Social Innovation and Resilience in Cities

In 2014 and early 2015, Cities for People and SiG partnered on an online series, Social Innovation & Resilience in Cities. Together we examined the critical issues affecting our built environment and our lived experience in urban spaces. Both Cities for People and SiG were keen to explore how we can foster social innovation within city systems to ensure social and economic prosperity and sustained environmental well-being. Read about and watch the webinars below.

Webinar #1
Creative Community Resilience

What is the connection between resilience and civic imagination? What role do local culture and creativity play in processes of social innovation? And how can participatory practices turn cities into co-creators of ‘enabling’ frameworks?

In this webinar, Chiara Camponeschi of draws on insights shared in her latest book, Enabling City Volume 2, to explore movements of collective creation that provide society with the ideas, identities, and even ideals to collectively explore – and enhance – narratives of socially innovative resilience. 

About the presenter

Chiara Camponeschi works at the intersection of interdisciplinary research, social innovation and urban sustainability. Originally from Rome, Italy Chiara has been involved with creative communities in Europe and Canada for almost a decade. As an advocate for youth empowerment and intercultural dialogue, she has worked with international organizations ranging from the UN-level to the grassroots. Chiara has also donated her time across a wide variety of initiatives, collaborating with organizations such as Green Cross Italy and serving as member of the CIVICUS Youth Assembly Planning Committee and UNESCO’s Sectoral Commission on Culture, Communication and Information. More recently, Chiara was selected as Italy’s only Oxfam Action Partner for 2010-2013, and was recognized as a Young Agent of Change by Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation (2011). Chiara holds a Master in Environmental Studies and a BA in Political Science & Communications Studies from York University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Geography with a focus on participatory approaches to urban resilience to climate change.

Webinar #2
 The 100in1Day Movement and Active Citizenship

100in1Day has been dubbed many things, from the heart of active citizenship to the prototyping of the co-created city.

The global, citizen-led movement was born in Bogota, Colombia in 2012. The one-day event featuring 100+ interventions from citizens all over the city has since spread to 14 cities across four continents. The movement, which empowers individuals to beautify and transform their urban spaces, took off in Canada in October 5, 2013 starting with Montreal. Earlier this year, three other cities – Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax – joined in the movement along with Montreal on June 7, 2014.

At the heart of 100in1Day is active citizenship, which means going beyond voting and complaining to living consciously and embracing our own power as everyday urban citizens. What do you want for your city? Join us in exploring the practice of active citizenship and finding your own personal connection to place and community. Dare to step out of your personal bubble and into the commons.

SIRC webinar #2: 100in1Day and Active Citizenship from J.W. McConnell Family Foundation on Vimeo.

About the Presenters

Juan-LondonoJuan Carlos Londono is the initiator of 100in1Day Montreal, a social entrepreneur, and a researcher. Born in Bogota, the birthplace of 100in1Day, he is a self-described “explorer of human potential”. Juan is the co-founder of Lupuna, a socially-oriented enterprise that uses collaborative practices to enhance people’s capacity to work together for the common good.

Cédric-JametCédric Jamet, curator of the Citizen Spaces at Cities for People and the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre, knows a thing or two about transforming the city. Passionate about the relationship between active citizenship and the urban imaginary, he is involved in several projects that aim to rethink public space and citizen engagement. He was one of the initiators of the 100in1Day movement Montreal, and currently facilitates active citizenship through Transforme ta Ville and Get2gether neighborhood projects.

Webinar #3
Vertical Resilience and Community Renewal

Before the glass condominiums that crowd Toronto’s downtown skies rose, the city was already home to a veritable concrete jungle of apartment buildings. 

Twelve hundred towers house nearly one million people today – with many providing affordable options in the city’s core, a place that is becoming more and prohibitively expensive. Built following the Second World War, however, these towers are far from beacons of sustainability and certainly not immune to disrepair. 

Tower Renewal is a program to drive broad environmental, social, economic, and cultural change by improving Toronto’s concrete apartment towers and the neighbourhoods that surround them. Their vision is to work with residents to reinvigorate these important neighbourhoods, making them more liveable and energy efficient, while bringing new community amenities to the sites. 

Toronto’s Tower Renewal program is a great example of the kind of project Cities for People and SiG are interested in exploring for our Social Innovation and Resilience in Cities Series. Using it as a case study, we will explore how communities can identify problems and opportunities together, how they can be part of decision-making processes, and how partnerships and attention to positive social and ecological resilience can bring life and long-term vitality to urban systems. 

Joining us for this conversation is John Brodhead, Executive Director of Evergreen CityWorks, an action tank working on key infrastructure issues in Canadian cities. John is also the Curator for Cities for People’s CityScapes domain. Joining John will be Graeme Stewart, Associate at ERA Architects and a founding Director of the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal. 

SIRC webinar #3: Vertical Resilience & Community Renewal from J.W. McConnell Family Foundation on Vimeo.

About the Presenters

John is the first Executive Director of CityWorks. Prior to joining CityWorks, John was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Cabinet Affairs for Premier Dalton McGuinty and served in other roles in the Office of the Premier, including Executive Director of Communications and Senior Policy Advisor. John was also Vice President for Strategy and Communications for Metrolinx. Prior to joining the provincial government, John served in various capacities in the federal government, including working for the Ministers of Infrastructure and Communities and National Defence.

Graeme Stewart M.Arch OAA MRAIC CAHP is a registered architect and Associate with ERA Architects. Graeme has been involved in numerous urban design, cultural planning, conservation and architecture projects with particular focus on neighbourhood design and regional sustainability. Graeme was a key initiator of the Tower Renewal Project. Graeme is also the co-editor of Concrete Toronto: A Guidebook to Concrete Architecture from the Fifties to the Seventies and a founding director of the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R), an urban research organization formed by ERA and planningAlliance in 2009. In 2010, he was recipient of an RAIC National Urban Design Award for his ongoing research and design work related to Tower Renewal, and in 2014 received the Jane Jacobs Prize.

Webinar #4
URBACT and innovative practice in European cities (Featuring Eddy Adams) 

How is the city of Turin, Italy, encouraging its public employees to be more innovative? How are Swedish cities using public procurement to drive low carbon food production and healthier eating in schools? What are Rotterdam, Glasgow and Tampere doing to stimulate youth entrepreneurship?

This webinar, the fourth in the Social Innovation & Resilience in Cities (#SIRCities) series, opened a window on innovative practice in Europe’s cities. Drawing from the experience of URBACT, the EU’s Paris-based learning and exchange programme for cities, the webinar also examined how cities learn from one another.

About Eddy Adams

eddyEddy Adams is an Expert Adviser to URBACT, the European Union’s learning and exchange programme for cities, covering 30 countries. URBACT funds European cities to collaborate on tackling shared problems. Eddy is part of a team that supports participating cities to achieve good results, and he has a particular interest in Human Capital and Social Innovation. The role, also involves capturing and sharing the key lessons emerging from this work, which has involved more than 500 cities.

He is particularly active in the development of new ways to build the capacity of city stakeholders. This has included a key role in the URBACT Summer University as well as the development of a capacity building programme for urban practitioners across Europe.

Eddy is a Fellow of the RSA, a cities’ advisor to the Young Foundation and a Member of SIX, the global Social Innovation Exchange.

Follow Eddy Adams on Twitter at @Eddyca1.

Webinar #5
Art that changes the world

In this webinar, Judith Marcuse spoke about the burgeoning connections between art, innovation, and social change by highlighting some of the work being done in communities across Canada and internationally that employ art-making as a central strategy. Her work explores the question of how we can use a cultural lens and arts-infused practices to create more dynamic, healthy and creative cities.

About Judith Marcuse

Judith Marcuse’s career spans more than 40 years of professional work as a dancer, choreographer, director, producer, teacher, writer, consultant and lecturer in Canada and abroad. She has created over 100 original works for live performance by dance, theatre and opera companies as well as for film and television and has produced seven large-scale, international arts festivals. Her repertory contemporary dance company toured extensively in Canada and abroad for 15 years, while also producing community residencies and youth programs. Among many initiatives her youth-focused, five-year, issue-based ICE, FIRE and EARTH projects involved thousands of youth in workshops, national touring, television production and community collaborations.

Founder and Co-Director of the International Centre of Art for Social Change, she is a Senior Fellow of Ashoka International. Among her many honours, she has received the Lee and Chalmers Canadian choreographic awards and an honorary doctorate from Simon Fraser University. She is an Adjunct Professor and Artist in Residence at SFU and is leading the ASC! Project, a five-year research initiative on art for social change in Canada.

Marcuse has pioneered the application of arts-infused dialogue and other creative approaches for cross-sector collaboration and consults for private and public sector organizations across Canada and abroad.



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