After over 11 years as TEA’s Executive Director, I’ve decided it’s time to begin a new adventure. But before I leave, I want to share with you why I love TEA so much and what TEA has meant to me over the past 27 years.
Yes, that’s right: my association with TEA goes back 27 years. It started in 1991 when I became a volunteer for a very young TEA. I helped write and release TEA’s first report on waste management. Shortly after this, I became a TEA board member and remained on the board until 1996, when I left to finish my studies and then work. In Fall 2006, I returned to TEA doing contract work. This turned into me becoming Executive Director in April 2007.
TEA has changed dramatically since I started as Executive Director, as has Toronto. We have a new team that better reflects our city. We have an amazing group of volunteers - from board members to office volunteers - who help us every day. We have a much larger supporter base from all corners of the city. And we have created wonderful connections with a wide variety of civil society groups who we work with to build a better Toronto.
Together, we’ve achieved amazing things. It would take me a few pages to summarize all the good things we’ve accomplished. Here are some highlights:
- In June, we published a ground-breaking first-of-its-kind report with Social Planning Toronto and CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals on how climate action can be leveraged to create many important community benefits.
- Last year, after over two years of hard work by TEA and our many allies, our efforts paid off when City Council adopted one of the best climate action plans in Canada.
- Also last year, after a 7-year campaign, the Province finally added parts of our ravines to the world-famous Ontario Greenbelt.
- In 2016, TEA led the way in getting City Council to adopt a very forward-thinking Zero Waste Plan.
- In 2012, we convinced City Council to bring back a transit plan designed to get LRTs to areas of the city suffering from bad transit.
- In 2008, we got the city to adopt Canada’s first ever Community Right to Know Bylaw which requires businesses to publicly disclose when they release specific toxic chemicals.
The list of TEA’s accomplishments since 2007 is long and I’m proud to have played a part in making them happen.
But when I look back over the past 11 years, the real personal joy for me has been the many amazing people I have had the honour to work with to make Toronto a better place. What’s even more amazing is that many of these great people are still at TEA or working with TEA! You know who you are and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done for TEA and helping me help TEA succeed.
I love TEA and it’s tough leaving this job. But I do so knowing that TEA is in great hands (thanks to my accomplished colleagues), in great shape, and doing vital, great work.
So, dear reader, I have one final request as TEA’s Executive Director: please join me and pledge your (continued) support to this amazing group of people and this amazing thing we call TEA. Together, let’s keep building a greener city for all.
Above: Franz Hartmann, Executive Director