Community Engagement

“No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.”

                   -Jane Jacobs, “Downtown is for People”, 1957.
How do we get people involved in designing their dream community?

Real communities grow organically, and over time. You have to let it happen, nurture great ideas, wrestle with troublesome ones, and be a catalyst for positive change.

If there is a template, it goes something like this:

  1. Engage your friends and neighbours
  2. Create a neighbourhood vision
  3. Come up with ideas
  4. Turn ideas into action

Get Started
Jane’s Walk
If you haven’t got a Jane’s Walk (or ten) in your community, get moving!

Jane’s Walk began in 2007 as a tribute to the urban thinker and writer, Jane Jacobs.  It has grown to become an international annual celebration of the diversity and strength of communities. Held around the first weekend of May, each Jane’s Walk is led by a community leader with a story to tell.

Get Organized

Here are some of the groups involved in community action.

Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition
The Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition was founded in the late 1980’s to connect environment, society and economy as part of a complete approach to a healthy community. OHCC advises communities across the Province.

Green Communities Canada
Green Communities Canada has been active since the early 1990’s. GCC develops programs that are delivered through member organizations that are a local centre of excellence in communities across Canada.
Partners for Climate Protection
An initiative of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and ICLEI Canada, the Partners for Climate Protection program empowers municipalities to take action against climate change through a five-milestone process that guides members in creating GHG inventories, setting realistic and achievable GHG reduction targets, developing local action plans, and implementing plans using specific, measurable actions to reduce emissions.


Ontario Greenbelt Alliance

The Ontario Greenbelt Alliance is a watchdog and defender of Ontario’s innovative Greenbelt. Their vision is to make the Greenbelt a valuable and permanent part of Ontario’s landscape. The Alliance is coordinated by Environmental Defence.

Transition Town Initiatives

Transition Towns are community-led processes that seek to help a community make a voluntary and proactive change to a post-carbon society. Good fun, and a great organizers handbook. To view a list compiled by Google of Ontario-based Transition Towns, click here.

The Natural Step
The Natural Step helps municipalities and communities with strategic planning for a sustainable future.

The Conservation Council of Ontario
The Conservation Council of Ontario has produced a guide book and worksheets on Community Action.  They also have a map of organized communities across Ontario.