Interview with Mark Takfman, Takefman, Citizen Sector Consulting, Founder and CEO ( PART II)

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Part 2: Environment related


This is the second part of a long and engaging interview with Mark Takefman of Takefman Citizen Sector Consulting. Mark has a lot of experiences especially in the field of Organizational Development and he is one of the Advisors and Friends of ENGAGE. We felt that it would have been interesting to have more people know about Mark.

For more information about Mark


Could you tell us a bit about your passion for environment and climate change? You have been doing some remarkable work here. For example, could you tell us about your work with Chengdu Urban Rivers Association?

Let me jump to a different level to answer these questions. Yes I have been doing various work on the environment and climate change. For example with CURA my last project was a conference on how climate change was affecting agriculture in Sichuan. I had experts fly into Chengdu to talk to an audience of academics, government officials, business men, students, NGOs and importantly, farmers. So this is why I called the conference the Conference of Convergence.


But my real purpose in this work and all other environmental work lies with the idea that it is our human capacity to be altruistic that we are trying now to save our world and all other life forms.  It is this effort, our altruistic expression that is important, as it defines our essence as a species. I appreciate we have passed the environmental tipping point to save our species and we are in the Anthropocene epoch and our biological annihilation and our efforts now are not amounting to enough.  Hence my passion is not about climate change or the environment, it is really about all the ways we can express kindness as a our way of life.

As in the Beatles song:

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make

(this is regenerative)

How would you differentiate people’s awareness on climate change between India and China?

India, China, Canada, etc. there is some awareness everywhere but very little that anyone feels they can do something about it and so it is an out-of-mind lost idea as a learned helplessness response. Even those who are being directly affected have little recourse.  Most of my environmental cohort responds with Facebook posts (not all but most). While these postings are a good source of education, they are not much in the way of what to do. All our cultures have entered into a learned helplessness phase.  The few really good organizations that have the staffing, money and capacity to do something are way outnumbered by the fossil fuel lobbyists around the world in both capacity and financing. With all the fantastic work going on to fight climate change, the CO2 levels still continue to rise, pollution still continues to rise, plastic pollution still increases, oceans still die at alarming rates, glaciers …. and so on.

So all this negative news leaves most people feeling helpless. I’m only trying to point out that anything we do to fight climate change is really a demonstration of our best human behaviour to be kind to others and feel this is really what brings us together.




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Figure 2 Flood victims


Could you tell us something more about Green Neighbourhood Network?

The GNN is an umbrella group set up to assist the other green groups in the Toronto area. They intend to offer mentorships, teaching, shared resources etc. They have put together a good volunteer group and are focusing in different operational departments to build an organization.  When I noticed they did not have a financial group in their developmental plans I offered myself to be their financial advisor.

What about the Climate Smart Food Working Group?

The CMF, lead by Lloyd Helferty is about establishing a certification for farmers who demonstrate that they have increased the amount of sequestered CO2 in their soil. Any product grown in such a carbon rich soil can be certified as Climate Smart Food.  For instance putting biochar into the soil, which is basically carbon, is one way to store carbon in soil instead of burning it off into the atmosphere.  The working group is putting together the protocols, the network and business plan to make this happen.

What do you think we can do to bridge the gap and reach out those who still are skeptical about climate change? How can we respect their opinions while get engaged in a meaningful conversation with them?

There are ways to bridge gaps, such as finding our common values and then working up from there, but for those who believe there is no climate change, it is no easier to convince them otherwise, than it is to get a person to let go of their belief in God. Beliefs are stubborn thoughts.  Just let them be. If they begin to see the whole world’s on fire and hurricanes are increasing and biodiversity is decreasing and ask you why this is happening, then you can tell them of the climate change that 100% of climatologists agree upon, and that it is human made. J

In your web site you mentioned Arundhati Roy with one of her famous quote:

If there is any hope for the world at all, it does not live in climate-change conference rooms or in cities with tall buildings. It lives low down on the ground, with its arms around the people who go to battle every day to protect their forests, their mountains and their rivers because they know that the forests, the mountains and the rivers protect them.” –

What such quote means to you?

From what I’ve written above it should be more obvious that, as Roy puts it, hope is not in conferences etc, but with our arms around each other in support of them. It is about kindness.

Last question, would you tell me about your current and future projects?

I’m helping an orphanage in Uganda. Archangel Children’s Home. I’m doing OD work such as we wrote a business plan, a budget, and so on. Now we’re writing an implementation plan. Eventually we’ll do fund raising.

I’m helping the Beijing Zhongke Vitiligo Hospital in Beijing to get an American foundation to do an art project with the hospital.

I’m a mentor at Camp Diversability, a down syndrome camp.

I’m a mentor for Culture Link Bike Host for new immigrants. I take new immigrants out on bike tours to get them familiar with riding around the city.

I’ll be in India October to volunteer at the Gyan Disha School for about two weeks. And I manage their Facebook page.

I’m helping the Sustainability Consultants Network on a carbon assessment project.

I took on a new writer client to help her write a grant to the Ontario Arts Council.

I’m writing an article on climate change impacts in Toronto.

I just finished a business plan for the Back Lane Studio, a video teaching company

I still do occasional work for CURA and manage their FB web page

I helped you with a quick edit of your document.

I’m having an anxiety ridden correspondence with the Canada Revenue Agency over a mistake in their information. They think I emigrated from Canada when I volunteered in India and China and want to charge me some money for a tax account I have.  L

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Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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