Zamani
Ra

Project: CEED Workshops

Zamani Ra is the Executive Director of CEED Canada (aka CEED - Circular Environmental EDucation), a not-for-profit organization that provides environmental education workshops to Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURB) residents and property owners in social housing communities. CEED’s aim is to increase climate action among tenants and encourage them to use their local footsteps to reduce our global imprint. In 2017, Zamani and a group of TCHC residents created a series of Waste Management and GHG reduction workshops. She has over twenty years of experience in community capacity building. In the past 6 years, she has secured over 
$100,000 in neighborhood improvements with overwhelming support; she has become a member of Black Environmentalist Alliance, and a member of the Tenant-Staff Oversight and Advisory Board for Toronto Community Housing’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Department. She is a Goddess of Inspiration, Warrior of Words, Sharer of Voices, Creator of Curated Content, Builder of Communities, Paradigm Shape Shifter, and Promoter of People Power.

PROJECT

CEED Workshops is developing a curriculum geared toward residents who live in social housing. These communities house highly racialized,  immigrant groups and live in MURBs. They are resilient and vibrant communities facing many social and systemic challenges. CEED’s goal is to use a circular approach to help residents gain clarity on the significance of, and apply, climate change behavior in a way that is simple, convenient, and culturally relevant to assist the City and its GHG reduction targets. In addition, the workshops will be delivered through an equitable lens to demonstrate how the impacts are felt by various groups. Two of the City’s 2030 Net Zero Targets is to achieve 70% residential waste diversion from landfills. The other is to identify pathways to more sustainable consumption and Waste, Engagement, and Equitable Implementation. We believe CEED is aligned perfectly to the Net Zero Targets and Actions specifically directed towards buildings.

In May 2017, Scarlett Manor, a Toronto Community Housing neighborhood in Etobicoke, experienced a devastating flood that caused extensive damage to 3 of its 13 floors. Upon inspection, it was determined that items such as, “flushable” wipes, small pieces of material, hair, and other miscellaneous items were the cause of the flooding. Some residents suffered serious losses. Then it happened again (3 more times in fact). Inspired by watching the families most impacted by the floods navigate the damage and destruction, I decided to do everything in my power to prevent this from happening again. This and subsequent floods opened up the opportunity to educate residents about what waste items should go where, and ultimately, why it matters. I became a 3R Ambassador, gathered a group of tenants from elder to youth, with mixed levels of expertise, and we formed Scarlett Environmental Awareness Team. With a strong educational focus, we ran mini-lessons on waste and recycling. The mini-lessons also highlighted the need to incorporate an equity lens because not all communities can respond to the effects of climate change in the same way, which proved to be a major hit. That initiative has led to the establishment of CEED Canada.

MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET

I love it when someone lights up because they learned something new and useful. The engagement we provide brings our actions full circle and inspires people to become intentional doers as a result. I want to see impactful long-term change and I feel I can only do that by being part of the solution, not the pollution. Our brilliant waste exercise has much to offer communities battling waste issues. A user-centric focus and a shift in mindset and consistency are three of the main steps required to make climate action matter more to more people for generations to come.

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