Bringing the Sustainable Community Together in Hamilton, Ontario

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Hamilton, Ontario is full of great minds, especially on the sustainability forefront. One bright Hamiltonian, Maria Topalovic, is using her expertise to further Hamilton’s environmental community with the launch of a new group: the Hamilton Sustainability Professionals Network. Maria is an Environmental Coordinator at Holcim Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors for Hamilton Conservation Authority; along with the help of 10 other sustainability advocates, she is launching the network on May 15th, 2013.  See the event at

A lively interview with Maria left us with 7 things we wanted to share about this exciting new project.

  1. All ages welcome (and encouraged). Whether you are a seasoned sustainability professional with 36 years of experience, or a student just about to enter the workforce, you have a place at the event. The veterans can point out the challenges they know exist and the newbies can provide a fresh set of eyes on the key issues. Learning is a two-way street!

  2. Vision building time! “This group should serve the community,” explains Maria. “ I can’t say that every professional will have the same needs or wants as I do. So we need to develop definitions, goals, and what we want out of the network together”.

  3. Not just talk. Yes, networking is important, but more important are the projects that come out of this network. “We can talk about it forever, but something still needs to get done. We want to find out what the actionable items are and then achieve them."

  4. All industries/sectors welcome. “Sustainability is one of those fields that everyone can be involved in,” Liz Nield from Lura Consulting suggests. “We are supporting the network because it reaches out to people across the city. There are opportunities to increase sustainability across the city even in businesses and organizations that aren’t usually considered environmental”.

  5. Ignite speaker series. Spoiler: the event will be starting off hearing success stories from the Hamilton community! Look forward to hearing from Abram Bergen – Owner, The Hammer Active Alternative Transportation (THAAT), Alan Griffiths – Sustainable Environment Specialist, Mohawk College, Joel Hilchey – Educator & Leadership Expert, McMaster University Sessional Faculty, Brian Lennie – Policy Advisor, Horizon Utilities, Chris McLaughlin – Executive Director, Bay Area Restoration Council, Ron McLester – Manager of Aboriginal Education & Student Services, Mohawk College, and Sandi Stride – President & CEO, Sustainable Hamilton.

  6. Leadership opportunities. Since the network is new, there will be plenty of ways to get involved and take ownership. Here is a chance for individuals (of any age or work experience) to influence their community and take ownership of important issues.

  7. We need each other. Maria repeated this line so frequently it had to be included. She was quick to point out how much was already being done in Hamilton. The inspiration of the network was sparked by the Hamilton Hive and the idea that we can accomplish more together. “Imagine if we connected these projects, imagine how the ideas could build, imagine the voice we might have." However, I challenge you to do more than just imagine, I challenge you to get out there and make the Hamilton Sustainability Professionals Network your own.

Further details on the event and group can be found at the EventBrite page, the Facebook event, and their Twitter account