Application Number: 2
INITIATIVE: What is the title of your initiative?
RATIONALE: Why was this initiative developed? Briefly describe your vision for this initiative: what changes would you like to see in your community, in the college/university, and for the student experience?
Vivacity is an inter-institutional collaboration between 6 post-secondary institutions and the City of Calgary Planning Department and Calgary Economic Development (CED). Vivacity engages inter-disciplinary teams of students in the re-design and activation of community spaces in underutilized areas of the city. We are responding to 3 emerging needs: 1. To deepen student engagement in urban issues and empower young people to lead an active civic life. CED has identified ‘brain-drain’ and the exodus of young people from our city as a major concern. 2. To provide inter-disciplinary learning opportunities for students in order to foster diverse leadership abilities and collaborative skill building. Employers are increasingly looking to hire individuals who have experience working collaboratively in diverse teams. 3. To provide the City with new and innovative ideas for underutilized and abandoned spaces in our communities. At this time of economic downturn, Calgary is searching for opportunities to re-imagine itself at a city. Vivacity gives young people a voice and a venue to contribute their ideas to the changing urban landscape.
GOVERNANCE AND PARTNERSHIPS: Who will oversee and manage the initiative? How does it connect with other local, regional, or national projects or networks?
The Institute for Community Prosperity at Mount Royal University will manage the initiative in partnership with Design4Change – a social enterprise marketing agency operated by MRU alumni and students. Lena Soots will be an MRU Changemaker-in-Residence (Civic Innovation + Collaboration) overseeing the initiative. Lena brings extensive experience as the former Program Manager for CityStudio Vancouver and has particular expertise in building inter-institutional collaborations for civic innovation. Vivacity connects with the City of Calgary’s Strong Neighbourhoods Initiative as well as CED’s priorities of talent retention and innovation. The project is also connected to local Community Associations and Alberta Social Innovation (ABSI) Connect. In May 2015, representatives from Calgary attended CityStudio Vancouver’s Art of Cities Conference. We continue to engage with our national network of colleagues from that event.
OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES: Briefly describe the activities of the initiative: when did it start, what organizations and departments are participating? Give a few examples of what participants will be doing.
Vivacity started as a 24-hour student event led by Design4Change in 2013. Vivacity is ready to evolve and is well poised to serve as a catalyst for civic innovation with support from the City of Calgary and Calgary Economic Development. We have established relationships with the University of Calgary, SAIT, Ambrose University, Bow Valley College and the University of Lethbridge, and are currently working with faculty across institutions to build inter-disciplinary participation in the initiative. The following is a summary of Vivacity project activities: • FALL 2016 – Launch Event, 24-hour Challenge. Interdisciplinary teams of students from 6 post-secondary institutions work to design and pitch ideas for underutilized sites in Calgary. • WINTER/SPRING 2017 – Ongoing team mentorship and project implementation supported by Changemaker-in-Residence and MRU’s Social Innovation Minor credit program. • WINTER/SPRING/SUMMER 2017 – Community Dialogue Series hosted by students. • FALL 2017 – Final event, project showcase and community tour of transformed sites.
STRATEGIC LEARNING: What will success look like both in the short-term and the long-term? How are you assessing results? What will you do with this information, and with whom are you sharing lessons?
Key indicators of success include: • ENGAGEMENT: Full student participation from a variety of disciplines across 6 campuses and diverse community participation in the Dialogue series. • DESIGN + IMPLEMENTATION: Project outcomes will result in quality design proposals and successful implementation in community spaces. • STEWARDSHIP + SCALABILITY: Each student project will have a stewardship plan for the site to ensure the long-term success of the project and will have the potential to be scaled or replicated in other neighbourhoods. • LEADERSHIP + CIVIC ACTION: Students feel empowered to become more active citizens and have developed diverse and transferable leadership skills. • COLLABORATION: The initiative has built bridges and strengthened relationships across institutions to form the foundation for future collaborations. Long-term, success will be strong inter-institutional relationships and the collective capacity to take on more complex problems through a formalized and ongoing program. Results will be assessed through the following: formal course and project evaluations, review of project design and implementation plans by City and CED staff, and focus groups and interviews with MRU’s Changemaker-in-Residence. Outcomes and lessons will be documented and shared through web, social media and video. A final report will be shared with partners, collaborators and stakeholders and results will be made available in open-source format.
Would you consider your initiative to be a social enterprise?
Does the proposed initiative have potential to be applied elsewhere in Canada? If yes, please explain.
Yes. At the core of the project are the principles of collaboration and interdisciplinarity. Although the context and specific outcomes may be unique to Calgary, the project and its methodology can easily be adopted by others.
1. APPROACH: Which departments are involved in this initiative? How will they work with community organizations, social enterprise, local government and within post-secondary institutions (i.e. with professors, administration and students)?
The MRU Institute for Community Prosperity, Bissett School of Business and Design4Change are directly involved in this initiative. Recent workshops with the MRU Faculty Association indicate keen interest from various departments and relationships have already been established with other post-secondary institutions. Collaboration across departments and institutions will be facilitated by the Institute’s Changemaker-in-Residence. Students and faculty will work with the City and Calgary Economic Development staff to define and scope the project spaces. Staff and faculty will provide mentorship throughout the project process and students will work with community associations on the design and implementation of projects. Community dialogues and events will bring the full range of participants together to generate ideas and discussion for further exploration.
2. INFLUENCING POST-SECONDARY INSTITUTIONS: Will research or teaching within the post secondary institution you are a part of or working with be changed as a result of this initiative? How will the administration staff, faculty, and students be involved and recognized for their accomplishments within the college/ university?
Research and teaching at MRU are already changing as a result of this initiative. The Bissett School of Business recently launched a Minor in Social Innovation and has committed to integrating Vivacity projects into the curriculum in order to support the effective implementation of projects and deepen community engaged curriculum. The minor includes a course in Civic Innovation that will focus on projects like Vivacity over the long term. The MRU Faculty Association has expressed keen interest in developing ongoing opportunities for collaborative projects across departments. Given the interest expressed so far, we anticipate that collaborative curriculum development and programs that enable deeper community engagement will grow as a result of the success of this project. All students, faculty and administrative staff will be recognized for their efforts and accomplishments through the development of the Vivacity ‘People Page’ on the website as well as ‘People Profiles + Stories’ shared via social media throughout the project. Our video documentation project will also highlight experiences of various participants and contributors.
IMPACT: What will you be able to accomplish now that you could not before the collaboration? In what way will your organization work differently as a result of this initiative?
Vivacity provides a great opportunity for the City to work in new ways with students from all post secondary institutions in Calgary. Vivacity facilitates students and City staff working together as a team on projects and challenges while providing the opportunity for creative collaboration and ideas from students on a number of civic topics. The project not only provides students with real-world experience, but also engages staff in new ways of thinking and approaching challenges, which is important for our own organizational development and learning. The City is always looking for new ways to approach engagement in the planning department. The youth demographic has always been challenging to engage and we know it is a lost opportunity when we don’t capture their ideas or nurture their interest in civic issues. Vivacity gives us access to a demographic that we have otherwise missed in typical planning processes. Working with students through Vivacity projects will help us learn more about meaningful and effective ways to bring young voices and ideas into the city. Scott Lockwood, MURP, MCIP Manager, Local Area Planning & Implementation City of Calgary
Mr. James Stauch
Phone Number: 403-440-7055
Mr Scott Lockwood
Phone Number: 403-268-2423
Ms Nicole McDougall
Ms Patricia Derbyshire
Other relevant information/comments
Other Collaborators: Court Ellingson Vice President, Research & Strategy Calgary Economic Development Phone: 403-221-7892 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tyler Massie Managing Director Design4Change Phone: 403-667-6563 Email: email@example.com