Meredith Brown of Ottawa River Keeper

On Tuesday I spoke with Meredith Brown, Executive Director and Riverkeeper of Ottawa Riverkeeper, about that organizations Annual General Meeting.

While the AGM did take place on tuesday (I had left my thumbstick at home, so this file sat uselessly at CKCU whilst the meeting went on), she does highlight a number of pressures that the Ottawa river faces and what her organization is hoping to see happen.

A(n) (upcoming) Day at the Races

Today I spoke with Kate Van Slyck of the Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre about her organization’s upcoming Track Challenge.

Amethyst, as the name implies, is a not-for-profit day-treatment facility for women struggling with addiction. Much like other not-for-profits, raising funds is central to your operations: your success or failure helps to determine what level of service, if any, you can offer in the coming year. CKCU, as an example, dedicates a little more that 2 weeks a year to begging for change on air an annual funding drive, which is historically (and perhaps obviously, given that we still broadcast) been very successful. You might remember my most recent web-based pitch for donations to the Tuesday blend; the real shame is that Adam didn’t record my ascent up Dunton Tower.

But, PBS and TVO aside, CKCU is pretty unique in having an FM soap box on which to solicit funds. Most other organizations turn to special events to raise their cash. In the summer months this leads to ubiquitous charity golf tournaments, where your fee gets you a round of golf and a good feeling. Amethyst is taking a welcome break from the status quo and hosting a track meet. It’s pitched as a corporate event, but I doubt that they’d turn away groups of individuals that don’t happen to work together but want to participate.
This is the first of three interviews originally aired this morning on the proper show. This was part of our ongoing series on Community organizations in Ottawa- you can catch them all here. We first spoke with Kate about Amethyst in December, which went into greater detail about the sorts of programs that they offer.

On Golden Avenue

Last week I spoke with Wallace Beaton of the Westboro Community Association about the proposed closure of Golden Avenue between Richmond Rd. and Byron Ave. He’s previously joined us before to talk about the re-emergence of the WCA- an interview that I wish had been recorded, as it speaks very well to the cyclical nature of voluntary and community organizations. In any case, for more blog postings, turn to Greater Ottawa and Miss Vicky.

Wallace is careful not to stake out an official stance on the matter, important given that the association has yet to do the same, but it is clear that there is a great deal of confusion as to why the proposal has emerged the way it has. The closure was initiated by the Councilor, and comes while the community is in the midst of doing a traffic study, so it is all very curious, and to me seems somewhat ad hoc.

I am somewhat familiar with the area- it is at Golden that the city’s unmarked bike path switches from Richmond proper to the much quieter Byron Ave., and I can count the number of times on one hand that I have seen a car looking to turn onto or off of the street. I also don’t live there, so can understand that those that do might see things differently. That said, decisions that happen in one part of the city have repercussions on those that happen elsewhere later, so non-westboroians should ignore this matter at their peril.

Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre

As part of what has become an occasional series looking at various community and not-for-profit organizations in and around Ottawa, this morning I spoke with Kate Van Slyck of the Amethyst Women’s Addiction Centre.

Amethyst, based in Sandy Hill, is as the name implies an addiction counseling centre for women. As is usual with not-for-profits, they work to balance demand for their (I can only assume) top-notch services with the confines of a budget built on government grants and donations.

Amethyst also suffers, I think, from something that troubles all sorts of mid-sized operations: they do excellent work, but sit at the back of most people’s minds when they think about their charitable donations. This isn’t to say that the larger charities are more or less worthy, just that awareness for smaller organizations is always going to be difficult as compared to the CHEOs and Canadian Cancer Foundations of the World.

In any case, Amethyst, like the other people that we’ve spoken with, is the sort of organization that makes communities better: dedicated people working very hard with limited budgets to make the city, and people’s lives, that much better.

Coming later in the week: Me vs. Warren Kinsella and Me vs Janet Stein and Eugene Lang.

Previously in the series: David Gladstone on the O-Train. Phil Robinson of People for a Better Ottawa. Kathleen Okatcha.

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