Bulletin #1

E-Bulletin #1
June 20, 2001


This is the first e-Bulletin from the Social Capital Formation Project (SCFP) to the whole SPNO network. The intent of the e-Bulletins is to keep all SPNO members informed of project developments and to give everyone the opportunity to make their own input. We will also use this vehicle to offer SPNO members resources on social capital and social planning practice that they may wish to explore or consult for their own information.

Social Capital Project Web Page

The e-Bulletins will be posted on a project web page that is now being designed as a link through the SPNO Web site. The web page will include more detailed information on the project and will allow SPNO to share its learning and interest on this topic with other groups and individuals. Our thanks to Karen Liberman of the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto for giving SPNO some of the time of Andrew Kostyrka, CSPC-T’s Web Master to design and set up the Social Capital Project web page and to Scott Henderson of the Community Development Council of Quinte for posting the web page to the SPNO Web site. We plan to have the web page up and accessible by the end of June.

Social Capital Formation and Social Planning

Social capital is the quality and quantity of relationships, networks, and norms among people and organizations that facilitate collective action. Our study of the literature shows three main strategies in the formation of social capital:

  • Bonding strategies that build trust and cooperation among individuals and within communities.
  • Bridging strategies that break down barriers across groups and communities and enable collaborative action on shared objectives.
  • Scaling-up strategies that connect communities in collective action for policy and systems level social change and development.

SPNO is interested in studying social capital formation in order to define more precisely how social planning organizations and their professional staff can enhance the social well-being of their communities and create positive social change.

This interest derives from work initiated several years ago by the SPNO to develop an evaluation framework for independent social planning. How can independent social planning develop and apply more intentional and strategic approaches to facilitating community process and positive social change? We are exploring the role and function of social planning in social capital formation as indicated in the following schematic.

Status of Project Development

We are grateful to the Community Adjustment Program of the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities for funding this first stage of the Social Capital Formation Project. We are undertaking four-five community case studies in this research and development project. The participating communities are Halton (food security), Kitchener (neighbourhood festival), Sudbury (community gardens), Kingston (youth employment), and, if possible, Toronto (community access to civic space).

Case study research has begun on the Halton Food for Thought program and a first draft case study will be reported to the Halton Community Partners group on June 28. Research will begin in Kitchener at the end of June and will begin in Sudbury at the end of July. Research in Kingston and Toronto will be conducted mostly over the fall months.

The above schematic illustrates the research approach. A “lifeline analysis” is conducted in each community to get a sense from project leadership of the history and key milestones and influences on the project’s development. Proceeding from the lifeline analysis are documentation review, observation and interviews/discussions that follow a “line of inquiry” searching for the dimensions of social capital and its formation. Several forms of participant surveys are also being employed to identify and measure various aspects of social capital as derived from our study of the literature. Our lines of inquiry also seek information about the role of social planning and social planning practitioners in the formation of social capital. All this data and analysis is reported back to the local project leadership for its own potential use in planning and strategy development.

Project Leadership:

The SPNO Social Capital Formation Project Committee is made up of:
Joey Edwardh, (Committee Chair) Halton Social Planning Council & Volunteer Centre
Trudy Beaulne, Social Planning Council of Kitchener-Waterloo
Janet Comis, Social Planning Council of Kingston & District
Michael Cushing, Ontario Social Development Council
Paula DeCoito, Social planning Council of Peel
Gloria Desantis, Social Planning Council of Cambridge & North Dumfries
Janet Gasparini, Social Planning Council of Sudbury
Scott Henderson, Community Development Council of Quinte
Tracey Lauriault, Social Planning Council of Ottawa-Carleton
Nancy McDonough, Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities
Susan McGrath, York University
David Welch, Social Planning Council of Ottawa-Carleton

Project Coordinator: Peter Clutterbuck

Project consulting and research support: Mike Balkwill, David Hasbury, Jim Rice, and Krissa Fay

The Halton Social Planning Council & Volunteer Centre provides administrative support to the Social Capital Formation Project on behalf of the SPNO.

OMSSA Interest

Peter Clutterbuck presented on social capital formation as a community capacity-building strategy to the Administrator’s Conference of the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) in March. The presentation was very well received and Peter and Mike Balkwill were asked to do a workshop at the OMSSA Spring Learning Symposium in London on June 12. Again, the presentation went very well. Mike and Peter emphasized the role of social planning councils as trusted community organizations to work with municipal government in developing supportive communities. Adelina Urbanski, Commissioner of Social Services for Halton Region, was very impressed with SPNO’s work in this area. Following the London presentation, she contacted Joey Edwardh about presenting our work on the Food for Thought case study to her Community Services Committee (Halton Regional Councillors) in September and doing an in-service training session with her departmental staff later in the fall.

Social Inclusion

The Laidlaw Foundation is exploring the development of a new children’s funding program using social inclusion as its central framework. Social inclusion is a concept originating as a policy framework in France and now adopted in a number of European jurisdictions. The definition of social inclusion which Laidlaw is advancing for discussion is:

The capacity and willingness of our society to keep all groups within reach of what we expect as a society — the social commitment and investments necessary to ensure that socially and economically vulnerable people are within reach of [close to] our common aspirations, common life and its common wealth. 

The Laidlaw Foundation has asked Peter Clutterbuck to facilitate a series of roundtable discussions with different groups to test out the usefulness of the social inclusion conceptual framework. Peter has done five of these sessions so far, assisted by Krissa Fay, who is recording the discussions. Peter and Krissa are doing this work under the auspices of the Social Capital Formation Project, since the concept of social inclusion is consistent with and our social capital work. In September the roundtable discussions will be taken to groups in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Halifax. One good web site resource on social inclusion is out of a women’s research centre in Atlantic Canada at http://www.acewh.dal.ca/inclusion.htm.

Resource References on Social Capital

The Spring, 2001 issue of the journal ISUMA is devoted entirely to the topic of social capital. All papers are available on-line at http://www.isuma.net. Especially check out Michael Woolcock’s paper, in which he offers (unknowingly) a good case for why social capital is such an appropriate focus for social planning councils, as suggested by this excerpt:

At its best, a social capital perspective recognizes that exclusion from [public:private and civic] institutions is created and maintained by powerful vested interests, but that marginalized groups themselves possess unique social resources that can be used as a basis for overcoming that exclusion, and as a mechanism for helping forge access to these institutions. Intermediaries such as NGOs have a crucial role to play in such a process, because it takes a long time to earn both the confidence of the marginalized, and the respect of institutional gatekeepers. In short, it takes an articulated effort of both “top-down” and “bottom-up” to help overcome this exclusion, but it can be, has been and is being done, with positive and lasting results.

Also, Krissa Fay has started some good work for the Project on an annotated bibliography on social capital, which we will post on the web site that we are setting up. Right now, Krissa recommends several web sites of interest:

Local Social Capital –

Paul Bullen Management Alternatives –

Social Capital for Development –

New Hampshire Charitable Foundation –

Next e-Bulletin

The next e-Bulletin will provide summary highlights of the Halton Food for Thought case study and progress with our next two case studies in Kitchener and Sudbury, as well as other notes and additional resources. Expect to receive it in early August.

Contact Information

For further information contact:
Peter Clutterbuck at pclutterbuck@spno.c