Transforming Cities from Within

A community of practice (CoP) and learning journey for teams of social innovators working in- and directly with municipal governments. Focused on what we might cultivate within ourselves, and what we might nurture around us, in order to catalyze transformative and emergent innovations for complex climate change, equity, and decolonization challenges in Canadian cities.

This CoP looks like: 

  • Virtual sessions + applied work from May - December, 2021

  • Offered at no cost to participants, with thanks to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

  • City-based teams of 2-4 people apply together (public servants, potentially with community partners)

  • Partnership between University of BC and Canadian Urban Sustainability Practitioners (CUSP)

  • Deadline to apply is March 31, 2021 by midnight Pacific time

 

Call to Action

The urgency and complexity of the challenges that cities face continues to increase, with no end in sight. The role of cities to model solutions, shape policy priorities, direct resources, and advocate for larger scale changes on the national and global stage is also growing. The particular challenges of climate change, growing inequity, ongoing colonization, and structural racism and oppression not only intersect with one another, but they also require fundamental reframing and rethinking of how they are approached by the public sector. The current dominant systems, structures, and paradigms of public sector problem-solving are too narrow and constrained if we are to get at the root causes of these challenges and catalyze ambitious, high impact, durable, systemic, just, and transformative innovation.

 

Program Overview

Together we will co-create a community of practice where we will support each other’s learning, and practice reciprocity and deep listening. We will ground these experiences in an applied challenge that each of us is responsible for in 2021, seeking to develop and prototype high impact solutions to a complex climate change, equity, and decolonization challenge in our home community. We will work at the personal, organizational culture, and systems levels to learn and enact transformative and emergent innovations on some of the most pressing challenges of our time. This is an action research project with funding from SSHRC, so the cohort will also participate in interviews and reflective work throughout the journey that will be part of the research project.

 

This learning journey will walk a cohort of City staff and community partners from across Canada through these trails together. It will stretch us beyond making improvements to the existing system, and into the spaces of transformation, emergence, and resurgence. We will joyfully dream into reimagining the cities that we love, and remembering their histories. We will build our individual and shared capacities and competencies in a collection of high impact and versatile approaches to social innovation. We will reflect deeply on our own histories, stories, paradigms, positionalities, and privileges and what these mean for current- and future expressions of ourselves and our calling/work. 
 

Click here for FAQs

 

What and how will I learn? 

Each team will come into the learning journey with one or more complex convening questions at the intersections of climate change, equity, and decolonization to focus their exploration. We will convene online from May - December, 2021. There will be immersive retreat experiences at the beginning, middle, and end, and half-day live sessions in-between. There will be active invitations to practice (aka homework) in between the sessions to practice your learning on your applied challenge. 

Learning Journey (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

Session Dates and Times

We will convene online from May - December, 2021. All sessions take place from 9:30am - 12:30 pm (PST). For a detailed list of dates, visit the FAQs page

Innovation Practices

The learning journey will focus on building competencies, capacities, and capabilities in these ten areas: 

 

 

 

 

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Is the CoP right for me?

What follows aims to be a clear description of what we expect will lead to a great experience in the CoP. The facilitation team is flexible, however; so if you have other ideas about how you might approach this in a way that will work for you and your context, please be in touch to discuss that.

 

About you...

  • You are a public servant in a Canadian city who works on climate change, equity, and decolonization, or you are a community partner in another sector that is working directly with a city government. The ‘city’ part is important here, this journey will focus on urban issues and will not be as relevant to smaller, rural communities.

  • You have a complex challenge you are working on in 2021, and you also have some flexibility and freedom to approach it in some different ways (i.e. there isn’t already a solution/approach that is decided upon). 

  • You have sufficient time, energy, and the supports needed to commit to fully participating in all aspects of the learning journey. 

  • You are learning-oriented, curious, and committed to staying with working on complex challenges when things get tough.

  • You are a great listener, and committed to co-creating a brave, inclusive, and mutually supportive learning space in this community of practice. 

  • You are interested in contributing to the movement-building potential of learning with practitioners in other cities in a process of mutual support and reciprocity.

 

About your team...

  • There is a team of 2-4 people from your city that can come together for this learning journey. Team members don’t need to be working on the same applied challenge, and we encourage people to join from different departments, portfolios, and experiences if possible. Some teams may find that it is helpful to have people outside of the local government to bring the diversity of perspectives needed to their team.

  • It is expected that each team will include racial and gender diversity, and the facilitators are particularly interested in supporting teams that are going further than this to get a diverse set of perspectives and lived experiences that can bring different ways of approaching transformation in each city.

  • Your team can and will engage a Circle of Support, including public sector colleagues and other collaborators, to make sure that you have what you need to be able to integrate your learning and practice in your home organization and community during and after this learning journey. Each team will need to figure out what their specific needs might be, and design a Circle to suit.

 

Team

Program Overview

The urgency and complexity of the challenges that cities face continues to increase, with no end in sight. The role of cities to model solutions, shape policy priorities, direct resources, and advocate for larger scale changes on the national and global stage is also growing. The particular challenges of climate change, growing inequity, ongoing colonization, and structural racism and oppression not only intersect with one another, but they also require fundamental reframing and rethinking of how they are approached by the public sector. The current dominant systems, structures, and paradigms of public sector problem-solving are too narrow and constrained if we are to get at the root causes of these challenges and catalyze ambitious, high impact, durable, systemic, just, and transformative innovation.

 

Together we will co-create a community of practice where we will support each other’s learning, and practice reciprocity and deep listening. We will ground these experiences in an applied challenge that each of us is responsible for in 2021, seeking to develop and prototype high impact solutions to a complex climate, equity, and decolonization challenge in our home community. We will work at the personal, organizational culture, and systems levels to learn and enact transformative and emergent innovations on some of the most pressing challenges of our time. This is an action research project with funding from SSHRC, so the cohort will also participate in interviews and reflective work throughout the journey that will be part of the research project.

 

This learning journey will walk a cohort of City staff and community partners from across Canada through these trails together. It will stretch us beyond making improvements to the existing system, and into the spaces of transformation, emergence, and resurgence. We will joyfully dream into reimagining the cities that we love, and remembering their histories. We will build our individual and shared capacities and competencies in a collection of high impact and versatile approaches to social innovation. We will reflect deeply on our own histories, stories, paradigms, positionalities, and privileges and what these mean for current- and future expressions of ourselves and our calling/work. 

Program Overview

The urgency and complexity of the challenges that cities face continues to increase, with no end in sight. The role of cities to model solutions, shape policy priorities, direct resources, and advocate for larger scale changes on the national and global stage is also growing. The particular challenges of climate change, growing inequity, ongoing colonization, and structural racism and oppression not only intersect with one another, but they also require fundamental reframing and rethinking of how they are approached by the public sector. The current dominant systems, structures, and paradigms of public sector problem-solving are too narrow and constrained if we are to get at the root causes of these challenges and catalyze ambitious, high impact, durable, systemic, just, and transformative innovation.

 

Together we will co-create a community of practice where we will support each other’s learning, and practice reciprocity and deep listening. We will ground these experiences in an applied challenge that each of us is responsible for in 2021, seeking to develop and prototype high impact solutions to a complex climate, equity, and decolonization challenge in our home community. We will work at the personal, organizational culture, and systems levels to learn and enact transformative and emergent innovations on some of the most pressing challenges of our time. This is an action research project with funding from SSHRC, so the cohort will also participate in interviews and reflective work throughout the journey that will be part of the research project.

 

This learning journey will walk a cohort of City staff and community partners from across Canada through these trails together. It will stretch us beyond making improvements to the existing system, and into the spaces of transformation, emergence, and resurgence. We will joyfully dream into reimagining the cities that we love, and remembering their histories. We will build our individual and shared capacities and competencies in a collection of high impact and versatile approaches to social innovation. We will reflect deeply on our own histories, stories, paradigms, positionalities, and privileges and what these mean for current- and future expressions of ourselves and our calling/work. 

Project Team

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Lindsay Cole

 CoP Facilitator, Social Innovation Lead 

Lindsay (she/her) is an Adjunct Professor in UBC's Department of Educational Studies, and a Ph.D. candidate and Public Scholar at the University of British Columbia. Her doctoral research has focused on the transformative potential of public sector innovation labs. Lindsay is also the manager of the City of Vancouver Solutions Lab (SLab), where for the last four years she has designed and facilitated social innovation labs and a community of practice. Lindsay has worked in the sustainability field for about 20 years in both the private and public sectors. Lindsay is most excited about co-creating a wholehearted community of creative intrapreneurs that together are working to change the stuck structures and mindsets that hold some of our most complex and urgent urban challenges in place. Lindsay is a white settler living in xwesam (Roberts Creek) in the beautiful unceded shíshálh swiya (Sunshine Coast, BC).

Project Team

Maggie Low

CoP Facilitator, Decolonization Lead

Maggie is the Co-Chair of the Indigenous Community Planning (ICP) master’s concentration at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP). Maggie is a community-engaged scholar who seeks to advance a better understanding of Indigenous sovereignty as it is expressed outside the Canadian courts. Her current research projects and teaching focus on Indigenous planning, Indigenous-state relations and decolonization efforts happening within Canadian cities. Maggie was born and raised in northern Ontario and is of mixed ancestry. She is Italian, French and German from her Mother’s side and a status member of Wikwemikoong Unceded Territory from her Father’s side. Maggie is most looking forward to learning about equity and decolonization efforts happening at different scales in several cities across Canada.

Project Team

Mumbi Maina

CoP Facilitator, Equity Lead

Mumbi is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a Social Planner in the Social Policy Division at the City of Vancouver. She has worked on grassroots social and environmental justice organizing, anti-racist education and cross-cultural collaboration with immigrant and other communities across North America. Mumbi’s research focuses on the uptake of sustainability in higher education policy and practice, examining roles of various actors, including historically marginalized groups in the enactment of sustainability. At the City of Vancouver, she works to imagine how municipal governments can address the challenges of rising social and environmental inequities. Mumbi is looking forward to learning how to create compassionate spaces for imagining new possibilities and ways of relating to one another.

Project Team

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Kyla Pascal

Indigenous Innovation

Kyla Pascal is a Métis, Black woman born and raised in Amiskwaciwâskahikan ᐊᒥᐢᑲᐧᒋᐋᐧᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Edmonton, Alberta). Over the years Kyla has worked with a number of non-profit organizations focusing on anti-oppression, advocacy, and community-building. Her experiences and interests are centred around Indigenous solidarity, sustainability, community health, and food justice. The goal of her work is to build more resilient, just, and healthier communities. She currently works at Indigenous Climate Action, is a member of the Indigenous art collective, nipahimiw, and is a first-year graduate student with the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC. She is most excited about/looking forward to seeing the various approaches that the different cities apply to the learning journey.

Project Team

Moura Quayle

Strategic Designer

Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Academic Affairs at UBC at The University of British Columbia. Moura’s interests lie in rethinking, refining and rebuilding collaborative spaces at the intersections of academia, government, business and civil society.  Her teaching and research focus is on strategic design, designed leadership and an emerging Policy Studio that helps students and multi-sectoral organizations learn to use design processes and tools. Moura has been Deputy Minister of the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, B.C. Commissioner of Pacific Coast Collaborative, Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems, and Associate VP, Academic Programs at UBC Okanagan. Her book, Designed Leadership, was published by Columbia University Press in July 2017. 

Project Team

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Lily Raphael

Design and Storytelling

Lily is a mixed woman of Black/Louisiana-Creole, German and Irish ancestry, and from the homelands of the Hopewell, Adena, Myaamia, Shawandasse Tula, and Wazhazhe Maⁿzhaⁿ peoples (Cincinnati, OH). She has worked on various social and sustainability initiatives through non-profit and grassroots organizations, namely with youth experiencing homelessness, Afro-descendent and Indigenous women entrepreneurs, and rural community development practitioners in Ecuador, the Midwest of the U.S. and now BC. Her work draws on community engagement, action research, somatics and human-centered design approaches. Lily’s current interests include biocultural conservation, collective memory and placemaking, and the 'how' of social transformation — from the ways in which we come together to make decisions and address complex challenges, to the ways in which we learn, deepen our capacities, and communicate knowledge. She holds a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from UBC. Lily is most excited about helping to shape the container for this learning journey and capturing the learning experience of teams from across the country. 

Project Team

Rob VanWynsberghe

Research Lead

Rob is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the University of British Columbia (UBC). His primary area of research studies meaningful articulations between classrooms and communities, especially as influenced by the social philosophies of pragmatism. A book on the topic was published in 2014. Recent publications include “Adaptive Education Applied to Higher Education for Sustainability” (International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education); “Conceptions of Sustainability within the Redesigned K-12 Curriculum in British Columbia, Canada: Mapping a Disputed Terrain” (Journal of Sustainability Education) and; “Green jobs for the disadvantaged: an analysis of government policies in British Columbia” (Journal of Environmental Planning and Management). Since 2016, he has researched and designed the first ever sustainability cohort in the teacher education program in UBC and also launched a Masters’ program in Education for Sustainability, which partners with the City of Vancouver on the implementation of sustainability, health, housing and planning policy.

Action Research

This project is funded through a grant from the New Frontiers Research Fund, a program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. It is an action research project, meaning that the process, experiences, and learning that we will go through together will be collected, analysed, and then shared through practitioner-oriented resources and academic publications and presentation. The specifics of your experience will remain anonymous, and the research aspect of this project is guided by rigorous ethics approvals from the University of British Columbia. The collective learning and experiences of the CoP and facilitation team will be shared so that other public sector innovators and researchers can benefit from our learning. So - you’ll need to be okay with this arrangement! You can find out more about the results of some related action research that has informed the development of this project on this website, and in these blog posts.

 
 

I'm ready to apply

Deadline to apply is March 31, 2021 by midnight Pacific time

 

Application Materials

Part 1: PDF or Word document of Team Bios:

  • (approx.) 1 paragraph biographies of each team member

  • Details about at least two confirmed members of your Circle of Supporters (bio + description of the tangible support they will provide)

 

Part 2: Audio recording of team discussion:

Please make a (maximum) 60 minute audio recording of your learning journey team discussing the questions provided below, together. Please don’t spend time doing anything fancy with your media file or editing (e.g. audio recording of a virtual meeting works great). Guest appearances from your Circle of Supporters is welcome: 

 

  1. Tell us a bit about yourselves and your life experiences that bring you to being interested in this learning journey, as well as to the work that you are currently doing in the public sector. Make sure we hear from each team member, and please also tell us about if and how each of the team members are currently working together or know one another. (It’s also great if you don’t already know each other).

  2. What complex climate change, equity, and decolonization challenge(s) will you bring into this learning journey? Briefly explain what the challenge(s) look like in the community that you’re working in, what they look like within your organization, and why they are an important site for innovation. 

  3. Tell an illustrative story about a time when each of your team members were most challenged by/in your public sector role, and what was challenging about this. It could be a story about an interaction, a pressure, a project, a responsibility... What did you do, how did you respond, and how did you feel in this situation?

  4. Tell us how you plan to make room for this learning journey in your work and lives. One of the most common challenges in this work is feeling a scarcity of time, so how might you approach creating a sense of abundance within the culture, context, pressures, and responsibilities that you will likely bump up against? 

  5. Please tell us about what you expect that you might need from your Circle of Support and why, and how you would approach building/nurturing this community around you to support your learning journey, as well as what you may need afterwards to continue to grow this work. 

  6. What’s one big question that you’re each holding right now about your work and your selves in the world that relates to what you think/hope/wish that this learning journey will be about?

 

Submitting your application:

Please email the Team bios + a compressed audio file (maximum file size 50 MB) to lindsay.cole@ubc.ca If you have any technical issues please let us know!

Deadline to apply is March 31, 2021 by midnight Pacific time

 

FAQs

For more details, visit our FAQs page. We will update this page as more questions come in so please check regularly! 

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