Tag Archives: Civic engagement

Co-Creating Civic Proposals for Systemic Change

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How might we move or collective thinking and action beyond single-issue social action?

Does it make sense to build our urban worlds and future societies by winning one political issue at a time?

Can we design civic business models for our cities and society?

In February’s Design with Dialogue we workshopped our framework for co-creating civic design proposals with a group of 35 citybuilders, ranging from youth activists to City of Toronto people to architects and SFI students.

A significant design challenge of our time is anticipating the relationships of multiple environmental and social problems as a complex system of nonlinear relationships. However, we cannot think about, model or discuss the relationships well, especially in the heat of discussion with deliberative groups and decision making processes. We need not only better engagement and dialogue processes for citizen deliberative problem solving, we require relevant tools.All social services, determinants of health, and economics are complex and interrelated. So why do we expect any political body or activist group to get it right? Only meaningfully diverse, multi-stakeholder groups can envision the variety of interests and outcomes in complex social systems.

With the OCADU Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group and with Strategic Foresight & Innovation students we designed a relevant framework from the common language of business model tools, adapted for civic decision models for flourishing cities and settlements.

The Flourishing Cities framework adapts a design tool for strongly sustainable business models as a visual organizer for engaging stakeholders in co-creating normative  operational guidance for civic groups, community planners, and local governments. Flourishing can be understood as “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience,” or as John Ehrenfeld states it:

“Flourishing is the possibility that human and other life will flourish on this planet forever.”

This visual model enables a participatory mapping of propositions, values, and preferences that might yield significantly better group decisions for sociocultural and ecological development and governance in any planning engagement. Participants developed working models in 30-40 minute studio sessions, and presented compelling narratives for issues in:

Climate Change Action and Citizen Motivation

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Community Equity

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Affordable Housing

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Placemaking for Well-Being

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An additional table developed a model for Textile Waste Recovery.

 

The Flourishing Business Canvas is shown below, the basis for the Flourishing Cities model adapted in the workshop.

Unlike the Flourishing Business Canvas, the “Cities” canvas has not been employed in actual practice yet. This is a proposed concept, developed from extended research and is presented as a model for further inquiry and evaluation.

Presentation and references from DwD Flourishing Societies Framework.

 

Innovative Learning in Canadian Higher Education

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April’s DwD was convened by an graduate student-led panel, organized by Strategic Innovation Lab and Strategic Foresight & Innovation, responding to the question:

What new ways of learning, particularly in higher education, will Canadians need to thrive in an evolving society and labour market?

The roundtable and dialogue was sponsored by Imagining Canada’s Future, the strategic development of next-generation social science for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) with the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS).

This question was one of their key Future Challenge Areas. The SFI team documented the session and prepared a report for CAGS and SSHRC. This report is now available to the public, linked here and titled Innovating Canada’s Higher Education.

Canada, like many other countries, is at a tipping point in the way its education system, especially higher education, is conceptualized, structured and delivered in light of the knowledge and skills required for the 21st century. The panel discussed and explored the following issues:

  • What knowledge, skills and delivery methods are required in order for the public education system to create an innovative, resilient and culturally rich society?
  • What aspirations and expectations will a diverse and global citizenry bring to the work environments, jobs and labour markets of the future?
  • What conditions are needed for new models of research—particularly, co‑creation of knowledge with the public, private and/or not‑for‑profit sectors—to flourish?
  • What roles will emerging and/or disruptive information and communication technologies play in learning for individuals, institutions and society?
  • What role should individuals, institutions and governments play in promoting and supporting the life cycle of knowledge—including creation, accessibility, retention and mobilization—across sectors, both domestically and internationally?
  • How can we harness Canada’s strength and innovation in the arts, digital media and cultural industries to build social, economic and cultural well‑being?

Panel and workshop photo-documented by SFI student George Wang.

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SFI graduate student panelists opening the first part of the event.

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Tables were convened by graduate student panelists for each of the main questions.

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Responses to each table’s question captured on standing boards.

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Graphical recordings by SFI students Maggie Greyson and Ana Matic during panel and in closing plenary.

The final report is now available here, and was delivered to very positive response by CAGS and SSHRC, especially for its vivid capture of the innovative process and the visual approach to communicating the results of the civic dialogue.

The convening team had suggested some related readings for members of the panel and public:

Joseph Wilson on learning: ‘People are envious of what we’re doing in education’ (or any of the Possible Canadas articles)

Democracy Hacks  was recommended as a relevant podcast.

The Governor General David Johnston has been advocating rethinking education, and this may be his legacy for Canada in 2017.

A pan-Canadian joint undergraduate degree is taking shape: Pan-Canadian University

Slow Learning, a site presenting critical visions for self-directed, community learning

 

HOSTED BY THE SFI DIALOGUE TEAM

Inessa Chapira
Christina Doyle
Maggie Greyson
Conor Holler
Goran Matic
Corey Norman
Adrienne Pacini
Sheldon Pereira
Patrick Robinson
Peter Scott
Jacqueline To
Ryan Voisin
George Wang
with faculty advisor Peter Jones

sLab+sshrc

 

 

 

The Co-evolution of Connected Citizens in Canadian Governance

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Can we motivate civil society to form a collaborative approach to Canadian governance?

 How will governing – public decision making – be influenced through citizens evolving new digital and place-based channels?

The January DwD was a public workshop convened by OCADU’s Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) as part of our ongoing SSHRC-sponsored action research conducted during 2014.  We hosted 25 participants in reframing and representing key challenges and future innovations that might influence civic participation and governing across Canadian government sectors.  A current model of the Gigamap (large-scale system map) as a departure point for participant contributions, you can contribute to the discourse by building on and critiquing the findings of a recent major workshop via card sort and dialogue mapping.

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Governance in our digital era is a central challenge facing government institutions and societies in the coming decades where information ownership is uncertain, power is dispersed, and authority and accountability need to be reconceived. Last November  we convened a diverse group of practitioners, policy experts and academics to explore how digital technology and new flows of information have been influencing governance and government practice, and where it might have potential to more significantly transform analysis, engagement, policy, service delivery, and accountability.   We are seeking many perspectives on the promise and concerns of digital engagement, and the positive possibilities for designing and delivering public policy and services. We want to hear your views on how governments at all levels in Canada might re-conceive various governance practices as digital tools and practices continue to evolve.

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We are interested in discovering how the practices and expectations of governance are and will be shifting from the vantage point of citizens and other stakeholders, communities, and sectors. We aim to explore how Canada – with all of its levels of government and regional diversity – might evolve as a basis for considering how government practices ought to transform.

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Digital era governance can be understood from a technology-centric viewpoint or a governing practices perspective, which largely colours the values and strategies under discussion. Since the start of the Internet era, governments have sought greater efficiencies and interaction with citizens and stakeholders.  Digital governance includes issues such as citizen rights and uses of data, the questions of government control through ICT, and the online management of benefits and services. It is now simple to pay parking tickets online. But understanding the core issues and arguments in legislation remains as murky as ever. Is it fair to suggest that digital rights may filter the power of citizen access?

We asked participants to do some homework to familiarize themselves with some of the issues and trends in “digital governance” and the larger trends concerning Canadian government relevant to discussions.

Gigamaps:  The Gigamap presented at the Ottawa conference was displayed in the workshop as an evolving model. Final visual maps may appear more like this online Gigamap on the Circular Economy from a student team in our OCADU SFI course. Maps may include system diagrams as found in this student project on the adaptation of veterans to civilian life http://resetremembrance.ca

 

Leading Between the Lines

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How might we as citizens inspire responsive governance in the next term of Toronto’s city leadership and beyond?

As citizens of Toronto we are responsible for the governments we elect to represent us. How can we inspire leadership for a shared, sustainable future? The rapid changes and growth that Toronto is undergoing has both local and broader consequences. As we look towards some of the city’s pressing issues, such as public transit, infrastructure development, child poverty and voting reform, what conversations can we hold now that will shape equitable, desirable civic action?

As we find ourselves at another political juncture with the mayoral election in October, we invite you to explore how we might further democratic dialogue on issues that matter to Toronto citizens. The September DwD hosted an Open Space session to discuss ideas and themes related to city governance and the upcoming mayoral election.

Urban scholar Richard Florida has noted that city governance has more direct impact than national governments on the lives and well-being of people, and that large cities have significant global influence ( What If Mayors Ruled the World? Atlantic CityLab, June 2012):

 “It is of course vital that mayors and their staffs understand not just what they share with other cities, but the challenges they face from a distinctive global environment that include pandemics, climate change, global financial markets, immigration and terrorism.”

Recent initiatives such as Turnout Toronto and Move the GTHA  have created more activist venues for civic engagement. DwD sister group Unify Toronto Dialogues has held nearly two years of ongoing inquiry and experiential dialogues. And over its 6 year history, Design with Dialogue has hosted several sessions for civic conversation – Citizen’s response to the G20 policing, the Occupy movement, the mayoral elections, planning Change Camps, and Arab-Jewish community dialogues.

 

Where is Home? Leadership & the Soul of Placemaking

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June’s Unify Toronto dialogue hosted leadership educator, facilitator and Juno-nominated pianist Michael Jones, inspired by his forthcoming book: The Soul of Place: Reimagining Leadership through Arts, Nature, and Community. The book is expected shortly, and will be available for August’s Design with Dialogue (8/13) as Michael returns to OCADU with a second session for the book launch.  In the meantime, his brief brief article titled Recovering the Soul of Place:  Reflections on Place-Based Leadership is available.

soulMichael’s approach to placemaking is radically different than the current trend in urban planning and city-building. His book and view is a platform for community leadership grounded in the essential humanity of understanding place, nature, and creativity.

We are shifting from the industrial age and the age of information and technology to the age of biology. We are now asking, “how do we create spaces for life?” “How do we align our thinking with how nature thinks?”  He asks us to create places as living systems inspired by biology and interconnection.

We explored the four patterns in Michael’s book that underlie the soul of place:

  • Homecoming  – Where is home and how do we find our way there?
  • Belonging  – How can the connective tissue of life-giving relationships align us with the essence of nature and how nature works, connects, and thinks?
  • Regenerativity – What does it mean to make the invisible visible, to contribute to the conscious evolution of life?
  • Carnival – How can we gather together on the square or in the commons, bringing together diverse energies, democratic spirit and upturning the old for the new?

 

The event was uniquely facilitated to engage multiple modes of experiencing and presencing the patterns. Michael Jones told stories about his experiences in embodied leadership and his musical learning journey (“Who’s going to play your music, if not you?”).  He played several pieces while participants listened, contemplated, moved or held small group dialogues. Our gathering hosted dialogue around the four themes and patterns. An integrated sketch by Patricia Kambitsch formed a visual story of the experiences and dialogue in the room.

Placemaking-sketch


“By looking at place not only as something to return to but also something to grow out from –orienting us to the future and not only the past; and by realizing that a place is not an object or a thing, but a power and a presence, we can partner with place in a way that is itself deeply transformative, opening our hearts to the experience of beauty, aliveness and possibility.” – Michael Jones,Recovering the Soul of Place

About special guest Michael Jones:

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Michael is a leadership educator, dialogue facilitator, writer and Juno-nominated pianist/composer.  His most recent book, The Soul of Place, is the third in a series on Re-imagining Leadership.  Others in the series include Artful Leadership and the award-winning  Creating an Imaginative Life.  Michael has also been a thought leader with the MIT Dialogue Project and Dialogos and other prominent leading edge universities and centres. He has co-chaired several place-based initiatives and spoken on the leader’s emerging role as   placemaker in a variety of forums including The Authentic Leadership in Action Conferences (ALIA), The Society  for Organizational  Learning (SoL) and many others. As a pianist/composer Michael has composed and recorded fifteen CD’s of his original piano compositions and performed as a solo pianist across North America  as well as Korea and Japan.  He has been integrating his music in his leadership and dialogue work for over twenty years.
See www.pianoscapes.com to learn more about Michael and his work.