Tamarack Institute | September Edition, 2017
Authentic community engagement – the intentional process of co-creating solutions in partnership with people who know best, through their own experiences – is now recognized as an essential ingredient in any effective community change process. Sadly, not all community engagement efforts are authentic. Anyone who has participated in a process where the hosts are only interested in creating an appearance of listening while working to “sell” their own solutions knows how tokenistic some community engagement processes can be.
The Context Experts is a paper written by Lisa Attygalle that discusses how to increase the authenticity of community engagement and eradicate tokenistic community engagement through the meaningful involvement of context experts. The terms 'context expert' and 'content expert' are used to describe the difference between people who know a lot about the experience and local environment versus people who know a lot about the subject matter.
The paper includes three real-life stories of authentic engagements, and features five lessons to consider when designing community engagement processes, including:
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How to Develop a Common Agenda for a Collective Impact: A 5 Step Guide may be the most practical paper on implementing Collective Impact that you’ve ever read. Building a common agenda is fundamental to all community change efforts that embrace a collective impact approach. It is, however, one of the most difficult phases of a community change process, and if done incorrectly will cripple effectiveness as a community moves to implement its collective impact plan. The five steps for creating a common agenda are:
Most of the literature written on collective impact is “idea-based” rather than as a “how-to” guide for good reason. Complex community change work is so context-specific that you cannot be prescriptive in how things are done. But on the flip side, you can learn so much from experiencing how someone else has tackled a problem and tailor it to your own specific situation.
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Last month, on behalf of 2,000 member municipalities, and representing 90% of Canadians, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) released Ending Poverty Starts Locally: Municipal Recommendations for a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy. The publication presents a vision of an equally prosperous Canada where each person can find genuine opportunities to thrive and seize their full potential. It speaks to the need to align efforts between all orders of government, businesses, and community groups, and recommends the most essential federal actions to prioritize through a Canadian poverty reduction strategy.
The federal role in maximizing the impact of poverty reduction efforts includes providing decisive leadership, bringing all orders of government together, investing in critical areas, and leveraging policies that complement, enable, and scale up locally anchored solutions. Municipalities, in turn, work as catalysts for change, building local solutions, developing and implementing poverty reduction plans and strategies, filling gaps in support systems, and complementing supports at other orders of government.
Engaging municipal leadership in poverty reduction is also one of Vibrant Communities Canada’s leading priorities, dating back to 2001 when 13 Trail Blazer municipalities joined forces with Tamarack, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and Caledon Institute of Social Policy to test how a place-based, multi-sectoral poverty reduction roundtable approach could move the needle on poverty. Over fifteen years later, we’ve developed numerous reports and resources that demonstrate how local governments are host to some incredible levers for change, including policies, programs, and investments.
Today, the actions recommended by FCM align more than ever with the work of Vibrant Communities Canada’s 57 Cities Reducing Poverty members from across the country, several of which also belong to FCM’s membership.
Collectively, our mission is to:
We also look forward to the release of the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2018 and how this will influence the work of cities.
Read FCM’s recommendations for the most essential federal actions that should be prioritized in a Canadian poverty reduction strategy: Ending Poverty Starts Locally: Municipal Recommendations for a Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy
Towards a Federal Poverty Reduction Strategy
Vibrant Communities Canada
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The We Speak Translate project is a unique collaboration between Google Translate and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA), (Victoria, BC, Canada) that unlocks the potential of the Google Translate app to support refugee resettlement and newcomer inclusion in local communities.
In October 2016, ICA’s Community Integration Coordinator, Kate Longpre approached Google Translate with the idea for the We Speak Translate project. The project objective was to address the number one barrier to new immigrant integration: language. Furthermore, Kate was interested in repurposing technology, as a tool and symbol for welcoming communities, which value diversity and inclusion. Google Translate was immediately interested in the project concept and in April 2017 the We Speak Translate pilot project launched in Victoria, BC, the first location worldwide to initiate the project. Roque Silva, Interaction Designer with Google Translate articulates Google’s enthusiasm for the project well, “Google is humbled and excited to be supporting this project with the goal of helping New Canadians make the often-challenging transition to life in Canada through language and engagement.”
The project involves training community stakeholders, organizations and institutions in the Google Translate app. Upon completion of the free, 40-minute training, participants receive a We Speak Translate decal, a visible symbol of inclusion and commitment to promoting diversity and communication across language barriers. Familiarity with the Google Translate app among community stakeholders establishes a common platform for communication while newcomers develop their English language skills. Ibrahim Hajibrahim, a Syrian Resettled Refugee has high praise for this project, “When I see the We Speak Translate sticker in a window, I feel confident that people want to speak with me and get to know me.”
To date, over 600 community members and stakeholders have received Google Translate training through the We Speak Translate project. Project training has occurred for staff at local libraries, recreation centres, social service organizations, museums and banks. Organizations, businesses and institutions that serve new immigrants and refugees benefit from participating in the We Speak Translate project and training. Ben Fast, Programs and Communications Coordinator of the BC Museums Association describes the beneficial impact of We Speak Translate this way, “The We Speak Translate program opens up a world of engagement possibilities for immigrants, newcomers and tourists, especially in small communities where language resources may be lacking. The Google Translate app, is a big boost to the museum sector in BC as we strive to be more inclusive, more welcoming, and better able to meet the needs of our communities and visitors.”
The scope of the project continues to expand, most recently, the We Speak Translate project was endorsed by the City of Victoria and training for all City staff will commence in the fall of 2017. The Cities of Migration, a lead think tank for integration strategies globally, hosted a webinar with over 300 participants from all over the world. At a time where communities are looking for ways to welcome and integrate new immigrants, the We Speak Translate project offers a tangible, accessible, low cost initiative which can be replicated in communities around the world.
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It’s a “camping experience” like no other…
Since 2009, over 400 chief executive officers and board chairs from not-for-profit organizations across Canada have attended 11 of Capacity Canada’s Manulife Board Governance Boot Camps. Over three and a half days, participants increase their knowledge of Board roles and become more generative thinkers and innovative decision-makers.
Led by a faculty of governance industry experts using a variety of teaching tools, and through insightful discussions, participants come away with new ideas and fresh insights to deal with challenges many boards now face. But the experience doesn’t end on the final day. About three months later, participants gather once again for a follow-up ‘graduation’ session to share their assignments and new-found knowledge. The boot camp is a great way for not-for-profit groups to start developing new ideas to meet the needs of not only their clients, but their own boards.
Boot Camp graduates overwhelmingly report they are very satisfied with the program, identifying the most valuable aspects to be: the people, environment, resources, and strategies. In the words of one participant, “I would recommend this course to any not-for-profit! My experience was fabulous. The course was very well organized and the speakers were true experts!”
In November 2016, nearly 50 people representing 19 organizations took part in a camp held in Kitchener, Ontario and Capacity Canada organizers plan to double that number when the next Manulife Board Governance Boot Camp is held on November 16-18, 2017 at the Holiday Inn Kitchener-Waterloo Conference Centre. The follow-up session is scheduled to take place in mid-March of 2018.
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Non-profits championing community change efforts know that sustainability often requires focused strategies for policy and systems change. However, it can be challenging for them to build the capacity to engage effectively in the public policy process. To address this challenge, Maytree has launched the Maytree Policy School.
Beginning in January 2018, this six-month Toronto-based program will support 20-25 individuals working on public policy to develop their skills and competencies, and enhance their organization’s strategic engagement in the public policy process. It will combine a series of learning approaches including in-person sessions and a peer mentoring component which pairs participants with public servants.
If you are responsible for the policy work of your organization and are looking to strengthen your “public policy muscle,” this is an opportunity you will want to consider.
The deadline to submit applications is 5:00 p.m. on October 6, 2017.
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September 25-29, 2017
The Community Change Institute is our signature event at Tamarack and will be taking place in Vancouver, BC this year from September 25-29th. This year's theme is Cities of the Future: Co-Creating Tomorrow and will feature a stacked cast of keynote and workshop speakers, fascinating city walk-abouts, a co-creation lab and many opportunities to dive deep into the content with your peers from across the globe and apply what you're learning to the local context and projects in which you work. It will feature leading thinkers to inspire us daily, including:
November 14-16, 2017
Mark Cabaj and Liz Weaver have received overwhelming praise for the success of this three-day gathering, and now it is back for one last session, but with updated curriculum and a new workshop format that will help you develop concrete elements of an evaluation strategy for your work back in your own community.
Highlights will include:
This is the final workshop in the Evaluating Community Impact learning series. If you are interested in evaluating community change and impact, you will not want to miss this.
September 19, 2017
Join Paul Born for a one day workshop where you will learn how to engage and deepen your community in order to build a common agenda for large scale change. Paul will share not only the fundamental principles of Collective Impact, he will provide key insights as one of North America’s top Community Engagement leaders on how Deepening Community can sustain us as leaders and produce the outcomes we so desire.
This workshop is almost at capacity, Register Now.
October 12, 2017
A one day workshop with Mark Holmgren where he explores how Upside Down Thinking helps us think more clearly about the pressures in our organizations that maintain the status quo. He will show how thinking differently can challenge our most basic assumptions, and how these assumptions can sometimes reinforce the systems we are trying to change.