Special June Newsletter: Montreal’s neighbourhood roundtables

Posted on:

Click here to view our June newsletter:

  • Montreal’s neighbourhood roundtables: A unique model of inclusion and engagement
  • Collective Impact Project Awarded!
  • Be part of LEDlab’s 2017/18 internship program! Deadline: June 13, 2017
  • 17th IOPD conference - Montréal, QC. June 16-19, 2017
  • Cities of the Future: Co-creating Tomorrow - Vancouver, BC. Sept 25-29, 2017


May 2017 News!

Posted on:

Missed our May newsletter? Get it here.

  • What if we thought of the City as a Commons?
  • Neighbourhoods ♥ The Heart of Community
  • Jane’s Walks are coming to your city: May 5 to 7
  • The future of local communities
  • Here to Stay: Housing Solutions and Youth
  • Webinar: Piloting Basic Income in the Barcelona
  • Why would a foundation support a group of Quebecers to spend three days in Boston?


March 2017 Newsletter

Posted on:

Read our March newsletter:

  • City as Commons discussion series: Join us this spring!
  • Cities Reducing Poverty: When Business is Engaged
  • Youthful Cities + 30Network Vancouver: Housing & Affordability think & do tank
  • Get out and walk! Join the global Jane’s Walks festival May 5-7
  • International « Le Monde » Smart Cities Innovation Awards 2017
  • Save the date: Deepening Community conference, June 6-8
  • Raising Places: Building Child-Centered Communities

Click here for our newsletter archives.

Placemaking Leadership Forum LIVESTREAM

Posted on:

From September 15-17, 2016, watch a LIVESTREAM of the Placemaking Leadership Forum, taking place in Vancouver, organized by New York City-based Project for Public Spaces.

This is a hugely important gathering of practitioners around the world to chart the futures of placemaking - as we look ahead to global gatherings around cities and sustainable development, including Habitat III in Quito, and the 22nd annual Conference of the Parties in Marrakech.

As founder Fred Kent put it, this is not a conference - this is a campaign to broaden our conceptions of public space planning to include the myriad ways in which we interact with the city - what we give, and what we get back from the places that constitute our cities. We have to think beyond the individual elements of what is traditionally known as public space - benches, fountains, signs - and move onto a feeling: how do we want to be in a place? How does place affect our mood? How does it shape our interactions with others, our broader connection to our city?

We will be sharing short blogposts with our thoughts, ideas, and questions around some of the themes that are discussed during the Forum - stay stuned!

August 2016 newsletter

Posted on:

Read our August newsletter:

  • Announcing new Cities for People grantees
  • Evergreen Senior Fellow announcement
  • New Cities Summit highlights
  • Register for Placemaking Leadership Forum Sep 14-16
  • Placemaking Canada Survey and Event Sep 17
  • Tamarack Community Change Institute Sep 26-30

Click here for our newsletter archives.

Posted in News | Comments Off on August 2016 newsletter

Reimagining the Cities of Tomorrow

Posted on:

Thanks to Social Connectedness for sharing the progress we made in Cities for People 1.0, and what our focus areas are - social inclusion being at the forefront - looking ahead!

Here's an excerpt:

According to a United Nations report, over half the world’s population live in cities. In Canada, close to 80% of Canadians live in urban areas. As cities become denser, an important question arises:  How we can make our urban spaces more livable, joyous and socially connected? Currently a pan-Canadian initiative is looking at ways to build more inclusive, innovative and resilient cities.

Cities for People is a collaborative initiative that aims to find diverse solutions to create more liveable cities. With a team of curators across Canada, Cities for People focused on innovative projects that explore four main themes during its experimental phase between January 2014 and June 2015. These pillars were art and society, new economies, cityscapes and citizen spaces. At the heart of each of these themes was social inclusion.

Jayne Engle is the National Curator for Cities for People. Engle emphasizes the importance of social inclusion,explaining that it stands as a core value in each of the organization’s activities. “It’s our feeling very much, that people living in poverty or situations of exclusion are best placed to lead the way in developing solutions. To bridge social divides, our experience tells us collaboration and working in solidarity are essential,” she says.

Cities for People originally planned on having social inclusion as a separate theme, but the team decided to integrate it as an essential element of each pillar in the experimental phase. Moving forward into Cities for People 2.0, social inclusion is deliberately highlighted. “The overarching values of inclusion, innovation and resilience are not underlying but front and centre at the same time,” Engle says about the initiative’s next steps.

Full article here.

Image from le Salon 1861.

Announcing the Civic Innovation Award winners!

Posted on:

Winning projects showcase the high potential of city-university collaborations

We're excited to announce the winning projects of the inaugural Civic Innovation Awards program. Seven projects from across Canada have been awarded grants of $10K to $30K to showcase innovative collaborations between cities and post-secondary institutions. The awards program, launched last fall as part of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation's RECODE and Cities for People initiatives, attracted 150 applicants.


"The projects selected show real potential to bring about positive change," said Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of the McConnell Foundation. "We're delighted with the strength of the applications overall, and very hopeful that collaborations between cities, post-secondary institutions and other civic organizations are going to keep growing in impact and scale."

Jurors were looking for projects that were highly innovative, and defined innovation to mean any "initiative, product, process or program that profoundly changes the basic routines, resource and authority flows or beliefs of any social system." The prize winners are:

Grand Prize Winner ($30K):

Northern Innovation Hub | Iqaluit, Nunavut

Second Prize Winners ($20K):

Local Economic Development Lab | Vancouver, British Columbia
MR-63 | Montreal, Quebec
Vivacity | Calgary, Alberta

Third Prize Winners ($10K):

Civic Accelerator | Guelph, Ontario
Community BUILD | York Region, Ontario
Building a Virtual Knowledge Commons for Pop-up Shops | Toronto, Ontario

Click here to read full descriptions of the winning projects.

Click here for the press release.

New RECODE-Cities for People Civic Innovation Award to grant up to $50,000 to innovative collaborations

Posted on:

Cities offer the scale needed for transformative change — large enough to matter, but small enough to manage. Universities and colleges are also civic actors in their own right. They are “cities within cities,” where the principles of pluralism create communities of diversity, open to the world. The relationship between post-secondary institutions and cities can serve as an engine of social and environmental sustainability.As part of its pursuit of a more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient society, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation has created RECODE, an initiative dedicated to catalyzing social innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education; and Cities for People, which contributes to more resilient, livable and inclusive cities.

RECODE award_with logos

The RECODE / Cities for People Civic Innovation Awards program provides grants to initiatives that position post-secondary institutions as civic actors catalyzing positive change in cities. These grants will support innovative collaborations between post-secondary institutions and community organizations or businesses that strengthen their communities.

This is a call for initiatives, products, processes, or programs that contribute to the knowledge and resources in our post-secondary campuses, community organizations, businesses and local governments. We are looking to challenge and evolve the defining routines, resources, and authority flows in our cities for the greater good.

Up to $100,000 will be awarded in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to exemplary initiatives that meet the criteria outlined in either of the two relevant themes.

There are two themes for the Civic Innovation Awards:

Theme 1. Innovative Citizenship and Service: Enhancing capacity to engage and take action on community and city issues.

 Examples include:

  • Partnerships between post-secondary institutions and municipal governments or agencies that improve civic engagement.
  • Initiatives that support civic action by students.
  • Multisectoral collaborations that apply our collective capacity (or civic intelligence - see lexicon) to improve social and economic outcomes for marginalized populations.

Theme 2. Enhancing the Civic Commons: Re-purposing our shared city assets through innovative approaches to increase the social, cultural, economic or educational value of the civic commons.

 Examples include:

  • Initiatives that re-design and re-purpose buildings, grounds and other assets in service to the community.
  • Participatory planning and budgeting initiatives that involves municipalities, post-secondary institutions and public input.
  • Technological innovations to make for a more engaging and connected civic commons.

Full information packet: C4P/RECODE Award_EN

Click here to apply

Report: Local Governments and the Sharing Economy

Posted on:

How do local governments strategically engage with the Sharing Economy to foster more sustainable cities?

While sharing has always been part of city life, there is an acceleration in the past few years of Sharing Economy activities from bike sharing to short-term rental accommodation to neighbourhood swaps to ride-sharing.  Some activities are disrupting industry sectors including taxis and hotels and posing challenges for policymakers as to how to respond.

There are city governments that are leading the way:

  • In Montréal, Québec - Société de Transport de Montréal is creating an integrated mobility approach that combines public transit buses and metro with taxis, ride sharing, bike sharing, car sharing, car pooling and rail,
  • Austin, Texas requires all short-term rental accommodation operators (including with Airbnb) to purchase licenses and remit a hotel occupancy tax to the city from clients,
  • Vancouver, British Columbia is developing an integrated strategy for engaging with the Sharing Economy building on its past efforts - supporting car-sharing, grants for Sharing research and startups, and providing space for sharing in parks, community centres and public lands,
  • Hennepin County,Minnesota coordinates fix-it clinics that reduce waste and build social connection through repairing goods, and
  • The Cities of Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga, York Region and the Region of Peel, Ontario are supporting business-to-business sharing through Partners in Project Green Materials Exchange Network.

The Local Governments and the Sharing Economy roadmap explores other possible roles for municipalities and provides examples from North America and around the world. It describes a sustainability filter which the authors use to analyze shared mobility, spaces, and goods and community sharing, and to take a lighter look at shared food and energy.

This roadmap was developed and written by One Earth supported by a grant from The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation as part of the Cities for People initiative. The One Earth team is grateful to the expert advisors and the advisory committee of eight Canadian and US member cities of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network.

There are three key messages in the roadmap:

  1. The Sharing Economy is not inherently sustainable but cities can help to make it more so.
  2. Community sharing is a promising area where local governments can play proactive, enabling roles.
  3. Addressing data gaps is critical for understanding sustainability impacts on cities.

Below is an excerpt from the roadmap.

Download the summary (36 pages in English and French) and the full report (216 pages in English): LocalGovSharingEcon.com

Excerpt: Pages 9 - 10 of the Local Governments and Sharing Economy Roadmap:

Not unlike the printing press and the Internet, the Sharing Economy promises to evoke profound cultural and economic shifts. It spreads across almost every sector of the economy, challenging many traditional business and organizational models. It involves people from all walks of life, and is giving rise to powerful new lobby groups who may or may not align with sustainable city priorities. Which Sharing Economy actors and activities are advancing the public good and sustainability is a critical question.

By creating a definition of the Sharing Economy that includes five categories of actors, we explore the digitally enabled, for-profit companies and start-ups that are dominant in the mainstream media. But we also look beyond these actors as there is a lot more to the Sharing Economy than Airbnb and Uber and new, for-profit ventures. There are also non-profit, social enterprise / cooperative, community sharing innovators, and public sector entities that are part of the Sharing Economy.

Sharing Economy activities do not automatically advance urban sustainability. This roadmap analyzes which Sharing Economy activities advance living within ecological means first and then considers other sustainability dimensions – resilience, natural systems, equity, prosperous local economies and quality of life.

Local governments should care about the Sharing Economy because it could...

  • Reduce ecological footprints of city inhabitants and wasteful practices
  • Save local government money
  • Create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Advance social connectivity and ‘social capital’
  • Spur social innovation
  • Lower the cost of education, collaboration, and research, and
  • Reduce our need to acquire material things to earn status or social distinction

But without thoughtful checks, it could also....

  • Appear to reduce overall consumption while simply shifting it from one sector or activity to another
  • Increase ecological and carbon footprints by growing the volume of vehicle traffic, travel, and consumer demand
  • Erode the tax base as more economic transactions take place outside of spheres subject to accountability
  • Negatively impact people not directly involved in Sharing Economy exchanges
  • Push local wages and benefits down
  • Erode the supply of affordable rental housing
  • Exacerbate inequality as status is redefined by access to resources rather than ownership

This roadmap serves to support local governments in making strategic decisions that support those activities of the Sharing Economy that create better cities and that foster human and ecological wellbeing.

Read more: http://www.localgovsharingecon.com/

Find out about the February 2014 April Rinne Collaborative Economy Tour of Canada hosted by Social Innovation Generation and Cities for People: