasts that tells the story of Buffy Sainte-Marie. Each episode is hosted by Falen Johnson who is also an Indigenous woman and grew up with Buffy as an icon in her community. Falen thoughtfully contextualizes pieces of Buffy’s journey within our current understanding of systemic racism and inequality in Canada. It is inspiring to listen to Buffy’s voice — she has endured tremendous challenges, broken through many barriers, and continues to be joyful. She is a powerful example of how to advance social change with clarity and creativity.

Sabreena Delhon, Executive Director, Samara Centre for Democracy

image: ChernobylUntil recently, I rarely watched TV. But TV has experienced a kind of Renaissance lately, and some series seem to have achieved the same level of artistry and impact as classic films. Chernobyl is one of my favourite series. It’s a deep and riveting analysis of the inertia that plagues all social systems (including the education system where I work). Anyone who has spent time fighting this kind of inertia will recognize the many ways characters in the drama turn a blind eye to evidence or act (often subconsciously) in their own self-interest. But if you can find time to watch the series — which should be required viewing for anyone who can vote — you will be inspired by the heroic efforts of a small group of scientists who save the planet from an unimaginably bad environmental disaster.

John Mighton, Founder, JUMP Math

image: The Ezra Klein ShowThis interview with Jenny Schuetz takes on the “paradox” of how communities that might be more progressive have higher housing prices, and the role of both public policy and democratic processes in frustrating the housing needs of so many. Although focused on the American context, Schuetz and Klein go deep on the crisis with many lessons for us in Canada — and, in so doing, ask deeper questions about how democratic reforms may be a necessary pre-condition to addressing the crisis.

Karim Bardeesy, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Leadership Lab, Toronto Metropolitan University

image: FunkadesiThis band is pure joy. They remind me we’re all part of something bigger than our everydays. That we all belong to each other. They’re my recharge. And it’s much more than the music they make. It’s the ways they make it, and the ways they use it. Here’s my short doc on them: Funkadesi. And here’s where you can find their music:

Hope they move and inspire you, too.

Sree Nallamothu, Associate Executive Director, Toronto Neighbourhood Centres (TNC)

image: Heroes in my headMemoirs by organizers have been inspiring me lately. I like the mix of storytelling, movement history, and hard-won political and personal insights. The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade prompted me to pick up Heroes in My Head: A Memoir by Judy Rebick, who was the spokesperson for the Toronto Morgentaler Clinic. Rebick’s exhilarating book details her contributions to the feminist movement and fight for access to abortion in Canada, as well as personal struggles stemming from childhood sexual abuse.

Shelagh Pizey-Allen, Executive Director, TTCriders

image: Such big dreamsI’m heading out on vacation and can’t wait to dive into Such Big Dreams by Reema Patel. I’m inspired when a story engages both my head and my guts, and this novel promises to do just that. The protagonist lived on the streets of Mumbai as a child, and grows up to work in a human rights law office. With complex characters and interactions that defy archetypes, it will challenge assumptions about what it means to work in human rights, and about who has the right to live in a city.

Elizabeth McIsaac, President, Maytree



Non-profit sector


Plug in your headphones, strap on your dancing shoes, or find yourself a comfy chair – and dive into podcasts, books, music, and TV.