We are grateful to the Community Adjustment Program of the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for funding this first stage of SPNO’s 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).
The following schematic illustrates the Project’s research approach. First, 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. The lifeline tracks the project’s history by asking key participants in its development to identify and describe critical moments in project development. Important external influences giving impetus to or setting the project back are also identified. Thanks to the artistic skills of David Hasbury, a co-facilitator in the lifeline process, all of this history is captured graphically with in images and colours on a wall-size chart. This process has proved to be very helpful and eye-opening to the local leaders who have participated.
Documentation review, site observations (e.g. visits to community gardens in Sudbury and school breakfast programs in Halton) and interviews/discussions with leaders and program participants follow the lifeline analysis. Interviews with individuals and small groups 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 of this data and analysis is reported back to the local project leadership for its own potential use in planning and strategy development. It is also, of course, used to draft a case study for each local community. These case studies will be used to develop a strategic resource guide for social planning council practice in the formation of social capital in local communities.
Products and Results of Research
By April 2002, the Social Capital Formation Project will:
- Produce individual case studies on social capital formation strategies in four to five communities across Ontario.
- Prepare and disseminate regular bulletin updates on the status and progress with the case study research (see e-Bulletins).
- Establish a web page for sharing information on the project.
- Conduct and expert workshop to gain outside insights and comments on the case study research.
- Synthesize the case study research into a Resource Guide for Social Capital Formation by Social Planning Councils that proposes a model of strategic practice in the use of bonding, bridging, and scaling-up strategies.
- Sponsor a provincial forum to review the case study research present the model for social planning strategies in social capital formation.
The Project is overseen by a Steering Committee appointed by the SPNO membership (see Project Leadership).