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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

Relearning to be a Citizen

Posted by Heather Keam on October 17, 2019

I am taking part in my first book club and we are reading John McKnight and Peter Block’s book, The Abundant Community, Awakening the Power of Families and Neighbourhoods. A few chapters in and I have gone from confusion to amazement in my thinking process. 

When we are born, we start our lives as citizens of our family and community, and slowly become consumers of products, services and systems that lead us to believe we are better off and safer. When we think like a system we tend to identify the problem by labeling a specific target - for example, the ‘youth problem’ - however, John and Peter point out that it is not the youth with the problem but the neighbourhood and community. 

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Get to Know Your Neighbours, They Might Just Save Your Life

Posted by Heather Keam on August 21, 2019

It seems that there are more and more disasters happening all around the world. As I wrote this my power went out and it was 38 degrees outside. It may not seem like an emergency but what if the power was out for a long time, what would we do? How would my neighbourhood survive in this heat? What could I do to help them?

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Forming a Foundation to Build Great Things

Posted by Heather Keam on July 19, 2019

We understand that we need to bring a group of people together when we want to start a new project or develop a strategy. We go out and ask people we know, put an invitation in the local paper and hope people show up. Then we jump right into the “doing” and don’t spend time building the foundations of a good team or leadership group. This focus on results over process often leads to the same issues - team members not sure why they are at the table, don’t help, never show up or no one takes ownership of the strategy. 

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The Impact of Embracing Asset-Based Community Development

Posted by Heather Keam on July 2, 2019

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is about looking at the gifts and assets that exist within a neighbourhood and allowing people to respond to and create local opportunities. How do you use local assets and gifts to guide a city to increase the social fabric and deepen community? Howard Lawrence, who lives in a neighbourhood in Edmonton, had the answer to this question - Abundant Community.  Howard saw the power of neighbouring and wanted the city to experience the richness of neighbours sharing their gifts, knowledge, skills and abilities to improve their neighbourhood.

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Loneliness and Social Isolation are Public Health Issues

Posted by Heather Keam on April 18, 2019
Loneliness and social isolation are now being recognized as public health issues in Ontario. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David D William, released his annual report in February 2019 called Connected Community Healthier together. The report highlights the growing evidence that loneliness and social isolation affects our health:
  • Six out of ten residents say they have a very or somewhat strong sense of community. Only four out of ten know many or most of their neighbours.
  • Has negative effects on the body, mind and soul.
  • People who are lonely are more likely to be in the top five percent of health care users.
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Building A Neighbourhood Strategy From The Outside In

Posted by Heather Keam on March 18, 2019

As Cities grow, populations change and become more diverse, new neighbourhoods are built, and older neighbourhoods are being intensified. So, how do you deepen the sense of community? This is the question that the City of Waterloo’s was tasked with when they started to develop their neighbourhood strategy.  The City wanted to build a strategy to help define how to support neighbourhoods, facilitate continued growth, and support community members to be empowered to create strong neighbourhoods.

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