Summary of Learning: Day 3

Submitted by Rachel Elizabeth on June 13, 2013 - 2:09pm

Day III Highlights

Our Focus: The Benefits/Outcomes of Organizing Neigbourhoods as an Asset

Our Goal: To make the case that investing in neighbours & neighbourhoods is worthwhile & promising

Al Etmanski’s Comments:

·       Powell River Community Visioning: 120 ideas were generated & 2 stood out in sharp contrast: "I want to find someone I can hug goodnight to every night" & a man said, “I want to have a parade with balloons for everyone.”  These two ideas were set aside because no one knew what to do with them. But they stuck with me and led me to step back.

·       This led me to three embarrassing insights: I had never heard someone with a disability say "I'd like to move to a smaller group home”; I couldn't recall what those in our office with disabilities were saying; and, I had to admit that what those 2 people wanted – love & celebration - I wanted too…these were missing in my life too.

·       I've tried to develop softer eyes: My 2nd daughter - an artist & a poet - is also a person with the label of a disability. A Core Question: What was going on that I could so completely separate my own experience with my daughter Liz from my own professional work?

·       Every significant advance for folks with disabilities in the world always started with families & individuals with disabilities 

·       Marrying Love with Necessity: Power is created when we marry love with necessity - the power of passionate amateurs. An example: La Leche League: 7 women ((who only did mother-sized jobs) have positively impact 7 million people in 65 countries and reshaped the conversation around breastfeeding

·       Another Example: One of the world's most enduring social innovations: The Women's Institute was founded in 1897 in Stoney Creek Ontario by women – one who had lost a son – due to food safety issues. It is considered by many to be one of the top ten social innovations

·       The collective power of our caring - 80% of the care in Canada is provided by family, friends, neighbours & networks....20% is institutionalized care.

·       We have to recover our own caring as a passionate amateur.  It is the fuel to advance this incredible work.  We can do this in whichever the container we choose...individuals, neighbourhoods, etc. – it will require that we build relationships and learn to work together. 

·       One of the most difficult things I've ever had to do is learn to work together.  Example: The story of Social Innovation Generation (SiG) - Can we find a way to shift the culture of innovation around how we approach our country's toughest challenges...there were 4 of us organization that all agreed on the values and were friends yet I have never been involved in anything that was so hard.  I’ve never worked on something where I've behaved so despicably. Why? Ego,  scarcity & turf were all factors; also had to challenge my own habit of begging on my knees to a funder 

·       If it is this challenging to work with our friends, remember, we also have to work with strangers and enemies. This is hard!

·       A quote from Thomas Moore: "Slight shifts in imagination have more impact on living than major efforts of change."  This means that part of our work is to anchor ourselves in our own passions and our relationships.

·       Talking civilly about our differences is what will rebuild democracy...this is part of Tamarack’s contributions that their gift: how they "set the table, the love..." This is the how the invitation is created

·       The power of dialogue and conversation is its creation of an incubator space. Canadian philosopher Mark Kingwell says, "citizenship is a way of making concrete the ethical commitments of care and respect, of realizing action, an obligation to aid fellow travellers - in short a fostering of justice between persons."  

·       Citizens are reborn in dialogue - quote from a park bench in Warsaw: "It is our best interests to find a way to be tender, to turn soft and lovely any time we have the chance."

·       Three Conclusions: It's okay to be uncertain & in ambiguity; it's helpful to anchor ourselves in our wholeness and humility and let go of hubris; and, we tend to move to "how" more quickly than we should...because we want to be useful.

·       Some Advice:  Come to a deeper understanding of what gives life to you, and then anchor your work within that

Milton Friesen: Social Capital

·       The Cardus Institute explores social capital in neighbourhoods and am interested in the and why people connect with each other

·       City Developers:  Can you show me the social landscape of a city?  It doesn’t really exist in a way that can be seen, so we set out to explore if we could we find a way to show the social connections 

·       Culturally, our journey has emphasized becoming self-sufficient & independent.  A negative consequence is that we don’t value the importance of relationships.  A research study of 350,000 American found social isolation to be as significant as smoking and heart disease in its link to early mortality 

·       In the last 10 years, the number of Americans who report that they have no personal confidant has gone up 3-fold.  Technology isn’t addressing this sense of isolation.  Teenagers with 500 Facebook friends have no one to talk to

·       Research helps us to tell the story of community to impact issues for policy-makers. As community workers we need to learn more about how to work with the research & data. Infographs are popular for telling stories with data


·       The key measure IS the level of social capital.  Port Cole Australia - smile spy's (# of smiles/hour) tracked and reported back to the community

·       Like indicator species in the rainforest, we need to identify the indicators that offer us a "short-hand" for the level of social capital within our neighbourhoods

·       If community-builders are doing our work right...we should see improvements in all kinds of areas: safety,  

·       In Indianapolis, they are exploring relationship mapping to track the "ripple effect" around folks that they’ve trained to measure social capital.  Their work is also very much about nurturing the peer networking across neighbourhood associations

·       The Lost Art of Being Neighbours: Folks are so busy rushing around...and we don't know our the kids of today know the value and experience of neighbours? We're missing kids playing in the street The scarcity mentality around time needs to be challenged...we need to rediscover the power of reciprocity

·       Recognize our own harsh judgement of one another...we need to host things in a welcoming way and make it safe to create relationships within our neighbourhoods and communities

·       Schools & children are HUGE connectors of community.  A definition of Social Capital from 1916: “Schools are important connecting spaces around which social capital can be built and fostered.”

·       Integrating Elders: We segregate our elderly into their own communities but I think, God gave me life to this age and I believe that my role is now to serve as an elder in my community

·       The anecdote to judgement is curiosity: We need to shift our culture away from judgement and towards curiosity and we have to remember how to be hospitable with each other

·       It may be helpful to treat this as a mystery rather than a problem.  Like the metaphor of the frog in the pot, the loss of the soul is painless. The mystery is that this IS deep...the reason that something doesn't happen is that we are unaware

·       I want to challenge the sense that we need to harken back to the past & recover a sense of neighbourhoods. 

·       There is an industry (economic reality) that makes a profit when we all buy things because we are living in isolation

·       This isn't about's about the questions and perspectives that are now emerging for me. These are important because they are our human experiences.


Learning Wall Themes – Day III


·       Build hospitality

·       Create welcoming settings

·       Caring is the vehicle

Expanding Voice for All

·       More acceptance of individuality

·       Collective possibilities for voice

·       Explore ‘who is missing’

Wise Action

·       Be intentional about what works

·       Support organizations to become embedded in community

·       Be aware of ongoing learning

Seeding and Supporting Change

·       How businesses can help neighbourhoods

·       Supporting local foundations and municipalities seed & support neighbourhoods

·       Honouring the richness of neighbourhoods

Good design

·       Proximity of housing to other aspects of community (retail, etc.)

·       Neighbourhoods with walking, biking possibilities

·       Design with green space in mind

Space and Safety

·       Build strong sense of place

·       Small enough to organize people

·       Support gifts exchange among neighbours

Connections and Relationships

·       Intentionally build connections

·       Support people who are socially isolated

·       Building change around common issues

Kids and Others

·       Kids create neighbourhood energy

·       Inter-generational sharing

·       Outreach possibilities

Enhancing Transient Communities

·       Be aware of students, homeless, etc.

·       Create outreach possibilities     




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