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Report on the Communities Collaborating Institute in Guelph, Canada

This week, approximately 75 leaders in community engagement have gathered in Guelph for the first-ever Communities Collaborating Institute. The energy is high, the momentum is building and visions are emerging. Convened by Tamarack, the Institute welcomes an inaugural participant group that represents a whole community system. Leaders from government, community organizations, businesses and volunteers have come together at Loyola House, a beautiful place of retreat, to share their learnings about collaboration and to learn from each other.

Each day is coordinated with speakers, presentations, workshops and activities that explore important mechanisms for societal change.

Day one featured special guest speaker Sherri Torjman of the Caledon Institute, offering her leadership and insight on the communities agenda. Her wisdom and enthusiasm for collaboration provided a welcomed inspiration for discourse throughout the week, particularly at our evening Conversation Café.

As the leaders collaborate in their learning pods, they’ve been discussing questions that have emerged throughout the week and that they have been eager to seek answers for throughout their journey in community engagement.

Of course, there are more questions than answers – but we’re getting there!

Forming a Learning Community

As some of Canada’s leading collaborators unite at Loyola House in Guelph, a powerful learning community is developing, dedicated to collaboration, improving quality of life and community renewal efforts.

Bringing people in communities to collaboration is an emerging field of practice. At Tamarack, our passion for learning and community engagement has produced the first ever Communities Collaborating Institute.

In collaboration with our partners, this one-week institute, followed by a 10-month online learning module, is advancing the skills of collaborators and practitioners in order to help make the work of renewing communities easier and more effective.

As members of an ongoing learning network, we are expanding our vision for the scale of results we set out to achieve in communities across Canada.

Community issues are complex; community initiatives can be complicated. We hope this new learning community will help to shed light on this complexity in an effort to strengthen movements for change.

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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