Bulletin #3

E-Bulletin #3
September 25, 2001


This is the third 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 — Feedback from Halton Food for Thought Community Partners was used to prepare the final version of this case study, which is now available from Peter Clutterbuck (it was sent to the whole SPNO Executive Director network earlier in September). Sincerest thanks to Joey Edwardh, Halton SPCVC Executive Director, and Darlene Edmonds, Halton SPCVC Intergenerational Coordinator, and the Halton Food for Thought Community Partners for their tremendous help in getting this work done.
  • Kitchener Festival of Neighbourhoods — Research was completed earlier this month and a partial draft was ready for the meeting of the Social Capital Formation Project Committee in Kitchener on Sept. 14. A complete first draft will be done by early October and a second draft is planned for the social capital workshop on October 18 in Ottawa as part of the SPNO meeting. Trudy Beaulne, SPCKW Executive Director, was a great help in this research and assigned some of the time of a summer placement student, Matthew Cooper, to do field research. Matt did a super job on a variety of research tasks, especially getting more than 40 local survey respondents from four local communities to our “bonding” survey questionnaire. Matt is a student at Carleton University, so we are hoping that he can join us for our social capital workshop in October in Ottawa.
  • Sudbury Community Gardens — Research began with a visit by Peter Clutterbuck to Sudbury with David Hasbury to do a lifeline analysis on July 30. Peter stayed over the next two days to do an initial series of interviews with local people involved in the community gardens. He also had a chance to visit all three community gardens sites. Additional telephone interviews still need to be done. Janet Gasparini, Sudbury SPC Executive Director, delivered the first set of participant “bonding” surveys at the meeting in Kitchener. Bobbi Cascanatte, Sudbury SPC Community Development Worker, continues to collect information on site for use in the research.
  • York Community Alliance (Toronto) — A lifeline analysis was done with about fifteen local leaders in late June. Follow-up strategic planning sessions were planned for late August and early September, but have been delayed because of internal crisis in the Alliance’s development. Peter Clutterbuck is working with Yasmin Khan and the YCA leadership to deal with these issues before working out with YCA continuing participation in the social capital formation research.
  • Kingston Youth Employment — no research agenda set yet — likely start in late October.

Kitchener Meeting Marks Progress

The Social Capital Project Steering Committee had a very good all-day meeting hosted by SPCKW in Kitchener on Friday, September 14. Within only several days of the tragic events of Sept. 11, those present spent some time reflecting on the meaning and implications of the different world we all live in (or just woke up to).

On a more positive and hopeful note, Joey, Trudy, and Janet led the group through the highlights of their respective project “lifelines”, which were displayed in the wall-size graphic art form that David Hasbury creates for us. This allowed us to begin identifying key learnings and to gain insights for the resource material that we will produce out of this stage of the project. Some preliminary insights for further discussion in Ottawa include:

  • SPCs seem to operate fairly comfortably in the space between informal community and formal community organization. This was characterized as “gap” work that is grounded in trust and respect for the local SPC and is an important connection to advance local initiatives.
  • Succession strategies for both key local leader and community development practitioners are critical for continuity and progress with local initiatives. Inadequate resources make local projects very fragile so that loss of strong leadership can threaten survival of the initiative.
  • Can “social” capital be used to leverage “financial” capital investments? Our case studies to date might indicate an ability to show how funding produces community returns/contributions that can be value-measured in a way that may help funders make investment decisions.
  • Sustainability is usually thought of in terms of secure and ongoing financial resources. Our work to date suggests that we need to “imagine” sustainability in a more multi-dimensional way, such as changing/transforming the cultures of organizations in ways that result in existing resources to be used differently for community benefit.
  • What criteria should SPCs use to decide when to enter or promote a partnership initiative? Given limited resources, this is a key strategic choice for SPCs and amounts to a “risk” venture (once committed it is hard to extricate the organization from a partnership/collaboration). What criteria should be applied in a good risk assessment of potential social capital formation initiatives? For example, some evidence seems to indicate that “bonding” should be present rather than presuming SPCs can initiate or stimulate bonding within a community. SPCs may be able (nothing definite here) to reinforce existing bonding and definitely show strength and skill in supporting bridging connections.

Social Capital Workshop in Ottawa, October 18, 2001

The Project Committee also did some planning for the SPNO meeting in Ottawa, October 17 – 19, 2001. The third Annual SPNO Social Capital Workshop will occur on Thursday, October 18 (our first was at Geneva Park in 1999 and our second was at Wolfe Island, Kingston in 2000). We have invited some other people with knowledge and expertise on social capital to join us in Ottawa, including Sherri Torjman of the Caledon Institute on Social Policy, Christa Freiler of the Laidlaw Foundation, Valerie Howe with the Federal Department of Justice and departmental liaison with the Policy Research Institute’s Project on Social Cohesion Policy Research. Their perspectives on our project and research should be very helpful.

The Executive Directors of the SPCs for the first three community case studies (Joey Edwardh, Trudy Beaulne, and Janet Gasparini) will present the highlights of their social capital project lifelines. Peter Clutterbuck, Project Coordinator, will summarize learnings to date on social capital formation strategies and implications for SPC organizations and practitioners. Mike Balkwill, Project Consultant, will facilitate a discussion of the SPNO group on the work to date.

  • Bonding and bridging strategies for social planning practice in the community.
  • Bridging and scaling-up strategies for social planning leadership and senior managers.
  • Infrastructure required for SPNO to develop a policy development impact with this work.

Social Inclusion Roundtables — West and East

On behalf of SPNO, Peter Clutterbuck worked with Christa Freiler of the Laidlaw Foundation to conduct two half-day Social Inclusion Roundtables in Winnipeg on September 20, including one with aboriginal community leaders in their spiritual community centre. Another Roundtable was held in Vancouver on September 21.

Christa Freiler is heading up the Laidlaw Foundation’s exploration of the usefulness of a Social Inclusion Framework in developing the Foundation’s children’s funding program. Peter Clutterbuck has been facilitating the roundtable discussions on the social inclusion concept.

Two more roundtables are planned for St. John. N.B. on October 11 and Halifax, N.S. on October 12. Roundtable discussion will be used to prepare a funding strategy document for review of the Laidlaw Advisory Committee in early December.

Peter Clutterbuck will also be presenting the SPNO’s Social Capital Formation Research in a session on “Social Inclusion and Community Participation” at the conference on “A New Way of Thinking? Towards a Vision of Social Inclusion” in Ottawa on November 8 and 9. This conference is co-sponsored by the Laidlaw Foundation and the Canadian Council on Social Development.

Presentation at the University of Manitoba, Sept. 20, 2001

While in Winnipeg for the Social Inclusion Roundtable, Peter Clutterbuck made a presentation to faculty and students at the University of Manitoba on “Building Social Capital: Implications for Policy and Practice”. There was much interest in both our Project’s research methods and findings. The “lifeline” analysis was particularly intriguing to a number of those present. The PowerPoint presentation is available electronically upon request.

Contact Information

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