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Episode #13: Kate Hammer

Episode 13

Kate Hammer’s career path is anything but conventional. Hammer, currently Vancity’s director of government relations, wound up in banking after beginning her career in journalism, working at the New York Times and the Globe and Mail. She’s also been involved in politics, serving as an advisor to Canada’s first female, openly gay premier.

Hammer’s varied career path has given her an array of skills that help in her current position, where she advocates for financial policy that helps consumers gain access to banking products and services. She’s also worked to shape Vancity’s climate commitments. Hammer talks about the urgency banks and other corporations face to save our planet as well as how to make sure all individuals are included in digital transformation.

Kate Hammer Headshot

Featured Guest: Kate Hammer

Kate Hammer is the Director of Government Relations at Vancity, Canada’s largest community credit union, with over 550,000 members and $30.5-billion in AUA. Her work focuses on informing government regulations, programs and policies in service of the financial health and well-being of Vancity members, and in empowering their voices and values to inform the development and implementation of public policy.

Before coming to Vancity she worked in politics as was an advisor to Canada’s first female openly-gay premier, and helped to inform and implement a number of equity-focused public policy and program transformations. She is an award-winning journalist who started her career covering crime and breaking news for The New York Times, and went on to work as a beat reporter and national correspondent for The Globe and Mail in Toronto.

She is dual citizen of the US and Canada, with proud roots in central Michigan, who loves listening to podcasts.

Becca Hoeft

As a marketing, public relations and corporate communications leader, Becca (only her mom calls her Rebecca) started her career in consulting and have been involved with six startups ranging from film, fashion, technology and foot, with her first startup being a social enterprise importing leather fashion accessories made by single mothers in Nairobi, Kenya. Speaking across the country, she is known for leading award-winning teams and has received recognition from the Cannes Film Festival for Best Media Campaign, , Hermes, MSPBJ Women in Business, and most recently, the Top Women in Communications awards. When the day is done, you’ll find Becca behind a good travel book planning her next adventure, plunking a tune on the piano or laughing with her blended family.

Bryan Toft

Bryan Toft is Sunrise Banks’ Chief Revenue Officer. In this position, Bryan oversees commercial banking/lending, treasury management, mortgage and fintech partnerships. He has been with Sunrise Banks for more than a decade. From 2014-2017, he served as president and CEO of Community Bank Owatonna.

Bryan has held a variety of roles at Sunrise Banks including credit analyst, commercial loan officer and EVP regional manager of commercial lending in Minneapolis.

Bryan received a B.S. in Computer Science from Buena Vista University and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. He is a board member of the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce, Twin Cities Metro CDC and Charter School Property, Inc.

Featured Music

Jesse Sprinkle

“The Wonder and the Beauty"

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Episode Transcript

Kate Hammer: For a financial institution that lends to the people in this area, this is our business now. Integrating these climate risks into how we lend into how we bank and how we serve our members is critical. And is now. This is not an academic forward-looking exercise.

Becca Hoeft: Welcome to the NextGen Banker podcast, where we explore what’s next in banking and talk with the innovators responsible for creating positive change in the financial sector.

I’m Becca Hoeft, chief brand officer at Sunrise Banks. And I’m joined by Bryan Toft Sunrise Banks chief revenue officer.

Bryan Toft: Hey, Becca. Great to be here. David Reiling, our usual host is out finding the next big thing in banking, but we’re really excited about our guest today.

Becca Hoeft: I know I really am too. Today we’re speaking with Kate Hammer, of Vancity Bank in Vancouver, British Columbia,
Kate thanks for being here .

Kate Hammer: I’m so glad to be here. I’m a fan of the pod guys.

Becca Hoeft: But before we get started a reminder to stick around, to hear our musical feature at the end of the episode, each NextGen Banker episode showcases one new artist from somewhere around the globe representing a wide range of different genres.
So be sure to check it out.

Bryan Toft: So we’ll go into the introduction for Kate a little bit here. And I got to know Kate through the Global Alliance for Banking on Values and was really fascinated by her career and path into the financial world. Uh, so Kate’s currently the director of government relations at Vancity, which is Canada’s largest community credit union with over 550,000 members and 30.5 billion in assets under administration.

And before coming to Vancity, she worked in politics as an advisor to Canada’s first female openly gay premier and helped to inform and implement a number of equity focused public policy and program transformations. And here’s where it gets interesting for me. She’s also an award-winning journalist, started her career covering crime and breaking news for the New York Times and went on to work as a beat reporter and national correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Toronto.

I am super excited to talk to you, Kate. Thanks for joining the podcast.

Kate Hammer: I’m so glad to be here. I’m so glad my wandering career path, that is interesting to you. I’ll, I’ll pass it on to my parents.

Becca Hoeft: And you know, Kate, um, I started out in PR and that’s really been how I grew up. So to hear that you’re working as director of government relations at Vancity, but you started your career in journalism.

You have to tell me, how did you transition from being a reporter to working for a bank?

Kate Hammer: Yeah. You know, um, I’m really glad when people ask me this question. Cause I feel like I’m like a guidance counselors’ worst nightmare. Like all of the advice they gave, I just did not listen to fully ignored and sort of just, um, sort of followed my curiosity and the opportunities as they came.

And I think that’s how you end up with someone with a master’s in biology, going into journalism, then politics, and now working at a large financial institution. That’s the best way I can build that thread. Yeah. Yeah. And I sort of, um, you know, funny, I don’t get often invited to high schools to talk to people about, you know, uh, how to, how to guide their careers.

I probably should more, um, might be a bit disruptive. Uh, but I think, um, One of the things that sort of has led to this unusual path is, um, really, you know, I was doing my degree at NYU, uh, and I was doing what was a science degree that had a journalism component and long story short, kind of got invited by a guest speaker to support him on a biography he was doing of Willie Mays.

Yeah, this is really meandering. Yeah. And, um, and so I spent some time in Harlem and Sugar Hill, um, meeting people who’d played stickball with Willie Mays, uh, the baseball star, um, sort of in the 19, I would say like fifties, sixties, and helping out in that biography.

From there he referred me to the New York Times where I got an internship and later got tapped to come back to Canada for the Globe and Mail, um, and ended up covering as a beat there, um, education. Um, when I covered education, that led to me having an opportunity in politics and the Premier’s office to be her advisor on education.

Um, and then that sort of transformed. That’s how I come to be sort of a GR specialist and Vancity , um, is sort of an unusual financial institution. I know a lot like Sunrise, um, you know, baked, everything we do is sort of with values baked in. And one of the things, Vancity’s beginning to look at, I think a bit more closely is how you harness the sort of, uh, political capital of a large financial institution towards the greater good.

Uh, instead of just sort of maximizing the regulatory environment, the profits, the way we operate, it’s really advocacy from a large financial institution towards protecting the good of our full membership and the communities we serve. And so that’s how I come as someone who has a background in government relations and public policy, uh, to a financial institution where, and hopefully we’ll get into this in a little bit where we’re looking at all the ways we can constructively drive and push for better public policy.

Becca Hoeft: That’s really interesting. And I think what you said was protecting the greater good. I know I was reading that Vancity has a goal to go net zero by 2040 across all of your mortgages and your loans. Could you tell me what that means and how is Vancity going about that.

Kate Hammer: Yeah. And that’s, that’s no small thing.

I’ll take a minute to explain, like, I think, you know, in the U S and Canada, we’ve seen a lot of large entities talk about net zero commitments, right? This is actually got a little bit of attention to, we just had the conference of the parties, COP 26 in Glasgow, right. Where all the countries come together and they talk about what they’re going to do on climate.

And in the lead up to that, we’ve seen a lot of organizations, including financial institutions say we’re going to be net zero typically by, by 2050. And just, I want to say it’s an important thing to know. There’s kind of net zero and carbon neutral and so carbon neutral sort of like, okay, we have this amount of emissions, we can offset it.

Right. We’re just going to make sure our imprint is neutral. Net zero is actually where you do everything you can to reduce your emissions and maybe offset those sort of last bit at the end, but really it’s about that journey and that progress of bringing those emissions down. So that’s what Vancity’s commitment is for 2040, which is slightly ahead of the 2050 deadline, which is part of COP and the sort of keeping the planetary warming to 1.5 degrees.

Becca Hoeft: And just for clarity’s sake, when you say carbon neutral, Is that like, when you say offsetting is that like buying trees to offset whatever carbon that was emitted and then the net zero, to your point, it’s just not having as much carbon footprint in the first place. Cause you’re working at mitigating that.

Kate Hammer: That’s exactly right. It’s exactly right.

Becca Hoeft: And 10 years before everyone else, that’s pretty, uh, this is a pretty lofty goal.

Kate Hammer: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I could talk a little bit about that too, about sort of how we frame the, the nature and the type of the commitment. But I think what’s important to kind of, and what’s kind of interesting from a financial institution standpoint is so we lend most of Vancity’s lending is individual mortgages, we’ll say in terms of our footprint, individual mortgages and then businesses, um, their operations and their retail space. So a lot of the work on we doing going back to the point about sort of having a gr in house gr government relations, working on public policy. A lot of my work that means is sort of improving buildings codes.

Including advocating for net zero building going forward, net zero emissions building going forward, basically making the built environment where we lend more energy efficient. And there’s another side of that too. That’s also sort of what are the incentives that government puts out to help people afford and be able to put in a climate friendly energy solution, like, like heat pumps, right?

So that’s where sort of the government relations side comes into it. And it really is going to be us working hand in hand with our members and the people we lend to, to help them reduce their emissions.

Becca Hoeft: That is really amazing. And you know, I think about other banks, I think about banks in the US and Europe and Canada, um, and corporations in general.

What do you think our role is in fighting climate crisis?

Kate Hammer: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I like, I need to say, so I’m speaking to you right now from Vancouver, which is, um, I should say also the unceded territories of the Tsleil-Waututh people. So that’s the Squamish, Musqueam, or sorry, the unseated territories of Coast Salish people. So that’s the Musqueam Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh people. Um, and these lands here are seeing a ton of climate disruption now. So, um, I think it’s sort of been international news right? In the, in the summer we had something called a heat dome. And 700 people died. Businesses had to close our own operations were compromised.

We had at one point at any time during that heat done up to 5% of our branches had to close. Um, and because the cooling systems couldn’t keep up and I’m not talking about sort of old buildings or stuff that hadn’t been recently retrofit, I’m talking about new leases. Able to accommodate up to 40 degrees Celsius, but not sustained 50 degrees Celsius because that doesn’t happen here.

Uh, and then followed by that there were wildfires that move so quickly that people literally had minutes to flee the town of Lytton BC before the whole thing burned down and basically was entirely wiped out. And then now we’re experiencing something called an atmospheric river. And let me tell you if you’ve been to Vancouver or Seattle, you know, it rains here, a ton.

It rains here so much that the executive of a large financial institution can show up at work in adult size, splash pants, and nobody bats an eyelid. That’s a totally random example. That is not me describing my boss. We are used to rain. What we have seen in the last couple of weeks is something called an atmospheric river.

And it is entirely different. And suffice to say the sort of systems, the dykes, the drainage systems are not, not built to accommodate that. There is not the infrastructure to accommodate the volume of rain we have seen recently. And again, with fatal consequences, deadly mudslides, people have lost their homes.

People have lost their income. And so for a financial institution that lends to the people in this area, This is our business now. Integrating these climate risks into how we lend into how we bank and how we serve our members is critical and is now this is not an academic forward-looking exercise. So just to say, and that’s something I do a lot on the gr side is a lot of advocacy on sort of work to build that out and make sure the broader financial system can integrate those risks.

And protect people in the broader economy as climate becomes a larger and larger factor, because let’s be clear too. The trajectory on this is not, not even stable. The trajectory on this is upward. So there’s a lot of work to do on that end. And then I think the other thing is you probably would have heard out of COP, um, something called I’m going to call it G fanz, which is the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.

So that was all the banks that came together under Mark Carney. He’s a Canadian shout out Canadians, um, former bank of Canada government. We, we walk among Americans undetected. So I just love like naming. That’s a citizen who’s lived in both countries. I really, I get a lot of joy of dropping, like who’s a Canadian.

So indulge me for a minute. Sorry. But Mark, Mark Carney has been leading that effort and bringing together all the large financial institutions to commit to sort of net zero for 2050, uh, to bring back, um, committing, to making sure that what they finance brings us towards a place of avoiding major, major, catastrophic climate related disaster.

Um, and so what we seen there as a bunch of banks come together and promise to be net zero for 2050, but there’s this disconnect happening right now because I think it’s something like 40% of global assets have signed on to that. But a lot of those signatories are at the same time funding, the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

And so, as we all know what you finance really matters, what you do, finance, what you don’t finance, that all matters. And if we’re going to make these targets. We need that money to flow in the way, both that avoids the types of investments that are going to make this problem worse. And that, that invest in the type of things that are going to get us out of this, the type of technological innovation and the type of green investments that we need to transition our full economy and bring everyone along in a way that protects their wellbeing and their safety.

Bryan Toft: For Kate, for our listeners. Um, if they work in an organization, maybe it’s a financial institution, maybe it’s not, and they want to make a difference. What has Vancity done to lead in this area? Definitely seems like Vancity he is leading. What have you seen at Vancity that- what do they do well?

Kate Hammer: That’s a really great question.

And I think, um, I actually chair a working group of credit Canadian credit unions who are looking and sort of are it’s the climate change working group, uh, nationally and, and their sort of credit unions and financial institutions of all sizes. And I just want to name too sometimes when you’re at a smaller financial institution, this work can be really intimidating, like where do I even start?
Right. And the answer is actually starting is great. Like don’t, don’t, don’t be, self-deprecating, don’t be too humble about what it means to just actually look at this work and understand where, what, what role you can play in this. And for a lot of institutions, it’s really starting with just their operations.

And that’s where I’m going to say Vancity’s journey started in kind of two places, understanding our own operations and our own footprint. And then from there also just, I think it also stemmed just from our history and responsible investment and impact investing cause climate quickly. I mean, we’re like, like Sunrise actually Vancity is really rooted in a history of financial inclusion.
What’s happening more and more is that climate piece and that financial inclusion piece, you can’t pull them apart. They’re one and the same. So one kind of leads you to the other place and to bring it back to how financial inclusion and climate come together and what we’re seeing in BC. You know, in the summer and the height of the tourist season, we saw these wildfires and a lot of people had to evacuate their homes. That raises questions about their access to credit and what ability they have to flee without overextending themselves.

A lot of those same people had to do the same thing again, when the flooding happened. Right. And so again, they’re just taking on more debt, more debt, more financially vulnerable, and then these same people are now potentially have to have lost their homes or need to make their homes more flood proof. Um, their insurance will only let them rebuild in a place that potentially actually puts them at increased climate risk and increase, increased risk for more wildfires and more flooding. So the sort of personal finances of our members and their connection to climate are one in the same. So one naturally leads you to the other. And to bring it back to your question though, too, about where people can get started.

I really do think it’s looking at your own operations, understanding you know where are your emissions and how you operate. And it’s a really good way to get started on this work, just to understand that piece. And then for a financial institution. There’s something called the, the, um, partnership on carbon accounting financials.

So PCAF, and so that’s, they have a lot of resources there to kind of help you at a real macro level. Like it’s really just look working with aggregate data and sort of relating it to your own lending book. And that’s the way you can look at something, we call your financed emission. So that’s basically what are the emissions of what you finance and lend to?

Bryan Toft: Yeah. So starting internally and then, you know, after you have some progress internally, you go, well, wait a second. What about our vendors? What about our partners? What about our customers? Like how do they impact things? And is this something we should pay attention to? Uh, go ahead, Becca.

Becca Hoeft: You know, one of the things that I have noticed, because we have uh, just finished, um, measuring our carbon footprint of our loan portfolio. And so working with PCAF, uh, the same organization that you just mentioned and understanding, it’s been really interesting as I read the analysis and understanding it. And I really feel like my eyes have been opened to things that I hadn’t considered before.

Kate Hammer: Yeah, it’s really interesting. I have to say I’m someone who was connected to climate as an issue maybe prior to coming to Vancity. But I think really doing this work and seeing where it connects into finance, I really come more from an equity and inclusion background and more sort of social policy to, to for the broader good.

Um, my time at Vancity has really helped me see how connected those are and really opened my eyes about how immediate and real, the impacts of climate are and how much we have to be doing now to avoid this getting very bad, unfortunately. Um, yeah.Becca Hoeft: And just hearing the story about, you know, whether it’s the atmospheric river or, um, the heat dome and how that impacts access to credit, which seems so simple, but yet to be aware of what climate change could do to financial equity.

Kate Hammer: Exactly. That, and then it’s just, it’s all this kind of piece right now on, on climate risk and really integrating it now into the system. I know in the U S there’s been some movement actually to, to require climate risk disclosure for larger, larger organizations.

I think in Canada, we’re going the same way and that’s great. But one of the interesting things. Biggest barrier to that are data. Because, you know, in the financial system, like basically we take sort of historical data and use that to sort of predict what’s going to happen in the future. And in general, that’s that works, right?

Like, you know, anyone who works in risk, you can sort of correlate all these data, make a sort of probability chart and then know what’s probably coming. Climate does not work that way. We are not on a linear trajectory with that. It is something that is exponential in how it grows and really inconsistent in how it manifests.

Right. Um, so in terms of how you model and predict that risk, something totally unprecedented, and that has largely held us back. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that climate risks are not really well integrated into really anywhere. I think the Europe’s ahead, you know, US and Canada, we’re taking steps, but we’re really not there.

And so if we all move together, if from a regulatory standpoint, this is mandated and we all jump in and do this. That’s going to improve some of those data challenges and improve some of the availability of some of those tools that we all need to integrate and use to meaningfully integrate climate risk

Bryan Toft: Well said, and speaking of data, and speaking of, um, moving on to shifting gears to open banking.

Uh, would love to hear, uh, we had a conversation recently about, uh, open banking and what Vancity is doing there. I would love for you to talk a little bit about that and talk a little bit about what open banking is to Vancity and what you’re doing and what it means to Vancity.

Kate Hammer: Yeah, so open banking. And just to say, Canada’s a bit, we don’t have it here in Canada yet.

We’re a bit behind you in the U S um, we know, I think we’re tracking for something like 20 24 for that, but again, as a journalist, as a former journalist, I love this question because I’ve had a front row seat before to how, um, to digital disruption, to an entire industry. And I think the good news is for the banking industry the fate is not the same as the journalism industry, but, I will say like that, that experience and going back to kind of like the early aughts when I was starting out in journalism and we were trying to understand what the impact would be. Um, and then actually I’ll say again, later when I was an education reporter and there was sort of the same question about like, what does digitization mean to the education system?

Is it sort of a driver of inequity or, uh, something that can help us fight it? I’ve seen this a few times. And what I’ve learned is sort of, I think often what we fear or think are going to be the outcome um, it is not true, um, is, is not how it bears out and, and comes to be. And one of the things that comes to mind for, for us to Vancity, um, as a financial institution, I know, focused on financial inclusion and, and something I know, I know you share at Sunrise is this sort of idea that we need open banking to show up in a way that is about inclusion and does not drive inequity. And I think that’s actually probably something that’s very realistic. You know, you asked, get sort of like, you know, how can we make sure marginalized groups are part of the transformation.

We make them part of the transformation. When we think about how we’re going to show up on open banking, we actually use it as a tool for improving financial literacy and improving inclusion. I want to name so from an it, because I think some of this concern comes from a very real place. And so one of the ways that that is really clear for me at Vancity is we have a, a very unique branch in, um, Vancouver’s downtown east side, which is in Canada.

It’s our, it’s our poorest, I think you say zip code, we call it postal codes, but allow me to be the Rosetta Stone here of Canadians and Americans, but so it is our, it is the poorest neighborhood in Canada. Uh, we have a branch down there called Pigeon Park that is actually staffed by social workers. Um, and so that kind of model of human connection and wraparound supports really is the key in that context to being able to serve that community effectively.

So I don’t want to sound like I’m dismissing the fact that there is a real concern about how human connection, uh, plays into financial inclusion.

Becca Hoeft: You know, Kate I’m so glad you brought that up. Um, because I was able to visit that branch and it was amazing. And I don’t remember if it was like a pole barn, but it was just like this industrial area and the, the branch staff was dressed like the people were, you know, t-shirt and jeans and it was welcoming and it was a different feel, but that building was full. It was really great to see.

Kate Hammer: Yeah. Yeah. And it’s got a real sense of community. Like people know each other people connected to their favorite tellers and they, they’re, it’s a community.

It’s great. Um, I remember we did, uh, an interview recently with the branch manager to talk about the experience actually at Pigeon Park um, over the course of the pandemic. And one of the, one of the things she said is we endeavor to be the yes to, to people who hear a bunch of nos every day. Um, and that that’s, that’s a face-to-face thing.

That’s not an app, right? Like, so, so there’s a real concern in this. But, and this is where Bryan, I wanted to name, you know, an example we heard about through the GABV LA through the, um, Global Alliance for Banking on Values leadership academy. And I believe I wanted to see how much, um, I want to make sure I have these details right. But my recollection was it was in Colombia and it was using an app to sort of basically, um, create a digital currency around bartering. So these are people who are really financially excluded and cash isn’t readily available. Um, inflation can be, you know, very unwieldy. Um, so really they’re sort of cut out almost entirely from the financial system.

And basically what, what they could do is download an app that would sort of create sort of like digital tokens effectively that they could trade for stuff that could barter and trade with others in their community. Um, and actually that, that was having fantastic effect and sort of a powering people who could offer skills like tailoring and cleaning, um, and, and small, small kind of farmers, just a way for them to get in, to basically create their own economy within an economy that they’ve been cut out of.

This is what I, this is what I was sort of saying initially with this point, that like, okay, how do we make sure people are included? Um, it’s that you design the system to that purpose rather than gnostically sort of implementing a digital banking system that just is about digitizing the banking system implement one that’s about including people in banking and in the economy. That’s the critical difference. It’s all in, it’s not the tool, it’s how you use it.

Bryan Toft: What’s fascinating about that too, is, um, you talk about disruption and the pandemic and in actually one of the most recent NextGen Banker podcasts was all about disruption and how that happens.

And, you know, focusing on the customer or the future customer is, was, was Charlene Li’s point about this is how disruption happens. You really focus on that future customer, what their needs are. And all of a sudden things start to change because you realize that what you have now isn’t what the next customer needs.

Um, and I think that with the pandemic that has really sped things up, there’s no question about it. We’ve talked about on this podcast before and, you know, we all do need to think differently now when it comes to work and apps and digitization and all this stuff, I’m curious what you think. Um, how do bankers need to think differently after the pandemic?
And are there any lessons that COVID-19 has taught us when it comes to financial services?

Kate Hammer: Yeah, I think, you know, there’s lots of lessons and I think, you know, there’s this expression, right? Like, um, hindsight is 2020. Um, and we’re not quite, we’re not fully in the rearview mirror yet. Right? Like there’s gotta be a little bit more distance before we’re not at 2020 yet.

Um, we’ll get there. There’ll be lots of lessons. One of the ones that’s coming into view I think for us at Vancity , you know, it was, we were early movers to offer mortgage deferrals, to, to members who lost income due to the pandemic. And we also, similarly we offered, um, 0% interest on credit cards for those who had, had lost income.

And, you know, I think at the time. We didn’t know exactly what that would look like. Um, we just kinda knew it was something our members needed and we needed to move quickly to do. And one of the things that becomes clear and clear it with time is the outcomes for the members who we extended that relief to were really good.

Payment was picked up sort of upward 90, I think it’s even upward 98%, um, at the end of the six month term. Um, and we’re really, we’re coming out of the pandemic in BC with, uh, in an even stronger economy. Um, and I think there’s a lot of moves you can make that can be at first glance just calculated as risky.

They’re not sort of in the typical playbook of how you would handle something like what we faced two years ago or almost two years ago. But I think if you kind of have faith in members and, and faith, and sort of maybe not faith, a belief in our interconnectedness and how my prosperity is connected to your prosperity and move in that way, the broader outcomes are better for all of us.

Bryan Toft: Reminds me what you said about climate. You know, the pandemic forced us to just start doing things like we couldn’t do no time to test it. We didn’t have time to study it. We just started to do it. And that’s what we need to do about climate as well. Um, you know, we always like to end the podcast on a hopeful note and optimistic note, right Becca.

And, uh, with all the challenges we talk about with climate and disruption and some of the racial inequities, what makes you hopeful right now?

Kate Hammer: Yeah. And, um, you know, I want to say I am super hopeful. I think this moment in time in history is critical and I look forward to talking to my grandkids about it.

So what I am really excited about is this moment in time, I think really illustrated in a concrete, indisputable way, how much we are connected. And I don’t mean we’re Facebook friends, or like, you know, we need to like be nice to our neighbors. I mean, my wellbeing is tied to yours and it’s tied to the person living in England and it’s tied to the person living in Japan and it’s tied to the person living in Africa.

And I think the sort of, one of the things the pandemic has shown us with sort of the effort to vaccinate, right. We can sort of take care of ourselves, but if we don’t address other parts of the world, then variants pop up and we’re move back 10 steps. Right. There’s been a whole bunch of different iterations of that.

I think over the last, you know, few months. Racism’s another one I think, you know, in the U S where we saw sort of, um, uh, you know, with, with the murder of George Floyd, um, and with all the, all the riots there. And I think one of the big shifts there is it moved from an understanding of sort of a movement of people of color, uh, black indigenous people rising up for their own rights of all of us realizing, nope, this is our work.

It’s not their work, it’s our work and I’m better off if they can thrive and be protected and feel safe and not marginalized in my community and my society and my economy. And so I’m hopeful because I think we’re all coming out of this pandemic with these illustrations, this real lived experience and this true understanding of how real that is how real that connection between all of us is. And that allows us to move together and address the major issues we face, like inequality, like climate, and I think we’re going to do it. And I’m really excited.

Becca Hoeft: Wow. Kate, thank you so much. You know, I, I do have one question for you, the proud Canadian, and that is, and because we have a musical feature, every podcast, who is your favorite Canadian musical artist?

Kate Hammer: Oh my gosh. Okay. Oh, I love you for asking this question. Okay. Um, can I name two that I’m listening to right now?

Becca Hoeft: Yes.

Kate Hammer: Okay. So, um, one is Ocie Elliot, um, and they’re BC artists. They started just like singing out of their car, if you follow them on Instagram or sorry, they started singing out of their car with their guitar and they just sit in the back and film it on their phones. Um, they’re so charming. Follow them on Instagram. It’s really, it’s really nice kind of folky, relaxing listening for this time. And then another artist who I love who’s from my sort of home hometown, which is a tiny little pocket, um, in Southwestern Ontario.

Very close to Michigan and Detroit. So his name is Donovan Woods and Donovan Woods has a really nice song I think that came out at the beginning of the pandemic and it’s called Whatever Keeps You Going. Um, and in it, he has a children’s, uh, local children’s choir singing and it totally has kept me going. It really fills my heart and makes me feel happy again, a bit of a folky fun vibe, but please check those out.

They’re both great.

Becca Hoeft: I will definitely do that. Kate, thank you so much.

Bryan Toft: Thanks, Kate. Great to talk to you

Becca Hoeft: For this episode’s musical feature, we’re showcasing Jesse Sprinkle.

Jesse is a New York State-based musician originally from Seattle, Washington, who has been involved in numerous projects and genres throughout his career. His music “falls on the melancholy side of beauty, with surprising splashes or cheerfulness.”

Here is “The Wonder and the Beauty,” by Jesse Sprinkle.

(song plays)

That was “The Wonder and the Beauty,” by Jesse Sprinkle. You can find more of Jesse’s music at https://jessesprinkle.bandcamp.com/. If you would like your music featured on the NextGen Banker podcast, email Nextgenbankerpodcast@gmail.com with a link to your music and website.

Thanks for listening to the NextGen Banker podcast. We’ll see you soon.

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