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About the Learning Centre

The Learning Centre, established in 2003, is designed to create a fluid, creative system of documenting community building activity and delivering this learning to organizations. The centre has a threefold purpose: to broadly disseminate knowledge gathered through research and practical experience; to help communities increase their power through learning; and to generate knowledge about community engagement so as to advance the field. Learn more about the Learning Centre here.

Resource Library - Explore Tamarack's community engagement resources - including research, articles and related links.

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Beautiful Thinking for March from the Tamarack Institute

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A National Movement: Cities Reducing Poverty

BY: Liz Weaver

Poverty

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In the late 1990s key leaders in Waterloo Region began dreaming of a different future for their community. They came together to create Opportunities 2000 with the bold aim of moving 2000 individuals out of poverty by the year 2000. The leaders represented many different sectors and wanted to work differently together. Little did they realize that their bold vision would not only change the lives of citizens in Waterloo Region, it would also spark a national movement of cities reducing poverty.

Opportunities 2000 inspired a further thirteen Canadian cities to meet the challenge of reducing poverty. In each city, collaborative roundtables with leaders from business, government, community organizations and citizens began working together to tackle this complex issue. Each city adopted a unique strategy but were joined together in a pan-Canadian learning network. This was a bold experiment that was supported by the deep engagement of Tamarack - An Institute for Community Engagement, Caledon Institute of Social Policy and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

Over the course of the next ten years, these cities began to witness real changes for their citizens. Affordable transit passes, housing subsidies, neighbourhood revitalization programs, and increased access to affordable childcare are just some of the many successes they collectively generated. At the same time, provincial and territorial governments across Canada also began taking up the challenge of reducing poverty by adopting their own strategies.

After nearly fifteen years of collaboration and collective effort, Vibrant Communities is pausing to reflect on this unique point in Canada’s history and hosting a Poverty Reduction Summit, May 6 - 8, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.

The Poverty Reduction Summit: Every City, Province and Territory Working Together will bring together people from across Canada to align their efforts and merge their passion for poverty reduction. This unprecedented gathering - happening in Ottawa, ON, May 6-8, 2015 - will strengthen communication, increase the alignment of poverty reduction activities and will motivate collective action leading to poverty reduction for 1 million Canadians.

The Summit will highlight what's working in poverty reduction activities, celebrate strong community examples and provincial/territorial strategies, and will outline what each holds in common so that we can clearly see the points of alignment that already exists. The Summit’s learning agenda will focus on:

  • Key poverty reduction strategies and those that are having the best results

  • Policy changes in cities and in provinces that are making a huge difference in reducing poverty

  • The role of business in poverty reduction and stories of great success

  • High impact strategies for organizing for impact - Governance models for success

  • How the idea of Collective Impact is permeating the poverty reduction efforts of cities with amazing results

  • How provinces and cities are supporting each other toward common success

We invite you to join us in this unique three day learning event.

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The Pendulum Swing of Collective Impact

Pendulum

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Collective Impact is all the rage. In my field, everyone is studying it, doing it, and lauding its virtues. Its birth is sourced from an article written a few years back in the Stanford Social Innovation Review by John Kania and Mark Kramer. The brilliance of this initial article, simply titled, Collective Impact, isn’t because it’s full of new ideas or because the authors identified a way of working that no one had considered before. Instead, their article offers an approach to large-scale collaboration that is in effect a convergence of proven practice that they found in various places along the broad and complex landscape of social challenges.

They offered a design for others to consider, much like architects do by mixing together their creativity and skill with all they can learn and glean from the minds, imaginations, and experience of others.

Models Require Skepticism

It’s my nature to see all models and "prescriptions" as incomplete and rich with possibilities for failure. That doesn’t mean we don’t need models; however, I suggest the chances for success with just about any model improve with skepticism and inquiries about what-ifs that might jam up the wheels of progress. Before going any further, here is the official, brief definition of Collective Impact:i

Collective impact is the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to a common agenda for solving a complex social problem. In order to create lasting solutions to social problems on a large-scale, organizations - including those in government, civil society, and the business sector - need to coordinate their efforts and work together around a clearly defined goal. Collective impact is a significant shift from the social sector’s current paradigm of "isolated impact," because the underlying premise of collective impact is that no single organization can create large-scale, lasting social change alone. There is no "silver bullet" solution to systemic social problems, and these problems cannot be solved by simply scaling or replicating one organization or program. Strong organizations are necessary but not sufficient for large-scale social change.

It’s not too hard to nod your head in agreement when reading this definition. It makes sense. We know single organizations or even governments on their own won’t bring about large-scale change. We know that even the best of programs won’t cut it either, even if we replicate them here and there, if not everywhere.

What about Public Participation?

Our affirming head nodding should not stop us from analyzing the definition, especially to see if anything big might be missing. The big miss for me is a lack of mention of formative and ongoing public participation in large-scale change. The definition’s focus on bigger and better institutional collaboration is only part of the picture. After all, large scale change is about benefitting the public in the final analysis, not institutions.

I have no doubt Kania, Kramer, and their colleagues get this point: they do mention public will, for example, as one necessary activity when they write about backbone organizations, but as a definition, the one above suggests that the theory of change behind Collective Impact is all about - or at least primarily about - institutional changes in how organizations, businesses, and governments collaborate to achieve big results.

A Different Theory of Change

I wonder if the theory of change required has to be more focused on the community as a whole taking on responsibilities for problems and their solutions, with a pronounced emphasis on engaging citizens in collective action efforts. On the surface, such a theory might sound a tad simplistic or too broad to have legs, but I suggest such a theory of change is a compelling response to our collective habit to see "someone else" or "some other sector or group" as owning an issue or a solution.

While I am the first to admit that we need governments that are more focused on serving the majority of citizens, it is also true that people in general see governments as being ordained, through elections, to be the body that creates prosperity, improves our health and well-being, keeps taxes down, and on and on. We expect governments to own our problems, and when they don’t perform to our expectations they become our perfect scapegoats.

Of course, it is facile to think that we, as citizens, are divorced from all that ails us. In fact, the very actions or inactions of community as a whole are prime players in the health and well-being of society, not to mention our economy.

When a critic of an organization like mine that houses the homeless tells me society is wasting time and money on our efforts because homelessness still exists, such criticism is also saying that solving homelessness is a programmatic responsibility. Even worse, the criticism implies that if everyone can’t be helped, no one should. That said, the central message, which is a sad one, is that such critics don’t see themselves as a part of the problem, much less part of the solution.

The Community Owns the Big Picture

For Collective Impact to work, we need to overcome our engrained biases that segment roles and responsibilities in such a manner that, in effect, no one is responsible for the big picture. The potential of Collective Impact as a break-through model for big change is dependent on the ability of communities to move beyond traditional sector mindsets which tend to be more polarizing than unifying.

The potential of Collective Impact is far more profound than being a major innovation about how to do large-scale collaboration. It offers community the opportunity to become the driver of change rather than a space within which divergent interests compete - often to such degree that we tolerate, if not celebrate, a winner-loser environment. It offers the opportunity for people and organizations to rally around a We approach to problem-solving, solution-building, to life itself as a collective.

Exploring Collective Impact

A past issue of The Philanthropist features a range of excellent articles on Collective Impact. Whether you are just getting your feet wet with this model or a seasoned practitioner, it’s worth a read.ii

I have used the metaphor of the "pendulum swing" in other pieces I have written. Within the context of my field of work, I define it as "the tendency to abandon current models and practice to adopt a new idea or model without sufficient attention being paid to the impact of doing so." One might also equate this to what is often referred to as the "bandwagon effect."

We have experienced this before with outcome measurement and Carver’s model of board governance, to name two. Broader or more general concepts also have swung the pendulum far beyond its equilibrium point. Collaboration is a prime example. We have so many on the bandwagon that nearly everything is called collaboration these days. Funders demand it as a matter of course. Everyone espouses its merits whether or not evidence of success is proven or even strongly apparent.

I am writing this piece because I want Collective Impact to be a successful model or framework of practice. I don’t care that is a blending together of current best and emerging practice. My sense is that how Kania and Krameriii have crafted a set of principles into a cohesive, compelling, integrated framework is where the value of their work lies. The challenge is in the practice, I believe, more so than in rationalizing the model.

That said, with every innovation (which is what I believe Collective Impact is), we are faced with implementing it within the context of our current reality. What follows in this series is my thinking about how our current context or environment could subdue the potential of Collective Impact and render it far less fruitful than it can be.

This excerpt, from a longer article, is shared with permission

i Retrieved from http://www.fsg.org/OurApproach/WhatIsCollectiveImpact.aspx, December 27, 2014

ii See http://www.thephilanthropist.ca/index.php/phil/issue/view/104

iiii See Kania, J., & Kramer, M. (2011). Collective impact. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

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The New Philanthropy: Foundations in Complex Times

By: Tim Draimin & Kelsey Spitz

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Last November, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation President and CEO, Stephen Huddart, gave a talk at MaRS Discovery District that sketched out the emerging path being trail blazed by contemporary foundations. It is a path that is as significant for how it is being created - emergently and collaboratively - as it is for its destination - system changes generating positive social and environmental outcomes.

Foundations are embracing a growing toolkit for social change that is more multifaceted than ever. As the toolkit expands and shifts in response to an intensifying appreciation for the complex and systemic nature of social and ecological problems, foundations like McConnell are seeking insights about their role as a vital part of what Rideau Foundation’s Managing Director, Vinod Rajasekaran, calls "Canada’s R+D engine" for the country’s future wellbeing and sustainability.

Growth of new tools for foundations toolkit
These are the incremental steps marking philanthropy’s evolution from arm’s length funder to collaborator/partner/funder.

At the same time, however, these empowering new tools - i.e. Collective Impact, social innovation, social labs, impact investing, co-creation, co-production, developmental evaluation etc. - throw up new challenges for foundations. They are rooted in a seismic shift towards working in more collaborative ways with partners, grantees and unusual suspects like governments and corporations. Such a shift requires foundations to also change their mindset: they are not just the funder/enabler, but also the active partner and co-creator of new collaborative partnerships among societal actors. These new collaborations make it possible to generate new value benefiting community.

Foundations as Partners versus Foundations as Protagonists

The Working Together Continuum

Adapted by Mark Cabaj from Mattessich, P.W., Murray-Close, M. & Monsey, B.R. (1992). Collaboration: What makes it work.. Paul, MN: Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.

These shifts are moving foundations and community organizations along the working together continuum towards trust and integrated partnership.

"This is really a corrective to some of the pathologies of traditional philanthropy. Most philanthropy is driven by the very personal ideas and needs of the donors, whereas Collective Impact has the potential to create more community-based solutions and approaches."
- Tim Brodhead, quoted by Larry Gemmel, "Letter from the guest editor," The Philanthropist 26.1 (2014). 3-10.

As Tim Brodhead noted, these new models of working together - such as collective impact - serve as an opportunity to move beyond traditional philanthropy’s power paradigm, as foundations think and act past simply leveraging the hard power of resources towards cultivating soft power through collaboration, empowering partners and enabling the agency of a generative network of others to bring about system change.

McConnell, Tamarack and the Caledon Institute’s partnership on Vibrant Communities-Cities Reducing Poverty exemplifies the opportunity of this shift. It is based on growing social change through a generative and collaborative network. The growing network creatively unleashes more diverse methodologies for achieving change and clarifies the agenda for approaching system change.

The critical skill fueling the recoding of relationships between foundations and grantees towards partnership is empathy. As foundations embrace uncertainty, emergence and empathy - empowered by the growing toolkit for evaluating, supporting and participating in collaborative initiatives - they become more prepared to nourish the conditions for systems change.

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The Use and Misuse of the Community Engagement Continuum

BY: Max Hardy

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I remember well how thrilled I was to come across a thoughtful continuum for community engagement, (also known as the IAP2 Spectrum) in the late 1990s. Developed by some highly skilled and generous practitioners in North America, it has since become the most recognizable brand and image related to the field of community engagement. It has become synonymous with the association itself and is now proudly referred to in policy statements and guidelines for hundreds of organizations, especially in Australia and New Zealand. Sadly the IAP2 Core Values have not had similar attention or profile, but that is a blog for another time.

During my time with Twyfords we probably explained the continuum (and ran exercises drawing upon it) to thousands of students, practitioners, elected representatives, professionals in a multitude of sectors. Unfortunately, it has in many instances been misused, abused or at least misunderstood. Even where it is understood and applied, it has not always been helpful or offered the intended clarity. So in this article I want to talk about what the continuum is about, what it is meant to do, how it has been misinterpreted, and also what I consider to be some limitations of the framework. (I need to stress that I am not pretending to offer the definitive view of these matters; as our own application and understanding continues to evolve).

IAP2

What Is It?

It is a framework that explains the different levels of engagement that organizations can engage their stakeholders/communities. The further to the right on the continuum, the greater the influence the community has on decision-making. At each level, a different promise to the community applies - a promise that decision-makers can be held accountable to. Each level requires a different type of interaction.

The Inform level simply offers to provide information throughout a process about work being undertaken by an internal or expert team leading up to a decision being made. The promise is simply keeping people informed - some would say it is about helping people to understand. No input or feedback is sought from the community of interest.

The Consult level is about putting forward options or a proposal for which feedback is sought. The promise is to listen to the community of interest’s feedback, to carefully consider, then make decisions and finally explain how this feedback has been taken into account.

The Involve level invites input and ideas from the community to help develop options/potential solutions. The community participates earlier in the process than for the consult level. The community is part of developing solutions, not merely commenting about plans or solutions being proposed by an organization. Ultimately the organization will still make decisions, but they promise that the decisions will be informed by ideas and input.

The Collaborate level is a significant jump. It’s about partnering and sharing power - to the maximum extent possible (a phrase that has been used, confused and misused). It takes more time and effort. A range of stakeholders/community members work together with the sponsoring organization to define the scope of the decision to be made, to develop options, to assess those options against agreed criteria in an attempt to arrive at consensus. Although more time consuming and expensive it is the shortest route to an implementable solution for highly complex/controversial decisions.

The Empower level is essentially delegated decision-making. It is where an organization promises to do whatever the ‘community of interest’ decides.

What I Like About the Spectrum

Although drawing upon much earlier work of Sherry Arnstein (Arnstein’s Ladder) it is the most helpful framework around - still - for showing that engagement can happen at different levels, requiring different types of interaction. The ‘Promise to the Public’ layer is quite simply written and helps everyone to check with decision-makers and project leaders whether this is the promise they are really making, when throwing around words such as consult, involve, collaborate and empower. The descriptions of the levels help to make more visible the kind of process that is being pursued and promised.

I also like the layout. It is not meant to be a hierarchy, it is a continuum, and this is presented quite helpfully. The layout and neatness of it has helped it to become the major reference point for a decade.

Common Misunderstandings about the Continuum

  1. You start at the left and go right - Some have misunderstood the framework completely, thinking that you start off Informing, then you Consult, then you Involve etc. It’s a framework and a not a process guide.

  1. At the Inform Level a Decision Has Already Been Made - It may seem like a subtle difference but this is not the case. At the Inform level the public is kept informed about progress being made by an internal working group, until a decision is made. No input or feedback is sought - people are just progressively informed about what is going on.

  1. Once a Level is Selected, That is What You Have to Do Throughout - This is not necessarily the case. IAP2 does not actually stipulate this, but those trained in the IAP2 Certificate are told that it is very important to work out the highest level on the Spectrum you will go for any given process. All the levels to the left of that level also apply.

  1. The Further to the Right on the Spectrum the Better It Is - This was never the intention and it is why the Spectrum runs left to right - so that it does not appear to be a hierarchy like Arnstein’s Ladder. IAP2 has attempted to convey through the training, that it depends. It is about finding the most appropriate level. Trying to Collaborate on something fairly straightforward, where there is little passion or complexity, would be a waste of time. Doing a simple Consult level process for something highly complex will probably result in having to start all over again, after having done some damage.

  1. It Is Up to The Organization to Decide What Level, and Be Clear About It, Then Everything Should Run Smoothly - In my experience this is nonsense. The level often needs to be negotiated, and communities have shown that they can challenge the level of engagement, especially when particular stakeholder groups have been overlooked in the process.

Things I Have Learned From Practice

Along with a number of other practitioners, I have found that the Continuum is a much more flexible framework perhaps than it was first envisaged. For any given process it is common to move to a different level of on it on a number of occasions. For instance, if a Consult level process is not going well (i.e. a community group is very unhappy with the options being presented, and instead want to be involved in developing options, it is possible that the process will need to go as high as Collaborate for a time until trust is rebuilt. If sufficient trust is built an organization may be finally told to just get on with it, and move as far back as Inform. Yes - it does happen!

Flexibility also applies to working with different groups at different levels at the same time. Collaborating with more than 15 people is very challenging. Generally when working at Collaborate there will be other groups and individuals with whom an organization will need to actively be informing, consulting and involving. Keeper the broader community engaged is critical. Developing trust between the broader community and those who are at the table collaborating is a real challenge, but one that must be attended to.

Another learning, and this emerged from a great sessions facilitated by Professor Bojinka Bishop in Salt Lake City back in 2002 (I think), is that Collaborate is often a stronger level of engagement than Empower. The reason for this is that at Collaborate, the sponsoring organization(s) are there working through an issue, or decision, or plan, with a diverse range of stakeholders. They are all in it together. Whereas at the Empower level, the organization(s) delegate decisions to external stakeholders. Often this means that less complex issues are delegated, and that the organization becomes more removed from the process. Paradoxically, Collaboration can be more empowering than the Empower level because of the investment in building longer term working relationships and the level of importance given to the process. There have been exceptions to this - but that is a blog for another time.

Some limitations of the Continuum

Again, these are my personal views, but they are based on plenty of experience. I believe we expect way too much of the Spectrum if we believe it will safeguard an engagement process, and provide clarity for all. It is useful - but on its own not sufficient.

There are some limitations to its usefulness (as with any framework) and assumptions made that may not be helpful. Here are some:

  • The Continuum is written as if there is only one sponsoring organization involved. Even if you look at the Collaborate level it is assumed that collaboration will influence the decision to the maximum extent possible. If multiple organizations co-sponsor the process then collaboration is not an option - it is fundamental. Without thorough collaboration a decision will not be made, and partnering will break down.

  • Secondly, the Continuum is written in a way (and this is perpetuated by the Certificate Training) that the organization can do its own research and risk analysis and determine, by itself, the most appropriate level. In my experience, this is often negotiated, and the community wants to be part of that conversation - especially for projects that are controversial and complex.

  • Thirdly, the Continuum assumes that the Organization is the entity initiating the process. This is not always the case - engagement can be initiated by the community, or a particular community group, and the continuum, and supporting information, does not really make provision for this.

  • Lastly, it assumes that the process is essentially about influencing a decision. Once a decision is made, then what? In my experience, the process itself is incredibly important as to what happens after decisions or plans have been determined. If ongoing relationships are important to implementation then that needs to be considered in determining the level of the Spectrum. Anything less than Involve is unlikely to help build the system’s capacity to make those decisions sustainable.

Well there it is. Turned out to be much longer than I thought. If you got to the end, well done. So what are your thoughts, experiences, and observations? Oh, and if ever you say to me that your organization uses the continuum as its policy framework or methodology, chances are I will ask you to consider the above. For me, clearly, the continuum in a policy or strategy document will not necessarily give me confidence that it is being used well or consistently. But it can useful, and those who generated it have given us something useful.

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Top 5 Things to Do in Ottawa

BY: Natasha Pei

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IAP2

IAP2

IAP2

As I look out my snow-covered windows and get ready to brave the record-breaking cold, I console myself by remembering that Spring is just around the corner. May is a beautiful time of year in Ottawa. The city comes alive with a mixture of nature, city, and welcoming residents. It is one of Canada’s most active cities, and is host to a wide variety of shopping, dining, drinking, and entertainment. When I originally moved here from the GTA, I didn’t know anyone in the city and was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of residents who are always making newcomers feel welcome and included.

As I and my Vibrant Communities teammates prepare to host the Poverty Reduction Summit in Ottawa, I am eager to share my enthusiasm for the city I call home. The weather should be a breezy, easy temperature, and I am looking forward to introducing the Poverty Summit attendees to the many beautiful and unique experiences that Ottawa has to offer. Here is my list of the top 5 things to do in Ottawa in May:

  1. Walk/bike/run/skate along the Canal - The Rideau Canal is 202km long and passes right through the city. In the winter it becomes the world’s longest outdoor skating rink, but in the summer is a beautiful route to get from downtown to Dow’s Lake in Little Italy, to Carleton University, and end at Mooney’s Bay Park where the Canal meets the Ottawa River and Hog’s Back Falls. At Dow’s Lake you can veer off down to Little Italy, the arboretum, or to the Dow’s Lake Pavilion to rent paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks (pending water levels). Further towards downtown you will pass the new Lansdowne stadium and shopping village, University of Ottawa, and finally end up beside Parliament Hill and the Byward Market.

  1. Visit Canada’s Tulip Festival - This beautiful festival runs May 8th -18th this year, so there will most likely be some freshly planted tulips along the Canal, just opening up. The bright colours light up the environment, and extend from Commissioner’s Park all the way along the canal to Parliament Hill and into Gatineau, Quebec, making the walk an even more pleasant journey.

  1. Take a Stroll and Dine in Little Italy. We will bring everyone to Little Italy’s Saint Anthony’s Banquet Hall on the first night of the Poverty Summit, and I’d encourage everyone to either take a stroll along Preston Street to digest all of the food, or come back one night for dinner at one of the local restaurants. Ottawa has an abundance of small bistros that take popularity over large chains. Preston Street is home to a good range of authentic Italian, Turkish, Korean, Indian, and Thai, as well as a couple pubs and bar/lounges. Some of my favourite spots include La Roma, Giovanni’s, and The Green Papaya. If you’re in the mood for a couple of drinks, the Heart & Crown has live music Thursday to Saturday, Pub Italia has a bible of over 200 beers, and Salt offers a refined social lounge with great cocktails.

  1. Shop Downtown - Sparks walking street mall, the Byward Market, and the Rideau Centre are top of the list for shopping in Ottawa. Sparks Street is one block south of Parliament hill and is great for souvenirs. The Rideau Centre (one block east of Sparks St.) is Ottawa’s premier shopping centre with local and international brands like COACH, Club Monaco, Forever 21, Lacoste, and more. To the north of the Rideau Centre is the Byward Market (north of the Rideau Centre) which spans approximately 4 blocks and features 109 restaurants, plus boutiques, nightlife, art galleries, bakeries, house and home shops, and beauty salons. Try a homemade bagel sandwich at Continental Bagel Co., fresh chocolate at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, sterling silver jewelry and semi-precious stones at Masala, dessert at Oh So Good, any of the farmer market stalls, or Ottawa’s oldest bar, the Lafayette, which predates Parliament Hill to 1849. Are you looking for something healthy, organic and local? Herb n Spice is a 15-minute walk from the Delta Hotel. They are stocked with locally grown, organic fresh fruits and vegetables. They also have foods and baked goods suited for special diets (vegan, gluten-free, raw, etc.), and natural and organic health and beauty products across the street. Along the way down Bank St. you’ll also find lots of neat hobby stores and a couple of cool pubs!

  1. Visit the Canadian Museum of History in Hull, Quebec - Of all the museums I’ve been to in Ottawa, the Museum of History (previously known as the Museum of Civilization) is the one I enjoy the most. It’s interactive, diverse in exhibits, close to downtown, and hosts beautiful views of Parliament. In fact, my recommendation would be to do the 10-20 minute walk from downtown, over the Champlain Bridge and Ottawa River, from Ottawa’s Byward Market to Hull, QB. Along the way, stop and look back towards Ontario. This is how Parliament was meant to be seen - from the back! There is also a nice view of Parliament from the Museum of History’s backyard when you stop in the cafeteria for lunch. Take in an IMAX movie at the museum in the evening, and for the adventurous, public transit is available back to Ottawa downtown (available both ways).

What are your favourite things to do in your city? What have you discovered are the best ways to make a new city your home? I am doing a "shout-out" to my fellow Ottawa residents to add your recommendations for getting the most out of our capital city to my blog post!

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The Latest from the Field

www.tamarackcci.cawww.seekingcommunity.cawww.vibrantcanada.ca

Liveability - For Whom? - VC Thought Leader Sherri Torjman writes that Canadian cities often receive high marks for liveability, but that measurement of vital social issues are often missed in these assessments.

Ontario needs evidence-based social assistance rates - How are Ontario's social assistance rates currently set? What evidence is used to determine if the monthly benefit is actually enough to cover one's basic needs for shelter and food? In this blog, Lori Kleinsmith suggests that establishing of a rates board is long overdue.

Social Infrastructure - In this blog, DC Thought Leader Milton Friesen suggests to municipal leaders that the future success of cities depends as much on the strength of their social infrastructure - the patterns of our relationships with each other as individuals and groups - as it will on their cities physical infrastructure of roads, sidewalks and sewers.

Baltimore Neighbourhoods Improve Opportunities for Babies - Sylvia Cheuy profiled the positive progress being made in two Baltimore neighbourhoods. In 6 years, the B’More for Healthy Babies collaborative project has decreased: infant mortality by 24%; teen pregnancy by 32%; incidence of low-birth weight by 10% and racial disparity between white and black infants by 40%.

Critical Friendships, Reflective Practice, Words and Glue - In this blog, Elayne Greeley wrote about a team of colleagues who help support her own reflective practice and shared highlights and graphics that synthesize some of the topic she has recently explored.

Beyond the Comfort of What We Think We Know - In this blog, Tom Klaus explores the downside of our collective reliance on "best practice" and "evidence-based" suggesting that it is limiting our creativity and the courage we need to innovate.

Upcoming Events

FACE-TO-FACE EVENTS

Deepening Community for a Collective Impact 

February and March, 2015
Australia and New Zealand

Learn how to engage your community and build a common agenda for large scale change in this one-day workshop with Paul Born.

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Champions for Change: Leading a Backbone Organization for Collective Impact

March 24-26, 2015 in Washington, DC EVENT IS FULL
April 15-17, 2015 in Calgary, AB

Join together with the Tamarack Institute, the Collective Impact Forum, and Backbone organizations from across North America and internationally, to enhance your work in leading for Collective Impact.

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Poverty Reduction Summit

May 6-8, 2015
Ottawa, ON

An unprecedented gathering that will bring together senior leaders from across the country and beyond to align their efforts and merge their passion for poverty reduction.

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Neighbours: Policies and Programs 2015

June 8-10, 2015
Hamilton, ON

Community-based organizations play an important, catalytic role in making positive community change possible. Join us in Hamilton from June 8th - 10th, 2015 as we think and act together and advance the discipline of neighbourhood-building that is at the centre of this desired shift in our collective thinking.

Neighbours:

 WEBINARS

Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation

March 5, 2015
9am PST | 12pm EST

Join Tamarack Thought Leader Al Etmanski on Thursday March 5, 2015 for an exclusive, pre-launch webinar and first public discussion of the ideas explored in his soon-to-be-released book, Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation.

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About Engage!

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