Neighbours: Policies & Programs

7 Reasons Why Neighbourhood Change Makes Good Sense

  1. Enhancing quality of life issues that concern us are concentrated and reinforced at the neighbourhood level
  2. Connecting factors affecting our quality of life at a manageable scale
  3. Mobilizing under-utilized resources, skills, knowledge and networks
  4. Initiating sustainable processes of renewal and community change
  5. Building citizen ownership and shared responsibility for community issues
  6. Informing policy-making at the local level
  7. Strengthening trusting relationships between neighbours contributes positively to individual health and well-being and are essential in times of emergency
Re-Imagining Cities~ Re-Engaging Citizens
Join us for this National Gathering  |  June 8th - 10th, 2015

Dynamic neighbourhoods are the foundation of strong cities and municipalities.  Engaged citizens and residents are essential in the creation of strong neighbourhoods.  Community-based organizations play an important, catalytic role in making positive community change possible. When all of these actors work together towards a common vision, community hopes and dreams can become realities.  

Join us in Hamilton, ON on June 8-10, when we bring some of the finest minds in neighbourhood building together for a gathering that will:

  • Celebrate and support the innovation, context expertise and solution-making of citizens
  • Discover infrastructure that engages and supports resident leadership
  • Explore intentional, shared and strategic processes to bridge and align formal government and organizational systems with informal community systems
  • Appreciate the importance of place – regional economies and local solutions – as essential in addressing issues of food security, community health, safety and well-being.


“The evidence is clear: people in communities with active residents, diverse and vibrant institutions, live longer, are better off economically, are healthier and safer.”

- Robert Putnam

Across Canada and beyond there are inspiring examples of what can be achieved when neighbours work with community organizations, associations and governments.   There are also inspiring examples of how policies can support and encourage neighbourhoods to build, strength and foster creativity.  Today, our shared challenge is to learn about -- and from -- these innovative examples so that they become the reality in every community. 

Together, we will uncover inspirational ideas that build citizenship and neighbourliness, such as:
  • Mapping community assets
  • Creating space and time for community conversations
  • Healthy aging plans that harness the wisdom and caring of elders and neighbours
  • Festivals and events that showcase artistic talents in ways that foster our sense of connection and diversity 
  • Sharing initiatives that teach new skills;
  • Strengthening local economies;
  • Neighbourhood associations that are inclusive and promote recreation.

2015 Neighbours: Policies & Programs is a catalyst for this movement.

Lets continue to grow a social movement that offers an alternative to the dominant paradigm of competition, consumerism, and individualism.  We want to build a bridge between the people, the programs and the policies that build healthy, vibrant, and strong neighbourhoods.





Thanks to our Partners:












Who Will Be There?

This Gathering will welcome neighbourhood leaders and community-builders from across North America to share the learning and insights gleaned from their work to advance positive change in a diversity of sectors.

The ideas, knowledge and experience shared by our thought-leaders and built-upon by peers will provide you with the inspiration, programs and resources, you need to enhance your own leadership capacity.  You will deepen your effectiveness at: mobilizing citizens; engaging organizations to work together to realize their shared hopes for the future. Together, we will explore the emerging patterns, innovative programs and policy priorities that are needed to support effective citizen-led community change and have it serve as a catalyst for system-wide innovation.



John McKnight is a founder and co-director of Asset-Based Community Development Institute, whose graduates -- including both Michelle and Barack Obama -- continue to have impact strengthening communities and neighbourhoods around the world. In 2013, John was awarded an Honourary doctorate from the University of Waterloo in recognition of his innovative work. For three decades John has researched social service delivery systems, health policy, community organizations and neighbourhood policy. He is the author of The Careless Society and co-author of Building Communities from the Inside Out and The Abundant Community. John serves on the Boards of several national organizations that support neighbourhood development and he remains tireless in his recognition and championing of citizens -- and their capacity to care for one another -- as an essential resource in the work of building better communities and neighbourhoods. 


Jim Diers has a passion for getting people engaged with their communities and in the decisions that affect their lives. His work in the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods was recognized with an Innovations Award from the Kennedy School of Government. In 1988, he was appointed the first director of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods where he served under three mayors over the next 14 years and created what some would say is a miracle of neighbors. Harnessing his own personal passion, this work resulted in: a direct-action neighborhood association; a community development corporation; a community foundation; and, the nation’s largest health care cooperative. Jim now teaches courses at the University of Washington and serves on the faculty of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He also travels internationally delivering keynotes and workshops on neighbours and neighbourhoods. His book, Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way, is available in both English and Chinese editions.


Vickie Cammack is the Founding Director of Tyze Personal Networks, a pioneering Canadian social innovation that delivers online networks of care for people facing life challenges. She is a social entrepreneur who has established many organizations dedicated to strengthening community and addressing isolation including Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) and the Family Support Institute of British Columbia. Vickie’s unique response to the isolation and loneliness that underpins some of our most intractable social problems - a network model of care, has been adopted internationally. The Women’s Executive Network named Vickie one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and she is the recipient of Meritorious Service Medal of Canada, the BC Community Achievement Award, and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in the field.


Milton Friesen is a Senior Fellow and Program Director of Social Cities at Cardus, a North American think tank. He has served as an elected municipal official and his current work at the University of Waterloo School Of Planning involves a new proposal for measuring social impact. His work on network science applications for planning includes participation in the Waterloo Institute on Complexity and Innovation.  His paper Social Infrastructure: Underpinning the Success of Cities, explores the " patterns of relationships we have with each other as individuals and groups" and suggests that these will determine the long-term viability where we live.  This paper was recently published in Municipal World.


Paul Johnson is a community innovator and newly appointed Director of Corporate Initiatives with the City of Hamilton.  Prior to that Paul was the Director of Neighbourhood Development Strategies which is well-recognized for its success in supporting citizen leadership and establishing strong citizen-municipal partnerships initially within 10 Hamilton neighbourhoods. Paul has worked in the private sector with Compaq Computer Limited and in the not-for-profit sector as Executive Director of Wesley Urban Ministries. Paul is a member of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and served as its founding Director. He is also the Chair of Hamilton’s Best Start Network and played an important role in developing a framework for service planning as the Chair of the City of Hamilton’s Human Services Planning Initiative. Paul has been named a Paul Harris Fellow by two Rotary Clubs in Hamilton and in 2007 served as the Honourary Chairperson for the Week of the Child and Youth. 


Paul Born is a bestselling author, community builder and the President of Tamarack. He will share stories and insights from his newest book, Deepening Community to illustrate how the ideas of caring, empathy and shared responsibility can be translated to build strong communities using a four-step framework that maps the journey to deep, authentic community. He will share inspiring highlights about how people throughout the world are using this framework to advance positive change within their neighbourhoods, their communities and the world.


Sylvia Cheuy is the Director of Deepening Community Learning Community at Tamarack. She brings with her a wealth of experience in citizenship engagement, community and neighbourhood development, community well-being and social innovation, with a focus on regional food systems. Sylvia's infinite curiousity allows for her to learn and share practical examples of successful community change initiatives from across the globe.




Related Resources

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Learning Together

This Gathering will welcome neighbourhood leaders and community-builders from a diversity of sectors and our learning will be guided by lead thinkers, authors, and activists on the topic of exploring the programs and policies that deepen community.

Together, we will explore the emerging patterns, innovative programs and policy priorities that are needed to establish a supportive environment for citizen-led community change and can serve as a catalyst for system-wide innovation.

Each day begins with an engaging addres from one of our keynote speakers whose presentation will frame and invite exploration of an important dimension of effective neighbourhood-based work.  This will be immediately followed by the presentation of practical local examples of how these concepts are being put into action. 

Participants will then have the opportunity to join a Peer Learning Lab.  These Learning Labs offer an opportunity for small group dialogues which invite a deepened reflection on the ideas we have just heard.  Insights and emerging questions are then captured and shared.

A delicious lunch, featuring the talents of Mes Amis, a local caterer who sources local food, will be enjoyed together.

The early afternoon will feature an array of workshops designed to provide you with approaches and resources you can use to translate the ideas being explored into tangible actions that can be applied in your own neighbourhoods and communities. 

A series of guided neighbourhood walkabouts, will provide an up-close look at innovative ideas that are being championed across the City of Hamilton  in innovative ways that are brining the ideas we have been exploring to life within the city.

Our evenings will include a delightful array of opportunities to connet informally and celebrate the joy of being together through music, dancing, art and stories.

This three-day Gathering offers you a unique opportunity of learning, connection, rejuvenation and fun.  We hope you can join us!

See Full Agenda




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