Recent Publications

Neighbourhood Activity Guide

Take a look at our Neighbourhood Activity Guide We hope to hear back from you once you tried some of the activities. What we would like to hear most is how you organize your favourite neighbourhood get togethers so we can grow the compilation and share with others!

Netiquette 2.0: Moving Forward at the Speed of Trust

Resource Type: Publication | Authors: Marilyn Struthers & Penny Scott
When Stephen Covey published Speed of Trust in 2006, it marked a recognition that relationships are important to mainstream organizations and that trust-building is key to mobilizing their value. As the social sector increasingly builds networks of organizations to learn; engage with diverse others; and, to speed up knowledge development, we see how these loose relationships have value. But what do we really know about building trust in networks -- structures that are less “hard-wired” than formal organizations -- and how to work well in relationships without the defining bounds of role and structure? In her Network Weaver Handbook, June Holley, the denizen of network practice suggests, trust depends on being able to actually demonstrate reliability, reciprocity, openness, honesty, acceptance and appreciation in networked relationships.   She stresses that networks need to intentionally develop a culture of trust and lists five components that contribute to culture of trust:  Values and behavior Framing and valuing trust-building;  Activities that build trust;   Network rules that coach and help manage misunderstandings before they become conflict; Systems of reporting and accountability. Learning together about networking practice is the purpose of the Ontario-based Network Thinkers Network. Recently we asked ourselves what we know about the subtleties of relational practice that build trust in networks.  We speculated on the elements of “network etiquette”-- that layer of practice that we might frame as good manners for successful networks. We noticed that success requires participants to develop a set of skills and behaviours that are often different from the way we are used to working in more formal settings. Without the formal “rules” of an organization, a network creates – consciously (or unconsciously) - a set of interpersonal practices that shape the way members build participation and cohesion around purpose.  The network both requires and fosters skill development in network etiquette.For some networks, good manners and common interest may be the only glue that binds. We asked what happens when good network manners are clearly articulated and intentionally framed to support the purpose of the network. Download the full article to discover the difference between practice and manners, access a lexicon of good network manners, and consider good manners for the inclusive use of technology in your network.Learn More: Read Netiquette 2.0 by Marilyn Struthers & Penny Scott Access an overview of Stephen Covey’s Speed of Trust or order a copy of the book Read Building Networks and Movements for Social Change in the Stanford Social Innovation Review  Read Building Smart Communities Through Network Weaving by Valdis Krebs & June Holley  Meet June Holley and visit her Network Weaver website  Download Catalyzing Networks for Social Change: A Funder’s Guide published by The Monitor Institute Watch the video What is a system? Transformation through Nonprofits with Marilyn Struthers Check out the Network Thinker community of practice on LinkedIn for monthly conference call and in-person meetings exploring network practice.  The network meets up again in the Fall of 2015. Join in for the notice of the next meeting.  

Global Network of Learning Cities

Cities are the main engines of economic growth in the modern world, and learning is one of the most important fuels of that growth. In recognition of this, many urban communities are developing innovative strategies that allow their citizens – young and old – to learn new skills and competencies throughout life, thereby transforming their cities into ‘learning cities’. One of the most significant developments in recent years is the growth of ‘learning communities’, ‘learning cities’ and ‘learning regions’. Although the concept has a solid base in developed regions, it is now rapidly springing up in developing countries. In more Member States, local authorities are staking a claim to be learning cities, regions and communities, and the proliferation of these communities is noteworthy. More than 1,000 cities around the world have declared themselves to be learning cities To learn more, visit:

Neighbourhood Block Party Planning Guide

The Lethbridge Edition
If you do a search for block party planning guides you will find a few good examples. Most of these examples have similar elements to them but also differed in many ways. When we seeked to develop a guide of our own we had hoped to take what has been created and build it into a comprehensive package. We had also added component that we felt were important for what we want to do in our community. This guide provides a step-by-step process for planning along with the tools for this process, all in one package. Please feel free to use this as a template in creating your own guide for your local area.

An Invitation to Discover Community

I invite you to discover this tool
In a society that has done well in discouraging certain engagement of people we are at the point where we now must ensure we make intentional efforts to "invite" people to engage and participate. This is the crux of our initiative Beyond Your Front Door. We seek to invite neighbours to discover (or re-discover) the community just outside their front door – the neighbourhood. Everyone likes getting an invitation, it is exciting and makes you feel good knowing that someone wants you to be a part of something. We designed our project brochure as an invitation so that it is appealing and, well, inviting. I now invite you to use this tool in either the practical form or even in theory that produces other like practical forms as a way to re-engage neighbours in their communities.

Asset Mapping Neighbourhood Model

Active Neighbourhoods Peterborough Community Mapping Resource
The Active Neighbourhoods Peterborough Project has been using a three-dimensional neighbourhood model as a tool to support local asset mapping. The Model was created by Car Martin from the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, who is one of two provincial Active Neighbourhoods Canada program managers supporting this local project. We are bringing this model to neighbourhood events and meetings, where neighbourhood residents have begun to populate it with coded pins. The pins are left in after each event, and over time, the map is beginning to fill with concentrated nodes of pin activity. In the attached photos, you can see the concentration of pins in the local park. This park is home to a new community garden that has helped to revitalize the space and has given local residents a shared physcial asset around which strong socal bonds are being formed.  The pins heads represent the following features/places: Yellow, place that I live; Green, place that I play; Red, place that I shop; Blue, place that I work; Pink, place that I feel proud of; Black, place that I feel afraid of; Purple, street that I take to school; and, White, street that I take to work. If a community member would like to identify something that is not well represented by the colour pins, there are also pins with numbered flags. These number flags are associated with a small piece of paper with a corresponding number. The community member can write what they intend by the flag on the paper, and can place the flag on the map. These pieces of paper are stored as a record of intent.  The model has been a very effective way to draw attending to the mapping process, and has been a really engaging and effective visual story-telling piece.  Model Pinning

Why Strong Neighbourhoods Matter

Implications for Policy & Practice
This document explores the nature and value of neighbourhoods in the Canadian context which sees neighbourhoods as building blocks for social cohesion. It takes into account the locality's role in bonding, bridging and linking social capital and considers the dimensions and conditions necessary for the creation of strong neighbourhoods.
This document explores the nature and value of neighbourhoods in the Canadian context which sees neighbourhoods as building blocks for social cohesion. It takes into account the locality's role in bonding, bridging and linking social capital and considers the dimensions and conditions necessary for the creation of strong neighbourhoods.  - See more at:

We Are Cities

A new campaign to engage Canadians
About the Project With your help we will build a vision and action plan to make Canadian cities healthy and exciting places to live, work and play. The campaign will bring peoples' ideas together and build on the city-focused initiatives that are already taking place across the country. We Are Cities will help connect existing city-building work in order to strengthen and mobilize our collective efforts to enable the change we need. We Are Cities was launched by a number of organizations that believe that a prosperous future for Canada depends on thriving cities. For cities to succeed, citizens need to take an active role in identifying a path forward to achieve resilience, prosperity and inclusivity. For more information, please visit the website:

Peterborough's Paradox

a creative discovery
We were attracted to the idea of trying to map both the positive – and the less than positive - aspects of this Peterborough community. Given a large tabletop-sized sheet of newsprint, coloured markers, and prepped only with a quick array of examples flashing by in a powerpoint explanation of “mind-mapping”, the five of us stood around the table – stumped. I suggested a road with opposites on either side (it being spring and the open road beckoning for a windows down winter cobweb clearing trip). But Su suggested a web and we centred in with a common “yes”. Todd gave us our centerpiece title – soon surrounded by a double-coloured web. And now…how to capture the paradox? We mumbled about not being artists, not knowing how to do this right, not wanting to start before we had a plan – when granny Jo just grabbed a black marker and started raging. She scribbled a big black and red mess and from it ragged jagged lines which she cursed as “not enough food”, “pain”, “rage” and “we have to face it” speaking the ugly truths of our beloved home  that real estate agents never mention.  And it was like a damn broke. Now that the thing was a mess we couldn’t go wrong. From Jo’s outburst of what sucks about this place, we all picked up markers and started at it. Around the double-lined edges, went sets of opposities. As I put out a negative label, Aukje responded with a positive. As diversity was named (a good place for both students and elders) there sprung up both the shining bright and shadow-sides of what those labels hold. As we went we chattered about what we were doing – and began riffing off one another’s ideas like a seasoned jazz combo. Green leaves sprung up from the dead ends of “not enough”. An image of cigarette butts got sanctified by the words “sacred smoke”. Vomit became Art (talk about the inner expressed!) Vacant lots became fertile fields of possibility and empty buildings homes of creativity yet unleashed.   Jo’s big scary spider of “what’s hurting here” released the energy for it all to get named. A spider is sensitive to whatever vibrates its web - actions and meaning – good, bad, and indifferent – it’s all food for more spinning.  When I googled a definition of “paradox” I came up with: noun 1.  a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth. 2.  a self-contradictory and false proposition. 3.  any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature. 4.  an opinion or statement contrary to commonly accepted opinion. When I stand back and look at the “map” we created of Peterborough’s Paradox what comes to mind is “a puzzle wrapped up in a mystery”. I’ve always loved both mysteries and puzzles. Maybe that’s why I love this place?

Neighbourhood Change: Building Inclusive Communities from Within

Can neighbourhood interventions help achieve greater social inclusion?
Neighbourhoods are becoming the new fault line of social isolation and spatial separation.  Can neighbourhood interventions help achieve greater social inclusion? Cities are becoming increasingly segregated spatially on the basis of socio-economic and ethno-cultural divisions. The Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership will examine the nature, causes, and consequences of inequality and socio-spatial exclusion in six major Canadian census metropolitan areas (CMAs), using longitudinal data on their neighbourhoods spanning 40 years: Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, and Halifax. In 2006 these urban regions had a combined population of 14 million (44% of Canada). Between 2001 and 2006, they received 80% of Canada’s immigrants and accounted for 70% of Canada’s population growth. Our research, however, requires that we break down these aggregate statistics to identify local processes, variations, and responses. Working with local community partners in all six metropolitan areas, we aim to identify and analyse changes in the socioeconomic status, ethno-cultural composition, and spatial outcomes of neighbourhoods in the six urban areas. We will identify similarities and differences among neighbourhoods; seek explanations for the observed changes, and identify implications for economic integration, social cohesion, equity, and quality of life that will contribute to the international literature on divided cities. Finally, we will propose policy and program responses to address and overcome inequalities. Taking a participatory and community-based approach to the research will not only contribute valuable insights, but will also help develop community capacity to address and perhaps reduce future socio-spatial inequities. Spatial analysis makes it possible to analyse social trends and emerging issues at the neighbourhood level, and isolate factors and interactions that contribute to change. Community-university collaborations also offer a way to address the impacts of socio-spatial inequality.   For more information on the research, please visit their website: