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Heather Keam

Heather Keam
Heather is happy to be part of the Vibrant Communities team as the Manager of Cities, Cities Deepening Community. Before this position she was the Manager of Learning Services where she organized Community of Practices, learning opportunities, tools and resources for community change. Heather brings over 12 years of public health knowledge to this position.

Recent Posts

Getting to Impact the Observational Way

Posted by Heather Keam on November 12, 2018

A few years ago, I read a book called "Trying Hard is Not Good Enough" by Mark Friedman. The book talks about how initiatives can be complicated and complex, and therefore this makes it hard to reduce evaluating these initiatives to a set of numbers and equations. Mark suggests that we need to talk about the story behind the data. Look at the stories, anecdotes and accomplishments that explain what the data is saying.   

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A River that Built Community

Posted by Heather Keam on July 24, 2018

In June, I attended an event in St. Albert called the Neighbourhood Extravaganza which brought together those who work in neighbourhoods, to build neighbourhoods. It was an excellent way to share stories and learn from each other. During my stay, I experienced the greatest sense of community when I was welcomed into the home of Howard Lawrence from Abundant Community Edmonton. It was from Howard’s hospitality that I learned how the North Saskatchewan River built a community.

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The ABCD Workshop – What we Learned and What's to Come

Posted by Heather Keam on May 23, 2018

From April 17-19 Cities Deepening Community held an Asset-Based Community Development workshop in Kitchener, Ontario with John McKnight, Cormac Russell, Donna Thomson and almost 200 community changemakers. You can imagine there was a lot of learning to absorb! We have done our best to sum up our primary aha's! into a few takeaways.

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How Do We Know We are Making a Difference in Our Neighbourhood Work?

Posted by Heather Keam on April 5, 2018

I was speaking with Howard Lawrence from Abundant Community Edmonton about their work around neighbourhood development and we got talking about making a difference in our community and how do we know if anyone is better off because of the changes/activities that have been implemented.  How do we measure change in our neighbourhood work?  Howard told me about a tool called the Sense of Community Index that is used in the social science area to determine sense of community. 

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Cultivating the Power of Residents to Build Community: Lessons from Kitchener

Posted by Heather Keam on March 12, 2018

Over the past three decades, there has been a shift in how we connect with one another. Today, people report fewer informal social ties, decrease in tolerance and trust, and an eroding political and civic engagement atmosphere in our communities. Robert Putnam’s book Bowling Alone: the Collapse and Revival of American Community suggests that our overall experiences of being in community have been steadily declining since the 1960s. Research by Holt-Lunstad et al. suggests that social isolation has serious negative consequences for our health and well-being – the impact is likened to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Building communities that bring residents together and help them feel a sense of belonging and connection are more likely to live longer, be healthier, be happier, and act for the common good.

While municipalities have traditionally focused on the built components of a neighbourhood -  paving sidewalks and roads or building houses, parks and arenas - cities across Canada are now realizing that city building also includes the people who live, work and play in each neighbourhood. 

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Neighbourhood Development is about Collaboration

Posted by Heather Keam on February 12, 2018

I was reading a 2015 article called Deepening Community, Realizing the Potential of Citizen Leadership by Sylvia Cheuy, Director of Engagement at Tamarack.  The article talks about community wellbeing and collaboration - how change requires organizations, groups, governments and citizens to work together. No one sector working alone can effectively address complex community issues.  Building neighbourhoods is about strengthening relationships, trust and sharing their unique skills, knowledge and perspectives to work towards shared action.

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