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Transforming Cities from within Learning Journey

The Transforming Cities From Within action research and facilitation team curated a learning journey for city staff and social innovators from 12 Canadian city-based teams. The majority of these groups were city staff but there were also a few from other public and non-profit sector workers.


The learning journey focused on what we might cultivate within ourselves, and what we might nurture around us, in order to catalyze transformative and emergent innovations for complex challenges in Canadian cities. Throughout the learning journey each team rooted their experience in an applied challenge at the intersection of climate change, equity and decolonization, seeking to develop and prototype high impact solutions.

The complex challenges being addressed by each city were incredibly different. We had a team creating a process to manage statues and monuments (some with complicated histories) in their city, another team was conducting a water use analysis of public spray parks, to a team that is working on how to build a community of practice around intersectional climate and equity work that will be incorporated into city staff workplans.

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Adapted from the Berkana Institute 

The learning journey began in May 2021 and ended in November 201. We met monthly or twice a month to cover a variety of session topics such as Imagining Possible Futures, Storytelling, and Equity, Decolonization, and Self in Systems. In order to provide a more robust learning journey we often invited guest speakers to join our sessions to help deepen our thinking and approaches to innovation work. We designed the learning journey in a way to counter mainstream narratives around change-making and innovation. It was important to focus on slowing down, self-reflection, imagining possible futures, and allowing ourselves to do some deep thinking. We wanted to give ourselves the space to make mistakes, grow, and get uncomfortable.

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