On the national stage, Cities for People launched a website and social media platform fairly early on to accomplish several goals:
Invite people from across Canada and beyond to share their stories about urban innovation projects.
Share experiences from the Cities for People demonstration projects.
Evaluate Cities for People’s work through structured posting of content about projects and welcoming input from our website community.
Glean patterns from the stories that we collected to understand how narratives about cities and people’s relationships to them are evolving.
Initially, the digital tools failed to convey a clear narrative about Cities for People, primarily because the website was launched before curators had reached agreement on its purpose and audience. However, as the initiative progressed, the level of engagement with the site and social media made it clear that the online platform was meeting a previously unmet demand – a space to hold local and national-level conversations about Canada’s cities.
Cities for People and Social Innovation Generation (SiG) presented the webinar series “Social Innovation and Resilience in Cities,” attended by hundreds of urban enthusiasts:
Cities for People also partnered with Spacing magazine to foster a national conversation on the themes raised by the initiative. Thirty-five blog posts over the course of a year addressed civic livability, shared economies and urban resilience. The bloggers, among many other intriguing subjects, covered:
Spacing created a special Cities for People issue in both English and French – a first for the magazine. The collaboration also supported writers and bloggers in cities that had not previously been prominently featured, such as Guelph, Laval and St. John’s.
A host of stories, from coast to coast, covered:
Cities for People greatly benefited from this influx of new ideas and fresh perspectives from a new generation of urbanists. Cities for People also supported several new ways to engage urban audiences at the local level.
New Scoop YYC is a news service that explores and shares stories of grassroots change in Calgary. It was conceived as an experiment in uncovering local, community-based stories, and quickly gained traction when Mayor Naheed Nenshi tweeted a link to New Scoop’s very first newsletter to his 200,000 followers. After its 2014 debut, New Scoop was incorporated as a co-op, owned by members.
Examples abound of New Scoop’s community-minded approach to journalism. In January 2015, Kathryn Cormier reported on how faith communities can serve as community hubs, attending a meeting at the Knox Presbyterian Church, where the Interfaith Council of Calgary hosted residents who are interested in implementing the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, also called the Enough for All strategy. The goal of this movement is to facilitate connections between residents and to improve access to programs and services that support individual and family resiliency. New Scoop covered it all.
The cooperative has produced dozens of such stories in the few months since it was started, and inspired a similar project for Peterborough, Ontario.