Why Pocket Change?

Who we are

The Pocket Change Project is a committee of the Pocket Community Association, which represents a neighbourhood of approximately 1,100 homes housing 3,500 people in the east Danforth area of Toronto. We are a community group working together to reduce our individual and collective carbon footprint. We aim to convert our houses so as to live sustainably, without reliance on fossil fuels, so the Pocket can become a “net zero” or carbon neutral community.

We are committed to sharing our research, expertise and experience to make it easier for our neighbours -- and those across the city -- to retrofit their houses, get off natural gas and make the switch to electric vehicles.

How we got started

Our first steps were to share information with Pocket residents about the climate threat and organize support for the project— explaining why it is needed, how we might proceed, and how community members can help reduce our collective carbon footprint. As the project proceeded, we began to identify households interested in having a deep retrofit of their home.

Our objective is to support these homeowners as they do their retrofits, helping them decide on the best plan for them, find competent contractors, make sure the work is performed well, and measuring the energy and greenhouse gas reductions they have been able to achieve.

We have now assembled a group of experts from a wide range of backgrounds to develop a roadmap that lays out a path from the hundred-year-old brick and plaster houses common in the old city of Toronto to net-zero homes.

We have recently convened our first cohort of ChangeMakers -- homeowners who are now launched on the retrofit road. They have all had a home energy audit, and are now being coached as they plan home retrofits to reduce their carbon footprint.

Soon, the results will be put on display for people considering carbon-reducing renovations of their own -- neighbours learning from neighbours, working together to collectively address climate change.

Check out a presentation on our group and goals:

Our goals

1. Share information with our neighbours about the problem of climate change and actions we can take to reduce our contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

2. Assist homeowners in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by retrofitting their homes to
reduce or eliminate natural gas consumption.

3. Collaborate with other community groups to help retrofit the approximately 421,000 homes in this city.

Why It Matters

We are at an unprecedented moment in human history. Our generation’s capacity to meet the challenge of the climate crisis will affect the health, happiness and potentially, the very existence of all generations to come.

Our governments have been distressingly slow to action. The problem seems so large and the solutions so beyond the scope of individual action that it’s easy to get discouraged. The Pocket Change Project was born from a belief that if we put our collective shoulder to the wheel of this problem we CAN have an impact.

We have an incredible community in the Pocket, as we all know – who are used to caring for each other, sharing our stuff and coming together to make things happen.

The Pocket Change Project is here to give people a way to come together to make a real difference in the search for climate solutions - not just to reduce the carbon footprint of our own little pocket but also to to share our green wins and losses with other communities and help move the ball down the field toward the goal posts of a sustainable future.

Through neighbour to neighbour education and knowledge sharing, making expert advice/best retrofit practices easily available, organizing the bulk purchasing of climate-friendly home energy equipment, planting more trees and more, The Pocket Change Project seeks to harness the incredible “people power” of our neighbourhood. Let’s do this!

Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world – indeed it is the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead.

Executive

Paul Dowsett

The Pocket Retrofit Coach As the Principal Architect at Sustainable, Paul is a leading practitioner and advocate in the space of sustainability and architecture. For the past decade, Paul has been central to the introduction of sustainable architecture to the mainstream, while practicing deep community engagement with equity-seeking groups of all backgrounds and abilities. Paul’s work has consistently demonstrated the value of building-science-led design solutions for new construction and especially for retrofits. Paul is a key advisor in the space of residential retrofits. Paul’s own home may be the first house in the Pocket to have undergone a deep energy retrofit, reducing his energy demand to 48% less than that required for a typical Canadian home, and achieving net-positive-cost-of-energy. Almost a decade later, his firm was responsible for the retrofit of a very similar home, achieving an 83% energy reduction and achieving the first LEED For Homes Platinum certification for a renovation.

 

David Langille

Coordinator of the Pocket Change Project David is political economist by training with a strong background in community development and social activism. Now teaching public policy and social engagement in the Department of Social Sciences at York University.

 

 

 

Julia Morgan

Chair, Communications Committee Julia Morgan is a documentary filmmaker, communications and fundraising professional, community volunteer, and climate activist. She has lived in The Pocket since 2005, and for nearly ten years she served as Editor of The Pocket Newsletter. She was also part of the volunteer team that put the groundwork in place for the formation of the Pocket Community Association. For the past 12 years, Julia has been involved with a number of climate change groups in the city, including Climate Fast and 350 Toronto, participating in actions and running local climate change awareness and advocacy events. She has followed and engaged extensively on TransformTO, the City of Toronto’s strategy to achieve net-zero emissions, including several public deputations to Council. In her work life, Julia is a fundraising writer for a charity with a strong equity focus supporting well-being for communities across the GTA. Prior to that, she ran a successful communications business serving the non-profit sector for 16 years. Her career in film has seen her working on a number of projects, including an award-winning short animated film (2021) about her former Pocket neighbour Nora Young, a groundbreaking elite-level cyclist and multi sport athlete in Toronto during the 1930s.

 

Michael O'Neill

Retired as Global Manager, Corporate Events at Armstrong Fluid Technology, which supplies district heating and cooling projects around the world, Michael is a Pocket resident and strong supporter of the Pocket Change Project.

 

 

 

 

Paul Woodman

An electronic engineering technician, with extensive experience with instrumentation, telecommunications, information technology and account management. He currently works in the home improvement sector. A past executive of the Pocket Community Association, PCA web-master and administrator.

 

 

 

 

Eve Wyatt

Project Manager, Pocket Change Home Retrofits Retired from senior management at GO Transit/Metrolinx, Eve is a civil engineer with extensive experience in project management, policy development, and application of technology.  Motivated by a long-standing concern about climate change, she is currently devoting her time to results-oriented projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

 

Lori Zucchiatti O'Neill

 Retirement from a rewarding full-time position in the mental health sector has allowed Lori to devote more time to another one of her passions -- our environment. She combines a personal commitment to continually reducing her environmental footprint with a desire to motivate others to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and take other steps to protect our planet. 

Lori has extensive experience in volunteer management, and as a lifelong volunteer, she has donated her time and skills to many charities and not-for-profit organizations, often by serving on boards and committees. Past roles include chair, secretary and treasurer. In 2021, she completed two years as Chair of the Pocket Community Association, and since then, she has served on the PCA Executive as Past Chair. 

 

Communications and Outreach

Liisa Repo-Martell

A Gemini-award winning actor, writer and producer that has lived in the Pocket for 15 years. She is also the one of the founders of Artists for Real Climate Action (ARCA) – a non-profit dedicated to creating video content that promotes a just, sustainable future.

 

 

Electric Vehicles

Allison Evans

After a decade of sustainable residential architecture experience at a firm specializing in green design, Allison is now pursuing a Masters in Environmental Studies at York University. She is a member of the Ontario Association for Applied Architectural Sciences.

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