Member group spotlight: Sustainability Professionals Network

By Xanthe Teller

IMG_2368Maria Topalovic, chair of the Sustainability Professionals Network (SPN) has big plans for educating our city on the future of our environment.

Upon completing a masters degree in engineering public policy, Topalovic quickly recognizes the need for a network of Hamiltonians who care about sustainability to come together. In 2013, SPN held an inaugural launch event to gauge public interest and hear from the community on the group’s potential. The event brought in over 100 guests, reinforcing the vision to connect groups and professionals working in sustainability.

Today, SPN works to connect and educate anyone in the city working with, for, or with an interest in sustainability. The organization does not receive operational funding, nor does it ask for membership fees. SPN members participate in its activities on a volunteer basis. Several subcommittees are in place for those looking to get involved. The SPN executive makes an effort plan summits and conferences as well as the promotion of local sustainability initiatives. The group encourages anyone to share their stories about sustainability, or upcoming related events through their website.


SPN is set to launch several initiatives in the coming months, including their Community Leadership and Sustainability Initiative (CLS) in partnership with McMaster University, 100in1Day, Open Streets, and a session at the HIVEX conference this fall on October 31.

The CLS Initiative began last year and will resume in the fall. Through this initiative, SPN is able to connect the community with local sustainability professionals. Specific topics and guest speakers are chosen and all attendees are invited to network with one another. These events are free of charge and open to the public. Professionals and students alike are encouraged to get involved.

She isn’t just chasing her passion for a sustainable future in Hamilton through her volunteer work with the SPN; Topalovic works as an Environmental Specialist for Holcim Canada, one of Canada’s largest a building materials and construction company. The Swiss-based multinational company is known for its environmental leadership, corporate social responsibility and sustainable construction.

And how can Hamilton become more sustainable? Through education and community action, she says. Topalovic recalls growing up eating fresh vegetables from her grandparent’s farm, and explained with enthusiasm that her father’s garden still provides her with most of her produce through the summer months.

If you’re interested in getting involved with SPN, visit and sign up for the mailing list. Connect with the SPN on Twitter and Facebook.

Upcoming events of interest:

100in1Day – June 6, 2015

Open Streets – June 28, 2015

Community Leadership & Sustainability Initiative Events – September, 2015

my faceBorn and raised in Hamilton, Xanthe is excited to begin her communications career as the Communications Coordinator for the city’s bike share program, SoBi Hamilton. She strives to promote an healthy living and the sustainable environmental initiatives through partnerships with like-minded organizations in her hometown. In addition to SoBi, Xanthe also works as an assistant coach at Ohso Fitness while working towards a personal training certification.

Tip of the week: 5 shortcuts for online personal branding

By Steve MacIntyre

When was the last time you ran a background check on yourself on Google? It may seem pretentious, but it’s exactly what potential employers are doing should you be considered for that role you are applying to. Developing your personal brand online takes time, and knowledge. Therefore, consider these tips to get you started on your digital brand.

Consistency, consistency, consistency. All your social media profiles (that you use professionally) should have the same profile picture to have your followers be able to identify you immediately. If you choose to actively use social platforms to either make yourself known in your field, be sure to always be churning out either self-made content, or re-posting content you find helpful. Make your followers benefit from following you by contributing back to the community.

Narrow your focus, and don’t spread yourself too thin. Identify what you want to do online, and use social media platforms to enable you. Often people try to be active on too many platforms, which in turn can negate your personal brand. Scale down, pick platforms which are for you, and build your brand. Should you later down the road choose to add another platform under your belt, so be it; but for now remember – less is more.

If you really want to turn things up, understanding your analytics can do wonders for you. There are many free and paid tools that can help you visualize your data and help you understand your online presence, a quick Google search can provide you with that. The only advice I would give in respects to this is that you want to KISS it – keep it simple stupid – when it comes to your analytics. Don’t get hung up on hardcore data, just stick to the basics and go from there, such as understanding the times your followers are reacting to your content, your growth over time, and your percentage of click and open ratio (for links if you provide them). Facebook has insights (if you own a page), Twitter provide it’s own free analytics, and you can use Iconosquare for Instagram. Again, the amount of services out there are endless, but sticking to the meat and potatoes of analytics will benefit you immensely.

LinkedIn is an animal of it’s own, and one I tend to not invest too much time into. However, should I ever dive into being more active on my profile, I would start by sharing content, commenting on articles, and participating in group discussions. The beauty of LinkedIn is the ability to have meaningful discussions with fellow peers and professionals on any topic.

Last but definitely not least is a tip on etiquette – don’t annoy others. Over-sharing, over-tweeting/commenting can lead to annoyance. Much like the quote “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” treat your social media like that at a minimum, you’ll be appreciated much more for less.

Here are two books I highly recommend that will help you understand social media more:
UnMarketing: Stop Marketing. Start Engaging by Scott Stratten
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy, Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

What are your tips on managing your personal brand? Comment on our Facebook thread here.

steve-2An alumni from both McMaster (Honours Communication Studies) and Sheridan College (Post-Grad PR program), Steve currently works as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for 270 Sherman. He currently sits on the Hamilton HIVE PR Subcommittee and on Sustainable Hamilton’s Events and Marketing team. If you have any questions, feel free to connect with him via email or by LinkedIn!

5 #HamOnt news making a buzz this week

By Rachel Vorobej

Highway safety revisited

Following a fatal crash last week on the Red Hill Valley, which claimed the lives of two young girls, the Hamilton City Council will be re-evaluating the safety of the Hamilton highway. Amidst other fatalities, most recently in 2012, as well as numerous complaints about the Red Hill the City is stating the highway may be safe but this inquiry is the responsible action to take. “The lack of lighting, particularly in bad weather, seems to be the biggest concern. It has been since it opened,” said City Councillor Chad Collins. An audit of the Linc to Greenhill was completed in 2013 and its advocates are now hoping to extend through the rest of the highway.

For more information, click here.

Keeping it local

The craft beer market has been growing steadily with the introduction of new flavour such as pumpkin, chocolate and pepper and Hamilton’s market is no exception. Local breweries are popping up in a number of locations across the city: the new Arts and Sciences brewery on Burlington Street is expected to open, shared by Nickel Brook and Collective Arts craft brewers. Shed brewery opens later this summer in Dundas in a 19th century building that once housed a curling rink. Mash Paddle brewery is running in Brantford and Ramblin’ Road Brewery Farm has staked its claim in rural Norfolk County that was traditionally “Bud and Coors light territory,” says its owner.

For more information, click here.

PanAmerican collaboration

In the spirit on collaboration and unity the Pan Am Games have begun a collaborative project with Dr. Maria Figueredo, who is an associate professor of portuguese and spanish studies at York University. The overall aim of the initiative is to unite culture and sports together—there has been a call for submissions of poetry or favourite lines from a poem whose author comes from one of the Pan Am associated countries, which will then be added to the “PanAm/ParaPanAm Poetry Tree.” While it’s a work in progress, the Poet-Tree is open for viewing at Founders College at York. A special event will be held there on July 11 “creating a dialogue linking poetry and sport,” Figueredo says. “Sport is an agent for communication,” she adds.

For more information, click here.

Hogweed alert

A very invasive species of plant known as hogweed has been identified in the Hamilton-Halton area and residents are told to be on the lookout and extra cautious about coming into contact with it. Hogweed is a health hazard — its noxious sap sensitizes the skin to ultraviolet light. This can result in severe and painful burning and blistering. The plant can grow between 2.5 and 4 meters tall and has a similar look to the flower Queen Anne’s lace.

For more information, click here.

Healthcare cuts

The Hamilton Healthcare Coalition held a rally outside the General Hospital on May 13 in order to draw attention to their claim of more than 100-million in funding cuts to Hamilton hospitals over the course of the last four years. The group states that funding cuts have forced the cancellation of cancer programs and fertility clinics. It has also affected hospital patient care while chopping the number of nurses, health professionals and support staff. More rallies have been scheduled for May 22 outside of the offices of Liberal MPPs Ted McMeekin and Jim Bradley.

For more information, click here.

rachel2015 Rachel Vorobej graduated from Carleton University with a B.A. in Political Science, and then went on to complete a Post-Graduate certificate in Public Relations. She is currently a member of the HIVE public relations subcommittee.