Why a Community Change Institute?

Submitted by Natasha Pei on May 17, 2016 - 10:48am

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking. -Albert Einstein

Sometimes the most difficult change we face is changing ourselves.
Sometimes we resiliently push at a movement but neglect the change we need to make internally.
Sometimes change happens in the most unexpected ways through the most unexpected people.

Tamarack has been driving change through learning, collaboration, and the co-generation of knowledge for over a decade now. Friends and partners continue to join us in agreement that this social change work we’re doing – on housing and homelessness, youth suicide prevention, safer neighbourhoods, environmental sustainability, poverty reduction – the complex issues we face, need a supportive structure, intentional thought, and a diverse membership. 

I’ve engaged in a lot of learning about Collective Impact recently: the approach, theory of change, and the five ideas; but nothing comes close to the powerful way this practice and way-of-thinking is brought to life in-person with 250 other change makers during Tamarack’s Collective Impact Summit. For Toronto's 2016 event, the team has spent the past year mulling-over and consulting with thought leaders on improving the experience and content to bring learners something that it is impactful, practical, and unique.

Related: Roy Bear Chief, Aboriginal Strategist for Vibrant Communities Calgary, on the Blackfoot’s traditional 'ani ta pisi' story and Collective Impact

The result: The Community Change Institute (CCI) event is new and ambitious. It will be intense and transformative for participants. Over five days, representatives from different sectors will gather: community-based organizations, businesses, government, researchers, funders and community members, to meet one another, practice different mediums of organization and communication, and explore the art of disruption.  Faculty will present workshops and keynotes covering the areas of Collective Impact, Community Engagement, Collaborative Leadership, Community Innovation and Evaluating Community Impact

In Toronto, Ontario we’ll focus on three key themes

  • Disruptive Innovation - our traditional systems aren’t working. The Ontario CCPA has just released a report showing us that Ontarians, especially singles, receiving welfare are now living in deeper poverty than a generation ago. We are collaborating and innovating, but we’re often innovating inside a box of limitations. Our limitations are our worldviews and the systems we’ve created to support those worldviews. We construct the boxs we live in. How do we break through them to get to transformative change?
  • From Collaboration to Collective Impact – Collective Impact lends a disciplined yet emergent structure and theory of change to the collaborative work we do. It creates the space for different and sometimes unusual actors in our communities to work towards a goal we all share, helps us develop a cohesive language for our movement, recognizes and utilizes the assets that each sector brings to the table.

As poverty reduction leaders we have the responsibility to continually refresh our knowledge base and skill set with the the latest practices and approaches in the field so we are making informed choices, investing our (sometimes limited) resources in the most effective methods, and responding to the change that is occurring around us. Challenge yourself, your group, your agency to explore the ideas presented by your peers in the change-making field. I hope you will learn with us, and I hope to learn from you at the Community Change Institute in Toronto this fall.

-Natasha Pei, MSW, RSW

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