Creating stronger community through research

Research with Residents about 1000 Voices Community Hub

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Many people living in the north of McKnight communities are passionate about creating a stronger, more connected community.

According to the findings of a new community assessment, conducted by the Canadian Poverty Institute (CPI) at Ambrose University, in partnership with 1000 Voices,  residents in the north of McKnight communities – including Castleridge, Coral Springs, Falconridge, Martindale, Saddle Tidge and Taradale, as well as Skyview Ranch, Cityscape, Savanna, Cornerstone, Redstone and Saddle Ridge Industrial – see their communities’ diversity, openness, friendliness and helpfulness, as well as their schools, as their biggest strengths.

And in terms of their communities’ greatest needs, residents outlined 12 target areas: child development, youth engagement, seniors’ services, low income opportunities, First Nations engagement, immigrant integration, employment, clean and safe communities, volunteers, isolation, mental health, and unity of resources and funding.

The CPI – which works to heal poverty through research, teaching and action – partnered with 1000 Voices – whose goal is to design a sustainable hub that meets the community’s needs, and is managed by Aspen Family and Community Network Society – to conduct the community assessment and participatory action research initiative, to evaluate whether the programs and services offered at 1000 Voices reflect the needs of the north of McKnight communities.

“The process has been most important for allowing the north of McKnight communities to tell their own story. Our aim is to empower and support the community,” says Canadian Poverty Institute director, Derek Cook.

According to Katherine Leonard, a researcher for the Canadian Poverty Institute, this has been “an incredible project. The beauty of the type of research we are doing, is that it brings residents into a place of taking initiative,” says Leonard – who together with the community research assistant, project steering committee and CPI research team – has been conducting the project’s community assessment component. “This is a really strong approach to community development through research.”

Leonard believes this project has implications not only for 1000 Voices – it can also serve as a model for other community hubs in Calgary and beyond.

“What I’m really hoping will come out of this, is a lot more collaboration between community residents and agencies,” she says.

What the research has shown, she explains, is that residents are not always aware of the programs and services that are available, or there may be barriers that are preventing residents from accessing them. Looking ahead, Leonard hopes that agencies and organizations like 1000 Voices will be able to connect with community leaders, and for those leaders in turn to connect with the rest of the community, to keep people informed about the programs and services that are available to them. She also hopes that, as a result of this process, agencies will understand the community better, and that residents in turn will better understand their own community, feel connected, and be ready to take on a leadership role to help make their neighborhood a better place to live and work.

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“Thank you to all of the residents who were involved in our project. We are really thankful for their leadership and their involvement,” Leonard says.

The Canadian Poverty Institute will release the findings of the community assessment and sustainability plan April 19th at the Genesis Centre annual general meeting. For more information, please email 1000voicesresearch@gmail.com.

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