The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.

From CUSO: Volunteering, and free Info Sesssion on July 17, 2013

[forwarded from Jody]
Hello Humanist Association of Toronto,

On behalf of Cuso International, we are delighted to invite you to an upcoming information session on our current overseas volunteer programs in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cuso International is an international development organization that works in more than 40 countries to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of skilled volunteers. Each year Cuso International sends over 200 people to lend their skills and work alongside local counterparts in NGOs, community organizations, schools, and governments. Our programs are supported by the Canadian government and donors; this allows us to cover all associated costs – from airfare and health insurance to accommodation and a modest living allowance. More information can be found at
We feel that members of your professional, personal, and volunteer networks may be interested in some of our current placements and we encourage you to share this event information, whether it be through HAT’s calendar of events or through the forwarding of this to your list serve.
Sincere thanks for taking to time to read and share. We hope that are able to join us to learn more about our programs and how you can get involved. Presenting at this meeting will be Cuso International staff and returned volunteers. You may read more on the event here.
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
Sincerely,  Samantha Cassar
 We hope that you can join us at this event and would greatly appreciate your sharing of this information within your personal and professional networks.

Cuso International Toronto Information Session
Date: Wednesday, July 17 2013
Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Location: Centre for Social Innovation, 215 Spadina Ave, Suite 120
Contact: Samantha Cassar at (647) 478-4089 or for more information.

Current Opportunities

Community Development
Gender Advisor, Guyana (12 months)Organizational Development and Networking Advisor, Democratic Republic of the Congo (6 months)Disability & Inclusion Specialist, Cameroon (12 months)

To view all current opportunities, including those within Communications & Media, Education, Fundraising & Advocacy, Health, ICT, and Natural Recourses visit:

The mother of all problems: female literacy in Afghanistan | | Guardian

The mother of all problems: female literacy in Afghanistan | Global Development Professionals Network | Guardian Professional
Here is a recent article in the Guardian by Lauren Oates, the director of Canadian Women for Afghanistan.   HAT welcomed a speaker from this organization at our monthly HAT meeting this spring.   

"Last year, I worked with the Afghan government's Central Statistics Organization and Unicef, writing up the results of an ambitious national survey, routinely conducted by the UN in developing countries every few years: the multiple indicator cluster surveys. These are intended to monitor progress on the millennium development goals and focus on the situation of women and children.
In Afghanistan, the survey data was collected in 2010-11. It managed to cover every single province of the country, including insecure provinces. It included more than 13,000 households, 22,000 women, and nearly 15,000 children under the age of five, gathering information for more than 80 indicators, including literacy and education, child protection, water and sanitation, health, nutrition and more.
As I pored over the findings and looked at the background characteristics of respondents, I noticed something remarkable: the single greatest predictor for nearly every single indicator was the mother's education level. It was such a glaringly evident pattern, you could set your watch by it.
The more educated a mother is, the more likely she is to give birth with a skilled attendant present, and therefore more likely to survive childbirth. She's more likely to register the births of her children, to marry later and give birth later, to have children who are attending school, who are vaccinated, who are well nourished, and who survive infancy and then childhood. Her children are less likely to be involved in child labour and to be abused, and they have more books in their homes. Their access to water and adequate sanitation facilities is better, and they live in wealthier households. It's a pattern found all over the world. Multilateral agencies, NGOs and governments are increasingly recognising that human development hinges upon the status of women.
But this has not been reflected in the way that donor governments fund international aid and development. In recent years, two-thirds of education aid globally came from just six donors: the European Commission, the World Bank, the US, the UK, Norway, and the Netherlands.
One of the reasons has to do with the lag time between donors' investment and the return on it, a point made by John Richards (pdf), a Canadian social policy scholar. Richards points out that funding the high quality delivery of education is demanding on expertise, planning and resources, and there may be a decade or longer between investments made and demonstrable results. But as Richards also shows, few countries have been able to escape poverty (defined as per capita GDP of $2500 or lower) unless they achieve an 80% literacy rate.
In Afghanistan, billions are being spent every year on development and humanitarian assistance. Education is just one of many priorities, but it shouldn't be. It should get special status because, while female literacy is one of the slowest areas of progress over the past decade, it has the most to offer.
Still, education remains a tough sell to donors. Governments are under pressure to show tangible and quick results for money spent. Reforming curriculums, revising textbooks and changing teacher certification systems just aren't as romantic as a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new brick schoolhouse.
Such opportunities for "Kodak moments" have sometimes distracted from the tough slog of reforming education, which demands dedicated long-term planning, significant technical assistance and a willingness to engage in some trial and error. It requires donors and implementers to keep knowledgeable staff on the ground for years at a time, and not in one-year rotations as so many aid agencies and embassies do. It demands airtight accountability measures and flexibility in delivery mechanisms in order to re-evaluate methods when things aren't working. Most importantly, the focus must always be on people-level outcomes.
I've been around Afghanistan long enough to see many of the new schools featured prominently in donor reporting to the taxpayers back home crumble a few years after they were built, or wind up empty because there was no planning beyond the building of the school: problems caused by failure to figure out where the teachers would come from, how the school would be kept safe from insurgents and how it would be supplied with desks, books and other materials. Further, a lack of contextual expertise often results in school building that is not environmentally sustainable, not suitable to the local climate or exceedingly overpriced.
Meanwhile, the school day in Afghanistan remains barely three hours long, the quality of content in textbooks is notoriously bad, few schools have even rudimentary science lab supplies, and the ministry of education struggles with basic tasks such as getting accurate statistics on its schools and teachers. There are districts without a single qualified female teacher. Only 20% of women aged 15-24 are literate more than a decade after the Taliban were ousted from power, and that number is three times lower in rural areas. The Afghanistan cluster surveys found that only 30% of adult women with some primary education are literate, which means that the education system is failing too many girls.
A quality basic education system that serves girls and boys equitably represents Afghanistan's best chance of steering its way out of the storm that has raged there for more than three decades. Schools that have the tools they need to nurture critical thinking, exposure to big ideas and the creativity to generate new big ideas will yield young minds capable of transforming the future of their country.
But it will take a lot of money, a lot of time, and a serious commitment that can outlast the current uncertainty over the prospects for peace. So we need to start talking about results in terms of human capital and the social rate of return, rather than in metrics such as the number of buildings built. We need to learn how to communicate the impacts of investing in education that may be less visible, such as the importance of good textbooks or good governance in education ministries. And we need to get unashamedly to the heart of the matter: the education of women and girls.
Lauryn Oates is project director for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. Follow tweets on @CW4WAfghan.

HAT FORUM Sat June 22, 11am - 1pm OISE 252 Bloor St W

HAT Forum, Saturday, June 22, 11am - 1pm.
LOCATION:   OISE, 252 Bloor Street West
Topic: Denial
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Denial, in the psychological sense, is usually considered a bad thing, but a new book argues that it is essential to human evolutionary progress. See (article in June 7 Globe and Mail). What functions does denial serve? Do you see any advantages to it, and with what limitations?

Why Should I Care about the Green Economy? Mon Jun 17, Duke of YOrk

Why Should I Care about the Green Economy?- Eventbrite

[This event in Toronto is forwarded by a member, and relates to the HAT Book Club topic July 6]

Have ideas on how to make Canada greener? Join us on Monday, June 17, at the Duke of York, and have them heard. If you just want to sit, listen, and have a drink, that’s fine too.  As always, the event is free.
Please RSVP using our Eventbrite page. Doors open 7:00, discussion starts at 7:30.
Conventional wisdom in Canada suggests that environmentalism comes at the cost of national wealth, and a drop in our standard of living.  Jim Harris, former leader of the federal Green party, author of two best-selling novels, and avid blogger, thinks this is a false dichotomy. 

He writes that “companies are applying a central guiding principle to their business sustainability strategies [and they] derive economic benefits from improved environmental and social outcomes." In other words, corporate social responsibility is delivering results to the bottom line. 

Jim will be joined by Brett Wills from Partners in Project Green.  Together they will lead a discussion on how businesses can take a leadership role in environmentalism despite the absence of political motivation.

HAT BOOK GROUP: Sat July 6, 2:30-4pm

DATE:  Saturday, July 6th, 2013 from 2:30 -4:00 pm at OISE, 
LOCATION: 252 Bloor Street West.
Room will be announced when available. 
We will be discussing the following book:

EcoMind : changing the way we think, to create the world we want
LappĂ©, Frances Moore  

Summary from Public Library site:
In 'EcoMind', Frances Moore Lappe-a giant of the environmental movement-confronts accepted wisdom of environmentalism. Drawing on the latest research from anthropology to neuroscience and her own field experience, she argues that the biggest challenge to human survival isn't our fossil fuel dependency, melting glaciers, or other calamities. Rather, it's our faulty way of thinking about these environmental crises that robs us of power. Lappe dismantles seven common thought traps" -from limits to growth to the failings of democracy- that belie what we now know about nature, including our own, and offers contrasting thought leaps" that reveal our hidden power. Like her 'Diet for a Small Planet' classic, 'EcoMind' is challenging, controversial and empowering.

HAT FORUM, Sat. June 15, 2013, 11am - 1pm, OISE

DATE:  Sat June 15, 11am to 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street W
TOPIC:  Budget Priorities
Facilitator:  Bill Kennedy

All are welcome.

HAT FORUM Sat June 8, 11am - 1pm, OISE "Political Scandals"

DATE:  Saturdaty June 8, 2013
TIME:  11am - 1pm
LOCATION:  OISE, 252 Bloor Street West
TOPIC:  Political Scandals
FACILITATOR:   Moses Klein

"How important are political scandals in shaping our opinions of political leaders?"

All are welcome to this discussion
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.