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Vancouver Connects and Engages



Something is in the air in my home town. Posters on bulletin boards everywhere including my favourite bagel shop. Daily op-ed features in the Vancouver Sun. An ambitious, week-long "public square" celebration and dialogue beginning September 18th, hosted by Simon Fraser University, on the glue that binds us together as community; our connections with each other and our engagement in community.

It began when "belonging" became the theme of the Vancouver Foundation's most recent Vital Signs report. Here's a quote from that report: "A strong sense of belonging — really feeling that there is a place for us in our community — and a bond of trust with our neighbours have the greatest influence on how we rate the quality of our life."

Thus began an unprecedented initiative by Canada's top community foundation. They  issued a Vancouver-wide survey on connections and engagement.  Then they began releasing a series of mini-reports digging deeper into the results of their larger survey. Some of these topics include: The Benefits of Neighbourliness; The Consequences of Loneliness; What We Feel When We Have Nothing to Offer.

Now they have teamed up with Simon Fraser University's Public Square team led by Shauna Sylvester to host Alone Together - Connecting in the City  a week-long summit of conversations, film festival, open space, lunch poetry, cabaret, story telling and a few surprises.

Here are a few of the featured discussions during the week:

Our Voices: Youth Building A Connected City: Designed for youth, by youth, to explore issues related to isolation and disconnection while helping develop solutions at this interactive daylong conference.

Creating A Connected City: The Role of Business
: Metro Vancouver's business leaders discuss the role that the business community plays in building urban connections.

Mayors' Roundtable: This facilitated dialogue will discuss municipal strategies for various issues related to urban isolation with a focus on building more vibrant and resilient communities.

And to nourish our hearts and minds the Vancouver Sun has been publishing op-ed features  for several weeks.

Here's a recent one by my pal David Eaves: Is the Internet Bringing Us Together or is it Tearing us Apart?

And another by Bing Thom one of Canada's most celebrated architects: Use Design to End Isolation in Vertical Suburbs.

I'm delighted have been asked to tell a story Friday evening September 21st at Rain City Chronicles – Extra Ordinary  advertised as an "evening of storytelling and music, featuring extra – ordinary community folks sharing personal reflections on how they have brought their neighborhoods and communities together." Tickets are $15 and are available at this link.

Here is the link to the full program.

I'll keep you posted on future web links and videos.

The wisdom and leadership of Faye Wightman and her talented team is breath-taking. May those of you who care about these challenges elsewhere be equally blest.

Related Posts:

Stand By Me

Vital Signs in Our Social Garden

Belonging a 21st Century Challenge

This blog was originally posted to Al Etmanki's blog-roll, and appears here with permission.


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Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur and author. He is a founding partner of Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and BC Partners for Social Impact. Previously he co-founded Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) with his wife Vickie Cammack and Jack Collins. Al is an Ashoka fellow, and a faculty member of John McKnight’s Asset Based Community Development Institute (ABCD). He once played air guitar with Randy Bachman of BTO (Bachman-Turner-Overdrive) in a rock video which convinced him to stick with his day job.

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