August 3, 2012: Return to Kitchener’s The Working Centre with Joe Mancini


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Back in January of this year I had on the program Joe Mancini, a director of The Working Centre in Kitchener. “The Working Centre is a non-profit, community-based, volunteer inspired venture that seeks to give individuals and groups access to tools and opportunities to become involved in the building of community projects in Kitchener-Waterloo and surrounding areas.” Some of the things that happen are a job placement centre, a café, bicycle repair shop, a thrift shop, housing, and so on. There are paid jobs and many volunteer placements.

Click image for more on community tools projects

That interview came about because of what I call occupy Windsor ripples: I met photographer Doug Maclellan during Occupy Windsor and over the course of some conversations he spoke of this fellow and his wife who began a unique social enterprise in Kitchener way back in 1982 based on the values of the Social Gospel, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers movement, and thinkers like Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire; a deep and rich stew, so to speak, of human potential, social justice, and a belief that together in community all can find their place in a meaningful existence. A board of directors is responsible for the operation of the whole enterprise and Joe and his wife Stephanie take a modest salary for the day to day work they do running the enterprise.

 Last week, my wife and I, and Doug MacLellan took a trip to Kitchener to see the operation and were graciously hosted by Joe and his wife. Joe took us around to each of the enterprises and we started with lunch at the café (which includes a bookstore and large space for movie showings and social gatherings) and made our way to the employment help centre, the thrift shop, the St John’s Kitchen where meals are served, showers can be had and medical help is available. From there we saw the bicycle repair shop and the supportive housing complex.

Bike shop interior
Words of wisdom in a worker’s locker

A philosophical underpinning of this enterprise is Personalism. “Personalists stress the person’s nature as a social being. According to personalists, the person never exists in isolation, and moreover persons find their human perfection only in communion with other persons. Interpersonal relations, consequently, are never superfluous or optional to the person, but are constitutive of his inherent make-up and vocation.”

Joe Mancini gives a tour of the job search resource centre. Click image for more.

I hadn’t heard this term before I met Joe and his wife and like all philosophical terms it is complex and open to debate, but I saw it in action at the Working Centre and the idea is a healthy counter to the dead weight of global capitalism that is the exact opposite of what workers need in Windsor. How to get there is the challenge. I have here for you an edited version of the conversation I had with Joe about the Working Centre last January before I saw the place for myself this week: 


The City of Windsor needs your input on our draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan

 The City of Windsor is seeking public input on our draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan.  Adaptation to climate change includes any activity that reduces the negative impact of climate change while taking advantage of new opportunities that may be presented.   How do you think Windsor should adapt to the effects of a changing climate? Please read the plan and submit your comments to by Monday, August 20th.   For more information or to speak to the Environmental Coordinator, join us at one of our Public Information Sessions (see the public input poster).

 The first Public Meeting will be held on Thursday, August 16th at the Ojibway Nature Centre (5200 Matchette). Doors will open at 5:30pm and there will be a brief presentation about the draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan at 6:30pm. We are excited to announce that at 7:00pm there will be a presentation from Dr. Gordon McBean, professor at the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction at the University of Western Ontario and author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Dr. McBean will discuss the need for Southern Ontario to adapt to the weather extremes ahead.

Click image to link to report by McBean on effects of climate change

 We will also be displaying the draft Climate Change Adaptation Plan at Devonshire Mall on Saturday August 18th and Sunday August 19th and welcome your comments at that time.

 The Climate Change Adaptation Plan does not have a name!  Submit your suggestions when you submit your comments.

 If you would like to register as a delegate when the Climate Change Adaptation plan is brought before the Environment and Transportation Standing Committee on Monday, August 27th, please register with the Clerks office.

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