A Community of Community-Builders

This past week, I attended a great workshop put on by Artscape, the Creative Hub Development Workshop, held in Ottawa. Another great event by Artscape, it gathered a remarkable collection of community builders from across Canada. I look forward to continuing the conversation we began.

Creative hubs are multidimensional multi-tenant places that bring together a number of cultural, social, environmental and/or economic purposes together under a single roof. Creative hubs are being increasingly seen by city-builders as key to urban regeneration, socially-sustainable and livable communities and cultural and creative vitality. They aim to serve many public good outcomes and stakeholders in ways that are unique and relevant to their specific community and are therefore extremely complex projects to pull together successfully. Artscape is pushing the boundaries of knowledge and practice in Canada and around the world in creative community building.

A couple of my favourites include the Green/Arts Barns project at the old TTC Wychwood maintenance barns in the St. Clair/Bathurst area of Toronto and the Evergreen at the Brick Works project at the old Don Valley Brick Works, which produced much of the brick that built the city. These projects will breathe life into the city and are in themselves amazingly innovative.

The group that gathered in Ottawa are community-builders, and they are part of an emerging community of practice that are looking to Artscape to lead a revolution of sustainable social change in their communities across Canada. The challenges of living up to these hopes and aspirations will no doubt further drive Artscape’s continued evolution from a developer of nonprofit housing and studio space for artists in Toronto into an organization that supports, facilitates and enables community-builders across the country and beyond.

For just a sample of what these community-builders are doing, have a look at the Woodward’s project in Vancouver’s east side, the Quartier des Spectacles in Montreal and the Arts Court in Ottawa. From city economic development officers to ZengetsÅ« MyÅ?kyÅ?, Abbess of the Centre Zen de la Main Buddhist centre in Montreal; from theatre groups and art galleries to the Medicine Hat Clay Industries National Historic District; to say that this community of practice represents a diverse set of initiatives would be a serious understatement.

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4 thoughts on “A Community of Community-Builders”

  1. Great idea! I’m going to continue to talk to these people, many of whom have an interest in economic development and technology. How about a cross-Canada BarCamp tour, sponsored in part by Via Rail? 😉

  2. Mark, you might have been kidding about a cross-Canada BarCamp tour sponsored by Via Rail, but if you or anyone else should ever happen to get serious about it:

    Via Rail sponsored singer-songwriter Allison Crowe’s cross-Canada “Rock ’n’ Rail” tour this past summer. (I am a huge fan of hers, and occasional roadie when she’s playing this part of the country. And rock is not her only genre of music; in fact her range is one of her many remarkkable characteristics.) Her manager is a friend of mine and I’m sure I can get appropriate contact info at Via.

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