- Get Involved
- Connect with Leaders
- Leadership Stories
- Research and Tools
by Alejandra Bravo
It always felt ambitious – to train 900 residents in highly diverse, low income communities so that they know how to create change where they live. However, by partnering with 15 community-based organizations, we are already closing in on 800 residents trained, and we are eyeing a new target of 1,000.
Building Blocks participants learn about how governments make decisions and the points where they can participate in shaping those decisions. They’re also focused on implementing practical, doable projects that make a difference in their neighbourhoods. We bring civic literacy, our partners bring committed community.
Low income communities are often described for what they lack in infrastructure, services, or jobs. But we know that they are rich in diversity, ideas, connections and enthusiasm. Residents are connected to each other and to networks around the globe. They have a breadth of experience and perspectives, and an eagerness to work toward local solutions. They care and are passionate about their communities.
Speaking about Steeles-L’Amoreaux in North Scarborough, Rezwanul Karim from the Agincourt Community Services Association says: “This is a very vibrant community and has tremendous potential to participate and contribute.” Watch the video:
Leaders building community
Our partner communities aren’t just geographic. The Mennonite New Life Centre’s focus is on the local Latin American community.
Sadia Kahn’s goal is applying successful models of engaging communities that traditionally don’t have a voice in decision-making processes. Her colleague, Adriana Salazar is seeking to build a process of collective action that really impacts the daily life of our community. Their community is engaged and energized.
Talking about increasing voter turnout, training attendee Monica Farias says, “I have a much better understanding of what we can do for the building of our community and to increase participation.” Monica Daga says she is grateful for this amazing experience and that learning about how government works will help her better serve her community. Watch the video:
As we’ve reported in a previous blog post, training sessions for youth, seniors, women and other groups, delivered by leaders with the Malton Community Building Project, are clearly having an impact on the community. After a presentation to the Caribbean seniors’ group, the seniors got active and contacted their local councillor for the first time. She will be attending one of their upcoming meetings to hear their concerns and speak to them about future changes for Malton. Over the summer Malton leaders will work with a school guidance counsellor and parents to keep youth engaged. Their summer work will lead up to a presentation about youth-focused issues at Peel regional council planned for September 12.
We’re about to embark on a second phase of training with our partners. 300 residents will not only get training from our leaders, but they will collectively put the learning into immediate practice in their neighbourhoods. Working with our 15 participating community-based organizations, residents will move from learning to action, focused on practical work in their community. Whether it’s advocating for a park bench, or a food truck delivering fresh produce, or a basketball court, they’ll start implementing their community ideas. Once our partners, residents and their projects are off and running, we will share what we learned and how our communities have changed at a conference in March 2013.
We’re excited about the next nine months for the Building Blocks program. We’ll continue to report about how our partners are working with residents to truly build the blocks of community.
Building Blocks is in part funded by