Cities in the Time of COVID-19: How Can We Build Community Wealth as Our Economies Recover?

Featuring Zita Cobb, Founder & CEO, Shorefast Foundation; Ted Howard, President & Co-Founder, The Democracy Collaborative; Colette Murphy, Executive Director, Atkinson Foundation; and Rosemarie Powell, Executive Director, Toronto Community Benefits Network

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Bounce back or bounce forward?

Community wealth advocates are counting on the current crises to be a catalyst for a transition to a more equitable economy. There is an opportunity to not just return to business as usual, but create a “new normal,” when the current economic development paradigm is supplanted. We’ve seen this play out before, in the 30s and the 80’s – where “vulture capital” comes in and buys-up the local economy at rock-bottom prices and re-concentrates the wealth into the hands of fewer and fewer. That’s something we surely want to avoid. “If we miss this opportunity, shame on all of us.”

2. The chickens are plotting

One of the panelists likened the collective awakening to the possibilities of community-centric wealth-building, to the movie Chicken Run – where the humans noticed that the chickens were beginning to organize. Economic activity used to be the life-source of a community, but today “on a good day, it’s agnostic, and on a bad day its downright hostile.”  A truly localized economy will “take care of every person, one at a time.” But first, we must ensure that any recovery funds do not become “bailouts,” but rather taxpayer investments with the community receiving an equity stake, to ensure a lasting legacy.

3. Show me the money

The number one issue identified by all the panelists, was access to financial capital.  “There is some algorithm somewhere in Toronto that decides who gets a loan”. In other words, lending decisions are not conducted by sentient beings, and they certainly don’t consider the community in which the money is needed. “We don’t have our hands on the economic levers, we don’t follow where and how the money circulates, and we generally do not collaborate well.” There are different types and sources of money – not all of it comes from Wall Street. Public banks, which are gaining traction, capture and keep the money in community.

4. A hand-up, not a handout

A great social experiment is underway, with the creation of Community Benefit Agreements, and equity-seeking neighbourhood groups across the country are watching closely. Partnerships with major infrastructure projects and big development aim to harness the influx of capital by “multi-solving” previously intractable issues of poverty, disadvantage and marginalization. CBAs ensure commitment to local hiring in construction and operation, thoughtful amenities and social procurement.  We need to stop “socializing the risks and privatizing the returns.”

5. Bring the money home.

The evidence is in: employee-owned companies “across the board” are generally better than investor owned companies on all kinds of metrics – wages are better, jobs are more fulfilling, productivity is up and layoffs are lower during times of crisis. Canada has some of the largest pension funds on the planet but they invest overseas, chasing high returns. Redirecting the investment’s focus back into communities allows “money to flow from big pockets to small pockets” and locals can return to owning the businesses they labour for.

Additional Reading
& Resources

Democracy Collaborative presentations can be found here and here

The Third Pillar, Raghuram Rajan. Penguin Radom House

Parkdale People’s Economy

Doughnut Economics, Kate Raworth

Full Panel

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.From Caroline Swan to All Panelists: 12:02 PM

Mary Rowe Good afternoon, everybody, it’s Mary Roe from CUI. Welcome back to City Talk, a series of candid conversations on what’s working, what’s not and what’s next.

Mary Rowe[00:03:40] So the focus today is on community wealth. And I guess another way to ask that is can what we’re going through catalyze a more equitable community economy? And these four that we’ve asked to come on are all in the trenches on this, thinking about this all the time. And so we’re very pleased to have them take an hour to share with us what they’re seeing and what their thoughts are. One of the other caveats I always offer is that people are here as individuals. They may work for public sector entities. They may have clients, or they may have employers that for whom they have institutional responsibility. But they’re really here as individuals offering for us their insights and for us to have a candid conversation about what people are seeing. As you can see, we’re recording this and previous sessions that we’ve been having the city talk her already posted. And this one will be, too. So you can come back and visit it and you can go back and see that comment that you missed. You can hear them say it again. So thanks for joining us, gang. Really glad to have you. We’ve got Ted Howard from Cleveland, the Democracy Collaborative, Colette MuRosemarie Powellhy from the Atkinson Foundation. Zita Cobb from Shaw Fast. And Rosemarie Powell from Toronto’s Community Benefits Network. Really happy to have you. Gang, this is really a chance for you to have conversations with each other. And I just _, I’ll try to make sure there isn’t a bun fight. But, _, if there is a bun fight, there is never a bad time for a good bun fight. So  at it. But I’m going to start with you, Ted, because you’re our visitor. Always happy to have a perspective from an American. You’re in Cleveland at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. And I’m from London, Ontario. So I know Cleveland. Anybody from southwestern Ontario has a soft spot for Cleveland. And Ted,  we know that you’ve been you’ve been on this track for a while thinking about how do we build economies for people. And so I’d be interested if we can just have a couple of minutes from you. And I’m going to go around the room and here a couple minutes from everybody about your initial observations and what you’re seeing.

Ted Howard [00:05:44] Great. Thank you very much, Mary. Hi, everybody. As Mary said, I’m from Cleveland, Ohio, I’m in my apartment building. I’m looking north. I see Lake Erie.  So we’re on the southern shores of Lake Erie. Can’t quite see Canada, but I know you’re out there. So I thought Mary’s initial question was really quite provocative. [00:06:04]Can this current crisis catalyze a more equitable economy? And I believe the answer is yes, absolutely. If we exert the power we have as historic actors to make that happen. In my view, the status [17.3s] quo that we’ve known over the last 10, 20, 30 years, that status quo is gone. So it is not simply a question of getting back to the status quo. It’s what fork in the road. Are we going to take one fork? And we can see it clearly here in the United States already. Is that as our local economies are being decimated in the United States, for instance. There are projections that 60 percent of all SME’s (small medium sized enteRosemarie Powellrises) will be running out of cash in the next three months unless something dramatic is done.  And that means there’s an opportunity and the negative road that if you want to be rhetorical about it. [00:07:04]Vulture capital will come in and buy the local economy and concentrate it in a way it’s never been concentrated. On the other [7.7s] hand, in this world turned upside down, community wealth building represents the fork in the road that can really lead to an advance or a way forward, [00:07:22]a more democratic economy, more institutions and structures that are broadly held, broadly owned and locally rooted. [6.8s] In order to do that though, community wealth building. And this is a movement I’ve worked in now for fifteen years or so. The collaborative, my organization is 20 years old. In my view, in order to seize the opportunity to rebuild our local economies in an inclusive, democratic form that has broad local based ownership and so forth, we need to move community wealth building from a kind of the fringes of local experimentation and interesting individual models. And we need to really build a movement so that this frame of economic development that is very different then than subsidies to large coRosemarie Powellorations and trickle down and so forth, that the community wealth frame becomes the accepted norm for local economic development, reconstruction and recovery. So it’s not simply model building. It’s the question before us. [00:08:29] The historic question is can we supplant the current economic development paradigm? And [4.9s] I believe that’s the case. One of the great leverage opportunities certainly here in the United States is that huge resources are being appropriated by our federal government in the US through quantitative easing. You’ve probably seen two trillion dollars for the recovery – we’re talking about another two trillion dollars or more. And a lot of this money, of course, is going to flow to big coRosemarie Powellorations, but a lot is going to come down to municipalities and local authorities. That money, along with existing resources locally, they’re going to be used for local business support services and all that. There needs to be a serious political engagement and even struggle over how are these resources going to be appropriated in the coming years. [00:09:21]Business is a long term rebuilding of the economy and we need to capture that money and not let it evaporate into the hands of concentrated coRosemarie Powellorate wealth. [10.7s] Finally, that collaborative we when we start articulating the community wealth frame, from 15 years ago, we identified eight principles of community wealth building. And perhaps on this call we can discuss some of that. But _, one of them is a labour matters more than capital. So the capital is important, but the interests of working people and decent labour and work is very important. So as we recover our economies, we need to use the principles of community wealth building to preserve jobs. Resist calls for cuts to public sector employment and so forth and bring people back to regularized full employment, hopefully where they have an ownership stake in that job. Rather than expand the gig economy, precarious work even further. And there are many other such examples. The final thing I’d say, Mary, is for those of you who have interest in next week to democracy, collaborators and partners in the [00:10:34]United Kingdom called the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, is issuing a new paper called Owning the Future after Corona Virus. A new era of community wealth building [11.8s] that paper will be up on our democracy collaborative board Web site in about a week, maybe 10 days. You’re encouraged to download that. The specifics of  strategies for building community wealth in this new economic phase where it’s great.

Mary Rowe [00:11:04] And Ted, thanks. Before I go to the next person, a couple of just logistics sort of mechanics here. First, I should have mentioned to folks, if you want a volunteer, try and help us populate these sites. We need volunteers. Please e-mail us a we’d be delighted. We need more city watchers, more city shares. We already have hundreds. We need more. So please, if you’ve got bandwidths to give us an hour a day, it’d be great. Second thing is on the chat, I misspoke.  You need to toggle your switch to all panelists and attendees because otherwise only the panelists get to see your brilliant things here. And it’d be great if you could switch to including everybody so everybody can see what you’re asking and promoting. Third thing, Ted started the trend and it’s happened before on a previous one as well. When people when our panelists start to refer to reports or board reports or things we should read out, we will post those. So we’ll get them. You can repeat them panelists as you need to, but we’ll post them so people can find resources like that. Ted, you got us off to a great start. Thanks. Let’s go to Colette in Toronto at the Atkinson Foundation.

Colette Murphy [00:12:08] Thanks, Mary. Really great to be here with everyone and see some familiar fMaces and names in the chat boxes. Mary, in the first month of the crisis, we’ve been seeing organizers in low income communities do what they do best. Amplify the voices of people who are most affected by this crisis and keeping them connected to each other. And I want to go right down to a granular level to paint a picture. So take Parkdale, one of the last remaining affordable neighbourhoods in downtown Toronto, most in South Parkdale are renters. Thirty five percent live in poverty. Main Street is home to many small businesses. The community is anchored at both ends by large health care facilities. Parkdale has been through a lot and I’m going to give this context for those who are not from the city, from the building of the Gardiner Expressway in the 1960s to de institutionalization in the 70s. Enormous gentrification pressures in the 2000s. This has created a high degree of resiliency and social capital. This neighbourhood, a suRosemarie Powellrisingly vibrant in good times and in bad and how residents look out for each other and share resources is really remarkable. In recent years, community wealth building activities have been a high priority for organizers in the Recreation Centres. They work with residents, community agencies and small businesses through the Parkdale People’s Economy. They have this exciting vision that Ted was starting to paint for economic development of their  community that centred on well-being, in contrast to the increasing displacement pressures from the rise of coRosemarie Powellorate landowners, escalating rent, poor work conditions and other challenges. Over eight hundred residents have been involved in this effort in recent years. Historically and persistently excluded residents have been at the centre. They’re focused on building collective power to influence decisions of all kinds, from the creation of community land trusts to affordable housing from existing and new stock. So when Covid, 19, arrived, organizers Mercedes ShaRosemarie Powelle- Zayas and Anna Teresa Cortia were able to pivot to emergency response activities. They have put sufficient community knowledge networks and trust to really move very quickly. Along with many others, they created the Parkdale Mutual Aid Network. Right. Right smack in early March. It’s a network of neighbourhood pods organized block by block neighbours to check in on neighbours pooling resources to help each other, providing food hampers, giving small sums of money and fighting evictions, as well as reducing isolation and mental health. These digital tools like WhatsApp and phone trees to stay connected while organizers have put down some of their community wealth building tools to attend to more immediate needs, their vision and core values, I think remain very strong and the tools that muscles that have been developed will be used in the social and economic renewal process after the pandemic and maybe just two other quick observations, the crisis has reminded us at the foundation that strong relationships are the most important asset of all, the key to community resilience. And they can make a community wealthy even when resources are scarce. And we see this kind of social solidarity and other neighbourhoods and cities across the country in crisis.  And a question in hot pursuit, following Ted from earlier is how do we build to cultivate this kind of organizing culture in more places during the pandemic so that we can transition to a different type of economy when we’re through this?

Mary Rowe [00:16:05] Thanks Colette . Cultivating and organizing structures, interesting. So the Parkdale Peoples Economy and the various examples that Colette is referring to are up on city share You can search for them. Parkdale was early with this kind of social networking and caremongering system and there are others across the country.  There are similar kinds of initiatives in Edmonton neighbourhoods, in Vancouver neighbourhoods. I’m sure there are Cleveland and. But thank you for taking us right down to the granular.  So let’s go now to Rosemarie to talk, because she just gave you the lead in there about committee organizing. Rosemarie, so over to you to talk a little bit about what you’ve been seeing, observing, and then we’ll finish up with Zita and then we’ll have the open call. Go ahead, Rosemarie.

Rosemarie Powell [00:16:44] Thanks. Well, Toronto has been a thriving city before Covid  a lot of it fueled by infrastructure and urban development projects where the government of Canada, the province, the local municipality, has been investing billions and billions of one hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure. And, _, this fight that we’ve continued to see, rising inequality and a real distancing of, _, people based on their, situations that they can’t control. So, _, based on race, based on neighbourhood that they live in, based on, length of time in Canada, all sorts of issues that local communities have been dealing with for many, many years now. Covid has just basic come and put a monkey wrench in all of this. So the same kinds of issues and inequalities that we were seeing at the time during the time when Toronto was thriving. We’re seeing this, _, it  has just blown up during this crisis on the ground. We are seeing that for us. We’ve basically we’ve built we’ve built an organization, the [00:18:10]Toronto Community Benefits Network, which has really catalyzed work that had been happening for many, many years in the city and across Canada for a community benefits. You know, looking at whenever there’s a major infrastructure project is built, how do we make sure that we address the issues of inequality in our local communities and, _, creating jobs and opportunities from those projects? And so, _, we’ve been making some inroads since the last five years that we’ve started developed a number of five community benefits agreements. You know, here in Toronto, _, seeing the movement expand across [40.7s] Canada. And so we have some projects and we had some outcomes that that we were, _, finally starting to see from these projects. And basically now people are actually seeing that those opportunities that they had have been totally decimated. So people are no longer, _, working. And we know that whenever there is a major, _, problem like a recession or, _, a pandemic like this, people from underrepresented communities often end up being the last to be rehired. And during the situation, they’re the ones who are experiencing the biggest pain from this underrepresented groups. We’ve seen so, _, historically disadvantaged communities, they are the same people who are now being considered as the heroes during this pandemic. Right. So they’re the ones who were working the minimum wage jobs. You know, where, _, as grocery store workers, _, Uber drivers, that, _, retail workers, personal support workers, health care workers, really people who have been basically the first line of risk for responders and but who at the same time we’re making, _, really low wage and working in precarious jobs. Now, they don’t have the opportunity either during this crisis to be able to stay home into physical distance from others day. They’re essential workers. They got to get back out there and they have to work. And, _, they have to use the public transit. You know, they live in homes with large families. They don’t have two or three bathrooms where if somebody gets ill, they can actually, _, stay away from them and within the same household. You know, we’ve had the luxury as an organization to be able to retain all of our staff and to be able to move to a work at home situation. But yeah, not everybody actually has that.

And even for those who are able to do work at home, depending on, _, your situation, you might not be able to be able to connect, by Internet, to connect online, to be able to do this work or have the kind of home situation that would allow you to be able to, _, to be able to continue to participate in the economy. And you have additional responsibilities. You have responsibilities oftentimes for communities of colour. We have not just responsibilities here at home, but this is a worldwide pandemic. And so they have responsibilities back home in their countries of origin where they have to be looking out for grandparents or uncles or sisters who are left back and so  not being able to, _, to support, _, you just there is there is going to be a huge mental health crisis that is going to be coming out of this, by the time Covid is over –  on top of the economic that we’re seeing. [00:22:04]And, _, quite frankly, we know that infrastructure is going to drive the recovery. And so, the concept of community benefits that we have been, _, _, working towards building, I think is going to be, that a tool or process that is going to be able to –  if we’re able to double down on that going forward, we are going to be able to have a different kind of society when we get out of this.  But failing to do that and to be able to consider the benefits for community for people who have been underrepresented historically, disadvantaged and equity seeking groups. [3.3s] We are going to, _, to really run the risk, of a society that is not going to be tenable for most people to live in and what will happen.

Mary Rowe I want to come back to the whether or not community benefits agreements are the antidote to vulture capitalism that Ted mentioned that I’m going to go back to that.  But just for Ted’s benefit, just so _, Toronto was in was in the midst of a huge boom. More and more cranes in the sky than any I think I think they were saying more cranes in the sky than Beijing. Then they stop saying that. But because of Colette’s and Rosemarie’s advocacy, they were able to wrench in a lot of local jobs out of that. And we’re getting questions in the chat about, well, are those infrastructure projects going to go forward and how will they be approved and what is that going to look like, et cetera, et cetera. So  I’ll circle back on a number of things people are saying. But I just want to hear from you Zita in Shorefast.  I see on the chat we’ve got people watching from the Change Islands and parts of Newfoundland. So I know where the Canadian Urban Institute. But we talk all the time about place and the quality of place and believe strongly that place is a thing that matters to people. Whether you live in a community of twenty six hundred like Fogo Island or two and half million like Toronto. So give us perspective in terms of Shorefast,  and what you’ve been seeing and observing.

Zita Cobb [00:24:05] And for people who are not from the Change Islands, who might be listening in  Fogo Island which is where our projects are projected on the northeast coast, Newfoundland’s and listening to all of you speaking, it’s an interesting contrast between remote small community, island community and parkdale. I don’t think we could find within Canada to more different places. However, we’re actually struggling to do the same thing. I always loved that like Chicken Run. Remember the movie where the humans started to realize that the chickens were organizing? So, Mary, thank you for helping to organize. I think the fundamental question that you asked was how can we build community wealth as our economies recover? And so I come at this from a very different way [19.9s] because I come at it from a financial way of thinking about it. Well, first question is we all throw around the world community. And every time we say community, I feel people who may have come from the coRosemarie Powellorate world thinking, oh, how sweet. And so I think we have a lot of work to do us chickens, to help people understand what the heck we mean when we mean community and it’s not just tea on Thursdays. And I think the thing we’re trying to figure out how to do in our different ways and coming from different places of experience is [00:25:23]how do we make the economy community centric. We can’t take care of every person, one at a time. [6.7s] But communities can take care of people once you can divide the economy up.  So what we’re talking about, whether we’re talking about venture capitalism, vulture capitalism and the things Rosemarie is talking about is a whole bunch of economic activity goes on that on a good day is agnostic to community on a bad day. It’s actually downright hostile. So that needs to change. And we I think we’ve been trying to patch up the holes. [14.7s] And I really think this is not a pause. This is a reset if it depends on what we do. First off, first thing. What does wealth mean?  I want to leave that to a whole bunch people like starting with Maslow? Well, it has to do with well-being and all the ways we can define it. What is interesting, I [00:26:20]think two approaches is what are the  drivers of wealth and how we use those drivers in communities where there’s agency and community. [8.0s] So if we talk of I’m not on Fogo Island today because I got waylaid in Ottawa on my way home and now Air Canada doesn’t fly to Gander anymore. So  can’t even think about how to get home. But if you look at Fogo Island today and of course, I’m in touch all the time and I know some of my colleagues are on the call. We are a remote, small community of twenty five hundred people. Some of the concerns around being fed or being cared for – that community is intact has always been able to take care. we’re just organized that way. We are also on Fogo Island, probably the hotbed of community ownership because our economy, which is based on the fishery and tourism, all of the economic assets are actually owned by the community, the fishery is owned by a co-operative, and tourism that is owned by a charitable organization that of beneficial owners are a community.  So you would think that it’s all peaches and roses, wouldn’t you think?  Because we got the leavers – like I don’t have to deal with, _, a friggin developer that’s going to tear down something or throw people out of their homes. So we actually have our [00:27:38]hands on the levers, which really makes me think about what are the drivers of wealth. [3.5s] Number one is for us access to financial capital, because for all of you people that are in Toronto and maybe as in [7.5s] Cleveland, too, Ted, you can reach out, talk to people who have money. The more remote you are…. There’s some algorithm somewhere in Toronto that decides who gets a loan. Believe me, no one on Fogo Island decides these things. [5.5s] So for the smaller communities that are remote, but no matter where you are,  – you could be doing a deeply urban community project in Toronto. Still not have it. So that is big driver. [00:28:17]The other big driver, which I think is huge. And I, um, in different ways. I hear us all say the same thing. Our ability, at the community level, to conspire and to collaborate and to create, because we don’t have the architectures to work at the levers of the economy and we don’t collaborate well. And too often what happens is, _, we think that tensions make us incompatible. And I think it’s finding these right architectures. [23.0s] One of the things we’ve created I’m Fogo Island and it’s new. It’s probably the most important thing that we’re doing right now is we created what we call an economic development partnership, which brings together the [00:28:57]municipality. And, _, in Rajan’s book, _, he’s talking about the three pillars. It puts municipalities as a part of community, which they very much are not a part of government. Three other two pillars, government and business. And so this economic developed partnership brings together the two big economic actors on Fogo Island and the municipality together. [19.3s] First time we’ve done that in 400 years. And so that is such an essential thing. [00:29:23]And then the third one is our ability to measure flows.  You can look at all of the human systems, whether you’re talking about food or health or education and attached to every one of those systems  – and there are lot of systems thinkers, that design all kinds of systems that don’t put communities in the design at all. [00:29:41]But every one of those systems throws off economic activity and every one of those systems has a lot of levers that communities don’t have their hands on. And so understanding who’s got their hands on the levers, being able to measure that and measure every dollar that comes in and out of whether it’s Parkdale. [14.6s] And, _, we’re talking about community benefit agreements. We have to wrangle with big companies. And I hope Ted’s not right. And they’re gonna this is gonna be a moment where they get bigger and. Wrangle with them, if you were in our community, how are we going to expect and demand that you behave? And now let’s follow the money. That was too long.

Mary Rowe [00:30:18] But yeah, that’s fine. No, no, that’s good. Let’s open it up. Now, I just I’ll start by just talking about asking a question about the vulture capital looming risk and levers, I guess when I take the beginning in the end, the two that you just did, but that both of you just touched on. Do you think we can get access to these levers, you know? So Fogo Island is  twenty six hundred people. But in many ways, it’s a little microcosm of Parkdale. It’s not as diverse and has a whole bunch of different constraints, but it’s still local organizing and a local unit that you can kind of wrap your arms around. Ted, do you want to just come back in and just comment a bit more about how serious you think the vulture capital risk is?

Ted Howard [00:30:58] Well, I think it’s very I think it’s extremely it’s a serious, very serious risk. I mean, we’re thinking of this at the Collaborative, as _, the possibilities for the future, the good, the bad and the ugly.  The bad – it’s a kind of reversion to the way we’ve had the economy, but with absolutely more concentration, _, they’re gonna be so many things companies in this in the United States at least, that are really kind of on the chopping block. You know, that there’ve been now so devalued economically that you could come up with a lot of money and just come in and scoop them up

Mary Rowe Which was already happening in housing. You know, the financialization of housing was already happening.

Ted Howard So exactly the financialization, the whole economy could really go off on steroids so that you really have a local economy that’s dominated by, _, Wal-Marts and T.G.I. Fridays and Amazon. And I know it’s it may sound bizarre, but it absolutely could happen. The ugly is I mean, that’s the bad. The ugly is that the states could really step into a kind of state capitalism sort of situation that could become actually quite authoritarian. You only need to listen to our President’s daily two hour rants on television in the United States to see where certain forces are like to take this economy. I’m glad the term organizing has come up here because this is a major organizing challenge. We’ve got to organize in our communities again to get beyond nice one off project. We need sort of multi-racial and multi stakeholder collaboratives within our communities that can really push back across this trend and build out this positive future. I mean, we’ve got a lot of history and evidence on our side. Employee owned companies across the board are generally better than investor owned companies on all kinds of metrics, whether it’s the wages, the experience of the jobs, the productivity of the company, the fact they don’t lay off workers at nearly at the same level as investor owned companies during times of crisis. So we have the evidence we need to build the local politics around that. And if we don’t, I think [26.8s] this is the opportunity where at least in the United States and in places like the U.K., I can’t talk about Canada, where the acceleration of concentration in the economy in local communities could be absolutely extraordinary.

Zita Cobb And I just want to add to what you just said in the Canadian context. And I think this is an accurate number. Something like 70 percent of the SME –  small, medium sized enteRosemarie Powellrises in Canada, 7 0 percent are going to change hands in the next 10 years. And we know that demographic data. I can give an example from Fogo Island.  We have two or three businesses on the island that have been in an owner’s hands, local people’s hands for forever. And they need to know they’re at an age they want to sell. And we are struggling as a community to get access to financial capital, to enable other local players to buy those businesses.

[00:34:25] And that is a full time job in itself. And the alternative is not pretty. Because the alternatives are either that close, which is devastating to the community, because, goodness, we may have to go to Gander to  get mail. Or where you’re going with this is to say some, _, money that’s looking for return. And there’s an awful lot of money looking for a return. It would just be owned,  and we see this in our fishery with this concentration of fishing licenses, that that briefing is not attached to the community based fishery that we’ve come from. So problem. I think that’s threat number one.

Mary Rowe [00:35:03] So, _, we’re getting a lot of action on the chat box on this.  Then if we need access to said levers and if traditional capital tends to go in a different direction, what are the antidotes to that? So what are the tools that we can put in place? Community organizing is one. What else? Colette and Rosemarie, talk to us about, _, our ultimate finance systems. There are schemes where people are trying to get money in the hands of people to be able to own these businesses differently. Colette and Rosemarie, if you want to weigh in on that.

Colette Murphy Sure. OK. OK, so first, I mean, I think what’s so fascinating and being laid bare in this crisis is that we’re learning more about our local economies in very profound ways by, _, our main streets being shuttered and the global economy, because who’s  delivering things to our front door. It’s Amazons and how inequitable the resource resources are that are being distributed – to put a fine point on what Zita and Ted are saying. I think one really interesting thing we can think about that I’ll throw in is the role of the state in a very big way in the last financial crisis – money was lent or in fact, given, to  companies to bail them out, to stabilize them, to get them through. And then in places like a neighbourhood near ours, the town of Oshawa, when the going got good GM and financially stabilized, packed up and went south looking for a cheaper labour, looser, decent work standards. And so, _, as we think about this, it’s part of what we have to push and to make evident our expectation to our political leaders that if the state is going to step in, that they take an ownership stake. So we don’t socialize the risk and then privatize the returns when things get better. So I think that’s a lever that, _, what would have happened if GM, the government of Canada or the province of Ontario, had a 30 percent ownership stake in what they invested in here? And then GM said, hey, we were we’re tight, we’re going good now we’re going somewhere else. So this idea of how governments use capital, _, can we build a stabilization fund so that our housing doesn’t fall into the hands of large coRosemarie Powellorate owners.

Mary Rowe  Sort of different under a different kind of covenant, a different deal. I mean, Zita was hinting at this. Do you want to do a deal? Rosemarie, your whole piece has been about getting a different deal in large infrastructure projects, right?

Rosemarie Powell Yes, and the tool that we’ve been using under the umbrella of Community Benefits Agreement is all about social procurement. [5.0s] So looking at how do we ensure that these large multi-national multi-billion dollar companies are actually carving out opportunities for local businesses, for diverse owned businesses and for social enteRosemarie Powellrises? [00:38:16]We have a lot of talent in our local communities and people who are innovative and who want to contribute to the economy and who are developing businesses and who just needs the opportunity for contracts to be able to scale. We’re not asking for a handout. We’re asking for a hand up. [19.1s] And as community, we are organizing using that framework of community benefits agreement to demand social procurements. So ensuring that the contractors are actually breaking down their contracts and _, and that these small companies and diverse owned businesses haven’t have a real chance to be able to compete for the contracts. And they might need to do things differently to be able to achieve this social procurement goal. But that’s okay, because when we look at the benefits far outweigh the status quo. And so, _, those are the kinds of things that we need to look at. Not only that, when infrastructure projects are being built, we need to make sure that there are carve outs for those businesses, those mum and pop shops that have been really kind of holding space in those local communities and have been the engine of those communities oftentimes. What happens is that these big box stores, _, they get the ability to come in or these, _, franchises like, _, why does there need to be, _, ten Tim Hortons, _, coffee shops in the area? What about those mum and pop shops? So making sure that we retain retail space for those existing businesses and the local neighbourhoods. I’ll give you the issue that we’re dealing with right here with the Eglington Crosstown project, which is, an eight plus billion dollar project. So they built their building transit along the neighbourhood improvement areas and along a strip called Little Jamaica. Now, little Jamaica has existed for, _, for many, many years. And it’s been a vibrant, vibrant, _, small business area along that strip, _, very much culturally specific where you have, _, small stores here addressing, _, restaurants, _, _, shops that serves, _, that local community and especially that particular community, [00:40:50]but also the whole of the city. And they during the regular times, they were being decimated by the actual construction build that was happening during those five years with COVID?  They’re devastated. They’re finished. The restaurants are not working anymore. So, _, how are we making sure that when we’re building infrastructure, that we’re actually calm, we’re thinking ahead about how does it impact. Exactly. And come up with solutions with the people who are being impacted to be able to address it. And that we actually keep in mind that those people want to be able to remain in their communities and they have value, an asset that they can [38.5s] actually contribute. If you give them a chance to be able to do that and they will be the future and the engine of that economy when the builders, _, move out of the area.

Mary Rowe [00:41:39] So can I get a sense from you as a group? You know, this question about what role should the state have? What role do we have for rules? In United States, on the Chat box, lots of people are asking well  do we need a Community Reinvestment Act the way that the US has historically had. And they’ve struggled with that, obviously. But do you what do people imagine in the Canadian context? Ted, I was going to ask the Canadian gang to think about this for a second. How interventionist do you want the state to be? Do you think that, for instance, local retail, Rosemarie, should we be seeing more involvement with the municipal government, for instance, in terms of how main streets are used and how those businesses are that that’s about money? You know, that’s the dilemma, that’s about money. How do you pay for it? What other tools do we have, I guess, to intervene to get control these levers? You started this. I’m going to pass it back to you.

Zita Cobb  OK. Well, I think we should all read Rajan’s book, The Three Pillars, being government, business and community.  And I want to make my earlier point again that I think we need we have still a lot of work to do to have a broader and deeper understanding that’s shared. But what we mean by community and it’s not all about “fellowing each other” as the Queen calls it.  Because sometimes we don’t fellow each other. But we still have to co-operate within the community. So it’s getting communities to grow. [00:43:01]First of all, a coherent will and arms and legs to actually participate as economic actors in their own physical places, people live. I think that with the build that architecture, we also have to build the architecture…. Because how often do I hear government say quite a lot, actually, especially national government, we’d like to do more in communities. But like, how do you work with communities? It’s this amoRosemarie Powellhous thing.  And how do _ what they think? You have to go to the grocery store and interview 10 people like what is a friggin community? Because it’s not just the municipality – that’s part of it but it’s not the only part. [00:43:37]The other thing is we don’t have the architecture for money to flow from big pockets to small pockets.

Mary Rowe We have architecture, it just doesn’t distribute it very much. Right.

Zita Cobb [00:43:48] You talk to people who are controlling massive amounts of money in Toronto, for example, and they’ll say, well, that’s kind of too small for us. And who would I lend it to and how do I know I’m going to get it back? And who’s managing it? And many, many communities are not we’re not organized. In fact, we need those to grow the architecture for that particular benefit.

Mary Rowe So back to the Chicken Run.  So maybe we need new tools like do we need new mechanisms we need to develop?

Zita Cobb  For example, one of the things that we’re working on creating a community finance fund. [1.2s] And I think there are different examples of those in the world. But if we could put forward a coherent thing that has a governance structure that I mean, first of all, every citizen needs to know more about these levers of business. That’s a whole other question. [00:44:34]But what if we had community finance funds that are where decisions are made in the local about how  to distribute it or not distribute it  Coherent, professional recording back to the investors. I think we would spend a lot less time complaining and a lot more time managing money, which we as communities have to get better organized to do. So we need that architecture. [00:44:54]And I still think we’re missing the fundamental architecture to collaborate effectively across these three pillars that Rajan talks about. Where do communities, business and governments sit down and have this conversation we are having today, Mary? That’s the next one you have to do.

Mary Rowe [00:45:11] OK. Well, I think I mean, I do think, as you suggest, Covid has pushed us into that place where we have to have that conversation because we’re in it together. Right. Colette do you want to jump in?

Colette Murphy I do. I mean, I. So amidst this deep crisis and, _, anybody who says, well, here is what I see on the other side. We don’t know what it’s going to look like when we move through this. We know it’s not going to be good. That is for sure. And so in this moment, though, I’m seeing enormously promising collaboration amongst policy thinkers, organizers with governments in real time and less than four weeks. We have built the CERB that. It’s called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, getting cash into people’s pockets in two to three day. We’ve started to re-knit holes in a safety net. [3.7s] Now, it is not perfect yet, but every week there are people putting their hands up and saying, hey, you know what? You’ve missed social assistance recipients who are doing some work. Are you going to claw that back? What about undocumented workers? What about people who are in the gig economy that don’t want to give up all of their income, which the rules when they were originally written said you had to out in real time? We are writing a set of rules, policies. So I think it’s a muscle that we’re starting to exercise in a different way, in part because of a catastrophe in a crisis. But I think the opportunity is for us as we begin to see what is possible, what government can do and the role of the state stepping in to play an appropriate role during this type of a crisis. The question is, what are the other tools and [00:47:04]mechanisms they need to put in place to support communities in the kinds of ways we’ve been talking to build more solidarity, more equity sustainability and sufficiency for everybody. [14.3s]

[00:47:19] And I think that is what we’re seeing happening there. Quickly, the spring back that that at that elastic band mechanism, _, you stretch it the minute we start to move on to the other side of things. [00:47:35]This notion that, _, recovery is getting back to business as usual. But I think most of us don’t want to see what we actually want to get to a new normal.

Mary Rowe There is a worry that we’ll regress to the mean. Right?

Rosemarie Powell [00:47:51] What I what I would suggest and implore too, is that the government actually makes sure that they’re targeting the resources. Not everybody experiences this Covid crisis the same way. And some people are more impacted than others. And Canada refuses. Ontario refuses to really look at a race based data to be able to make decisions to be able to target support to the people who are experiencing challenges, the most we’ve seen from the United States, where in some communities, _, black communities and people of colour and Hispanics are actually, _, three times, _, dying from this Covid  then others. Wouldn’t it make sense that we actually understand this information and tracking and making sure that we are actually targeting the resources to who are suffering the most?

Mary Rowe [00:48:50] Yeah, I mean, somebody was saying Covid 19 is the great equalizer. But that’s so wrong. So, wrong. It’s disproportionately affecting people. And even if we get it in in our discourse, _, where people are talking about how they got to make sure that we protect density – “density is good”.  Well, density is actually the pits for a lot of people. There are people worse instances where density has made their lives. It’s been bad density. It’s not been well supported. It’s not been well designed. So we have to kind of move from that. All right. I want to just we want to get another couple of rounds for each of you. And I’m interested in sort of the fundamentals of what we think the key interventions should be. As Colette suggested, there’s been remarkable. I mean, the window is open. Everybody is listening. People are saying, how can we how do we? And every week they have to adjust it. The support to small business, for instance, has been seen as woefully inadequate because all it really did was push people into more debt. You didn’t have cash flows in the first place. What you can have your workers doing that if you keep them on. So there are fundamental questions that we haven’t been able to resolve. But can we imagine what the sort of systemic intervention could be? CERB is one.

Zita Cobb [00:49:57] I think we are still missing. We are missing that right architecture to carry on what we have done out of individual heroics over these past weeks. And I mean. Right. Right. It’s incredible what’s gotten done. But unless and until we formalize these kinds of conversations on platforms or in architectures that they’re going to carry on, then those conversations will stop. And that what does that mean in terms of making different architecture? So who got in those conversations that Colette you’re describing to come up with that program so quickly? And what is the body then that we can create that brings government, communities and business? The three pillars to gather in those kinds of conversations, [00:50:45]the first shift that has to happen. And if we miss this opportunity, shame on all of us. The shift that has to happen is from an [8.9s] economy that is made up of companies to some of that makes the economy to an economy that’s made up of communities. And so that’s the first shift in understanding. And I can look at a simple example on Fogo Island of the things that are structural things we have to change in our in our little islands of twenty five hundred people. We shockingly have a housing crisis. Why do we have a housing crisis? Well, as long complicated story, but we are also not immune at all to what’s going on with Air BnB.  And, _, people from far away buying houses stood for reasons that have nothing to do with community well-being. And so when we talk and we talk with our mayor about we’ve got to do some about getting your houses built. He has to go and get approval from the province in St. John’s, which could take a very long time. So I think it’s like, let us just take the moment. We’re talking to governments or talking to businesses. [00:51:53]We have to devolve into the locals, into the community level, round decision making, around economic decisions like I just described. And what are the architectures that we can codify coming out of this that are going to ensure these conversations carry on? [13.2s]

Mary Rowe[00:52:07] OK, so can we desegregate the local? [00:52:09]I mean, this is something that a lot of urbanists have been concerned about. Can we get more resources and more autonomy and power to cities? Can you do the same for capital? Ted, [8.6s] can we can. What do you think about this? Can we actually drive capital to the local and have it stay there instead of being sent back in? The same pattern that Zita is explaining where she has to ask permission to make something happen in terms of municipal decision, which we think should be vested locally and we do the same with money. Can money be aggregated locally?

Ted Howard [00:52:36] It absolutely can be. But I think we need to understand the different types of capital. There’s this sort of Wall Street investment capital. _, that’s not going to be what we need in this case. We need [ to be looking at new sources of capital, for instance, public banks in the United States. We have one public bank, the bank in North Dakota, which has a very good record of economic stabilization in that state for the last 100 years, California, now, last year passed a kind of pilot, 10 year pilot project to be in public banking there. But imagine if our cities and our authorities and our states, instead of putting all of their resources. Into the big five or six large banks that every country is dominated by. Here in Cleveland. Imagine we had the Bank of Cleveland capitalized by the reserves of the city of Cleveland with a policy of local investment. [00:53:33]So public banking, which is a huge movement.  In the  United States is a very important part of the new capital stack here. The second thing is I mentioned before with again, at least in the US, the trillions of dollars that are being created by the federal government through quantitative easing, where money is literally being created out of nothing. ]That money is going to come down to communities eventually. A lot of it, lot of it’s going to get eaten up by the large coRosemarie Powellorate actors. But money is coming down to communities and that money needs to be captured. That’s a big source of capital that could be invested. [14.2s] Colette also mentioned that our governments, in order to stabilize the larger industries like the airline industry, are going to be providing tens and tens, hundreds of billions of dollars to industry. She has a question, why don’t we take an equity stake? [11.6s] And that’s exactly right. This used to be a radical idea. I was reading yesterday in the news in the US. Mark Cuban, one of the largest billionaires in this country, said, yes, the government needs to invest. It needs to bail out the airline industry. Fine. But we should the government should take an equity stake on behalf of the people of the country. That used to be a radical notion. Now it’s become a more common sense. We’re leading a campaign in the US called buyouts, not bailouts. But there are different sources of capital. And the final one  I’d point to actually is our large institutions like our universities have very large endowments and investment portfolios. Those need to be refocused and we’ve been working on this for a long time at the Democracy collaborative. Our anchor institutions, their endowments need to be investment portfolios need to be put on the main street in our communities. It’s a huge source of capital – in the US, it’s well over a trillion dollars. So capital is absolutely essential. But the sources are right in front of us. We need to organize to make this a top priority, that we focus it in this way. In the United ]States. There’s a lot of talk about the Green New Deal, where it’s moving now because of the crisis and we’re doing a lot of work on this  – it’s a  green stimulus program and that is another source of capital that could be married very well to the community wealth building frame.

Zita Cobb Mary, the Canadian context, I want to add to what Ted said is super important. This country has some of the biggest pension funds on the planet that those pension funds need to come home and invest. And we as Canadians need would be a little more open minded instead of holding them to 8 percent and totally unrealistic returns. We need to understand if we want money to come to our communities, we need to be a little more reasonable. And Ted, I wouldn’t give up on investment capital from Wall Street. They have to come home, too. Everybody’s got to come home.

Colette Murphy Yeah. Hot pursuit. I completely agree with my colleagues. I think it’s where the tool of shareholder activism, _, takes on a new urgency as well to hold those companies accountable that we do have in our pension portfolios, etc. and expect more from them. I completely agree with Ted that and others that we have to have government use the money it is spending, _, whether it’s through infrastructure spending, through procurement, through the kind of taking equity stake.  We should have that expectation. This is our money, so we shouldn’t be socializing the risks and privatizing the returns as we move through this. And finally, I think I would say I really want to go back to I think most creative, ingenious, imaginative solutions have come from people who have always worked on the economic margins and that if they’re going to lead community imagination and leadership to help us figure our way out of this. And it’s through building social solidarity and trust, taking our cues from them and then, of course, building out and collaborating with all sectors. But that trust, that social solidarity has to be there. Otherwise, we do risk turning in on ourselves and moving to that survival of the fittest mode as opposed to this notion that we only will all survive if we all do well.

Rosemarie Powell  That’s right. Yes. Yes. Building on what Colette is saying. You know, we need a strong, vibrant, well-resourced community services sector during this crisis. And prior, these community organizations, _, have been doing heroic efforts to be able to support, _, the most vulnerable among us. And yet the government consistently underfund these organizations. Another challenge that we’re seeing at the local level is that there are some organizations who support particular communities, especially well because of the, _, the direct connectedness that they have with them. And so I’m talking about, for example, black community organizations who, _, for whatever reason, they’re doing all the work on the ground, but they’re not getting the kinds of financial support that they need. The larger organizations, _, are, _, being preferred in terms of, _, intermediaries into, _, transferring, _, moneys and supports into the local communities. And that’s really unfortunate because there are sometimes very culturally specific types of supports. _, that needs to happen. And there are organizations and, _, these social services groups who are doing absolutely incredible work and who don’t have the resources to be able to do it on the ground with TCB. And what we’re doing right now. You know, just as a local organization is, _, so it’s _, staff is working from home for sure. But and we know that our people has been, _, devastated by COVID. . Some of them are working still because construction still remains an essential service. But the non-construction work that we’ve negotiated, most of that has stopped. But also the training centres, lots of people were in the pipeline actually hoping to have an opportunity once things starts to open up on these construction projects and now everything’s basically shut down. There is no training that’s happening. They can’t get their certificates. And basically, they’re in a state of, _, pause. So what can they do during this time to actually take advantage of the moment so that they can prepare themselves to be able to get back into the job market once things are going? We know that people from underrepresented groups are always the last to be called back after a recession, after, _, a situation like this. And so how do we prepare people? And so we’re taking our training online and we’re supporting them and making sure that they stay connected and that we support them mentally. We’re doing mentoring. We’re doing peer mentoring, _, and keeping them connected. But [01:01:06]these community organizations, many of them, just like TCBN and Parkdale and others, are doing this incredible work on the ground. And yet the recovery dollars that the government is, is supporting is mainly aimed at private businesses. You know, you have to have seen a decrease in your in your revenues over the last year in order to be able to benefit from the 75 percent [of, _, staff, the payroll subsidy that the government is providing. But in the on the other hand, you have community organizations who have actually not they’ve taken up more work. Their workload has gone through the roof and their finances might not have suffered during this time. But that also should be considered instead of just looking at those who’ve actually lost money, because community organizations are being relied upon more during this time of crisis.

Mary Rowe Yeah. I mean, we’re out of time folks,  And I just want to say that that so much of what you said – and this chat function stays open for another 30 minutes so keep chatting which is tremendous. You’ve all so many interesting points here about whether what whether we can actually sustain the conversations that we’re having with people that and what that community, the definition of community is as you suggest that how do we have that tri level intermediary conversation? And Rosemarie, we’re very focused on the CUI about how do we actually look at new relief programs to keep main streets going. And Ted, we’re always interested to hear what the thinking is coming out of the Democracy Collaborative. So I want to just thank all of you for participating with us. And I think you’ve challenged us all because, _, we all have money. Some of us have money to spend right now. Those of us that are lucky enough to have salaries or have an interim support, we can choose how we spend our money. And we can choose to support local. We can choose to try to find ways to sustain the community around us, as many of us are trying to do. And we have another one of these sessions, And I just want to thank you again, Ted Colette, Zita and Rosemarie, for joining us and being so properly provocative. And I think inspiring. I appreciate it very much.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.From Caroline Swan to All Panelists: 12:02 PM

12:01:08          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: WELCOME! We’ll get started momentarily

12:01:44          From Michael Courey to All panelists: Great to see you all…. excited to hear your thoughts!!

12:02:10          From Caroline Swan to All panelists: Hello from snowy Central Newfoundland. Thanks for hosting this webinar. We look forward to hearing all of the perspectives.

12:03:55          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: Greetings Attendees! Please be sure to send your chats to ALL panelists and attendees – not just panelists.

12:04:05          From Abigail Slater: thrilled to be on this call.

12:04:25          From Sarah Davies: Thank you for holding these conversations. I look forward to them and have been learning so much!

12:04:35          From Craig Gurney: Hello from South Wales, UK, from Craig Gurney, University of Glasgow @CraigTweeted. Looking forwards to this.

12:04:53          From Joanne OLeary to All panelists: Hello everyone, looking forward to panel guests’ thoughts

12:05:00          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: Today’s panel:

Zita Cobb –

Colette Murphy –

Ted Howard –

Rosemarie Powell –

12:05:10          From Francis Gentoral: Hello from the Philippines

12:05:12          From Karen Schulman Dupuis: Very excited to hear from everyone here!

12:05:15          From Tonya Surman: Wonderful to be here

12:05:36          From M’Liz Keefe: Hi. Glad to be here. Thank you.

12:05:48          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: Visit for past recordings

12:05:49          From Prasanth Varughese: great to be here

12:05:54          From M’Liz Keefe: M’Liz Keefe from Fogo Island

12:06:04          From LoriAnn Girvan to All panelists: Great panel – looking forward to this edition!

12:06:10          From Tanya Markvart: Hello from Wellington Waterloo Community Futures. Glad to be here!

12:06:11          From Beate Bowron: Hello. Francis, from Gary and Beate

12:06:34          From Luis Patricio: Luis from London Ontario –

12:06:44          From Francis Gentoral: Glad to see you here Gary and Beate.

12:06:46          From Caroline Swan: Hello from snowy Central Newfoundland. Thanks for hosting this webinar. We look forward to hearing all of the perspectives.

12:06:47          From LoriAnn Girvan: Great panel -looking forward to this conversation

12:06:52          From Zeynep Arslan-Taç to All panelists: Hi, very excited about this webinar. Zeynep from Istanbul.

12:07:48          From Sorya Gaulin to All panelists: Pls share again the Twitter hashtag. Thx

12:07:55          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists: Hello, Great Panel. Thank you Mary.

12:08:00          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff: #citytalk

12:08:07          From Elizabeth Keefe to All panelists: Liz Keefe from Fogo

12:08:11          From Victoria Ho to All panelists: Hi from Toronto, Ontario!

12:08:27          From Robert Godfrey: I find myself, like many, with some extra time these days. Are CUI or any of the panelists’ organizations currently seeking volunteers? If so, helping with what? How can one get involved?

12:08:35          From Leila Todd to All panelists: Leila Vancouver

12:09:20          From Emma Nelson to All panelists: Robert, during a previous talk I wrote down that CUI was looking for volunteers and you can go to to sign up.

12:09:41          From Abigail Slater: are those in power also clamoring for change? will they cede power?

12:10:03          From Meg Ronson: Meg here from, reach out if you’re interested in business recovery through social acquisitions.

12:10:17          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: Robert! VOLUNTEERS DEFINITELY NEEDED thank you. please email us at thank you!

12:10:41          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff:

12:11:00          From Lisa Slater to All panelists: Or, following up on Abigail’s question: how do you wrest power from the political elites?

12:11:38          From Abigail Slater: can you please share link to the report?

12:12:35          From Abigail Slater: thank you!

12:12:47          From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff: The report will be posted at

12:16:06          From Emma Nelson: Colette is talking about PARC in Parkdale:

12:17:32          From Gil Penalosa: Thanks Emma for the link to PARC. Most interesting community work, seems very useful. Learning from Collette and others

12:18:15          From Deb Reynolds to All panelists: hello from Change Islands, Newfoundland

12:19:16          From Godwin Chan to All panelists: How to prepare for the transition to re-opening the “normal” process for proposed development and land use planning applications? for applicants, municipalities an

12:19:48          From Godwin Chan to All panelists: and the public who wish to voice their views on planning applications.

12:21:06          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: REMINDER – please choose ALL PANELISTS and ATTENDEES when posting, to ensure everyone can access your chat

12:21:53          From Emma Nelson: No worries, here is a link for the mutual aid network briefly mentioned (scroll down to see the west end boundaries):

12:22:28          From Emma Nelson: As well as the Parkdale People’s Economy:

12:23:01          From Lisa Rochon: The much celebrated ‘pause’ that is typically discussed in the media is not the experience of front line workers. Excellent to be here, listening/learning. Lisa Rochon,

12:23:38          From Emma Nelson: Thank you Rosemarie for bringing up the mental health impacts that this will have and how these relate to community ability to work/sustain a local economy. Very important.

12:23:46          From Patty Hargreaves to All panelists: How do we double down on that? What concrete measures/policies need to be in place?

12:23:51          From Abigail Slater: I’d love to have panelists speak more about human capital vs physical capital and how that might look in programs.

12:24:36          From Daphne March to All panelists: hello from NL

12:24:47          From Rick Ciccarelli to All panelists: If infrastructure will be driving the recovery, are we expecting the Ontario Conservative Government to support CBAs continuing to be part of infrastructure awards?

12:25:16          From Dawn Alan to All panelists: Charlottetown, Birthplace of Confederation, happy to be online. Great conversation.

12:25:49          From Charles Montgomery: What can local governments do to support local economies and small businesses, in the months and years where we will have collapsed businesses, and many many storefront spaces empty?

12:26:11          From Zahra Ebrahim to All panelists: Zita with the best movie reference (of course) ✌🏽

12:27:15          From Luis Patricio: Reset! Exactly!

12:27:40          From Mary Chevreau: Another great conversation. Thanks panelists and CUI

12:28:44          From Melanie Sonnenberg to All panelists: Hello from Grand Manan, NB

12:28:50          From Zahra Ebrahim to All panelists: Zita, you’ve been doing the hyperlocal economic development work for such a long time…how could your thinking on sacred economies serve us in urban areas in this moment?

12:29:02          From Elizabeth Jassem: Like Zita’s statement: this is a reset and must be for much better! Citizens driven.

12:29:14          From Cindy Wells: Yes. Hi from Fogo. No one would be without food on Fogo Island. But I worry about mental health and the lack of access to services.

12:29:26          From Milton Friesen: Adele MacDonald wrote a great piece on rural economic development idea in Municipal World. It is, sadly, behind a paywall but some of you may have a subscription: It is about how a local citizen with means set up a micro-lending approach for her own community.

12:29:27          From Abigail Slater: @charles current relief programs do not address major fallout of small businesses that are at the mercy of landlords already locking doors.

12:30:23          From Klara Hupel to All panelists: Hello! I am a University student nearing the end of my undergraduate degree and I have been, and continue my search for employment. With the current situation, most organizations, specifically local businesses and SME’s are no longer hiring and there are no current signs that this will change any time soon. What advice do you have for young adults who are the in the same situation as me and what role can we play in contributing to community wealth?

12:31:51          From Daphne March to All panelists: NL do have lots of mental and addiction problem in whole

12:31:56          From Abigail Slater: how do we prevent every empty independent storefront from becoming a chain?

12:32:28          From Charles Montgomery: Zita says that one lever of wealth creation is access to financial capital. Can you share with us mechanisms that work, to build the local economy and keep the vulture capitalists out?

12:32:50          From Michael Courey: How about the need to renew anti-trust laws etc. ?

12:33:14          From James Chan: @Charles One tool is place-based social finance/impact investing funds like the one I work for:

12:33:18          From Daphne March to All panelists: we also have a problem with leadership in NL .. So how can we move forward with Buddie system

12:33:36          From Tonya Surman: The vulture capital risk is huge…. we had a real estate developer approach CSI the other day attempting to buy CSI Annex… had gone and done a bunch of research and thought we were in financial trouble (got his facts wrong) and suggested that he could ‘help us out’.. by buying us…

12:33:59          From Tonya Surman: a small example, but we are already feeling it

12:34:21          From Meg Ronson: @Tonya oh dear….

12:34:40          From Jennifer Cutbill to All panelists: nice question ion Charles. I’ll build on that. I read Doughnut Economics recently and Kate Raworth talks slow bit about ‘complimentary currencies’ at the community level. Are you seeing that on Fogo or elsewhere? I’d love to better understand how we can support this.

12:34:51          From Milton Friesen: For town and city structures, this would be a good time to revisit the ideas of Pamela Blaise (Perverse Cities) where the structural aspects of mis-aligned subsidies are addressed. If the chickens can’t organize in a way that approaches the relative strength of the big players (without become like those entities), it will be tough to shift things in a better direction. One support will be the fragility of some of the big structures. If organizing can meet that decline, we have a chance to make important changes.

12:35:26          From Jennifer Cutbill to All panelists: *talks a bit about (not ‘slow’) …typing with a 4yr old literally hanging from my arm)

12:36:11          From Tonya Surman: Meg Ronson and Sean Gobey have some amazing solutions about how these SME’s move to cooperatives… its good stuff

12:36:21          From Meg Ronson: social acquisitions!:) Twitter: @lab_legacy

12:37:28          From Milton Friesen: Colette, great point about how dependent we are on the big systems – e.g. delivering things to our door. That reality reflects how embedded we are in these massive structures.

12:38:24          From Elyssa Pompa to All panelists: This will be a significant impact to our food system, given the direction of supply chain centralization (already) in Canada – Companies who already have the capacity to pivot and adapt to COVID rules will severely impact the agrifood SMEs.

12:38:33          From Lester Brown: We need to develop more co-ops and Credit Unions. Some have already taken a lead. Van City Credit Union is giving relief on interest.

12:38:40          From Abigail Slater: 100% agree that lending is not the answer to struggling businesses. different interventions are needed.

12:39:00          From Tonya Surman: so this is an amazing time where the impossible becomes possible but we need to be clear what we want from government … thoughts on this? something that might be saleable that isn’t politically polarizing?

12:39:54          From Alan McNair: Can the speakers tie their comments in to the Green New Deal concept?

12:39:55          From Abigail Slater: new ownership structures. like CsA for local businesses with matched funding from guv

12:39:59          From LoriAnn Girvan: Is it time for a ‘stick’ – albeit not perfect – like a Community Reinvestment Act? Requiring financial institutions to provide capital for community asset owmership with a focus on those that have experienced structural disinvestment? .

12:40:24          From Tonya Surman: Ohh… Lori…. I love that… that’s what I am talking about

12:40:44          From Tonya Surman: Lori-Ann…. sorry:)

12:41:55          From Emma Nelson: LoriAnn, the CRA is such an interesting thing, especially in NYC. Trump recently trying to get rid of it, too

12:42:40          From Lisa Rochon: Regent Park has some strong examples of local women-led collectives (Regent Park Sewing Collective and the RP Catering Collective) with street presence and new space being promised by Daniels.

12:42:42          From Patty Hargreaves to All panelists: Tony, Lori, complete agree, having some experience with the Community Reinvestment Act.

12:42:47          From Abigail Slater: why is government allowing evictions of small retail?

12:43:51          From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff: The Third Pillar


By Raghuram Rajan

12:43:54          From Darshika Selvasivam to All panelists: the implications of power within the community, and historically underrepresented groups needs to be implicated in the structures of decision making.

12:44:01          From Luis Patricio:

12:44:05          From Darshika Selvasivam to All panelists: as @rosemarie mentioned, local communities need to be engaged

12:44:18          From Luis Patricio: Thanks Lisa, you were faster than me

12:44:36          From Abigail Slater: why not moratorium? why aren’t banks required to waive mortgage payments for smaller landlords of these smaller retail establishments?

12:44:43          From Charles Montgomery: Hey thanks to you folks posting in the chat. An awesome way to augment the discussion.

12:44:55          From Abigail Slater: that’s the stock

12:44:57          From Darshika Selvasivam: as @rosemarie mentioned, the implications of power within the community, and historically underrepresented groups needs to be implicated in the structures of decision making.

12:44:58          From Abigail Slater: stick

12:45:26          From Michael Courey: Intermediary public ownership to stabilize sectors… then transfer to community ownership (worker cooperatives, people centred non profits, multi-stakeholder cooperatives et .) …

12:45:33          From Teunesha Evertse: Tofino and other small coastal communities on Vancouver Island incorporate sense of place and the local economy into their OCPs and Zoning Bylaws. Big box chains aren’t able to open on these main streets and that’s an important protection. I work in a small coastal community as a planner and without those tools we now have multiple Timmy’s

12:45:35          From Patty Hargreaves to All panelists: Zita, thanks for your great comments. The Community ReInvestment Act could do what you suggest- money goes from big pockets to small purses.

12:45:41          From Susan Henry: These very small micro businesses may not survive post COVID19 since the Federal GOvernment Funding business packages don’t have provisions for these business. Canada Emergency Business Account(CEBA) funding offering prpvides upto $40k fudning if the businesses had $50k in payroll expenses. I manage a Community Microfinance program for micro enterperises and many will not qulaify yet they have expenses such as rent, business insurance, storage fees etc… HOw do we perserve these micro businesses- they are part of the backbone of the economy and these enterprises primarly for underserved individuals proivde on a socio economic level for families and communites.

12:46:03          From Milton Friesen: The question of having means of building structures we need as communities is something I’ve been working at for a long time under the framework of designing new social infrastructure – not just more of what we have but of designing, building, morphing what we have.

12:46:06          From Vickie Morris: In what way are existing social impact investment entities like Rhiza Capital and Joel Solomon’s Renewal. not considered as part of Zita’s architecture?

12:46:19          From Abbe Edelson: We need municipal policies that put a moratorium on big box stores on main streets and promote local business

12:46:25          From Craig Gurney: I need to leave early for another meeting but wanted to take time to thank everyone here for such enthusiasm, insight. My scalar interest here is the private space of the home – and the impacts of Covid on housing precarity and ontological insecurity more generally. If anyone wants to discuss this geography of harm at home – and in particular, mental health and IPV consequences then please tap me up at University of Glasgow on Twitter – @CraigTweeted. Stay safe and take care.

12:47:35          From Patty Hargreaves to All panelists: Great point, Colette – government has been very impressive in speed and collaboration.

12:47:36          From Tonya Surman: making the impossible possible… a radical rethinkg

12:48:48          From Nancy Arsenault to All panelists: Can you provide the authors of the 3 Pillars book Zita mentioned, I just googled the title and there are lots of 3 books with 3 pillars. Thanks.

12:49:00          From Michael Courey: Curious about what the Democracy Collaborative thinks the role of Public Ownership is in the response to Covid?

12:49:13          From Jeff Klein to All panelists: exactly- why won’t Ontario disaggregate?

12:49:30          From Abigail Slater: @rosemarie it is shocking we do not know this

12:49:46          From Zahra Ebrahim to All panelists: 🙏🏽 @rosemarie

12:49:49          From Luis Patricio: We are in the same storm, BUT VERY DIFFERENT BOATS

12:49:57          From Francis Gentoral: COVID has taught us to go back to fundamentals of community economic development.

12:50:03          From Canadian Urban Institute: The Third Pillar


By Raghuram Rajan

12:50:53          From Rashmi Nathwani: Intersting discussion. Thanks.

12:51:06          From Darshika Selvasivam: this narratives of historically under represented groups, are constantly left out of the lager narrative and conversation. Albeit, conversations like these are crucial to complicating the ways we organize

12:51:09          From Gillian Mason to All panelists: WE have created some capacity to reach more deeply into community, to Zita’s point, by developing Local Champions, but we are not calling on those people now.

12:51:42          From Abigail Slater: I ask again. those who want change are those that always have been the drive for change. are we hearing from others? to Zita’s point.

12:51:51          From Michael Courey: It appears that ‘business’ or ‘capital’ tends to dominate in those conversations…. urban renewal is one area we see this regularly

12:52:28          From Zahra Ebrahim to All panelists: This is most definitely a time to think about the insiders (across the aisle) who have shaped policy and a radical rethink of who the insiders are. YES, yes, yes.

12:53:29          From Michael Courey: Source of capital matter…

12:54:29          From Aqsa Malik: Great point – formalizing this “drive”. How do we provide support? How do we have a foundation to stand on? How can we as city builders, as individuals invested in our communities move forward with this movement.

12:54:38          From Patty Hargreaves to All panelists: Ted – interesting idea re public banks.

12:55:30          From Vickie Morris: There are institutions, entities in Canada that provide ‘architecture’ for distributing capital to localalities; Community Futures in WEstern Canada (they’re called something else in Ontario, Quebec, Maritimes), and impact investment entities like Renewal and Rhiza Capital – several others but those come to mind.

12:56:51          From James Chan: Community Futures Development Corporations also exist in Ontario – serving mainly rural communities with CED initiatives and financing programs

12:57:11          From James Chan: Another rural example – Prince Edward County has

12:57:41          From James Chan: Southwestern Ontario has

12:58:04          From Kumsa Baker to All panelists: – Great organization doing shareholder advocacy in Canada

12:58:46          From Valerie Hussey to All panelists: There have to be social/political/economic structures in place that allow and encourage people to sell their business for community benefit, and not just maximize personal wealth. Small business owners need access to supports that enable them to thrive after the sale because these owners don’t have robust retirement plans behind them, as just one point of intersection, and the sale of their business becomes the only way that they secure their future. If people are to believe in the cycle of community support to community benefit there has to be a different system design to the whole.

12:58:54          From Canadian Urban Institute to All panelists: if the panelists would like to stay on the chat, I can change you to attendee which will drop your video and sound shortly after we finish.

12:59:08          From Jeff Klein to All panelists: can Canada replicate the US CDFI program? if not why not?

13:00:06          From Alina Chatterjee: This has been a great panel! Thanks so much to CUI for organizing!

13:00:30          From Darshika Selvasivam: great point rosemarie

13:00:41          From Jeff Klein to All panelists: agree with Rosemarie— in the US wealth/funding flows to white-lead orgs

13:01:01          From Nadine Tischhauser: Thank you very much for this great discussion!

13:01:05          From Jeff Klein to All panelists: the gate keeping keeps $$ from flowing to communities that need it most

13:01:20          From Anna Richter to All panelists: A very engaging and important discussion. Thank you!

13:01:27          From Canadian Urban Institute: chat will stay open after the webinar if people would like to continue the discussion!

13:01:46          From Gillian Mason to All panelists: TCBN doing a great job of supporting underrepresented groups through her online training several times a week. impressive programs

13:01:49          From Heather Fenyk: Great discussion, great group of panelists. Thanks all. from New Brunswick, NJ USA

13:02:00          From Darshika Selvasivam: challenging anti-black racism, is at the foundation of challenging these structures internationally

13:02:10          From Ian Hartlen to All panelists: I have to run as well – thank you to all participants! From Ryerson University in Toronto

13:02:18          From Tonya Surman: Great presentation…. thanks all

13:02:38          From Charles Montgomery: Awesome panel, Thank you panelists, Mary, and also you chat participants. Wishing you all well from my mom’s basement.

13:02:42          From Stephen Cremin-Endes: Thank you. Great Conversation. Will be following up on a specific idea.

13:02:51          From Sara Udow to All panelists: Thanks all!

13:03:00          From Frances Wilbur: Great conversation, lots to learn and think about.

13:03:01          From Daphne March to All panelists: thank-you we indigenous people been asking for support for funding for long time and never avail with right terms. ITAC is doing great work but we need government ti come on board to grow our industry. We know hard work and recovery

13:03:06          From Zeynep Arslan-Taç: Thank you great discussion.

13:03:12          From Victoria Ho to All panelists: Very glad to have learned from the panelists today, thanks for your time!

13:03:13          From Shand Licorish: Thanks for emphasizing your points Rosemarie!

13:03:19          From Aimée González Ferriol: Great conversation! Thank you for organizing!!

13:03:21          From Darshika Selvasivam: amazing conversation and all great panelists!

13:03:23          From Abbe Edelson: Thank you for a great discussion

13:03:24          From Nancy Arsenault to All panelists: Thank you, a delightful different level of abstraction to this conversation that many online sessions I’ve participated in.

13:03:30          From Amy Rowsell: In addition to paying attention to racial segments of population as Rosemarie suggests, we must also look at differences between generations. Millennial generation (a big demographic) was disadvantaged graduating into the Great Recession, and were just getting on their feet when this hit. Millennials are large proportion of gig economy, hospitality, restaurants, etc. Pay attention to the segments and adjust….

13:03:31          From Meg Ronson: Happy to connect with all attendees on LinkedIn and via email

13:03:33          From Oriana Nanoa: Thank you all for a very informative and interesting discussion.

13:03:34          From Daphne March to All panelists: ShaMaSha

13:03:37          From Chris Tuck: Brilliant conversation. Thank you for this great discussion.

13:03:38          From Don Paul: Wonderful information on how to use this RESET to take advantage the change that must take place to focas on comunity

13:03:42          From Meg Ronson: Great chat everyone!

13:03:43          From Barbara Pritchett to All panelists: Thank you, great information

13:03:43          From Aqsa Malik: Thanks for sharing, I haves some links saved for further research.

13:03:47          From Emma Nelson: Really looking forward to your talk with Jay Pitter.

13:03:48          From Olusola Olufemi to All panelists: Thank you! Great discussion and insight.

13:03:50          From Allan Kean: Great discussion. Thank you.

13:03:51          From Zahra Ebrahim to All panelists: Thanks for such a fantastic panel all!

13:03:52          From Kelly Graham: Thank you!

13:03:53          From Patty Hargreaves to All panelists: Great chat. Thank you.

13:04:20          From Lester Brown: Thank you! great conversation! It brings hope.

13:04:55          From Silvia Exposito to All panelists: Thank you! Great discussion

13:04:57          From Wilma Hartmann to All panelists: Thank you!

13:05:05          From Michael Courey: Great work and thanks to all panelists.

13:05:19          From Luis Patricio: Thank you for holding that space. It is very important to make those ideas and information hit the mainstream

13:05:49          From Francis Gentoral: Thank you

13:06:07          From Victoria Sztanek to All panelists: where can i see the recording?

13:07:14          From Sue Hallatt, CUI Staff: please go to will be up in a few hours!

13:07:53          From Matt Goodman: Thank you, friends, for a thoughtful, engaging and thought-provoking discussion. All be well and safe.

13:08:00          From Lisa Slater: Someone mentioned shareholder activism. At what point or will it be necessary to have a larger movement of social activism? At a time when large groups of people need to come together to show solidarity and to push/pull the various levers is exactly the time and way we cannot. We can’t in other words march in the streets should it become necessary. Can social media be a powerful substitute to motivate and activate real systemic change?

13:08:33          From Elizabeth Jassem: Such inspiring conversation – great panel! Again, thank you CUI. Really looking forward for next conversations helping us to stay straight fro our community needs here at Downsview. BE SAFE. ALL THE BEST TO ALL.

13:15:35          From Canadian Urban Institute: Will close the chat in one minute. Thanks for the fantastic participation!