Recently I had a chance to sit down with Peter Ormond and Stuart Cameron of the Golden Horseshoe Green Tech, a Hamilton-based non-profit organization that seeks to bridge technology and sustainability to empower and educate Hamilton’s under-serviced communities.
With the common themes of skills development and alternative education, GHGT’s primary goal is to empower individuals to live more sustainably while becoming self-reliant. GHGT offers workshops and classes that instill confidence and teach basic skills to underprivileged members of the Hamilton community. This may include victims of circumstance, recent immigrants or students that are disillusioned with conventional educational streams. Led by community volunteers well-versed in their respective fields, workshops cover the basics of computer hardware and software, data entry, word processing and social media. Their Robotics Club even offers youth an opportunity to build their own robot! Other workshops, such as the Digital Literacy and Spy School workshops, are offered for both parents and children and help to bring families together by sharing in the common experience of engaging with technology. Furthermore, future projects include the development of radio broadcasting workshops in partnership with Mohawk College. Eventually, GHGT hopes to function as a feeder school for professional programs at the college level, and/or be able to provide standalone certification to allow participants to enter the workforce directly with marketable skills.
Through GHGT’s innovative e-waste program, electronics of all shapes and sizes are recycled from residential, commercial and multi-residential contributors, diverting thousands of pounds of e-waste in the past year alone. Upon requesting a pick-up (you can request an e-waste pick-up for items big or small here) GHGT volunteers gather donated items around Hamilton, the GTA and beyond and deliver them to their e-waste processing warehouse, located at the Good Shepherd Venture Center. Here, students and volunteers strip electronics down to their component parts. This process not only emphasizes sustainability, but simultaneously teaches participants about the hardware components and how they function. In addition, GHGT regularly holds e-waste collection events, including upcoming events at Mapleview Mall on Earth Day and at the Hamilton Art Crawl. If donated equipment is in good enough condition, items may be refurbished and resold. The proceeds of these sales are then fed back into GHGT’s other active programs. However, some computers are refurbished and donated by GHGT to the local community, including a recent donation of 90 computers to Parkview Secondary School.
Despite the name, GHGT does not wish to limit itself to technology alone. Instead, their vision is to become a key player at the grassroots level, building bridges with other community groups to become a central hub for sustainability. For instance, their active partnership with the Kiwanis Boys and Girls club has referred dozens of youth into GHGT’s programs. Other active programs include Shades of Green, where volunteers visit people’s homes to help them transform their garden spaces. One upcoming initiative wishes to focus on water conservation by matching seniors with youth for a rainbarrel program. Additionally, GHGT offers discounted CPR courses led by nurse volunteers.
GHGT’s volunteers come from a broad range of ethnic and professional backgrounds. For instance, Peter Ormond, GHGT’s Vice-President and an engineer by profession, has always been passionate about promoting the power of simplicity and sustainability. Currently, Peter teaches a bridging course for new Canadians on the topic of renewable energy. He feels that GHGT is a perfect bridge for new Canadians looking to establish their skills and feel like they are valuable parts of Hamilton’s growing community.
After our short conversation and upon witnessing firsthand the diversity of its programs and its people, I am excited to see that GHGT is energized and it is growing! Are you looking to get involved with any of these initiatives? Look for GHGT on Volunteer Hamilton, contact them directly here, or visit their Facebook Page!