Week 8, February 24: Cohesive Communities
This is one of the 26 segments of Guy Dauncey’s Climate Emergency: A 26-Week Transition Program for Canada. Excerpted by permission.
Every community in Canada needs the capacity and skills to embrace the transition, becoming strong and resourceful. In Britain, the Lambeth Study on participatory culture found that success in building a cohesive community requires regular engagement by 10-15% of the residents, and an investment of $140 per resident. In the London east-end borough of Dagenham and Barking members of Participatory City are working to engage 25,000 residents in networks of friendship, and to grow 250 new projects and 100 new businesses with the goal of creating connectedness sufficient to make life better for everyone.
We plan a future in which one of the central roles of government is to support non-governmental problem solvers, reducing the huge annual cost of putting dressings on our many problems, rather than solving them. In The Beautiful Bailout: How a Social Innovation Scale-up Will Solve Government’s Priciest Problems, Shaun Loney explains how government partnerships with social enterprises can save money by reducing several of Canada’s most costly problems, including off-grid diesel, and First Nations diabetes, poverty, incarceration and children in care. To this end:
- We will continue our commitment to contribute $755 million over 10 years to the Social Finance Fund.
- We will establish a Cohesive Communities Fund for social enterprise capacity building, comprehensive transition planning, urban greening, and ecologically sustainable community economic development in qualifying communities. Criteria for qualification include First Nations, low incomes, poor health indicators, and low participation rates in civic activities. $50,000 grants will be offered to 5,000 communities for five years to lay the foundations for a strong, participatory, cohesive community. This builds on our commitment to invest $50 million over two years in Investment and Readiness for social purpose organizations to improve their ability to participate in the social finance market. Cost: $250 million per year (#12)
- We will provide Renewable Energy Capacity Building Grants at $50,000 each to 500 communities, to ensure that Canada’s First Nations and all neighbourhoods and communities across Canada are able to form cooperatives and social enterprises to engage in cooperative residential home energy retrofits, the development of renewable energy systems to end the use of diesel and natural gas for electricity, heat and transportation, and similar projects. Cost: $25 million per year (#13)
- To encourage government staff and civil servants to support the transition, we will establish a partnership with the League of Intrapreneurs and the School for Social Entrepreneurs to offer trainings and on-line courses in social innovation and intrapreneurialism, emphasizing the successes that can be achieved by working in positive, problem-solving partnerships with social enterprises and non-profits, both among First Nations and elsewhere.
- We will require all federal agencies and public bodies to seek and measure a Social Return on Investment. The scale of work needed to engage in nation-wide building retrofits, for instance, is a huge opportunity for social enterprises such as Building UP, which operates in Winnipeg, Brandon and Toronto, to train and hire ex-prisoners and others with minimal or no work experience, reducing recidivism and saving the $80,000 annual cost of keeping a person in prison.