Bulletin #2

E-Bulletin #2
August 6, 2001


This is the second 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 offer 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.

Status of Case Study Research

  • Halton Food for Thought — research was completed between early May and mid-June, leading to a draft report presented to the Community Partners at their strategic planning session on June 28. A revised draft using their comments will be prepared for the meeting of the SCFP Steering Committee on September 14 in Kitchener. (A complete first draft of the case study is available from me upon request, if you have not yet already received it. A research summary of the Halton Food for Thought Case Study will be posted soon to the web page — see below for more information and web page address).
  • Kitchener Festival of Neighbourhoods — research began in early July and is just being completed so that a first draft can be ready for the Sept. 14 meeting.
  • Sudbury Community Gardens — research began in Sudbury during the week of July 30. About half the interviews were completed on site, and the remainder will be done by telephone. Participant surveys will likely be completed by the end of August.
  • York Community Alliance (Toronto) — a lifeline analysis was done with about fifteen local leaders in late June. Follow-up strategic planning sessions will be done with the YCA in late August and early September, but additional research will not be done until late-September – October.
  • Kingston Youth Employment — no research agenda set yet — likely start in late October.

Sincerest thanks to Executive Directors in the case study SPCs for their cooperation and assistance in this research — Joey Edwardh in Halton SPC, Trudy Beaulne in Kitchener SPC and Janet Gasparini in Sudbury SPC. I am also very grateful for the tremendous help of their staff — Darlene Edmonds in Halton, Matthew Cooper, summer student researcher in Kitchener, and Bobbie Cascanette in Sudbury. Also, thanks to Yasmin Khan Area Planner for the CSPC-T for her organizing help with the YCA for its lifeline analysis session.

Project Steering Committee Meeting in Kitchener, Sept. 14

Research to date and future planning will be the main agenda items at the Project meeting on September 14 in Kitchener. Although some preliminary work will be done, more specific planning will be done for the expert workshop on social capital as part of the SPNO meeting in Ottawa on October 17 – 19.

Web Page Launched

Thanks to Scott Henderson of the Community Development Council of Quinte for posting the SCFP web page to the SPNO Web site at http://www.spno.ca. The Project’s web page can be accessed through the link indicated in the masthead of the SPNO site. Thanks again to Andrew Kostyrka of the Community Social Planning Council of Toronto for designing the SCFP web page.

Right now the first e-Bulletin from June is posted as well as the annotated bibliography done by Krissa Fay, Research Assistant assigned by Mike Balkwill to the Project. The text for the other subjects on the web page is ready but awaits Scott’s return from vacation to be posted.

We were hoping to have an interactive feature on the web page, but apparently that is a bit more complicated — so, for now, please send any comments, advice, or additional material for the web page to Peter Clutterbuck at pclutterbuck@spno.ca

In Their Own Words

In the field research, of course, our lines of inquiry and interview questions do not dwell on the social science language of social capital. We try to find out what people see as the benefits of the various local activities and what connections among people and organizations are evident to them. The following sampling of quotes from local people, however, do reflect the various dimension of social capital as the literature describes it:

From the Halton Food for Thought participants

  • “Seniors feel they are doing something worthwhile and are appreciated by the children . . . . It’s like a large extended family”
  • “It’s education about nutrition, but also for social interaction, including older children helping out younger children.”
  • “Also, caretakers, principals, teachers, all participate and are seen in different roles as caregivers and friends.”
  • “The good thing about the program is that poor kids are not identified; they are not ‘centred out’ because the program is for everyone”
  • “The program expands the boundary of the family to include the community”
  • “I hear the conversations of the kids around the table just like at home”
  • “All volunteers feel valued and respected; there is mutual respect in the program”

From the Kitchener Festival of Neighbourhoods participants

  • “The amount of face-to-face relationship building keeps it alive.”
  • “People now have names to attach to faces — it increases their sense of community safety.”
  • “[Helping out in festival] gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
  • “Instead of celebrating the extraordinary, we need to celebrate the ordinary and everyday — neighbourhood is the basic building block of civic life. You don’t think about it unless it’s not there.”
  • “[The festival is supposed to] keep people together — stop the isolation within and between communities.”
  • “It makes me feel good about myself, that I can help other people and see the smile on their face.”
  • “People feel connected to each other, identify with each other and share.”

From Sudbury Community gardens participants:

  • “We need workers who are able to walk in different worlds, trusted by the community and the power brokers.”
  • “You see people coming out of their apartments [down to the garden], making friends.”
  • “There is more to be gained by spending time in the garden with a son, daughter, or spouse than just the food to be harvested.”
  • “The community garden turned around the neighbourhood — we started to be recognized as a good community not like we used to be.”
  • “[Bringing forward other proposals], they know you from the community gardens and they trust you.”
  • “They [the children in low income families] are so proud of their carrots and show them off.”
  • “A lot of friendships have been made in the garden.”

Social Inclusion Roundtables Across the Country

Between May and August, Peter Clutterbuck has facilitated and Krissa Fay has done summary reports on five roundtable sessions on social inclusion for The Laidlaw Foundation. Laidlaw is exploring the development of a new children’s funding program using social inclusion as its central framework (see e-Bulletin #1).

In late September the roundtable discussions will be taken to groups in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Halifax. Peter will facilitate the roundtables in Vancouver, Halifax and Winnipeg. This work is being done under the auspices of the SPNO’s Social Capital Formation Project since social capital is an essential element in social inclusion. Social inclusion is one of the identified social outcomes in our own conceptual framework on social planning and social capital formation.

Connection with the Policy Research Institute

On August 2, Peter Clutterbuck participated on behalf of the SCFP in a federal government consultation on social cohesion held in Ottawa. Organized by the Policy Research Institute (PRI), the consultation brought together about forty policy researchers from a number of federal government departments, universities, independent policy and research institutes and the community and voluntary sector. They spent a day discussing policy research priorities for the federal government on the strategic theme of social cohesion.

Set up in the Privy Council Office, the PRI is a unit charged with the responsibility of generating a research agenda on social cohesion. One of the issues identified in its workplan is “the roles of the private and voluntary sectors in building social capital”. Research questions indicated in relation to this issue include: “What demands are being placed on the third sector and what is its capacity to respond? What are the gaps in the current framework of support to the non-profit sector and what are the likely trends to the year 2005?” The relevance to SPNO’s work on social capital is obvious.

Peter Clutterbuck shared information on the SPNO social capital project with PRI officials who are very interested in our work. He invited PRI participation in the Social Capital Expert Workshop being held at the next SPNO meeting in Ottawa, October 17-19. He also approached several others present about their potential participation in the workshop. The PRI web site is at http://policyresearch.gc.ca/ . Follow the links to the work on Social Cohesion.

While at the PRI session, Peter Clutterbuck was also invited to present our social capital formation work in conjunction with Christa Freiler, working on social inclusion for the Laidlaw Foundation, at a University of Winnipeg seminar in late September.

Resource References on Social Capital

The Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) is doing work on social capital. Their web site at www.community-fdn.ca includes the text of a speech at the Regional Meeting of the CFC in May by Tim Brodhead, President and CEO of the McConnell Foundation on the role of social capital. Also, the CFC commissioned the Caledon Institute to study the social capital produced by its Millennium Project involving local activities across the country. The findings are worth review and can be found at www.caledoninst.org under “Social Capital and the ‘Our Millennium’ National Project.”

The theme of the Summer issue of ISUMA is on volunteering in Canada. Papers by Frances Woolley on “The Strengths and Limits of the Voluntary Sector” and Paul Reed and Kevin Selbee on “Canada’s Civic Core: On the Disproportionality of Charitable Giving, Volunteering and Civic Participation” are particularly relevant to our project work. All ISUMA papers can be found on-line in their totality at www.isuma.net. Also, as reported in e-Bulletin #1, the whole Spring issue of ISUMA was on social capital and can be found at the same web site.

Contact Information

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