Complex issues mean broad cross sector approaches

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In early March, I with our Board Chair attended a breakfast hosted by the Calgary Homeless Foundation for Executive Directors and Board Chairs of key organizational stakeholders in Calgary’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. The focus of this third such meeting is to share progress and reaffirm our commitment to the plan.

In mid-March, the Calgary Social Policy Collaborative met. The CCVO, the United Way andVCC have co-convened the Calgary Social Policy Collaborative, a cross section of organizations and individuals in partnership with government to explore and develop policy changes that address root causes of poverty such issues as income, housing affordability and mental health.

In February thirty five mental health and addiction services agencies formed a council in Calgary to better respond and implement the recommendations of Alberta’s Mental Review.

About three weeks ago, the City of Calgary formalized a Housing Affordability Collective to advise and advocate for a broad approach to ensure a broad response to the diverse housing needs of Calgarians: supportive to affordable to market housing.

About two weeks ago the Premier and the Finance Minister hosted a pre-budget consultation with 40+ business leaders, post-secondary institutions, and leaders from Calgary’s social sector. I was impressed with the diversity of leadership across our community.

From a collective impact perspective and approach, I am buoyed and optimistic by these efforts. They recognize that in meeting our community’s most complex issues, no one organization or sector can successfully identify and implement lasting and sustainable solutions.

These are initial efforts. We have learned from other communities that have been on the collective impact journey that we need to think in terms of five to ten year time horizons. These collective efforts begin to bear fruit when the organizations their leaders, through regular ongoing meetings develop and embrace a common agenda while building trust. As this occurs personal and organizational interests are rebalanced with the shared goal and progress is made.

Among others, Calgary has two bold hairy audacious goals to end homelessness and reduce poverty by 50%. These complex issues can be addressed by broad cross sector approaches that brings together the diverse stakeholders for the longer term.

My appeal to all of the leaders and organizations who are coming together in these initial efforts is to commit for the longer term. Let us stop thinking of our gatherings as one-time events and start seeing them as mileposts in a much longer journey. We need to commit energy and an openness to explore new solutions in concert with others in the community.

There are enough indicators that demonstrate a strong beginning. Let us build on it.

-Franco
franco@vibrantcalgary.com

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