Community Hubs by Design – How to build supportive spaces for fighting poverty

By Darrell Howard


Giving people a place to get together, make friends and be part of their community goes a long way toward solving some of the issues that keep people in poverty. That’s what a community hub can do. The Community Hubs by Design toolkit is a guide is for anyone who wants to start a community hub and make a difference.

The Community Hubs by Design Project, led by the Community Hubs Collaborative, was initiated out of the desire to support local efforts to transform or create new places that can become community hubs- places to build community, build resiliency, to address needs and create strength; to build economic and social prosperity that can ultimately make poverty a thing of the past.

In January 2017, Vibrant Communities Calgary engaged EXEP Consulting to manage the project. Then we convened community leaders to share knowledge about community hubs and to create a comprehensive toolkit that will enable new and existing groups to successfully create and maintain a community hub.

How did we do it? We started by hosting a day-long community roundtable event on April 28th to explore the steps needed to create a successful community hub. We followed up with 5 “expert” group sessions to develop guidelines, practical tips and identify applicable resources for each step in the hub development process. We then combined what we heard from our conversations with the community and available research to create the very first draft of the toolkit. We met individually with community economic development specialists and people with lived experience to ensure the toolkit captured their perspective and knowledge.

On a cool September morning, we handed the toolkit off to West Village Marketing to bring the toolkit fully alive. Eleven months later, with the support of close to seventy Calgarians, representing thirty-seven different groups, organizations, businesses and churches, we did it! The Community Hubs by Design toolkit is now available to anyone for anyone who wants to start a community hub and make a difference.


Darrell Howard is a Community Facilitation & Engagement Specialist at Vibrant Communities Calgary. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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