Thanks to Ajeev Bhatia, Manager of Policy / Community Connections at Centre for Connected Communities and Gillian Mason, a consultant and urban planner working with Connected Communities, for talking to us about the amazing work underway at East Scarborough Works.
In this conversation, Ajeev and Gillian describe the unique opportunity we have now to build on what we know from poverty reduction and community development to strengthen neighbourhoods and draw on the assets of our communities in the recovery.
In the East Scarborough Works project large institutions like the University of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission, trade unions like LIUNA, employment services, skills development programs are all connected with a clear line of sight to connect job seekers with job needs and support new workers with wayfinding and drawing on neighbourhood assets.
Ajeev and Gillian explain the community development approach the project has taken and the critical role of an intermediary in a community ecosystem. Connected Communities calls this the community backbone organization, which understands all of the different groups in a community from grassroots organizations to large institutions and their motivations and challenges, and works to develop a system level pathway.
An intermediary like East Scarborough Works operates at both an individual and macro level to connect and support all of the players in a community ecosystem. This work has also helped grow empathy among the players in the system. ‘Weavers’ such as the people at East Scarborough works who are nurturing relationships and understanding will be important in the new economy.
We hope this critical connective tissue in communities can attract investment and support from government and philanthropy in the new recovery.
Find out more about our work at Social Impact Advisors: https://socialimpactadvisors.ca