Community Spotlight Series — Janice Wong
Earth Hacks: Tell us a bit about yourself (i.e., where you’re from, your background, what you’re in school for, how did you both meet, etc.)!
Janice Wong: I’m currently a 3rd-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, pursuing a specialist in Human Geography with a double focus in urban geography and planning, plus a minor in Geographic Information System (GIS). During my free time, I love to swim, game, and bake. As of now, I am a full-time student and, on the side, I mentor first and second-year students at Woodsworth College, UofT. Also, I am searching for a research assistant position for the Summer of 2022.
EH: How did you get involved with Earth Hacks?
JW: Back in 2020, I came across The Green Program through my university geography department announcements. I was interested in the online certificate that they offered and decided to enroll. Afterwards, I started to receive some newsletters, and the Environmental Justice Hackathon was mentioned. I opted to join the hackathon even though it was on my birthday thinking that it would be a great challenge and experience. From there, I met many amazing people, such as Sanjana and learned more about Earth Hacks.
EH: What was your experience like at the Environmental Justice Hackathon? Can you tell us about the project that you were involved with?
JW: On the day of the hackathon, I stayed up for almost 24 hours, and the hard work paid off as my team and I placed first. Our project was a pitch for a community college program provided by an already successful organization, P-tech; we focused on transforming current educational programs toward a greener future by providing a new pathway within the Process Technology programs. The underlying issue of climate change must be addressed on all levels of society, our project carries out intervention within the institutional level. Our proposal shifts the focus away from traditional raw material handling to a curriculum placing emphasis on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions. The aim of the project was to devise a plan to promote the global shift from an extraction-based economy to a regenerative one; we developed a list of potential courses that would work towards the ultimate goal of ‘Decarbonization’.
EH: What drew you to city planning?
JW: I am interested in city planning because I like to work on human-centered projects. Specifically, I would like to create a better living area to cater to the growing population. The effects of climate change are often amplified for lower-income communities, city planning allows me to improve the living conditions for them.
EH: What city planning and gentrification projects would you love to see happen in Toronto and elsewhere?
JW: In Toronto, I would love for the city to emphasize their planning in transportation to increase the efficiency in traveling, especially from downtown to uptown. This would consist of thorough improvement of the road systems. Another plan that I would love to see happen is the Quayside project to follow through with Sidewalk Labs.
EH: What’s a fun fact about you that not many people know about you?
JW: During my 12th grade graduation trip, I went to Tijuana, Mexico to help build houses.
EH: Have you ever participated in a hackathon before and what would you say to someone who has never participated in a hackathon before?
JW: The Environmental Justice hackathon is the first that I have ever attended. I would highly encourage everyone to participate not only because it is fun to meet new people at the event, but it is also a valuable learning experience. It improved my leadership and communication skills as I had to meet new people on the spot and work efficiently to complete the mission in 24 hours.