ABOUT CITIES FOR PEOPLE
Cities for People is an initiative that seeks to make Canadian cities more resilient, inclusive and innovative, as well as better equipped to rise to the social, economic and environmental challenges of our times. Our goal is to foster change so that cities can embrace the needs and aspirations of their populations and come up with ways to meet them. Because there are already so many great transformations underway across Canada, one of the ways we work is to amplify the effects of other movements to achieve greater impact.
During our experimental phase (from January 2014 through June 2015), Cities for People focused on four core “curated” themes: Art and Society, New Economies, Citizen Spaces and CityScapes. We tested approaches that would increase the reach and impact of urban innovation activities by:
- Supporting promising innovations and demonstration projects through collaboration, training and knowledge exchange.
- Connecting people and organizations who have common goals but different approaches to develop complementary activities and new institutional alliances.
- Raising the profile of resilience and livability activities through various means, such as special events, conference presentations, and the CitiesForPeople.ca web site and social media.
- Fostering cross-sectoral (public, private, community) contributions to sustaining civic innovation locally, nationally and internationally.
FOUR THEMES OF THE EXPERIMENTAL PHASE
Cities for People focused its work on four core “curated” themes, which were seen as critical areas of engagement.
HOW WE WORKED
CITIES FOR PEOPLE CURATORS
A national curation team supported the network of thematic curators and led coordination, communications and strategy activities. This team also played a central role in representing Cities for People as a whole and in curating the cross-cutting themes of resilience and livability.
The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation
Former Executive Director,
Shawn Van Sluys
Art & Society
Montreal Urban Ecology Centre (MUEC)
Evergreen CityWorks, part of the Evergreen national charity, is devoted to changing how we plan and design our cities to transform the way we live, and reduce the environmental impact of urban areas on a large scale. We bring together the public, government and private-sector innovators to experiment with new ideas and build coalitions to ensure their adoption in order to accelerate the shift to green infrastructure in cities across Canada and beyond. Our main focus areas are housing, transportation and city building. With innovative projects like Tower Renewal, the Greater Toronto Area Housing Lab and We Are Cities, we are testing new approaches to urban development that incorporate convening new stakeholders and implementing systems thinking to address these complex problems. Evergreen CityWorks curated the Cityscapes theme.
The Montreal Urban Ecology Centre is an activist non-profit organization that develops and proposes urban practices and policies to help create green, democratic and healthy cities. For nearly two decades, we have been acting to transform cities, which we view as ecosystems created by and for humans, where citizenship serves to build ties and drive change. Our work explores citizen engagement through transformative actions and participation in public decision-making processes. Our expertise is utilized in the areas of urban agriculture, greening, active transportation, urban planning and participatory democracy. Through various projects, such as Transforme ta ville (Transform Your City) and participatory budgeting, we seek to “ignite the flame” of citizen gestures, spontaneity and direct actions in the city. We also explore what these actions can teach us about the levers and obstacles involved in the transformation of cities for and by citizens. The Montreal Urban Ecology Centre curated the Citizen Spaces theme.
One Earth is a Vancouver-based non-profit organization focused on sustainable consumption and production across scales. The team is working toward North American leadership in consumption and production and new economies with such partners as the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI), Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), the Center for a New American Dream and the New Economy Coalition. From 2013 to 2015, One Earth was the curator of the New Economies theme of Cities for People, where they supported initiatives such as the Binners’ Project (connecting waste pickers across Canada) and led the development of a road map for local governments on the sharing economy. One Earth, a member of the City of Vancouver Greenest City Advisory Committee, is on the Board of the National Zero Waste Council and is promoting eco-industrial networking through the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) Canada. With international partners, One Earth is catalyzing a global initiative aimed at producing positive and compelling visions of life in sustainable futures. One Earth is also a co-founder of the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption and the North American Roundtable on Sustainable Production and Consumption. One Earth curated the New Economies theme.
Musagetes promotes the arts and artistic creativity as tools for social transformation. Musagetes is a catalyst for ideas and actions that make the arts more central and meaningful to people’s lives, in order to promote healthier democracies and creative societies, “to start sparks, cause explosions…and make a difference in the world.” Musagetes creates living experiences, some small, some large, that bring people together to articulate social needs, generate ideas and spark action. Musagetes’ artistic projects consist of aesthetic, social, critical and pedagogical elements. The critical often takes the form of societal critique, spatial reorganization or social-justice activism. The pedagogical hones the spirit of contemplation; practices the acts of seeing, listening and feeling; and investigates forms of articulation. We engage in sense-making processes whereby we begin to understand more deeply how individuals make sense of the art they are experiencing. Musagetes curated the Art and Society theme.
Cities for People is an initiative of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.
Established in 1937, the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation engages Canadians in building a more innovative, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient society.
The Foundation’s purpose is to enhance Canada’s ability to address complex social, environmental and economic challenges. We accomplish this by developing, testing, and applying innovative approaches and solutions; by strengthening the community sector; and by collaborating with partners in the community, private, and public sectors. We recognize that creating enduring change takes time, and involves more than granting.
We appreciate the support of all those who helped produce the Cities for People Experimental Phase Report.
Veronica Schami Editorial Services Inc.
Shawn Van Sluys