Participatory Canada: How can everyday people make extraordinary change?

On June 22, 2021, The Canadian Urban Institute, in partnership with Participatory Canada and its partners hosted an extended edition of CityTalk Canada to explore creative solutions to our greatest urban challenges and share lessons learned in North End, Halifax, N.S., Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Montreal, QC and Regent Park, Toronto, ON.

5 Key

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

“If the system isn’t working, we build our own” 

Aimee Gasparettoprogram director of Every One Every Day in Halifax, compares social infrastructure to an ecosystem. A healthy social ecosystem is an interconnected network of spaces and relationships that work to leverage resources throughout an entire community. The key to the vitality of this ecosystem is interconnectedness. But this does not always spontaneously happen. The Participatory City platform is an adaptive approach to increasing access to community resources through broad participation, fostering the cross-cultural and cross-demographic connections that serve to strengthen community bonds.

Three cities, three custom strategies, three hyper local approaches

Keren Tang, national coordinator for Participatory City Canada, summarized the universal themes and lessons learned from the teams in Halifax, Montreal and Toronto which can be categorized in three areas: 

  • Baseline social disconnection 
  • The importance of broad programs over targeted services 
  • The effectiveness of a diversity in programs  

While the basic foundational ingredients are similar, the methods through which each team prototyped their engagement strategies were adapted with hyper locality in mind. A community newspaper in one city was highly effective at drawing in participation while the same method fell flat in another. Hybridization, experimentation, and community co-creation were essential to custom tailor strategies for the most participatory impact.

Increasing entry points is the key to improving accessibility

Top-down targeted social services and programs identify specific demographics based on need. Pam Glode-Desrochers, executive director of the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre in Halifax, calls this the silo approach.” These programs operate in isolation and do not allow for real cross-cultural connections. Denise Soueidan-O’Leary, senior program manager for the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto, oversaw the delivery of twelve different project workshops in Regent Park which brought people together based on interest, not need. By bringing diverse groups together, Denise observed neighbours connecting, kids playing together and residents offering each other jobs.

We need social infrastructure that allows everybody to plug-in 

According to Tessy Britton, CEO of Participatory City Foundation, social infrastructure should be a priority the same way hard infrastructure is considered a priority in the development of our cities. Government has a role to play in the funding of social infrastructure, but so far Denise laments the “drip drop” funding typical of one-year proposals. Larger up-front funding, with less conditions attached, are essential to getting these broad participatory programs up and running. Conditional grants often rely on quantitative, measurable outcomes. But increased social connectivity can manifest in ways not captured by numbers. Grassroots organizations fostering cross-community connections require significant funding and free reign to build the necessary social infrastructure that allows people to thrive in their neighbourhoods. 

Weaving it all together 

Maude Lapointe, coordinator at Solon Collectif in Montreal, says, “the whole goal of this was really to just build connections, build networks, create a more resilient and sustainable community.” Keren puts forward the idea of “compound outcomes,” as a way of working towards this goal. Social outcomes are tied to economic outcomes and vice versa. Local actions ultimately have tremendous impacts on the greater economy. Sustainable practices at the local level, if widely adopted, can shift the economy to a more circular and sustainable model. This interconnectedness calls for comprehensive systems level strategies to maximize the well being of all peoples. Improved civic landscapes, more diverse programs and increased access to services will have positive ripples throughout our cities. 


Participatory Canada – Y1 Social Research & Development Report 

Participatory Canada – Canada Participatif – 

Participatory Canada – Tools to Act  

Canada Participatif – Voir le nouveau rapport du Canada Participatif 

Medium Post from Aimee in Halifax 

Tessy Britton’s Medium Page 

CSI’s Reflection 

Every One Every Day Kjipuktuk-Halifax 

Every One Every Day TO 

Solon Collectif – Notre voisinage page 

Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre 

Tomorrow Today Streets 

Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:01:07] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really pleased to welcome you to another CityTalk. We’re having quite a week this week. We did one earlier this week with a number of partners across the country on Indigenous placemaking with practitioners. And I’m on the tradition. I happened to be in Syracuse, New York, with my sister who’s recovering from surgery. And this is the traditional territory of the Oneida and the Onondaga First Nation. And we are continuing to come to terms with the legacies of exclusion that city building has perpetuated. And how do we speak to truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities and with communities of colour across the country. And I can tell you from here in New York State, these continue to be issues here as well around legacies of exclusion. And we had a session earlier, as I said in the week, with talking about Indigenous placemaking. And I know that indigeneity is a central part of the Participatory City work. And so I’m looking forward to hearing from our colleagues about how Indigenous principles and Indigenous practice continues to influence the evolution of this program. Participatory City I first learned about it from Tessy Britton a number of years ago when she was visiting into Canada and McConnell quickly knew a good idea when they saw it and have been working in collaboration with Tessy to see how this could be adapted to Canadian contexts. And these folks that are on this call today are all leaders in their communities who have been prototyping what Participatory City Canada might look like and want to signal that our appreciation for the sponsors of well, first of all, the initiators in Participatory City Canada is the McConnell Foundation with many, many partners who come in, as some of whom you can hear from this morning. But also on this session, the Trillium Foundation is supporting us, [inaudible] in Montréal as well and Participatory City Canada, which has its own sort of foundation here. So it’s been terrific to have everybody involved in having this session, which is a slightly different time for a CityTalk. So I hope our CityTalkers that are used to rolling out of bed midday or first thing in the morning in B.C. have gotten up a little earlier to participate in the session and to hear about this really interesting program and how it’s evolving across the country. We’re working in two languages today. So if you’d like to have a simultaneous translation, please take advantage of that. Go to the bottom of your world. We should all do that right now. Get to the bottom of your monitor and choose the language that you’d like to hear translated to you. So I’ve just talked with English so that I can hear English, sadly, but people should feel free to put the language of their choice there. And then you’ll be able to hear participants because Yannik bless him is here translating for us in real time. And I see I’m a Aimee nodding. So that must mean the French is working. Yes, very good. So this is an interesting pilot, or shall we say that you guys have been at it for over a year. You’ve learned a ton. You’ve issued a big fat report, which I hope is in the chat in which I’m hoping is live. So people can click on that. You’ll see just a trove of information there and reflections and thoughtfulness about this approach and what it’s teaching, what it’s teaching all of you, what we’re hoping you’ll teach us and then potentially what this model could teach the country. And it deals with issues that CUI is fundamentally concerned about, like how do we define infrastructure? What is infrastructure? How do we define connection? I always say that the Canadian Urban Institute’s in the connective tissue business, we’re trying to build horizontal connections. Canada seems to do vertical quite well. Tessy, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed that in Canada, but we have municipal governments that relate to the province, that relate to the federal government. So we know how to do this, but we don’t know how to do that. And we’re in a vast geography with a relatively small population where half the population of the UK in a landmass that would probably be six or seven times the size of UK. So it’s a challenge. We don’t have as many cities as we might like to have ultimately. And it makes it difficult to share practices quickly, whereas in denser environments like in Europe or in Asia or the United States, where there’s more mobility between an ideas move more quickly and people move more quickly. So it’s an added challenge for us here in Canada to create new forms of connective tissue, new forms of kind of lateral engagement so that we learn quickly from each other. And we we, as Beckett said, we we try and we learn and we learn. We learn faster. We fail faster. We learn better. So that’s kind of the deal we’re in. And sixteen months ago, we were faced with an extraordinary challenge that not everybody was anticipating. Obviously, some smart people were anticipating a pandemic, but lots of us weren’t. And we at CUI immediately became attuned to the need to create these sharing platforms, which Participatory City seems to be a really great example of. And it works at the local level. And we want to, of course, see can it work at the regional level and can it work at the national level. So I think I’ve got a bunch of notes that I’ve made in reviewing the report because some of the nomenclature that we’ve used in the way that you’re organizing these things, and I’m sure that people will put into the chat their own questions about the program and feel free to do that. And I will track the chat, feed it back in as people here participate. And we’ve got 90 minutes, which is a tremendous gift to have this amount of time to really dig deep into this so and so I’m going to ask each of you to give us a little overview of how you’ve approached this particular opportunity. And you don’t really have to say it all in the first go, but you can give us sort of the high points, key things that you’ve extracted from this so far. And then I’ll pick some themes out and come back to us and have a group conversation. As I suggested, people on a chat should feel free to pose whatever they like and I’ll try to weave those into. So I’m going to go from east back west so I can start with you, Pam, if I could. And if you, first of all, tell us where you’re where you’re signing and from, obviously, and then just reflect, if you could, a little bit on your particular experience. And I also know that this program is branded differently. Sometimes it’s called Every One Every Day and sometimes it’s Participatory City and I’m assuming en français c’est un otro nomme, so why don’t you just fill us in as you’re just give us the flavor of it. And as I said, don’t feel you have to cover it all in the first go. But we got we’ve got time. So maybe we could start with you. Pam, welcome to CityTalk. Great to see you. And we’re coming to Halifax in the fall. And we we work with Develop Nova Scotia and lots of folks. And we’re looking forward to being there for one of our intensives where I’m sure we’re going to learn a ton about your initiatives here. So over to you Pam can fill us in.

Pam Glode-Desrochers [00:07:51] Perfect. So first of all, I want to acknowledge the traditional territories in which I’m on, which is my Mi’kmaw ancestors. They are on unceded traditional territory. So I just want to acknowledge that and I am calling in today from K’jipuktuk and Aimee is part of our great group in Halifax. And this was a really interesting project that was I came across to working with Jane from McConnell Foundation, and then I got to the great opportunity to meet Tessy. And we realized pretty quickly that and I remember having the conversation that actually what Tessy and them are doing is actually a very traditional way of teaching within Indigenous communities. And that’s hands on experiential learning. So it’s while it’s it’s newly branded, it’s it’s probably a very old way of learning. And it intrigued me. And I thought if we are going to be doing this kind of work, if we’re interested in it, we want it to do it a little bit differently. We want it to talk about truth and reconciliation, and we knew that there would be challenges with that, because let’s be honest, if reconciliation and was easy, it would already be done. We would have already moved on. So we recognized that at the get go, that this would be a lot of work and that we would need a lot of patience and be willing to trip and fall and pick ourselves up. And Tessy and McConnell Foundation were both willing partners in this new endeavor. That we all recognize the importance of the work that was going to occur in Halifax in K’jipuktuk. And we we charted our path. And I think it’s been a good path. It’s been a challenging path. As you mentioned, COVID was certainly kept us on our toes. And let Aimee speak to the actual every Every One Every Day project. That’s she is she is our lead person on that. But we we we took this under our wing and said, “OK, let’s really talk about truth and reconciliation,” and we wanted to weave it throughout everything that we were doing. And we have been blessed that we have seen some pretty quick turnarounds on how we do and how we engage in Halifax. So it’s a great conversation and I could talk about it all day. And of course, I am great for talking. So you might Mary you may have to do this to me, but I’m happy to have the deeper conversations. And I know we have like 90 minutes, so there’s going to be lots of good conversation.

Mary Rowe [00:10:35] Let me go to Aimee next. And don’t worry, as you say, it’s not you only get one kick the can here. We’ve got we’ve got a good chunk of time so we can pursue these things. And I and I’m assuming, too, that you might want to at some point say, hey, some of these things that didn’t work right, like here are some things that we thought might work that didn’t work. I wouldn’t be the first time that Canadians might say that a model coming out of the UK didn’t work. Just saying. But let’s let’s so feel free to poke those questions, because we know iteration is part of how we all learn. And so we should feel free to say that, too. So, Aimee, fill us in on your side of the equation.

Aimee Gasparetto [00:11:10] Sure thing. And just to say I’m also calling in from K’jipuktuk today the unseeded territory of the Mi’kmaw people. So yeah, and I appreciate Pam’s framing because, you know, all of this has been very, very new for me, both the approach of Participatory City and thinking about reconciliation. So in Halifax, it was absolutely an intentional approach of ours from the beginning to to understand the platform approach to building every day inclusive participation in and across communities, but also how that platform could serve as a vehicle for reconciliation in neighbourhoods. And I would say straight off the bat, we’ve really been thinking about this at multiple levels. So how does reconciliation manifest in neighbourhoods through cross-cultural connections and sharing and learning of cultural traditions and craft, but also at the level of organizations. And so we had many different organizations coming together from the start and I, I could talk about it forever. It’s been a journey of trying to figure out and understand what it means to shift power dynamics, reassess resource flow and really do the personal learning that extends from ourselves to our teams to our organizations that is absolutely required for reconciliation. Just very quickly, I mean, honestly, I’ve so much to say, but just to say so we actually developed a mini platform in Halifax so that the platform itself was a collection of small spaces across the neighbourhood. We had a small team that worked, had existing relationships with residents to co-design participation projects. We developed a newspaper and for us that was a very, very powerful tool, both to set the tone and invite a really broad audience in. And I think with those things in place, you know, I’m learning about what this platform is, the other things like peer to peer learning, co-design with residents, they fell into place. And if there’s one phrase I keep saying from all of this it’s that ideas and innovation and creativity are not a supply problem. Like this exists in our communities and our task is to reveal it and to allow ideas to flourish. And anyone working in community understands that. But what this approach does is enable the conditions for that to happen. So I would say that I can talk a whole bunch more about what we saw around the cross-cultural connections. And I and I would like to talk about that. But there’s just two things I want to name upfront, which is that the concept of the ecosystem, the idea you spoke about, the connective tissue. So in this network of spaces, I could see how the infrastructure, when connected works to leverage resources and relationships across. And so if if we can think about any community or neighbourhood as an ecosystem, then we understand that it’s the relationships and the interconnections between those things that actually make all of this happen. And so this is such a clear focus for me. And then secondly, is this idea of scale. You know, Tessy, I think what we’ve seen in London is a lot of participation. And so for me, it’s like we did this little small thing in an area of the north end. But now I’m thinking about the scale of the systems of infrastructure, physical and social, that connect to one another, that allow thousands or hundreds of thousands of people to participate. Because to me, that is a very unique difference between what many communities and organizations are very, very good at, very good at, you know, enabling communities to participate. But it’s the system that is feels really different. And I don’t know, Mary like, I’m happy to go back, I there’s a couple of insights just around the reconciliation piece that feel really important to me as well in in our approach to designing this platform. You know, we really, really focused on working with staff at the Friendship Center and Indigenous community members connected to embed Indigenous knowledge within the platform where we could. And this was really, really a learning path. But this was intentional time to to spend time with elders, integrating Indigenous protocols where we could and where it was appropriate, really building in time to learn and teach across cultures. And for us, we did focus very specifically on Indigenous culture because, you know, we were really working to learn about that. But it was such a beautiful and unique part of what we saw in terms of Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members having safe space to come together to learn about cultural knowledge and traditions and space for this for this story sharing. So in intimate personal settings, we begin to share stories of ourselves that are very small but significant. And I think this is this is some of the stuff that we started to draw upon, as well as all of these other learnings around what it really means for organizations to to practice reconciliation and to extend that to the communities with which we work.

Mary Rowe [00:16:42] It’s interesting you use that phrase, I use this phrase top, ‘enabling conditions’. I always try to help public policy people see themselves less as controllers and more as enablers. But it’s hard because lots of people think that, you know, here are the outcomes we want and we’re going to prescribe how they will be achieved. And it’s difficult to move for us all collectively to resist that temptation, to say, well, this is how it’s got to be to, as you just suggested, creating the enabling conditions to see what may emerge, which I know is part of the way that you’ve been approaching this and this notion of ecosystems and the preoccupation, the primacy of connection and that connection allows. I want to I want to come back to scale because I have an allergy to scale, but I know that I really want to scale so we can come back and talk about that. So but thanks, Aimee. Great to have a perspective. And I can just see how this, as you suggested, and I can just see how the last 16 months would have incubated this in a certain kind of way. Right. It would have been interesting if you were trying to do it in non-COVID the times versus in COVID times. So that’s part of it. I think it’s an interesting learning when we’ve become so hyperconnected, even though we’re physically isolated. Anybody else think that? It’s sort of a weird irony. We’re physically isolated, but for us at CUI, we are now hyper connected with people across the country. And without this pandemic, we would never have been able to do that. Doesn’t it? Isn’t that weird? It’s kind of perverse. Anyway, Maude. I want to go to you next. Can we go to Quebec, la belle province? En  français. Your choice.

Maude Lapointe [00:18:21] OK, I usually speak for Frenglish anyway so.

Mary Rowe [00:18:25] Frenglish is fine. My kind of Frenglish. Go for it.

Maude Lapointe [00:18:28] Excellent. Hi, everyone. So I’m calling in from Montréal, which is unceded Indigenous land of traditional territory or both Mohawk and Algonquin peoples. My name is Maude and I work for the Solon team. So Solon is a nonprofit local organization in Montréal that enables citizen initiatives working towards ecological and social transition. And so we we selected to work in the borough of Ahuntsic-Cartierville which is the fifth most populated borough in Montréal, specifically in a sector called Fleury Ouest, which has a lot of newcomers and more marginalized population. We really wanted and the whole goal of all this was really to just build connections, build networks, create a more resilient and sustainable community. And we have such a different experience, and that’s what’s so rich about all three of the prototypes in the Montréal, in Halifax and Toronto, we have such a different experience. So we were newly arrived within the ecosystem of Ahuntsic. So Solon had just started deploying and implementing some projects. We had to get to people who didn’t know who we were and we couldn’t just do some outreach activities in the parks and stuff because we’re all confinement. So we relied, we were guided by Participatory City, mentored by by some of their teammates. And we went with the newspaper as well. We created this gorgeous newspaper and distributed it to twenty five hundred households and it basically did nothing. It went ‘pwip, pwip, pwip’, because because it’s not necessarily a traditional mean medium to reach people in our neighbourhood and maybe in Montréal. And so this is for I was told by someone that it’s typically British, but I don’t know that. We didn’t give up. So we just kept we kept working and kept working with social media, trying to reach people. We actually we resorted to sort of guerilla marketing styles. So we created it was wintertime. We had to adapt the whole project. And so we created a Zoom teammates went out and they made snowmen and then they stacked with sticks, signs and the snowman. They’re like, this is our neighbourhood. Participate in these amazing projects to build connections. And and that kind of worked. And so it was it was it was strenuous. It was it was really time consuming, lifting this thing off the ground. But once we got people participating in different online projects and then we created WhatsApp groups and then you saw the exchanges. Just baking bread for your neighbors so people learn how to bake bread. And then they just we delivered some materials to people. They made some bread, and then they sent us photos of how they they shared it with their neighbors and the smile on the faces. And so slowly but surely, things started lifting off the ground. We got to know the ecosystem. We got to know the local partners. We were really, really well received also with with what we were proposing, which is building, building community.

Mary Rowe [00:21:46] I love that bread breadmaking is in the scheme here. You know, honestly, if I’ve worked in a number of different cities that I’ve lived in and the one unifying thing is food, when in doubt find a way, you know, there’s a reason that people talk about breaking bread together. You can kind of get it. And but I’m and I’m interested to your anecdote about what we try to do a community newspaper in that. Like, I think these are what’s so interesting to there is a community newspaper. I want to go to Toronto next. Denise may be familiar with it. There is one in Parkdale in Toronto that they’ve called the Westend Phoenix, I think. And it’s a, I subscribe to it even though I deliver there. And as you say, it’s really highly market sensitive, isn’t it, what people want. But but I do think this unifying thing about food. The other thing is that you went you’ve been going so granular with this. I think that’s also hugely important. And I just hats off to your funder that they supported that because too often, again, as I’ve suggested, funders look for, public and private funders, look for big grand solutions because they want to they want to make it all solve it up. And they don’t allow us the kind of opportunity to work at the hyper local to try some stuff. Right. So there you were. You did a news drop and it didn’t work well in your in a small private community, that’s not the end of the world. You try something else. But if it were a big large scale system that invested millions of dollars to do a drop in, let’s say, across the country and it didn’t work, then it’s a big mess. Right. So isn’t it good that you that you’ve cultivated a kind of climate of let’s try some stuff.

Maude Lapointe [00:23:14] Experimenting.

Mary Rowe [00:23:16] Experimenting. And I love and as you say, the other thing about bread it seems as if, except for the keto people wherever they are, it seems as if bread kind of straddles all sorts of cultural traditions, right?

Maude Lapointe [00:23:29] Absolutely.

Mary Rowe [00:23:30] And so that’s a such a powerful metaphor. OK, Denise, let’s go to you now, if we could, in Toronto, which is normally where I’m where I am, but not today. And you’re particular in Regent Park, which is only a few blocks from my house or my apartment. So talk to us about what your experience has been. And I know it’s through the Center for Social Innovation. And talk to us a little bit about the Regent Park experience and how did you have bread and involved too?

Denise Soueidan-O’Leary [00:23:55] Thank so much, Mary. We did not have bread involved. We actually made a very conscious decision to not do bread baking just because of the demographics of Regent Park. And so just another sort of little tweak on the program. And I apologize. There is a competing Zoom call upstairs for those who can hear that in the background. But I am in Toronto. I’m not currently in Regent Park, but I am in Toronto, which is part of the District One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, and most recently, the land of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations, among others. And so Regent Park is a pretty specific or a pretty unique little corner of Toronto. It is one of the oldest and largest social housing projects in Canada and has gone through revitalization three times. And each time they’ve done that, it’s been the ‘most innovative thing they’ve ever done’. And now we’re doing it again. And the hope is that this is the most innovative and one of the reasons why it is the most innovative, and this is a vision of the Daniels Corporation and Toronto Community Housing, was to actually include not just a physical revitalization and to knock the community down to the ground and rebuild from scratch, but to also include a social development plan, which which is fairly innovative. I will give them that. And and the reason for the social development plan is that is that you obviously want to be want to you want to pull cohesion into the community. You don’t just want beautiful buildings and new spaces. You do want that sort of social cohesion to come together. So this has been a revitalization that’s been happening in Regent Park for probably the last fifteen years. And we have probably another at least five years to go. And the other sort of innovative thing that’s happened in Regent Park, and I’m just setting the stage that you understand why this is an important program in this particular neighbourhood in Regent Park, which is about ten thousand people. The other thing that happened as part of revitalization was to actually take it from a fully social housing community to a mixed market strata with both with with all social housing rent-geared to income, reduced market value rent through Toronto Community Housing and then market value condos for purchase and for rent in buildings. And to look through Regent Park, you would not know which buildings are which which was part of the of the of the point of this. So again, that just sort of sets the stage for Regent Park. It has one of the most diverse populations in all of Toronto. It also scored lower in terms of access, economic access. There’s a lot of there’s a lot of poverty, people living below the poverty line, but there’s also a lot of sort of services. So that’s a Regent Park in a nutshell. CSI has been in Regent Park for the last eight years. We’ve run a coworking space and launch pad and community space in the Daniels Spectrum building, which is a community asset and why did we do this? We’ve always been sort of trying to find our place in Regent Park, trying to figure out where we sort of fit between the social organizations. And what we realize is that we’re really good at creating the sort of social ecosystem and supporting residents in sort of realizing their wants and their and their desires and their sort of ideas and being able to unlock. And what Participatory City and Every One Every Day project offered us were tools to be able to give people multiple points of entry to a social ecosystem. What we have learned in our time and Regent Park is that there are people who are heavily involved in the neighbourhood in terms of the political structure, the governance structure, the social development plan, all of those kinds of things. But sometimes it’s really hard to pull the market value residents and the TCHC residents together in a fun way. And and that this was a really nice way to be able to offer lots of different options. And like I said, we decided not to do bread baking just because there is a rich food culture in Regent Park and bread baking, we sort of made a decision that it was kind of ethnocentric in a way, but that we did do lots of other sort of food things. One of the things that took off was hydroponic growing, if you can imagine that people were super interested in growing their own food and being able to do so in their own apartments. And so the ability to be able to offer, we offered 12 different project workshops in the beginning that were sort of COVID proof that we could offer online that people could do together gave us a really nice way to bring together market value residents and condo, or sorry, and TCHC residents in a way that was about their interests, not about what they needed, not about what they needed to get from services or anything like that. It was just like, are you interested in gardening or are you interested in painting? And so we got these really unique groups of people together on Zoom calls to be able to create a community mural together or to build a community garden together. And and in so doing, we were building social infrastructure. And we have now we’re sort of a few months out from that initial phase, that sort of initial phase of last winter. And we’re seeing that infrastructure develop and the sort of fruits that are coming from that that infrastructure that I’m seeing, neighbors who before weren’t connected, who come and walk through the neighbourhood. I watch them, I watch them, their kids are playing together and they’re offering each other jobs or they’re offering each other services in connection. And I think that that social infrastructure and those sort of social ecosystems that we’re building are the building blocks for strong, resilient communities, which is, of course, what we’re all doing here. Like that is the nature of what we’re all doing here. We’ve sort of moved into a community wealth building place in terms of how we’re making sense of the work that we’re doing in Regent Park. And, of course, those building blocks of relationships from one person to another is how we further the conversations of the systems. Without those, without those relationships on the ground floor there isn’t trust, there isn’t cohesion, there isn’t collaboration. And you can’t you know, we talked about scale has come up and you can’t scale if you don’t have have a strong foundation. And I really believe and we really believe that this project helped us to put more of those building blocks in place to be able to scale into systems change. But it starts as we know and as you said, that sort of granular level of like person to person interaction is how we take that from a community to a strong community to a systems change across the nation.


Mary Rowe [00:30:09] Yeah, I’m somewhat familiar with a lot of the challenges of Regent Park because I was involved at the beginning during this. As you say, there’s been several iterations, but I was involved 20 years ago on the social plan, the creation of a social plan. And I’m interested, as you say, I walk through the neighbourhood all the time. And interesting in terms of the engagement challenges you’ve had there, Denise, this is a racially extremely diverse community. And in suddenly, market units were brought in and the socioeconomic mix dramatically changed. And there was tons of anxiety about whether that was going to displace people, but also just change the dynamic of the of the sort of. How are you observing that? This is what an interesting place for you to put Participatory City, because this is a neighbourhood that had a had a sudden shock being the introduction of market rental housing.


Denise Soueidan-O’Leary [00:31:02] Absolutely. Yeah. We don’t I don’t think that it’s I don’t think it’s caused problems necessarily. But what we do see is that there’s still this sort of disconnect. There’s still this like, you know, the TCHC residents do some things and the market value residents do other things. CSI has been in a really unique position because we’re engaged and myself actually, an even more unique position, we’re engaged in in different channels in the neighbourhood. We’re engaged because we have the coworking space. We’re engaged because we’re part of the social development plan. I happen to own a small social enterprise in the in the community that I see a lot of the community sort of pass through because ice cream is popular. And what I noticed is that in those three ways, we saw very different groups of people. We saw one set of people that came to the social development plan. We saw one set of people that came to the to the CSI space. Then I saw another different group of people that came to the ice cream parlor. And I thought for a long time I thought that I knew all of Regent Park. And then we launched this project and I met people that I hadn’t met before after working the community for three years. And what that said to me was this is actually a different way of engaging people. It’s a different entry point and it gives people a barrier free access to, like I said, interest based connection. It’s ready-made. I’m going to make a weird analogy. When I was a smoker, I connected with other smokers because I had a lighter in my pocket, I had cigarettes in my pocket, and we could just do a thing because we both, we all smoke cigarettes. And so it was a sort of common experience and common understanding. So when we gathered people together because they were into art or because they were they were interested in hydroponic growing or that they were interested in the trees of the community, those people had a shared interest in a shared value system just because of signing up for this project. And so the conversation then flowed easier than having to make those connections in in the in the community and particularly during COVID.


Mary Rowe [00:32:54] But the dilemma though is this, when you suggest barrier free, like, I’m not sure anything’s barrier free. Right. Ultimately. But but the dilemma is that we didn’t have the benefit of actual public space. And so I want to come back to that and hear how people are imagining what’s this going to look like when when the public health restrictions are lifted and we can more freely move in public space. Keren, can I go to you next? Keren’s actually based in Edmonton, that she’s the coordinator of Participatory City. I’d like to get a sense from her what you’ve been observing in terms of your partners. And then I’m going to come to you Tessy, so that we haven’t forgotten that you are there. Go ahead, Keren.


Keren Tang [00:33:30] Hi, everyone. Wow. I can listen to these ladies all day long. So I am calling in from amiskwacîwâskahikan aka Beaver Hill House, aka Edmonton on traditional Treaty 6 territory. So of there’s so much activity happening, I feel like out east. I’m all the way out here out west and just it’s been such a ride. I mean, when I first joined the team, joined this initiative, you know, COVID wasn’t there. And I was anticipating so much travel and meeting all of these folks in person. But none of that happened. And I think certainly COVID has turned everything, literally everything upside down. And we have become this one Zoom family and see each other over the phone or just in these little square boxes, you know, and I was really drawn to Participatory Canada, really for the transformative vision and that it offered. And, you know, I think this past year we’ve seen sort of a glimpse of that and being the being the sort of this develop manager role with this initiative. I have the pleasure of really seeing everything that these these folks are talking about coming out of much higher level. And I think there’s a few themes that they all touched on that I think is actually quite universal. And we see I mean, I certainly see it here in Edmonton as well, the themes around the social disconnect between different groups of people. You know, we’ve heard lots and you can you can really dive deep into our our massive report that’s available online. You know, things that we’ve heard in K’jipuktuk in Halifax, around communities living parallel for a very long time, and now it’s time to kind of get together and, you know, we’ve heard that in Montréal where, you know, the the Salon team refers to this as turnkey projects about bringing people together. And, you know, residents feel that there’s always so many targeted services and programs, but very few that really kind of bring different groups of people together. And then, you know, Denise was really articulate about like everything she had observed over the years and, you know, the development and inclusion part. So I thought that was a really interesting and that’s something I’m seeing here in Edmonton as well. And then the other piece is this. You know, we’re not talking about a service. We’re not talking about target a program. And I think in all these communities and everyone here have such deep experience with community development and often we have lots of different programs as perhaps seniors or, you know, youth or for newcomers or. But what are you what are that network? What is the connective tissue? What is that thing that weaves everything together? And so that’s what’s something that’s been a huge learning, at least for me in this whole process. And then I think the third piece that I, you know of everyone here has really touched on is where this diversity of of of programs. As you remember, you know, at the beginning of the conversation with a Halifax team, there’s a lot of talk around food, actually. And we really had, you know, what about people who don’t want to make bread or who have people who don’t want to, you know, eat or make things. Now, what are some of the other pieces? And so I think has been so interesting to see how that diversity are drawing people together. Like know Denise was saying it’s a different entryway to kind of enter into this ecosystem. And too often we have. We have people and really engaged residents who might be on this committee and that committee and you’re doing really a lot of heavy lifting, but it tends to be a particular type of of people who might be educated. You know, they might be of a certain socioeconomic status. You know, they you know, they might be of particular gender or particular race. You know, they speak English really well, et cetera, et cetera. And but what about the rest? What about the single the single parents, you know, with a number of kids in the household under the age of five? What about those shift workers who can never make it to this very narrow opening window of this community hub, for example? And I think the key is, you know, these are the type of infrastructure that we actually really need at a neighbourhood, at a community level. Too often we rely on those weaving, you know, the human relationship to develop either through free labour, through volunteers or, you know, just you know, we we give very meager resources to a lot of nonprofits or civil society and just expect it to happen. And the more I’ve learned in this whole past year and a half is that it doesn’t necessarily always just spontaneously happen. And it takes intention. It takes investment and takes resources. It takes animation. You know, we have identified a number of pieces in this what we call this Participatory City approach. And newspaper is actually a really important part of that. So I think it’s good to know it doesn’t always working every context, but certainly space. You know, and I know we’ve touched on that a little bit, but the you know, the networks and the resources that really that that animating of spaces with the people involved and the relationships involved is is hugely critical. So I’ll just maybe end on something that has always really inspired me is the first time I heard this presentation from Tessy herself. This is over a year and a half ago or almost a year and a half ago and. And she said, you know, “if the system isn’t working we build our own” and these are all examples of people just rolling up their sleeves and taking things into their own hands and creating their own systems. And I think that’s really beautiful.


Mary Rowe [00:39:24] Mm hmm. Thank you, Keren. Certainly when COVID hit, we at CUI, we thought we have to create some kind of sharing platform because we knew there would be a ton of improvization that the systems were going to get completely taxed and pushed and they wouldn’t be able to respond. And so, as you just suggested, Keren, when systems aren’t working, people start to create their own and many of us use in our career all the time. What’s the workaround? Right. I remember when I was first working and I heard some senior person say workaround. I thought, wait, wait. What do you mean? What do you mean? You mean you have to work around things? I thought we were working with things, you know. So. So this notion of how I think there’s been a ton of workarounds and improvizations and ground up responses that have had to be respected during COVID because there just weren’t enough hands. Right. You couldn’t sort of say no, no, no government does this or so and so does that. But but now we’re in this interesting transition point. Does this get formalized? Right. And that’s there you are working with philanthropic capital to test a model that if it’s really true, this kind of social infrastructure is critical, then we probably need public investment now to help make it sustainable and formalizing. So I might come to you next Tessy and just get a reflection from you, because you’ve been at it for a long time in the UK and probably have seen these kinds of eruptions of creative this and creative that. Does does it actually form up and what’s your experience been watching it over a period of time. Does it eventually get formalized and then does government come in and support or what’s your experience so far? Nice to have you. Thanks for joining across the pond.


Tessy Britton [00:41:03] Thanks, Mary. You rolled about 15 questions in there. Thank you.


Mary Rowe [00:41:08] That’s OK. I thought not that you need prompting, but I’ll give you something to work with.


Tessy Britton [00:41:12] I know I am. I’m I, I was expecting it from you, Mary. Yes. Thank you so much for inviting me. I’m really thrilled to be here and thrilled to see and hear from the folks that we’ve been working with over the last 18 months and really just want to start by just giving them huge credit for for what they’ve achieved over the last few months in the height of the pandemic. I do absolutely think it’s extraordinary. And I think there were moments where it would have seemed much more sensible to actually sort of pause everything and just say, look, we’ll do it after things recover, whatever, and every single one of these three teams have powered through the pandemic with complete determination to to see what value we could we could give even in these times. So really just want to send my admiration for for for working in the harshest the harshest possible conditions when the whole thing is designed to bring people together. And actually they couldn’t, they needed to be apart. So just really so much respect for everything that’s been done and so excited about the potential as well. Because because we’ve we’ve we’ve been developing this model, worked across the whole of the UK, but it’s only really in the last last few years that it’s become much more solid, much more robust, kind of an adaptive approach. And to see it working in these different different contexts, it’s been really thrilling on so many levels. And I’ve forgotten all the other questions now. Now that I’ve preambled, Mary, I’ve forgotten all 15 of those


Mary Rowe [00:43:02] No it’s okay while I can, and I had a I had a dog barking in the middle of all that. But I guess the question is does it does it norm, does it does it eventually mean we’re going to talk about scale here and at some point, if this kind of infrastructure is crucial to the vitality and viability, let’s say, of communities, is it appropriate that the public sector comes in and provides resources? And does it then become just part of the way things get done? Have you? Is it too early to observe that or what are you seeing in the UK?


Tessy Britton [00:43:32] No, I think we still I think it’s a process and I think it’s a it’s a process of transition. And I think that’s ultimately where we see the sort of endpoint of this. The sort of the completion of of it is where practical participation is is built into everyday life. And in order to do that, you have to build it with people. So it’s a process that takes time. And so what we started in year one was the sort of you build it because you’re building it with people you have to work at that at that pace. You can’t just deposit it on that. And you have to work with people all the way through, every single aspect has to be done with people. So it’s a it’s a big co-creation effort. And then I think that that begins to when we talk about scale, it’s very much more about making sure that this involvement, this participation isn’t for some people some of the time, that it’s for everybody and it’s every day. And so I think that’s really what we’re talking about when we talk about scale is is building sufficient resources and infrastructure that enables that level of inclusivity. That it’s not just a small number of people doing it that may be more confident, that may be better, better served. You know, you had some examples. Some people are working two jobs and they’re looking at raising children and they’re looking after elderly parents. We need social infrastructure, which enables every single person to find a way of plugging into this ecosystem of participation so that they can both contribute, but they can also benefit from that because this is such a co-creation effort. And so I think when we talk about scale, that’s really what we’re talking about, is making sure that it’s it is big enough the opportunities that are sufficiently dense and diverse enough that everybody can find a way of of taking part in that. So, yes, and I think the public sector at the moment, we have our local council contributes. We have the City of London contributes in in different ways. But I think that it’s completely appropriate that they should do it. And really how we’d like to see it develop is that it starts to be viewed the same way the parks and roads and libraries are. You know, that this is seeing social infrastructure.


Mary Rowe [00:45:58] Yeah, this is the challenge, I guess. Here in Canada, we’ve been inundated with national programs, national support programs during COVID at a scale that none of us in our lifetimes have ever seen in Canada. So billions and billions of dollars that have been that have been allocated nationally and sent down. And some of it gets down into local communities in relevant ways. And some of it gets clogged at the provincial gatekeeping group that say, no, no, we wanted to go over here, you know. So it’s so I mean, there’s a question en français in the chat about how critically important do you think this model is to being place based? Start at the local. Can I get a sense who. Aimee, you’re nodding. Do you want to respond to that? And then I do want to hear from Denise and others about this question about scale. How do we then square it with scale? So, Aimee, over to you on local.


Aimee Gasparetto [00:46:49] I was just going to say, because I think everything I’m really glad what Tessy’s saying makes all the sense to me, so that’s that’s a good sign. But like the I think the play space question and the scales seem interconnected to me because, again, when I when I speak about scale, I don’t mean the way a funder might say, how does this thing scale out or up or whatever. It’s about the the scale of participation, but the approach to designing that platform is hyper local, which is so which is what’s so unique about this, because it’s neighbourhood based. And I you know, there’s been a couple of times where, like, is this just placemaking like, what are we actually doing here? No, we’re creating opportunities and infrastructure for neighbors to come together and be in spaces that they may not have otherwise been in and experience something that they might not otherwise have experienced because the invitation’s different, the opportunities different. There’s a safe, welcoming environment for that level of participation to happen. And I think the way the scale happens is in the thoughtful design of the the the hyper local infrastructure and the and and the teams that then layer in to support that. It looks different everywhere, but the scale of participation becomes very, very big.


Mary Rowe [00:48:05] And and somehow the funding, though, has to be flexible enough that, as you say, you can have hyper local approaches or so.


Aimee Gasparetto [00:48:12] And then this piece, which Tessy, which I think what we’ve been able to see in London, which is very inspiring to me, is how this then extends to inclusive economic activity, because you’ve got this hyper local local infrastructure connected to what we see in London. Warehouses, makerspaces, you know, these bigger pieces of infrastructure that can exist across a city or a province and be connected to the hyper local infrastructure. So these investments need to be linked and inclusivity needs to be thought about the whole way in terms of it being a cyclical process where residents are engaged in every single element of it.


Mary Rowe [00:48:52] OK, I’m going to go to Denis and then to Pam.


Denise Soueidan-O’Leary [00:48:57] Thanks so much. Yeah, I think that scale is maybe not the correct term, like scale is like take this thing and grow it so it’s massive and then we can just, like, sort of plop it down in different places. And I think that one of the reasons why and I don’t know this, but I’m making a guess. I think one of the reasons why we did three pilots in very different places with very different demographics is to figure out what pieces of the models should be there, like what pieces of the models should should exist and what pieces of the models actually need to be adjusted and shifted and changed so that each or each local hyper local neighbourhood, whether it’s across Toronto, whether it’s across Ontario, whether it’s across Halifax, Nova Scotia, whether it’s across Canada, that we can shift and adapt and change so that the programs meet the needs of these tiny little spaces that bread baking works in [inaudible]. Newspapers worked in Regent Park. They didn’t work in Halifax or sorry in Montréal. And so these are the pieces that it’s about where you’re at and how you can shift and adjust rather than stealing. We’re actually talking about adapting and replicating and how we think how we create a model is that, again, we figure out the pieces that absolutely need to be present and some of the pieces that need to be present are people need to be able to access in the way that they want to. They need to be able to you know, Law of Two Feet. They need to be able to join based on what what speaks to them and how they feel called to to to to interact. But some of the other pieces, the design pieces actually need to be adjusted so that people are feeling that they can see themselves in these programs. And so I think, though, I think that this kind of program could work in every community. It absolutely will not scale and work the same in every community. And so I think that I think that that’s a super important model. But I think that the understanding needs to be that it has to be adapted and changed with the voices of residents and with the voice of the community to to inform how it gets adapted and changed in order for it to be successful across and across larger spaces or across multiple communities.


Mary Rowe [00:51:07] I mean, this there are there’s lots of old terms we used to use for this kind of thing, mutual aid societies. And there’s still there are different communities where mutual aid is more largely understood. When I move to the US, I had to adjust my mind to realizing that churches in Canada were more secularized. And so churches weren’t necessarily seen as delivery vehicles as much. But in the southern US, where I was living, I quickly had to realize that that was in fact a key part of the social infrastructure and that those faith institutions were challenged to be more inclusive. And we can see the legacy of faith institutions in negative ways all around us. And yet this was the this was a service vehicle that was familiar. And how do you actually how do you actually work in partnership with those kinds of institutes? Institutions. Think of public libraries. Settled Canada has a long history of settlement houses for newcomers. All these things. Are there ways to, I don’t know, to appropriate back the community function that these places once held in ways that that get the good without the bad? Pam, can I come to you next to get some comments from you.


Pam Glode-Desrochers [00:52:15] And that actually Mary what you’re talking about is something I wanted to raise. And that’s that’s the social infrastructure and how we approach that. It it really has to come from the community, for the community. We have to reinvest in the communities. And that’s not been done. It’s been all about individual investments and benefits. And we have to really pull ourselves back. And I talk about this is seven generational planning, right?


Mary Rowe [00:52:46] Do you mean during COVID or do you mean just generally?


Pam Glode-Desrochers [00:52:49] Just in general. COVID certainly highlighted a huge, huge piece of the reason for the need for real investment in social infrastructure.


Mary Rowe [00:53:02] Right, right. But income support historically in Canada has been to the individual or the household. Right?


Pam Glode-Desrochers [00:53:06] Right. But I’m talking reevaluating that benefit of community first. So excess lands, which to me is crazy to even think that there’s excess lands because that’s another whole different conversation for me. But when there are lands available, the investment should be going into the community benefits, what benefits the community and built, because once you start investing in those kinds of infrastructures, you are building a resilient people, you are building capacity and community. You are building a much stronger united community. And at one time for us, as an as an Indigenous person, it was always about the benefit of community. And we have lost that and we’re more worried about individual rights, individual needs, instead of the benefits of community and making sure the community comes first. We all- Listen, I’m the first one. I’ve been fighting this fight for a long time for Indigenous peoples to have a voice. The reality is, if you’re coming from a marginalized community, you’re fighting all the time. You are fighting to have your voice heard. You’re fighting to have a place at the table, or if that sit at that conference, you’re fighting all the time. And the reality is we need to look at land ownership differently. And I’m a firm believer, listen, we don’t own land. That was a made up system. Somebody came in and drew a line. The land owns us, and someday we’re all going back to it. So make no mistakes there. We need to be better stewards of the social infrastructure and how that gets to the make real benefits. And I’ve seen somebody had asked about the kids. Where are the kids involved in this? Well, I get to tell you, even as a small child, we were expected to go and pick the berries and be part of the processing. We were expected to go fishing for yes, even eels which I still don’t enjoy. But we were we were expected to do that. And you were expected to learn the processes and you shared that with your your friends, your family, the next generation. It was a very natural way of learning. And that’s what we need to get back to. And I think Tessy’s, this particular project can do just that. You’re talking about building a much more resilient community and much more stronger community and one that understands each other in a much better way. Instead of the silo approach, which we’re all familiar with. If anybody’s in this great Turtle Island of ours, we all know that we’re very good at being siloed. We’re very good at it. We work, we’re all working with our head down. You’re just you’re just doing what you need to do. And we just need to step back, lift our heads up and look around to say, OK, how can we be doing this much better. And I do believe that it falls back in very traditional ways of of learning and being.


Mary Rowe [00:56:06] Interesting, first of all, just lots of good questions coming up in the chat, and it’s really great if other people respond because there’s so many things being pinged over there. So I appreciate people that are responding to each other on that. Questions on rules and what how much do you have to involve the municipality because they’ll tend to say no, because they’ve got liability issues or whatever. Concerns around insurance. Questions about, interesting questions from our colleague in South Africa who often comes on asking about whether, it’s a pretty important big question, do you see are you observing in Canada that some of the most that that some of the best progress on reconciliation may, in fact, be happening in cities where Indigenous urban residents and non-Indigenous urban residents can solve problems together and interact? Is that a lesson for the country to start at the local? So I’ll just leave that with you guys to tackle. And then this point that Pam just made about land, we heard we hear that often. I would say it’s CUI. Why isn’t all public land, whether it’s owned by the federal provincial- I mean, I agree with you. It’s not owned by anybody. But you know what I’m getting. If if it currently is technically owned by the province, the feds or the local municipality, why should it ever be put into the market? Why shouldn’t the default be that the first option is that it be made available, made available to for local for community use. Right. And in the UK, we’re seeing that even in terms of commercial enterprises where communities are buying back their pubs. So some interesting questions about that. And why wouldn’t that just be written? Why wouldn’t that just be a general purpose practice so that social purpose, real estate would have some traction? Are you seeing that kind of thing yet in Halifax, Pam, where people are actually starting to ask those questions?


Pam Glode-Desrochers [00:57:51] Yeah, I certainly have seen even our approach to some of the how do I put this? So when we first started in Halifax, we had it set up that the funds would flow to a charity, that charity would flow the funds to us. So it would go McConnell charity to another charity because we’re an actual registered charity. And I think Aimee, correct me, but it was an aha moment for I think a lot of people when and and I’m going to say who was because I’m totally proud of them. It was actually United Way kind of looked at us and said, well, if we’re doing this differently, why is it we’re going to be monitoring you and why is that you have to be accountable to me, accountable to United Way? And I have to say, Sarah and Sue, who are with United Way, thought long and hard on that approach. And that was the beauty of this particular project. It got people starting to think differently in their approach of working with Indigenous peoples. We’ve been around a long time. We are not for profit. We’re a registered charity. We’re not small by any means. And yet it it was an aha moment for United Way when they said, well, why are we doing it the old way when we should be doing it the new way? If this is the process that we’re trying to do in Halifax, why is it that we’re still trying to do things the old way? Yeah, and and and I had even said I think Jamie and I have had a couple of conversations before this happening, and it was a frustration. And then it was a it was a great conversation with United Way. And and it changed. It shifted. So that small shift has begun, a very different relationship with United Way and the Big Money to Friendship Society located in Halifax. And you could see all the people sitting around that our strategic team looking and thinking, yeah, why? Why is it that we were? And so the conversation has started. And listen, there’s going to be a lot of trips and falls. And the thing is, is you’re building a relationship with people. So we’re all going to be there together to help and pick each other up because we are going to make mistakes, truth and reconciliation. It’s not easy. It’s not easy. It’d be done if it was. We have half the truth that hasn’t even been told yet. We’re just now finding some of our children. And I keep saying I hope this is the aha moment for for Turtle Island or Canada. And you just hope and pray that this is it, that all of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people will stand there together to give those children back their voices and their identity. We will all carry those children home in one way or another. So that’s where this particular strategic group and I suspect it’ll grow. Some people will come and go. And it’s a boat building the long term relationships. And this platform has given us that opportunity. And yes, we are we are very different in K’jibuktuk. I recognize that. We knew that it was going to be different and there would be challenges. But it’s worth the journey. It’s worth the fight. It’s worth the trips and falls. It’s worth all of it because you are beginning to see a very different relationship. We’re not seen as a drain on society. We’re not seeing, like people are starting to shift in how they view what we’re doing. Lots of great questions coming from people. We’ve had lots of questions, even the fact that this is a UK model coming to us again. And these are real conversations. Right. And and I’ll be the first one to say, yes, I recognize that this is a UK model and people will argue, well, well, that’s a UK model. That look at what it’s done to us in the past. Well, education will get us out of all of this. And this particular project is one that’s being joint. It’s a joint project. It’s not being done to us. We’re partnering to change how we do things differently. And I think that’s the beauty of this, is that we are able to ask the questions that need to be asked. And they’re tough conversations sometimes. But we have got to get past the the the the- I shouldn’t say we have to get past. We have to recognize that there are tough conversations. We have to recognize that we have way more in common than we do against each other. And if we find those common ground pieces, we all want the same things. We all want safe, affordable access to housing, access to food security. We all want the same things regardless of where you’re coming from. And I think those are pretty solid ground pieces to be working from.


Mary Rowe [01:02:40] Now, I keep just I keep using my little image, you know, we got to go from this to this. I want to ask Maude a question about institutional resistance. You’re working in a whole different cultural context. And I’m interested as you’ve been exploring this approach in the neighbourhood that you’ve been working in. Have you experienced similar or different kinds of challenges from institutions? And also interested about the business community? Because you’ve got some I would say that in Quebec, not to generalize, but there is a I think, a further thinking of social business and maybe that in other parts of the country. So have you had run up against that, some institutional resistance and how you sort of or have you not? They all been a pushover over there?


Maude Lapointe [01:03:25] Actually, no, it has. Everybody’s been very welcoming. The Burial Council has been an extremely welcoming. Everyone has been very enthusiastic about the approach that were that we were proposing here. We were arriving into this already fully established ecosystem of mostly service based community organizations and I got to say, I mean, it’s yeah, people have been generally really welcoming, wanting to work with us, and I’m curious about about what we were proposing.


Mary Rowe [01:04:04] Yeah. Let me maybe it’s interesting to me to whether where we would find resistance. You know, if you’re happy, that’s great. Tessy, I think may have to drop off. So Tessy do you have some thoughts on this. I bet you’ve had you’ve had a bunch of knocks through the process. What would your advice be to this gang? Your muted, Tessy.


Tessy Britton [01:04:26] It’s generally the best way to engage with me is when I’m on mute, Mary. Yeah, I mean, I think that I think that the the broader you can make it, the more system based you can make it in it’s sort of conception right from the beginning the better. And I think that the I think that the the the temptation is now that we’ve started these these three pilots, is to is to start doing things too quickly. And I think you still do have to build quite a lot of infrastructure and support and resources before you get started again, because what you’re doing is you’re inviting residents into into something that you want to be much more long term. So I think it’s it’s just so important that all the groundwork gets done in preparation for that. Can I pick up on something else, Mary? I just just really wanted to to add just to sort of talk about the outcomes, because I think that’s still one of the things that are very important to everybody, that this has an impact because it’s it’s it’s a very hard work and we want it to be meaningful. So I think one of the realizations we’ve had recently is that we’ve spent a lot of time gathering data and researching the many outcomes of the peer to peer practical participation and what it creates. And we’ve done this very systematically and very rigorously. And it’s led to this evolving outcomes framework, which is very detailed. And we’ve done this with participants. And as I say, it’s we’ve done it as rigorously as we can. And we are at the point now where we’ve got sort of this outcomes framework. We’ve got sort of eight categories of outcomes. And the point is that when lots and lots of people participate, that it produces a lot of outcomes. But I think one of the things that’s really become clearer to me as we sort of stand back and look at it in the context of 2021, is that is that they’re that they’re not all equal, they’re all important. And they and a stage later we’ll have quantified them and we’ll have a sort of hierarchy of outcomes, whether it’s health or employment or the environment or those sorts of things. The thing that really stands out for me is that this approach is really the most important aspect of this is about cohesion. It’s about relationships between people. And I think that the reason why it’s important is that it’s it is a unique approach to doing that. This sort of inclusivity, which is at the core of the whole design, is so fundamental to to what we’re doing. And I think what we’ve also seen is that creating polarization and conflict and negative stuff that is relatively easy to achieve. It can be done through broadcast methods and people can do it through online means, through all the media at our disposal. But cohesion and with that reconciliation as well, it requires people to build relationships between each other. It requires that people leave the comfort of their own home and go into spaces that they’ve never been into, that they don’t know people at that they take enormous social risk to do that. That’s the kind of thing which which creates cohesion between peoples and the counterbalance to all of this polarization and conflict that we’ve seen being built over the last few years. I mean, it’s just as strong here as anywhere. We’ve had we’ve had the whole Brexit campaign with sort of really spearheaded by that. And we’ve actually we can still there’s some people in the bar who think that they felt the effects of that. So I think that what mustn’t be underestimated is firstly how difficult it is to get people out and together across differences. It is hugely difficult. Anybody who’s done community development work of any kind will know how hard it is to actually achieve that. And so this is there are lots of ways of building co-operatives. There are lots of ways of doing lots of other things that we do that can be done in pieces. But the thing that’s really fundamentally different about this approach of working with the building ecosystems where everybody can contribute and participate, that’s the kind of that’s the single biggest reason why I would invest in this. I would push all of those all of those other outcomes. All are important and relevant. But the thing which is most important part of this approach and most important to me, certainly, and I think important to many people who have been involved in Canada is that it’s about building relationships and networks between people and counterbalancing all of this negativity and polarization. And it’s it’s heavy lifting. You know, it takes a lot. It takes you know, sometimes we use the phrase we you know, we throw the kitchen sink at it. You know, we put out 70,000 forty-eight page newspapers. You know, that’s not that’s not easy stuff. That’s about creating as many opportunities as possible to bring people into the spaces together to do common denominator stuff, even if it’s for half an hour or an hour. You have to do that kind of that’s the heavy that’s the heavy lifting required to sort of change the way the world is heading and the kind of experiences we’ve had. So I just wanted to sort of add that as a sort of I think just to say that I think it’s so important, important part of what we’re doing,


Mary Rowe [01:10:23] Tessy are there other communities where this is being tried as well. I mean, I know that you’re in in the two neighbourhoods in London. Anywhere else other than here in Canada, anywhere else where there’s some interest?


Tessy Britton [01:10:34] We’re talking to about six boroughs in Scotland. I don’t think it’s a coincidence, isn’t it? So if Scotland, Scotland, Canada, New Zealand, sort of the enlightened wellbeing economy, kind of open minded sort of things. Can I just one more point. I think that one of the things which is just to touch on what Pam was saying about the fact that that we’ve we’ve developed this in the UK and it’s a UK, seen as a UK model. I think that the idea of it being adaptive, it’s sort of adaptive by design. So it’s it’s a it’s it’s an approach which means that all the raw ingredients, all the people, the ideas, the spaces, those are all local, all those things. So the process that comes with the approach is will take a different cake everywhere because it’s the people because it’s so it’s such a co-creation effort. So it’s not just about saying, oh, here’s a sort of static model. It’s an adaptive model of places.


Mary Rowe [01:11:41] Yeah. I mean, we for years we talked about participatory budgeting coming out of Porto Alegre, so it came out of a particular place and then it was adopted all around the world. So it’s just but I think there’s an extra kind of layer in terms of Canada’s history, obviously. But I was just interested about whether or not there was interest being shown in the model in other places. One question for all of you would be size. When Tessy says borough, how many people in a borough generally, Tessy?


Tessy Britton [01:12:12] They vary enormously. Some of the cities we’re talking to in Scotland are 50 or 75,000 people. The one we’re looking at at the moment is over 200,000. The borough is relevant in terms of partnerships.


Mary Rowe [01:12:29] Yes sure, in which order of government should we partner with. But I’m curious to either Aimee or Maude or Denise have a view on this in terms of the size of the neighbourhood, either the geographic size or the population size. Anybody wrap their head around that? Maude, see you nodding of what the optimal size is to start.


Maude Lapointe [01:12:45] Wow. Well, so it all works at a very, very, very local level when it when we initiate projects and stuff. So we’re present in both the Ahuntsic-Cartier, borough in Montréal and Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie. But we work en travaille avec des voisinages des milieux de vie. So in a Ahuntsic we’re very, very present in the Fleury Ouest section, which has about 5,000 residents, but the borough itself has 134,000 residents. So we just selected a specific portion of a specific area and we really targeted an area where there was a lot of ethno ethnic cultural diversity.


Mary Rowe [01:13:26] Anybody else got a sense of that about the optimal size? Because I know we hear this lots about is there the optimal size of a city? Is there an optimal size of a neighbourhood? You know, anybody else wrapping their head around this, either Aimee or Denise in terms of size, either spatial size or population size? Anybody ever a sense. Denise?


Denise Soueidan-O’Leary [01:13:44] Yeah, yeah. Just a quick note. I mean, we’re we’re just over ten thousand people in Regent Park. And I and I think that that might be pushing the boundaries, like, I think that might be pushing the upper end. Yeah. Of of of of how you create a sense of community with people. I think the people have an identity about Regent Park, but it’s very hard to bring that many people in that many sort of different groups of people together. We also have a very diverse community. So I think somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 is your answer. And that depends on so many different things. That depend on what what’s the make up and everything else.


Mary Rowe [01:14:17] Yeah, Maude wants to jump in to. Go ahead Maude.


Maude Lapointe [01:14:20] Walking distance. That’s kind of like the way. Five to ten minute walking distance is how far you got to go to get to your neighbourhood.


Mary Rowe [01:14:27] Five to ten minutes. It’s interesting. Zita Cobb has a phrase that community is the distance that a person can walk in a day. That’s a big community, but she’s in Newfoundland where there aren’t that many people. But if you walk today in Montréal, you’d hit thousands of people. Go ahead, Aimee. What were you going to say in terms of size?


Aimee Gasparetto [01:14:45] Well, again, I mean, I think it’s very hard to define. Like we played with that and I don’t think you can because every neighbourhood and community looks different and is spatially different for every resident living in that community. But if we think about this idea of practical, it, it has to be available every day, if not you know. So it has to be on your way home from work, on your on your way to home, you know, things that make it really, really easy to participate. So I think that’s really important if the north end of Halifax is very far spread apart. So if you’ve got some pieces of the infrastructure over at one end and some at the other, a person’s only going to focus or be able to get to one. So I think accessibility is is really critical in in achieving this outcome of practical, everyday participation. And, you know, we all define our neighbourhoods and communities in very different ways. And again, I think people should be able to do that and choose the ways in which I participate.


Mary Rowe [01:15:41] I mean, for instance, in a suburban community, it might be a not how far you can walk, but how far you can drive. And how does the how do you define that? A question for you Tessy from Jane asking for the borough of 200,000. How many shops and BIA spaces, any idea?


Tessy Britton [01:15:57] Yeah. So we’ve got we’ve got five we’ve got five shops which are a project incubator spaces across the borough. We’ve got a large 3,000 square metre makerspace building. Also trying as we evolve, we’ve got about aiming by the end of the year to have about one hundred Tomorrow Today Streets, which are street level hopes. So all the time we’re trying to bring the activity, just as Aimee was describing, as close to where people live as possible. So people won’t get on a bus to go and cook for an hour. So every estate should have a shared kitchen. They should have a shared place to eat. They should have space to grow and repair and make and all those sorts of things, because we’re trying to build this into into the we’re sort of trying to retrofit this into our neighbourhoods. And if we look at the across the UK and I’ve been to so many places, there are literally thousands of spaces which are community halls and they sit up for a variety of things. They push the end up, push the chairs at the end of the day to the side. They’ve got a kitchen which has got a kettle and a sink, and you can fit into bottles of milk. You can’t cook together. You can’t eat together, they’re nonfunctional, but they’re also not used. So we’ve got all of this capacity which has been set up for events and meetings, and then we surprised the communities only have events and meetings. We need this functionality.


Mary Rowe [01:17:25] We need more flexibility. Yeah. So we need to engage the design community that often who come on to CityTalks. I hope they’re listening to you, about how do we adapt these spaces. And as Pam said, all the questions of land and property, why aren’t they being repurposed just as a matter of matter, of course, to these kinds of flexible civic spaces? OK, well, as we’ve only got a few more minutes left and I’m wondering if we could just pull it up one level in terms of what you think Participatory City Canada can start to lead on and what are the key lessons? And you’ve got an interesting model that includes learning, learning, architecture, resources, vision. I’m looking at your report with that nice round visual, context and evidence. So there seems to be a kind of magic kind of formula that you’re trying to devise to see if you can advance this, get it more sustainably funded, obviously, and then adapt. You can see people in the chat saying, how much does it cost to prototype one of these, that kind of stuff? Keren, I’m going to come to you next just for general kinds of responses to what you’ve been seeing in the chat. And then let’s go around each person, if I could, and just say, what would you prioritize in terms of moving this to the next level, whatever that means? To you, Keren first.


Keren Tang [01:18:31] Yeah, there’s been lots of stuff popping up, and I just want to be able to kind of touch on that first, I guess, in terms of this question around density. So beyond Toronto, Montréal, Halifax, this past year, that is actively prototyping and working with multiple teams. You know, we’ve been also having conversations with folks in Edmonton and Laval know two cities are actually fairly, you know, quite, quite, quite, quite spread. And one of the questions that keeps coming up is, ah, well, you know, Montréal, Toronto is actually fairly dense, you know. Well, what does it look like in the suburbs more suburban communities? And I think that point about walking is is quite important. And that is a you know you know, there are a number of design principles within the Participatory City approach, 14 or 15. But, you know, within walking distance is actually one of them. So accessibility. There’s the whole thing. There’s many questions about adapting. And I know learning has been touched on. And I will just say this. One of my greatest joy every month is to bring all three of these teams together to learn from each other. And I think that community of of learning, of practice, particularly during a pandemic when like no one has done this before in this circumstance, is really valuable because each team builds upon one another’s knowledge, you know. You know, maybe what we’re hearing from London might be a baseline, but each of them have taken in such different directions and they’re learning about like, what is the COVID restriction like in your city, your community? What are you doing around this issue? And the goal here is that, you know, it’s not again, it’s not about replicating, but each time you know, this is being done, it should be bigger. It should be better. It should be different. But, you know, we’re building upon one another. And we’ve been working with some of the coaches from, you know, Tessy’s team in London. And there’s that learning is very much reciprocated. And and and and I’ll just say that to, you know, traditionally as McConnell Foundation where, you know, where we’re funder, you know, we we we we get proposals, we fund grants. And and I’ve been involved in this project in a very I think a very different kind of way that we’re we’re learning together. We’re co-creating together. And I’m part of, you know, we’re we’re all part of this community. To that question about resources, you know, so so so we started, so this Participatory Canada is part of a bigger social R&D portfolio, which is part of the you know, the whole the federal government’s investment readiness program. And each of the cities started with, you know, a hundred thousand dollars in grants, but that was matched with significant resources, both in cash, in kind, locally. And so there’s just been a lot of support and interest within that local ecosystem. And I feel like considering like all that has happened in the past year, one thing we have learned is that you need resources. You know, if you want to do this well, if you want to be really intentional, you need resources. You can test in a small way. But in order to kind of go to the next level and I guess your question is like how how do you kind of move to the next level is and I actually think we’ve touched on earlier is how do we see social infrastructure as a public good? You know, how can the how can we start to rethink that in terms of the public sector and how can we how can we, you know, funded to the ambition that that we wanted to be. And I guess the last point. I want to touch on is this question about resistance, you had asked about that and what I will say that there is a is I mean, it’s not exactly a resistance, but it is there’s this skepticism for sure. You know, like this looks just like every other community projects. We have collective kitchen, we have community garden. We have all this and this and this and why like why why should we care? Why should we do this? And I and I would just emphasize that, you know, I think everybody here has such a long history and experience, deep experience doing so many of these kinds of amazing community projects. And those things are still absolutely necessary. But what is what we’re talking about is that weaving together and building capacity and always involving people who might not normally get involved in the civic conversation. And to me, that foundation of building that kind of infrastructure at the neighbourhood level is the basis we need for a more engaged, you know, civic landscape, let’s just call it. So that was a lot. But I and sorry, one more thing about this question. I think it came up around sustainability. One thing that has been really interesting on this for me is learning about this whole idea of compound outcomes. So social cohesion, you know, as Tessy said, is super, super priority. But it also matters what people are doing. You know, you you want to circulate, you want up-cycle. You want to really ensure that that the materials and goods are kind of circulating within a very high political context. Denise talked about hydroponics. And, you know, I think there is bike repair. Everything’s happening. So locally that has a tremendous impact on circular economy and certainly sustainability.


Mary Rowe [01:24:02] Thanks. That was a lot there. Keren, thank you for just blitzing through it. I mean, the chat is full of really good stuff and we always post the chat on CityTalk. So don’t panic, folks. The admin will take all those links down. You’re going to get them when you see the conversation posted. Am I the only one that has a bit of nervousness about government coming in and funding this? I’m worried that they will wreck it with all their rules and their top down, whatever is. And I don’t know, am I the only one that worries about that? I mean, I know that that’s not the answer because communities need more resources and we can’t keep doing these things on the backs of whatever. But I just want to just get a pulse on people about how do we keep this ground up, responsive, innovative, creative? I’m going to go to Denise and then Maude and then Aimee and then Tessy, last word. I only got, only got five minutes guys. You’ve got to be brief. Go Denise.


Denise Soueidan-O’Leary [01:24:50] Thank you so much. Yeah I, I don’t like rules ever. And I think that these programs work because there are no rules. The idea of getting to yes and making things happen is hard when you have funders who want reports and who want specific outcomes if you want. This has been a lovely sandbox to be able to play and I’m not so worried about government funding these things as I am worried about the the things that they want from us if they do fund it. I think that we have to stop with this anemic funding of programs and we have to start looking similar to the model that Tessy has in the UK. We have to start looking at large infrastructure investment that allows things to happen, but we can’t account for when we’re writing a one year funding proposal. And so I’m not, I would love to have government money. They have the kind of money that we need to do this kind of thing. But I’m worried about them continuing to fund these things in this way. That is what I what I call ‘drip drop funding’ that like don’t give me this little tiny bit, give me a large bit and let’s make up let’s make a plan to do something good with it as opposed to this like every year we have to report back on what happened, what didn’t happen, why didn’t that happen or maybe you won’t get funding next year. We need to stop that and move forward. So, yes, I want government money. No, I don’t want the traditional role of government money.


Mary Rowe [01:26:01] Sustainable funding that has more open ended. Maybe it has to be maybe the money has to come locally. So then that it raises the larger specter of how municipalities get their resources Over to you, Maude.


Maude Lapointe [01:26:11] I don’t think I can add any more than Denise just said. She really summed it up very, very well. I’d be very sad if I left this this the Zoom call and I didn’t talk about what’s coming up, what we are prioritizing in Ahuntsic. So for us, it’s definitely going to be what are what are what are the interesting things that are coming up. It’s the it’s the shop front. It’s the makerspace. It’s something that was already planned by Solon. And we’re really, really excited. I’m just very nervous about everything that’s coming up. We also have a project that we’re developing with citizens, and it’s found its way onto the Montréal participatory budget. So Montréal has this great initiative where citizens can go vote for the project, their favorite project. So if there are any Montréalers in the audience today, please look it up. Le budget participatif de Montréal. So it’s this vacant lot that we’re going to convert with the citizens of Fleury Ouest to see what they want to do, community garden, whatever. So it’s like an outdoor outdoor meeting space, outdoor makerspace and that’s it. And continue to continue to build things. Continue to build connections.


Mary Rowe [01:27:19] Wonderful that you’re pregnant, pregnant with things, possibilities. That’s fantastic. Wonderful. Aimee, last word to you and then Tessy for a quick goodbye.


Aimee Gasparetto [01:27:29] Yeah, I think number one for us, you know, this is foundationally a learning model. And so unfortunately, we did not get to go to London and see this thing in action. And I think it’s really critical to building the case for this, because this work, as we’ve talked about, it is rooted in relationships. But it’s very, very simple. Right? So if we think about monumental shifts like reconciliation, you can actually imagine not to undermine all the work that’s required of Canadians to understand what that work is, but personal transformation that comes through relationships with residents. So I think in terms of getting cities and governance on board, this is like no question this is about rigorous investigation and systematic approach. And I think Participatory City has demonstrated what’s possible with the evaluation and the outcomes. So we can do that. But let’s remember that the outcomes need to be felt and named by the community that’s feeling them, right? So if a government is saying this is what we want to see, I think we need to flip that conversation and say this is what’s valuable for our communities in terms of social and economic resilience and serve them a platter of here’s how we’re going to get there. It’s maybe it’s a service contract, who knows? But it does not need to be a bunch of money tied to a whole bunch of methods through which we achieve economic and social resilience. I think that’s very, very important. And yeah, I mean, so so I would say for us in Halifax, what’s very important Tessy already named it. I we have to build that that base infrastructure that can demonstrate some of what’s possible with this. So for me, I’m very focused on the infrastructure, the teams existing and new that can pull this together and really demonstrate in, you know, in the flesh some of these outcomes that we’re we’re talking about.


Mary Rowe [01:29:22] Yeah, well, this is the moment to do it, isn’t it? As we come out of COVID and we figure out what we’re what are we building back and how do we build back? Better 30 seconds to you, Tessy.


Tessy Britton [01:29:31] Oh, the pressure, I think, just to your point about about government, I think that we we’ve been really trapped for a very long time in thinking about top down and bottom up. And actually, it’s so unhelpful. And I think what we’re really inventing here is a way of of finding a new way where government does what it does well, residents do what it does well and a new configuration, a new reorganization of that. And I think that I think that local, national government have to be involved in that. It’s part of the change process, a transition to a new future, and they need to be part of it.


Mary Rowe [01:30:11] Mm hmm. Yeah, we kind of got to work together on this and walk together and whatever the future as well. Honestly, gals, you’re fantastic. And I know everybody’s leaving and they’re going to they’re going to be pressing those links and Googling and learning, learning, learning all about Participatory City. Let’s encourage them to wade through your report. It’s an ambitious piece that you put there. Lots to think about, really, and beautiful visually. So it’s easier to read than lots of other dense things that we get across our desk. So and you’re all grounded in what’s actually happening in your community. So thanks for joining us, Tessy, always great to see you. Maude, I’m excited for you about all that you’ve got going on in those neighbourhoods. I hope I can get to Montréal this summer now that the public health guidelines allow us to travel. Aimee and you and Pam, would you thank Pam for she had to leave earlier? Denise in Regent Park, thanks so much. And Keren in Edmonton. And good luck with your next chapter. We’re back. I was going to comment. You know that it’s not probably not a total coincidence that we’re all women on this call, just saying. And on Thursday, we’re actually at CUI doing a whole session of CityTalk on its it’s all about the gender gap and how the gender gap has been reinforced during COVID. So I’m hoping that you’ll join us. We’re doing two conversations. It’s with the Pay Equity Commission in Ontario and with support from Libro Credit Union and Advanis, our data partner who has data on households across the country and obviously this is a pretty serious thing, you wouldn’t know it from this call because it’s women change in the world here. But post-COVID, we’re going to have some lots of reckoning to do as women have left the workforce in larger numbers than historically we’ve ever seen during COVID. And what’s that reentry going to look like? What are the implications? And how can we actually close that gender gap? Because cities, as was so evidenced here, cities and neighbourhoods need women. So thanks, everybody, for joining us. And we’re looking forward to the next chapter of Participatory City, Canada and Participatory City, wherever it’s going to go next. Thanks, everybody. Have a good day.


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 lin

From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

00:28:39 Canadian Urban Institute: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

Attendees: where are you tuning in from today?

00:30:04 Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to the partners and sponsors of today’s session, Participatory Canada, McConell Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Maison de l’innovation sociale.

00:31:21 Canadian Urban Institute: Connect with our panel:

Pam Glode-Desrochers, Executive Director, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre

Aimee Gasparetto, Program Director, Every One Every Day Kjipuktuk-Halifax, Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre


Maude Lapointe, Coordination, projets de transition, Notre voisinage, Solon collectif

Maude Lapointe

Denise Soueidan-O’Leary, Senior Program Manager, Every One Every Day: Toronto, Centre for Social Innovation

Tessy Britton, CEO, Participatory City Foundation

Keren Tang, Participatory Canada Development Manager, McConnell Foundation
00:31:22 Maude Lecourt: Maude de Montreal, Université Concordia

00:32:22 Canadian Urban Institute: Read the Y1 Social Research and Development Report:

00:33:09 Canadian Urban Institute: Première année – Rapport de rescherche & développement sociale:

00:44:11 Jannat Nain: What are the key factors to enable conditions for the ideas and creativity stemming from communities?

00:49:04 Purshottama Reddy: Do you think that the mainstream Canadian populace and the indigenous communities have now started working together in local municipal jurisdictions relative to participation – what are some of the challenges being faced and how should they be addressed.?

00:52:27 Sue Holdsworth: How do you convince local government to fund creation of new forms of connective tissue – when they are often seen as “nice to haves” vs meeting basic needs? vs very physical concrete things? Also have you learned about ways to evaluate impact of your efforts?

00:52:40 Pam Glode-Desrochers: Jonathan this is why we had the City part of the process….but there was and still is a lot of chatting going on!

00:54:06 Jayne Engle: The evaluation report is embedded in the full Social R&D report from Participatory Canada, here:

01:00:32 Denise (she-They) CSI: Regent Park: My apologies! Barrier free wasn’t the correct term.

01:05:21 paula gallo: also so important to include children in these conversations.

01:12:56 Jannat Nain: I would be interested in knowing about your experiences with positive unintended outcomes from adapting the model to different contexts.

01:14:10 Canadian Urban Institute: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

01:14:19 Keren Tang (she/her) Participatory Canada: Hi Paula! Children’s involvement is in fact one of the design principles with Participatory City – not individuals who need to be childminded, but ones with talents and skills to share with other children. In London – there are specific mini-makers program where 4yos teach other 4yos something fun. Each of the city here has their own stories about involving children

01:15:44 Gregory Woolner: Hi Jannat, there’s lots of good information about the unintended outcomes in the Social R&D report from Participatory Canada, here:

01:16:05 Diane Dyson: Mes excuses – ma question ici: Je veux savoir s’il était important que le programme soit une intervention axée sur le lieu, un programme local, surtout pendant la pandémie.

01:17:28 Robert Plitt: curious to know scale of investment needed for the pilot.

01:19:15 Jannat Nain: How does one ensure that you maintain a balance between adapting ‘the model’ to different neighbourhoods and co-creating programs from within the community?

01:21:12 Jayne Engle: We call it an ‘approach’ rather than a ‘model’ as it is critical that it is adapted to context and co-created with local people.

01:21:56 Agniete Paulauskaite: Hi Robert, you can find some insights on finance from the Every One Every Day project in London in the Year 2 Report (Tools To Act) – page 164, which can give you a better understanding on scale of investment

01:23:09 Jayne Engle: A strong learning from this first phase has been the adaptability of the approach and how varied the outcomes are in different contexts. Strong outcomes from UK after several more years of experience are multiple—from positive mental and physical health outcomes to development of cooperatives and collaborative businesses, including led by young people and from equity-seeking communities. More here:

01:23:22 Mélanie Bisson: Hi Jannet, good question! In QC we have been exploring how to hybridize the model/approach with existing initiatives and strong participatory culture. This hybridization is essential for real appropriation BY the communities. Participatory City approach can bring value if local people and actors are part of the initiative since the beginning, and if there is multidirectional learning.

01:23:35 paula gallo: Keren, that sounds so fantastic! I would love to chat with you more about this if you have some time. We also build capacity with children, so they can teach other children how to imagine their outdoor spaces. Children have so much creativity, and it’s very powerful for other children and the educators working with them, to experience this.

01:31:22 Alexandra Mitsidou: I love the emphasis on tailoring the approach to each local context and community needs! I am curious if at the same time you have seen any common ‘success principles’ or trends emerging across all the different local initiatives? Thank you for this great webinar.

01:31:24 Craig Johnson: Aimee mentions need for Inclusive economic opportunities linked to community-based social infrastructure -‘warehouse’ model in UK-what’s that and how would you see it evolving in the Halifax context?—public+private investments for startup SMEs of many different types?-not just conventional for-profit SMEs but also coops/community interest companies etc?

01:32:02 Pam Glode-Desrochers: It is not about relinquishing control for us – it is about taking control and allowing others to be part of the journey – it is about bring everyone along for the journey, understanding the need to learn the truth and to have real understanding

01:34:17 Jayne Engle: To Pam’s point, the learning architecture is such a critical part of this approach — learning within and between communities. This is not a model or ‘franchise’ approach at all, rather it involves robust data collection, research and learning about what is working and continually improving, adapting, and iterating.

01:43:13 Jayne Engle: There is a risk of staying too small scale, because this is also about culture change.

01:44:11 paula gallo: Jayne, good point. Important to be reaching out across and within communities. makes it possible to connect with other groups and individuals.

01:45:05 paula gallo: makes me think of the city of Toronto redoing community buildings such as in parks, and not building in kitchens

01:46:41 Diane Dyson: In his book Human Scale Revisited, Sale described historical takes on the question. Plato called for cities of 5,040 citizens (men); Leonardo da Vinci said the ideal was 30,000. More’s Utopia had 6,000 families.

01:50:52 Canadian Urban Institute: Continue the conversation. Check out these resources: (ENG) (FR)

Medium post from Aimee/Halifax: (English only)

Tessy Britton’s Medium page:

CSI’s reflection:

Every One Every Day Kjipuktuk-Halifax website: and Facebook page:

Every One Every Day TO website:

Notre voisinage page: and facebook page:

Tools to Act from Participatory City Foundation:

01:51:21 Mélanie Bisson: L’approche Participatory City peut contribuer à lier, mailler et soutenir le développement d’une intention commune entre les multiples initiatives déjà présentes, souvent indépendantes, dans les territoires.

01:51:44 Mélanie Bisson: Et dans les quartiers plus spécifiquement

01:52:07 Canadian Urban Institute: CUI extends a big thank you to the partners and sponsors of today’s session, Participatory Canada, McConnell Foundation, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Maison de l’innovation sociale.

CUI remercie chaleureusement les partenaires et commanditaires de la séance d’aujourd’hui, Participatory Canada, la Fondation McConnell, la Fondation Trillium de l’Ontario et la Maison de l’innovation sociale.

01:53:21 Canadian Urban Institute: Read the Participatory Canada report here:

Voir le nouveau rapport du Canada Participatif ici:

01:55:05 Canadian Urban Institute: Keep the conversation going #CityTalk @canurb

You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at

COMING UP: Join us on Thursday, June 24, 2021 for two important conversations about addressing the post-COVID gender gap in Canada’s cities:

01:56:41 Carrie Stalder: This funding model used in Massachusetts for their Gateway Cities could be one to look at.

01:57:31 Kirsten Frankish: Thank you all for another illuminating, thoughtful and thought provoking discussion. Very much appreciated!

01:57:51 Gabriela Masfarre Pinto: Thank you very much! This conversation has been great!!!

01:57:53 Keren Tang (she/her) Participatory Canada:

01:58:10 Craig Johnson: many thanks great!

01:58:30 Alexandra Mitsidou: Thank you for a great discussion

01:58:32 Keren Tang (she/her) Participatory Canada: En Francis:

01:58:38 Keren Tang (she/her) Participatory Canada: *francais

01:58:51 Keren Tang (she/her) Participatory Canada: Thank you all for tuning in!

01:58:52 Tessy Britton : thanks everyone for coming!

01:58:58 Jayne Engle: Thanks to CUI for hosting and all the inspiring panelists!

01:59:12 Diane Dyson: On June 29th, CUI will look to Youth in the City!

01:59:15 Mélanie Bisson: Thank you all of you for this amazing share back!