Tamarack Institute | May Edition, 2020
Each month, Engage! features new stories, tools, and resources designed to equip you for community change. This month, we're featuring stories of how Tamarack Institute and our members are navigating the COVID-19 outbreak, and how to plan and adapt during times of crisis.
We are continuing our weekly webinar series through May. A full list of what is to come can be found below, but to kick off May we will be hosting:
Tamarack Institute is very glad to share our community’s success with you as we look back at 2019. The 27,319 learners working in 4,092 cities – 1,323 in Canada – that make up our learning community have been an important part of our success and growth. Together, we are building a connected force for community change.
In 2019, over 900 learners, members, and donors contributed to our success by providing a donation, contributing funding, working with our consulting directors, attending a workshop or becoming a Vibrant Communities member. Each of these individuals and organizations joined us in partnership to make positive community change.
We are thrilled to see the impact that our membership is having. Our members were significant contributors to Canada’s poverty reduction strategy, which has lifted 1 million Canadians out of poverty. At the same time, in 2019, our Learning Centre supported 120 community organizations through coaching and consulting to help changemakers make lasting impacts. You can read the stories of impact from our members and the communities we have worked with in our 2019 Annual Report.
In 2019, we also welcomed a brand-new Board of eight members (now 12). This incredible group of community leaders has been leading the organization through a vision process to set our direction as we look to 2030. Through this work we have engaged members, learners, and key stakeholders to align our priorities with Tamarack’s mission, values and capacities. We have also paid close attention to the needs of our learners, so that we can continue to support changemakers in Canada and around the world.
It is challenging, in the midst of such a time of disruption to also be looking forward but we know that community building is now more important than ever. We know how vital your work has been to keep communities strong and to help the most vulnerable. Tamarack has walked alongside you for 20 years and we look forward to sharing our new path forward with you in 2020.
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There is no doubt that we are in a time of deep disruption. The COVID-19 pandemic and sheltering in place has meant that our lives and our communities have had to radically adjust and respond. For the past six weeks the Tamarack team has been collecting and sharing stories of how communities are connecting and supporting one another through this crisis. These communal actions and virtual gatherings act as lifelines to keep us together during a time of physical distancing.
While this crisis has already changed us individually, it has also uncovered some of the greatest fragilities and strengths in our systems. Laid bare are the inequities in our communities where those most vulnerable are least able to navigate and survive the pandemic. To answer this, I’ve published Collective Impact Post-Pandemic: A Framework for Response, Recovery, and Resilience. This paper explores not only how Collective Impact efforts can respond to this crisis, but also begin to collectively explore tools and approaches that enhance how we work to affect change.
By engaging the wisdom that already exists in communities across Canada, and around the world, we can position ourselves to better understand and address the system’s vulnerabilities and oversights. Collective Impact, in its most effective and evolved form, should be a responsive, adaptable, networked approach where leaders are simultaneously engaged and observant of systems and network changes as they are happening.
Together, we can push from response, to recovery, to resilience.
I hope this paper inspires you to think critically not only about how we are responding to this crisis, but also how we can emerge from this crisis better positioned to impact our communities at a greater scale.
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Through the COVID-19 crisis, Vibrant Communities – Cities Reducing Poverty (VC–CRP) has responded to meet urgent community needs through a wide variety of mechanisms and partnerships. Our 81 members, representing 328 communities, have demonstrated creativity, commitment, and compassion as they support their communities’ most vulnerable.
Through 60 stories of innovation and resilience, Cities Reducing Poverty: Responding to COVID-19 provides a point-in-time snapshot of how CRP member communities are responding to COVID-19 across Canada and the USA.
The report was written to acknowledge the innovative efforts of CRP member communities, and to provide members with fresh ideas and insights that they can use to build resilience and strengthen their own responses.
CRP members are providing food and housing, supporting local businesses, improving access to transportation, expanding financial empowerment services, and fostering health and education. They are streamlining service delivery, coordinating information sharing, enhancing multi-sectoral partnerships, and initiating emergency response action teams. Members are also creating advocacy opportunities for fellow members to engage in key policy proposals such as Universal Basic Income.
Throughout this crisis, the ability of CRP members to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 has been evident. While COVID-19 has exacerbated social and economic inequalities, it has also built momentum for collaboration. Across Canada and the USA, multi-sectoral poverty reduction roundtables are partnering across sectors to adapt programming and to drive policy and system change in a way that ensures that nobody gets left behind.
In the coming months, as the CRP network’s focus shifts from emergency response to social recovery, our team remains committed to creating opportunities and space for members to learn and connect.
We would like to thank each of our members for sharing your stories of innovation and resilience, and for your ongoing contributions to our learning community.
Reach out to Alison Homer to learn more about CRP membership opportunities
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At times of uncertainty planning for the future can be difficult, but is also vital. The Tamarack Institute has been undergoing an exciting process for considering our future this past year. This was driven by a new and expanded Board of Directors, and the important growth in our capacity to support communities and changemakers. We are working with our members, learners and the Board to identify our north star for the next ten years. One component of understanding Tamarack’s direction has been considering the impacts of major trends on our members, learners and our organization. Given that many organizations and communities are starting to envision their paths forward after COVID-19, we wanted to share some of what we have learned.
Please see our new article for a full review of the trends discussed below:
Significant Trends Impacting Canada’s Future looking to 2030
We reviewed a number of major documents focused on the economic, political, and social trends such as RBC’s Navigating the 2020s; Canada 2030 from the Conference Board of Canada; The Brookfield Institute’s Turn and Face the Strange; CanadaNext from Ipsos and Canada Towards 2030; and Shell’s Future Scenarios. From reviewing these documents and others, we identified eight key areas of future trends that are worth considering for community changemakers:
Possible Responses to COVID-19
While it is important to consider the broad trends for the decade that emerged over the past few years, nothing in history can provide us parallels to understand the implications of COVID-19. That is because the sheer complexity of the social, political and economic systems that we now live in make comparisons of previous pandemics unrealistic. That being said, we are seeing some emerging trends worth considering:
Many of these implications reinforce the trends discussed above, and some present opportunities for us to further our work. It will be important for changemakers to build on the positive responses coming from communities, while planning for impacts to our work as we navigate a new normal.
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