Communities in Bloom wilts on Western
By Jason Winders
October 31, 2013
The old campus still looks great to us. No matter what those judges have to say.
Despite earning the organization’s top rating, Western was not named among the winners of the 19th edition of the Communities in Bloom Awards. The university was shut out of both the national and international awards as well as the outstanding achievement awards in specific areas.
Despite the snub, judges Gérald Lajeunesse from Ottawa and Bruce Hay from Brampton, who evaluated campus in July, made special note of Western’s campus recycling programs as an area of strength.
“Within the context of climate change and environmental concerns, (all the participants) can be proud of their efforts, which provide real and meaningful environmental solutions that benefit all of society,” said Bob Lewis, national chair of the national committee, judges and sponsors.
The Communities in Bloom program consists of communities being evaluated either provincially or nationally by a volunteer jury of trained professionals on the accomplishments of their entire community (municipal, private, corporate and institutional sectors, citizens) on eight key criteria: tidiness, environmental action, heritage conservation, urban forestry, landscape, turf/groundcovers, floral displays and community involvement.
In 2004, Western took first place honours in the Parks and Grounds category of the organization’s annual awards, beating out Alberta’s Banff National Park and Okanagan University College in British Columbia. Prior to this year, it was the first – and last – time Western entered the competition.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Mental-health education continues to evolve on campus. Last week, Western launched a mental health e-learning module for students, staff and faculty. Mental health issues affect one-in-three people in Canada – including members of the Western community’s student, staff and faculty.
This 30-minute module provides participants with a basic understanding of mental-health issues and available campus and community resources. It covers the topics of stress, anxiety, depression, suicide and eating disorders. The module is available to all Western students, faculty and staff.
After successful completion, participants receive a certificate confirming their participation in the course.
- Western has reached a tentative agreement with CUPE Local 2361, the union representing approximately 330 employees in Western’s Facilities Management and Thompson Arena. The group’s contract expired June 30, and the two sides held four days of negotiations. Details of the agreement will not be released until after it has been ratified by both the union members and the university’s Board of Governors.
- Western Law PhD student Tashi Phuntsok was awarded recently a Dalai Lama Trust Scholarship. Tashi, a graduate of Western Law’s LLM program, was among 10 worldwide candidates of Tibetan descent selected to receive the $6,500 scholarship.
“I’m honoured and humbled to receive this scholarship,” Phuntsok said. “It’s a prestigious award among the Tibetan intellectual community and I hope I live up to the aspirations of its goals.”
Phuntsok, who was born and raised in a Tibetan refugee family in India, received his LLB from the University of Delhi’s Faculty of Law, and his MPhil in International Legal Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. His 2012 LLM thesis at Western Law was entitled, Indigenous Peoples Under International Law: An Asian Perspective.
Phuntsok joined Western Law’s PhD program in 2013. His thesis will develop an alternative perspective of international law based on the fourth-world peoples’ (Indigenous Peoples) aspirations, views and experiences.
“By following Gandhi's emphasis on the transformation of self before transforming society, I believe the ultimate transformation in the lives of Tibetan people in terms of political freedom will only come from the transformation of Tibetan self from the notion of ‘nation’ to ‘indigenous peoples,’” Phuntsok said.
- The Museum of Ontario Archaeology needs your vote. The Aviva Community Fund is giving away $1 million as part of a competition to fund amazing ideas to better Canada. The museum’s proposal, History in your Hands, looks to bring archaeology to kids and youth through hands-on digital platforms and traveling displays. These displays will be on exhibit in schools, museums, community centres and malls so all members of the community can learn about Ontario’s archaeological heritage. Western researchers and students have many ties to the museum including 3D animation of artifacts scanned by the Sustainable Archaeology team.
Visit avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf18197 to vote before Nov. 25.
- Whispers of Life (2013), written and directed by Florian Halbedl, BA’09 (Film Studies, Medical Sciences), and produced by Joshua M. Ferguson, BA’09 (Film Studies), has been awarded the Audience Choice Award and the Jury Choice Award at the 26th Annual Reel Pride Film Festival in Winnipeg, Man. Whispers of Life was one of 10 films in the festival’s Canadian GLBTTQ* Short Film Competition on Oct. 16.
Whispers of Life tells the story about the interdependence of imagination and survival of Tom, a gay teenager, who is threatened by a bully’s homophobic words. As Tom sits on his park bench, a stranger named Charles suddenly appears next to him and strikes up a conversation that forever alters the teenager’s future and life.
“The idea behind Whispers of Life was inspired by the onslaught of publicized gay, teen suicides. The short film works as an artistic intervention to challenge the societal taboo of suicide, the pervasive and damaging effects of anti-gay bullying and the fact that these issues are not discussed openly,” Halbedl said. “Communication is one of the major missing links between someone who is pondering thoughts of taking their own life and someone who could potentially save it.
“Whispers of Life brings communication to the forefront of the discussion of suicide and anti-gay bullying.”
Whispers of Life has been accepted into nine film festivals around the world so far including festivals in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Australia. Whispers of Life premiered at Cinema Diverse: Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in September and was selected a Festival Favourite by their audience.
The film was shot and produced in Vancouver last year with the support of 98 Vancouver industry professionals. Halbedl and Ferguson used the crowd-funding company IndieGoGo to raise the modest budget for the film; 138 funders from all over the world, including significant donations from the Philippines and France, supported the project.
- Aaron Joshua Pinto, a fourth-year International Relations major, was recently selected by Global Vision as one of 25 young Canadians to participate in a Southern Canada Trade and Development Mission to Iqaluit, Nunavut, this week. The meetings of the South Meets North mission, which follow Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Northern Tour last August, will allow Pinto to meet with a diverse group of Nunavummiut business, development and political leaders, while also engaging in an open forum of dialogue with Inuit youth and elders to collaborate, discuss and identify the Northern Canada’s environmental, economic and social challenges. All this is happening as Canada chairs the high-level Arctic Council (2013-15), as well as the inaugural Youth Arctic Council in early 2014, drawing youth from the eight circumpolar countries of the world.
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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