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Todd Barsanti, Lead Mentor for Southern Ontario

Saturday spotlight series

· Climate Reality Canada Team
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Designer, educator, husband, and dad (not necessarily in that order), Todd Barsanti is a Professor of Design at Sheridan College. His primary focus in academics is design foundations and in the integration of sustainability issues into design curricula. An award-winning designer with more than two decades of professional and academic experience, Todd has a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies as well as a diploma in Environmental & Sustainability Education. Since completing the Climate Reality training in 2013, Todd has dedicated much of his free time to spreading the reality of our climate crisis through voluntary speaking engagements and acts as a Mentor to 300+ climate leaders in Southern Ontario.


Why did you join the climate movement/what pushed you to become interested in climate change issues?

I needed a Master's degree to transition my career from design practice, into full-time academia, and a mentor of mine recommended the Environmental Studies faculty at York University. It was in this program that I truly learned how wicked of a problem climate change actually is, and I found that my problem-solving skills as a designer were a good fit in realizing that I had a role to play in this movement.


What is one achievement you are proud of?

I have published papers and given dozens of climate talks, but honestly, being a husband and a dad is an ongoing challenge that I take the most pride in. It may sound cliché, but the daily struggle of living a climate-conscious life, while imparting those sensibilities onto my family, is something that I take very seriously, and it is rewarding to see them grow to be empathic and conscious of their place in this world.


What was your most iconic/memorable Act of Leadership?

I was initially trained in Chicago, in 2013, but I have since had the opportunity to act as a Mentor at four other trainings since. Each training has been a unique experience, an opportunity to recommit myself to the movement, and a chance to work with more energetic and impassioned climate leaders.


What are some climate change initiatives you are currently taking part in?

I am currently acting as the Lead Mentor for the Greater Toronto Area and help more than 300 Climate Reality Leaders to make connections in the work that they are doing.


What do you think is the most effective way for people to take climate action?

A Climate Leader friend of mine, Jill MacIntyre Witt, has been published as saying: "We need everyone everywhere doing everything all the time as quickly as possible." I feel that there is a role for everyone to play, but that roll is going to look different for everyone. We all have commitments to work and family and life, and we cannot all dedicate ourselves to a life of activism, but we must all be more aware of the impact we are collectively having on this planet, and we must all be willing to make the personal choices that will allow us to have the smallest impact. It's going to look different for everyone, and that's ok.


What is a fun fact about yourself?

I am the head coach of his daughter’s (7) and son’s (9) house league hockey teams.