Interconnected Practices Wheel - Simplified

As summer draws to a close and you begin your journey into Fall, we invite you to join us in Vancouver from September 30 to October 3 for the Community Change Festival. The festival is a gathering of thought leaders, practitioners, and citizens from around the world, all focused on bringing meaningful community change to their organizations and communities by exploring 5 practice areas that lead to effective community change.

In my role at the Leaning Centre, I provide leadership and guidance across the 5 practice areas in the development of workshops, events and consulting services for our learners. The Community Change Festival is the perfect opportunity to access all these vehicles in one place – coaching opportunities, connections to others leading change initiatives, expert presenters, exposure to leading thinkers, the latest tools and resources, and time for reflection on being a community changemaker.

The Community Change Festival is about building the five interconnected practices that are vital to getting to impact when tackling complex community challenges. Tamarack Learning Centre Directors and leading Canadian and International experts in each of these five areas have crafted in-depth workshops that explore the latest thinking and identify the challenges and opportunities inherent in leading effective community change initiatives. 

But the 3.5-day Festival is first and foremost a celebration. A celebration of your tenacity in leading on the issues that are most important to your community, a celebration of our diversity, of the impact we create each and every day, of our search for solutions to complex problems, and a celebration of the stories we share.

The Community Change Festival will be an intensive learning experience. It will give you the space to immerse yourself in the theory, practice, and experiential learning that we are seeing evolve across the community change landscape in Canada. 

The conversation is no longer around a new approach to facing complex problems. People all across the country have learned from the past and have adopted new and innovative ways of working to address systems-level challenges. The conversation now is do you have the skills and competencies to achieve success working in this way?

CCF 2019 Learning Arc Website Launch (1)

The Festival offers a variety of ways we will share stories and dig deep into the knowledge and skills that are required to lead effective community change:

We invite you to join us for an amazing celebration and to explore Being the Changemaker!

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Building a Common Agenda for Collective Impact


Common Agenda

A common agenda is a common understanding of the problem and a shared vision for change. It is a necessary component of Collective Impact and an important consideration in the development of a poverty reduction strategy that requires an ongoing process of community engagement.

An expressed challenge within the Cities Reducing Poverty learning community early on is often how to get to a common agenda for Collective Impact.

The guide, Foundations for Building a Common Agenda, was developed with this in mind; to support communities in understanding the process and ingredients to move from building the energy to developing a community-wide common agenda. Importantly, this guide draws on real-life experiences of Cities Reducing Poverty members who have progressed through these early phases with success and utilizes their own tools where possible.

This guide was produced to provide an overview, with examples, to help organizers and collaboratives at the early stage of poverty reduction work:

  • Understand a proven engagement process in order to develop an informed and sustainable community plan
  • Identify milestones and actions to help track progress
  • Access a compendium of resources that can guide through the process of achieving these milestones

The guide also provides key principles, or tips, to consider when laying these foundations, to set communities up  for success ahead of implementing a community plan.

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The Evolving Practice of Community Change: A Multisolving Approach


multisolvingThe field of community change is maturing as a growing global network of changemakers works across multiple scales, in innovative ways to address an array of intractable problems.  One of the highlights of my role at Tamarack is the opportunity to work alongside – and learn from – collaborative initiatives across Canada, the US, and beyond.  This gives me a “front-row seat” on the ingenuity of communities and a unique opportunity to note new and emerging practices and trends in the field of community change.

One of the most interesting frameworks I’ve come across recently is Multi-solving. Born in the climate action sector, Multisolving offers changemakers a new way to reimagine how communities can effectively champion positive change. Instead of using collaboration to work on a single issue, Multisolving facilitates work on a variety of different, but interrelated issues simultaneously.  My latest paper Changing How I Think About Community Change dives into the practice of Multisolving and draw parallels between it, Collective Impact, and other multi-sector collaborative approaches to identify five insights for how I see the work of community change evolving.  These include:

  • Working beyond organizations to leverage multi-sector networks and build movements for change
  • Creating impact through both program improvements AND systems change innovations
  • Reimagining leadership by rethinking relationships and how we work together
  • Addressing complexity and scale with the power of simple rules and small actions
  • Recognizing our interconnection by moving beyond debate and championing equity

As I reflect on how the field of community change is changing, the words of the Sufi poet Rumi come to mind: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” I am particularly struck by how much the work of community change requires changemakers to be willing to look inward and consider how we need to change ourselves while, at the same time, encourages us to stay open to discovering and incorporating new frameworks for how to mobilize diverse partners work together in new and ever-effective ways to make positive community change happen.

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Are You Prepared for an Emergency?


emergencyWe are often told to be prepared for an emergency by having 72 hours worth of supplies on hand. Equally important is getting to know and build relationships with your neighbours.

In fact, these relationships are essential during an emergency and in the days following an extreme weather event when emergency personnel are overwhelmed. During an emergency your first responder will likely not be a first responder; it is more likely that a neighbour will be the first person on the scene.

Recognizing the need for these connections during extreme weather events, the Lighthouse Project piloted three models for establishing neighbourhood-based resiliency hubs or networks. These models built on existing assets in the community; starting with who was already interested emergency preparedness, response and recovery. Each model was different in its approach; one started with municipal government, another with community organizations and the third with a group of interested residents. All three shared the goal of wanting to create safe places, ‘resiliency hubs,’ for people to gather, connect and access supports during an extreme weather event.

Despite the differences in the approach to each of the pilot sites, similar key learnings emerged:

  1. Extreme weather emergencies are becoming more frequent, we all need to prepare

Building the neighbourhood-based social connections and resilience hubs should become a part of every municipality’s emergency management plan.

  1. Creating an emergency response strategy requires time

Engaging multiple people in the conversation takes time but is integral to building the networks essential for disaster response and recovery.

  1. Collaboration is essential for building an effective, actionable strategy

Building a robust climate resilience strategy requires a collaborative funding approach between all levels of government, insurance companies, community foundations and others.

  1. Faith Groups play an integral role in Resilience Hubs

As familiar landmarks in vulnerable neighbourhoods, faith based organizations have the facilities and networks that make them important catalysts for 'resilience hubs.'

  1. Testing models and sharing learning are catalysts for developing best practices

Connecting communities across the nation to share best practices and lessons learned in ‘neighbour-helping neighbour’ emergency response models is key to expanding the work.

Each model had unique strengths and challenges; and, each one also successfully enhanced their neighbourhood’s resilience to extreme weather events. Their success is encouraging! It demonstrates that it doesn’t matter whether you are starting at the municipal, organizational or resident level, if you start with who is already at the table, resilience is possible!

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The Latest from the Field

Upcoming Events

Community Change Festival 

September 30 - October 3 | Vancouver BC

Join changemakers from near and far to deepen your knowledge of the 5 practices needed to move your community change agenda from idea to action to impact. Learn the latest thinking, understand your role as a changemaker, and replenish your toolkit with practical ideas and tools you can use in your own community.

Time is running out, so be sure to register soon! Equip Yourself as a Community Changemaker


2019 CCF Square

Principles-Focused Design & Evaluation for Community Changemakers

September 9 - London, ON
September 10 - Toronto, ON
September 12 - Montreal, QC

Join evaluation expert Michael Quinn Patton and experienced evaluator Mark Cabaj in an intensive workshop that explores the principles-focused evaluation approach and demonstrates its relevance and application in a range of settings.

This workshop runs next week, so register today!

Learn How to Apply Principles-Focused Evaluation


2019 PFE Square

Connecting 'Hard to Reach' Communities: A Community Engagement Thought Leader Series

October 7 - Edmonton, AB
October 10 - Toronto, ON

David Hanna, National Coordinator, Inspiring Communities, New Zealand and Director, Wesley Community Action will share his experience working with and engaging diverse communities across New Zealand.  In this engaging and interactive workshop, learn the principles of community-led development that are central to the Inspiring Communities approach and support engaging all members of communities.

Learn More About Connecting 'Hard to Reach' Communities


2019 DH Square

Turf, Trust, and Collaboration: Practical Tools for Building Trust 

October 17 | Waterloo, ON
December 6 | Hamilton, ON

Increasingly, communities are using collaboration to tackle some of their most complex issues. How can we do this effectively when we don’t build practices which engage others and build trust?

This interactive workshop focuses on the core leadership competency of trust building. Learners will walk away with ideas, tools and approaches to effectively engage diverse community partners and intentionally build trusting relationships and collaborative impact.  Come prepared to share your experiences and insights in how to build trust.

Learn More About Building Trust


TTC - Ottawa Only, Square

Upcoming Webinars


Scale Deep: Using A Feminist Approach to Shift Systems

Speakers: Tatiana Fraser & Pamela Teitelbaum

Date: September 13, 2019

Webinar Scale Deep

The Latest Trends in Community Change

Speakers: Paul Born & Liz Weaver

Date: September 24, 2019

Community Change trends Webinar

Social Patches: The Art of Reweaving Our Relational Fabric

Speaker: Milton Friesen

Date: September 26, 2019 

Social Patches The Art of Reweaving our Relational Fabric

Distilling Leadership: Practical Lessons for Community Leaders

Speaker: Jay Robb

Date: October 15, 2019

Webinar Distilling Leadership