How Community Conversations Create Powerful Possibilities

February 23, 2013

The other night we held a “community conversation” as part of our “Creating Space for Strength” project. Together with my two colleagues, Lee Tunstall and Vilma Dawson, the three of us were thrilled to facilitate the evening for this amazing group of Calgarians.

Representatives from Calgary’s North Central Communities

Over 40 people attended the event, including local elected representatives, Hon. Teresa Woo-Paw, MLA for Calgary Northern Hills and Calgary Alderman, Jim Stevenson.

Creating Space for Strength - Panorama shot

Citizens from a number of Calgary communities attended:

  • Harvest Hills
  • Panorama Hills
  • Coventry Hills
  • Country Hills
  • Hidden Valley
  • MacEwan Glen
  • Sandstone Valley

World Café format

We used a “world café” style of conversation. We started off by explaining that the purpose of the meeting was to find out what mattered to community residents. Then, to take the first steps towards envisioning what the community could look like in the not-too-distant future.

People worked in groups of 5 or 6 at small tables, using key questions to guide their conversations. We asked them to jot down their key ideas and points on sticky notes. Later, volunteers collected the sticky notes from all the tables and grouped them into common themes.

We asked four key questions, framed in asset-based community development (ABCD) way:

  • What is good and strong about our community?
  • What could be better?
  • What would you like to see the community achieve in the next 5 years?
  • How do we get there?

Creating space for Strength - community conversation 1

Community-driven

Even though a team of 3 of us consultants facilitated the evening, the whole event was planned, organized and promoted mostly by Northern Hills Community Association.

This picture shows two volunteers from the community association grouping the sticky notes from each question into themes.Creating Space for Strength (Moraig and Paul)

The community association booked the space for the event (a meeting room in a local grocery store) and arranged for food and beverages. They ordered wraps, veggie and fruit trays, cheese and crackers and sweets.

They kept in mind that the population living in their communities is culturally diverse, so they were careful to pay attention to dietary restrictions such as having beef and pork products separated from other foods, and offering completely vegetarian options. The provided a variety of water, juice and soft drinks, too. There is something that brings people together over food and so this was an important element of our evening.

The community association also took the responsibility of buying all the supplies for the evening, including hundreds of sticky notes and enough markers so that everyone could have one to use.

Results

We have yet to formally analyze the data from the event, but informally I can say that by the end of the meeting, the room was buzzing with energy. Residents stayed for a long while after the event wrapped up. They wanted to talk more about their community and how to improve it.

A number of attendees took the initiative to exchange contact information and ask how they could get involved.

Overall, it was a great night that ended on an energetic and inspired note.

As always, we want to acknowledge the organizations that are making this work possible:

Project Origins – Northern Hills Constituency

Project Funders – Government of Alberta (CFEP Grant); United Way of Calgary and Area; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association

Project Supporters – Northern Hills Constituency; City of Calgary; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association; United Way of Calgary and Area

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

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Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


Webinar recording: Creating Space for Strength

November 30, 2012

Our research team is thrilled to share the recording of our webinar “An Introduction to Creating Space for Strength: An Asset-Based Community Development and Research Project Focused on Calgary’s North Central Communities”.

We had over 40 people sign up for the webinar. The program lasted approximately 45 minutes and included chat dialogue from many community participants.

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed. As promised, here is the recording. Feel free to share it with others.

5 Great resources on asset-based community development (ABCD) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1xJ
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Share or Tweet this: Webinar recording: Creating Space for Strength http://wp.me/pNAh3-1wI

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


An Introductory Public Webinar: Creating Space for Strength An Asset-Based Community Development and Research Project Focussed on Calgary’s North Central Communities

November 21, 2012

Creating space for strength in Calgary - Eaton International Consulting Inc.Our new community development project is underway! We are hosting an introductory webinar that will share an overview of an exciting project we are involved in.

There are 3 of us from Eaton International Consulting Inc. (www.eatoninternationalconsulting.com), working on this study: Lee Tunstall, Ph.D., Vilma Dawson and me. We are studying strength-based community development in a number of Calgary’s North Central communities including:

  • Harvest Hills
  • Coventry Hills
  • Country Hills
  • Country Hills Village
  • Panorama Hills
  • Creekside
  • Evanston
  • Hidden Valley
  • MacEwan
  • Sandstone

Come and learn about a research project designed to find out what our communities’ strengths and assets are, what can be improved, and how. We are particularly interested in hearing your opinions about our strengths, some of the problems faced by our community, particularly in terms of space, and what solutions we can generate to build an even greater community.

There are plans for interviews with interested community members this fall and winter and roundtable discussions will take place in February 2013.

We are interested in hearing your voice!  This is your community and your opinions, suggestions and advice will help create recommendations on how to move ahead with space issues in the community.

Webinar

Join us on Thurs. November 29, 2012, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. for an online webinar explaining the project and how you can get involved. Space in the webinar is limited, so participants are asked to register at:

http://creatingspace.eventbrite.ca

There is no cost to attend the webinar. Everyone is welcome. A computer with a sound card and high-speed Internet connection are necessary to join the webinar.

If you know someone who is interested in community development in these areas, please feel free to share this invitation with them. We can accommodate up to 100 people in the webinar and there is no cost to attend.

If you cannot make the webinar in person, a link will be available through the Northern Hills Community Association website afterwards.

With thanks to those organizations who made this project happen:

Project OriginsNorthern Hills Constituency

Project FundersGovernment of Alberta (CFEP Grant); United Way of Calgary and Area; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association

Project SupportersNorthern Hills Constituency; City of Calgary; Aspen Family and Community Network Society; Northern Hills Community Association; United Way of Calgary and Area

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Share or Tweet this: An Introductory Public Webinar: Creating Space for Strength An Asset-Based Community Development and Research Project Focussed on Calgary’s North Central Communities http://wp.me/pNAh3-1wq

Update – January 2018 – This blog has had over 1.8 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.


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