Tag Archives: Community building

From Engagement to Empowerment

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Citizens as Co-creators of Community Services

New forms of community initiative are emerging as people take charge of social services once expected of government.
What are the opportunities arising in the increasing distance between community needs and what governments can provide? How might we design and organize to befriend this trend?

Governments as we know them are transforming, budgets and infrastructures are tapped out while citizens demand more than agencies can support. Social contracts are breaking down across North America as governments go broke, outsource and privatize. Citizens will need to organize to compensate and get their community needs met. 
How will we close the gap between what governments can provide and the social services that vibrant citizens and communities require? We can learn from the many small-scale community-led projects around the world where people are leading the way – to make, plant, harvest, heal, build, and teach collectively. At some point these collective actions become organized services that serve more needs across the community. 
What tools or infrastructure can governments provide to empower citizens to take leadership of the services they need? What role can citizens play in improving the services we use? What community-led initiatives are emerging in our dense urban enclaves? How might this practice unfold in Ontario or Toronto? 
About 27 people participated in the session, convened as a series of dialogues from an opening circle to small group idea design sessions. Thanks to Patricia Kambitsch of playthink again for the visual reflection, sketched live during the whole group dialogues.

Five sets of proposals were generated by the small groups, each with a sketch or scenario mapped to the following questions:
  1.     What personal or community need does this service address?
  2.     How might this service involve the community to deliver maximum value at minimum cost?
  3.     What, tools, resources or incentives would community members need to help them initiate and implement this service?
  4.     What support could government provide to kickstart or sustain this service?
The five concepts generated by the groups were cooperative service led by community participants:
  1. Community skill library exchange
  2. Senior citizen buddy system (a kind of circle of care concept)
  3. The community wiki garden (This one is actually happening now)
  4. Community time bank
  5. Incentives for community participation

Related News:

Canada Economic Growth Won’t Match Demand For Services
Anti-austerity protests in Spain and Portugal
City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis


Friends of Dufferin Grove Park
Transition Toronto
The Circle Movement
Yellow Springs Community Solutions
Ezio Manzini on Creative Communities


Peter Jones is a professor in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes program at OCAD University and senior fellow of the Strategic Innovation Lab. Peter is founder of Redesign, a strategic innovation research company. Redesign conducts ethnographic and design research to guide innovations for professional practice, clinical and healthcare services, and information work. His research explores emerging social and service practices in publishing, science, and healthcare – his Rosenfeld Media book on healthcare service design, Design for Care is expected early 2013. Peter blogs at Design Dialogues and tweets @redesign.

Greg Judelman is a co-founder of Design with Dialogue and is a facilitator, designer and innovation consultant based in Toronto. Through his firm The Moment, he works with the conceptualization and facilitation of collaborative design workshops and innovation processes for organizational and community transformation. From 2006-2011 he was a senior designer at the globally recognized Bruce Mau Design, where he led creative teams on identity, web, experience and strategy projects for clients ranging from not-for-profits to universities to public associations to multinational corporations.

Facing our Future Challenges with Authentic Hope: The Work that Reconnects

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The Work that Reconnects was an evening of dialogue and experiential exercises based on teachings and practices developed over the last 40 years by eco-philosopher Joanna Macy and colleagues. The workshop offered an inspiring context for action and   participation in the Great Turning toward a life-sustaining society and world.

Joanna spoke June 21st to a sold-out audience at OISE, on her new book Active Hope – How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy. This special DwD workshop followed Joanna’s recent talks and workshops in Canada for a Toronto community experience of The Work that Reconnects.

The Work that Reconnects

Following the Spiral of the Work that Reconnects, as developed by Joanna Macy, PhD, we journeyed into gratitude and joy in being alive, through honouring our pain for the world, to seeing with new eyes and finally going forth.

Three Stories of our Times: participants were invited to consider narratives by which we understand the times we are living in and what is possible now for life on Earth.

Business as Usual: Industrial Growth Society must and can continue; it is a wonderful success story involving continuous human progress and growth in economic prosperity spreading around the world. Getting ahead is what matters, and the problems of the world are seen as far off and irrelevant to our personal lives.

The Great Unravelling: The destructive consequences of the business-as-usual mode. Life-sustaining systems of Earth and of human communities are in serious decline, as seen in economic instability and inequity, resource depletion, climate disruption, peak oil, social division and war, and mass extinction of species.

The Great Turning toward a life-sustaining society committed to the recovery of our world.

This turning is manifested in three dimensions: 1) holding actions that slow the damage being done by business-as-usual and protect ecological and social systems; 2) alternative or Gaian structures, the creative redesign of practices and societal structures in fields from education and healthcare to housing and justice; and 3) a shift in consciousness that deepens our sense of connectedness and collective identity and inspires us to consider the inner frontier of change and also to take action in the world.

Reflections: How do you see each of these stories unfolding around you in these times?

Which do you want to get behind?

The group process called Meet the Ancestors allowed participants to step outside of time and meet imaginatively as people of the present day and people of the future.

Our Guest Presenters

SALLY LUDWIG M.A., M.Sc. works towards transforming relationships as a therapist with individuals, couples, families and groups. She is a co-founder of Transition Guelph, part of the international movement to build community resilience in a changing world.

NATALIE ZEND M.A., CTDP is a training and facilitation consultant with 14 years’ experience in international development and human rights. She is a co-founder of Unify Toronto, and offers the Awakening the Dreamer symposium, compassionate communication, and other social technologies in her local community.

The process and reflection was live sketched by Patricia Kambitsch of Playthink.