Announcing the 13 champions building belonging through the Circle of Actions

Announcing the 13 champions building belonging through the Circle of Actions

This blog post was written by Njoki Mbũrũ, Jorge Garza, and Prachir Pasricha.

 

Why Belonging?

Communities across Canada are experiencing a crisis of loneliness. More than one in ten people in Canada share that they always or often feel lonely. This crisis is unfolding as communities continue to navigate through the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate and affordability crises.

Loneliness has negative repercussions on our quality of life, our collective resilience, and our democratic institutions. Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a leading researcher on social connection has found that loneliness is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. In Canada, nearly one in five individuals aged 65 years and older lack companionship, increasing their risk of dementia, stroke, and coronary heart disease. Loneliness also has consequences for our collective resilience, depriving us of the connections that we rely upon for support in times of disaster and trauma.

Former City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps suggested during a recent Tamarack Institute webinar that Canada’s most pressing issue is loneliness. To address it, we need to embrace a holistic approach rooted in local strengths and aspirations and mobilize all sectors of society to reimagine how we live together. Alongside this, we also need to work with local governments to build relationships with individuals that pivot from a service-oriented mindset toward co-creation grounded in solidarity.

 

Introducing the Inaugural Circle of Actions Cohort

2024 CBB CoA Map

For the first time, Tamarack’s Communities Building Belonging network is bringing together a group of 13 champions who are committed to addressing the crisis of loneliness through building belonging in their communities and creating more equitable futures. Over the next seven months, these teams will join a learning and action cohort to create plans and carry out interventions that foster a sense of belonging through an asset-based community development (ABCD) lens and a Collective Impact approach. Learn more about the inaugural cohort:

Complemented by coaching support and a curated array of tools and resources, participants in the Circle of Actions will strengthen their skills and expand their networks to be able to more effectively foster belonging in their local communities.

Through participating in the Circle of Actions, these teams will join a pan-Canadian network that already supports 40+ communities in advancing strategies to strengthen a sense of belonging for all. The successes, lessons learned, and impact of participating communities will collectively make the case for all levels of government to recognize the importance of belonging and support community-led efforts to foster it. This call to embed belonging as an urgent and important area of focus is essential to building a movement for a Strategy for Belonging at the pan-Canadian level that prioritizes social connection for more equitable outcomes. To date, over 400 individuals have signed the pledge in support of a Strategy for Belonging, and the numbers keep growing! Join us in signing the pledge.

 

Accelerating Leadership Skills for Transformation: Introducing the Systems Transformers Cohort

Connected to the Circle of Actions and acknowledging the uniqueness of each community participating in this cohort, Tamarack will concurrently facilitate a ‘Systems Transformers Cohort’, specifically curated for individuals with lived/living experiences. These individuals will be selected by their Circle of Actions teams to engage in a nine-month learning journey, building their leadership capacities to further benefit their respective communities.

In addition to leadership coaching, tailored resources, and monthly gatherings, these Systems Transformers will have the opportunity to become either Block Connectors or Life.School.House hosts. These practical training opportunities are pathways to continue learning beyond the cohort, and more importantly, champion the invaluable contributions of community leaders with lived/living experience.

 

What’s in store for the months ahead?

During our monthly sessions from March to September 2024, we will learn together, enjoy a sense of community, and celebrate the gifts we each bring towards cultivating belonging in our communities.

Session Breakdown: January - February, Launch and Application deadline | March, Session 1: Making the Case for Belonging | April, Session 2: Building Inclusive and Connected Communities | May, Session 3: Engaging Everyone | June, Session 3: Mapping Our Assets | July, Session 5, Planning, Testing, and Evaluating | August, Session 6: Sustaining Community-Led Collaboratives | September, Session 7: Celebrating Community Leadership

We’re excited to welcome these 13 champions into this unique learning and action journey. We look forward to sharing lessons learned along the way as we work together towards creating plans and interventions that build belonging!

Do you have any questions or comments about the Circle of Actions? Would you like to learn more about Communities Building Belonging or get involved? Let’s connect!

Connect with Jorge at jorge@tamarackcommunity.ca or book a meeting with him.

Gratitude to Heather Keam, Danya Pastuzsek, Astrid Arumae, Claire Lewis, and Jaime Stief for their feedback and immense support in helping us consolidate a vision for building belonging that is rooted in solidarity, action, boldness, and collaboration.

 



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