Research shows that people feel compelled to take action once they connect climate change impacts to their personal lives and their neighbourhoods, as highlighted by these six unique personal stories. It was also the key idea behind the recent TransformTO-inspired Picture2050 photo contest.
Led by the Toronto Climate Action Network (TCAN) and sponsored by The Atmospheric Fund (TAF), the Picture2050 contest asked residents to imagine Toronto in the year 2050 as a caring and climate-friendly city of the future. The premise ties back to the City Council-approved TransformTO climate plan that TAF co-developed.
The plan is not just about lowering emissions but also about creating a healthier, more equitable and more prosperous Toronto for all. By encouraging photographers of all ages to explore their own neighbourhoods, we hoped to learn about the low-carbon initiatives they wanted to see happen in their own communities.
The resulting photos emphasized public transit, urban renewable energy, green buildings and sustainable land use. In short, climate-friendly actions that improve quality of life.
The contest confirmed that creativity and competition are important factors when it comes to engaging diverse groups. Picture2050 attracted submissions from across the city, age groups, and social backgrounds. Participants included seasoned community gardeners and elementary school kids, while photo locations ranged from leafy suburbs to high-rises, from Lake Ontario to Jane and Finch.
The Picture2050 contest showed that youth are particularly open and enthusiastic about creative opportunities to engage in climate action. This can be a great starting point to spark climate engagement in the future as the implementation of the long-term TransformTO strategy kicks off.
During the recent 2018 City budget debates, there were dozens of deputations supporting a strong funding for TransformTO. Responding to clear community support, City Council provided new funding for TransformTO. By adding 30 new staff across several divisions, the City will advance community engagement, building energy efficiency retrofits, community energy planning, an electric vehicles strategy, renewable energy investments, and much more.
The Picture2050 photo contest isn’t just about the future. It provided shining examples of initiatives and infrastructure around Toronto that showcase how far we’ve already come in our transition to a low-carbon future.
Thanks again to all participants and supporters for making Picture2050 an incredible success. Now let’s get to work in bringing a vision of a sustainable, inclusive, low-carbon Toronto to life.
Photo Credit as pictured top to bottom:
- C. Pang, High Rise Garden, in the Adult Category
- Julia Band Orange, Moving in Colour, in the Youth Category
- Shafi Chowdhury, Trees for 2050!, in the Kid’s Category