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June Newsletter and Report to Members.

Summer is often a good time to step back from our busyness, reflect and take in the big picture. So I thought that this would be a good time to step back and look at how MACG has been developing. It is striking how far we have come in the past year.

Our board's vision for MACG is: Organizing the power of communities to shape a just and compassionate city. The vision had three objectives:

  1. To create a broad-based shared organization that is as diverse as Calgary,building relationships among organizations and people from various community, ethnic, non-profit, labour, and religious groups. A year ago, MACG was just beginning to see some momentum building. Our first few members had joined, and we had just launched our listening campaign. A year later we have grown to 17 member organizations. We are seeing the diversity we hoped for begin to grow, with members coming from faith, labour and non-profit organizations. The relationships that are developing are resulting in new understanding, initiatives and collaborations, especially between faith communities and Indigenous leaders. For the first time we have stable finances.
  2. To strengthen our member organizations and their leaders in order to develop a healthy and effective civic life. Over the past year we have provided training in community listening campaigns and in leadership of research action teams. We have begun to hold regular leaders' lunches in which leaders gather to build relationships and reflect together. In March we held a one-day training session with more than 40 participants - a strong number for any organization. In June we will be hosting our first five-day training session. For the first time, we have also had our leaders consciously try to use community organizing to strengthen their own organizations. One of these leaders recently described how this was a critical element in the renewal they have begun to experience.
  3. To use the principles and techniques of community organizing to effectively address the real issues facing Calgarians and our member organizations. In the past year we completed our first listening campaign and held our first discernment assembly. We have chosen to focus on reconciliation and supports for seniors. We formed two research action teams, both of which have engaged in research and have narrowed down the specific issues they will tackle. These teams are now in the process of meeting with decision-makers and other key players, with the aim of moving these issues forward. We are also exploring the possibility of taking on a third issue - economic pressures and poverty. At the first meeting organized on this issue we were happily surprised when twice as many people came as we were expecting.

    This Coming Year

    Over the next year our goal is to officially launch as a fully founded organization, diverse enough to represent the whole of the city, and strong enough to win issues and be able to sustain this work over the long run. This will require work in three areas:

    Membership: Our goal is to double our current membership, with a focus on expanding our diversity, building a sustainable dues base, and ensuring we have the power we need to move issues. So if your organization or community is not yet a member, how can we work with you to formally involve them?

    Developing leaders: We have many strong leaders already involved with MACG, but there are still others we need to involve. We also want to ensure that our leaders have a depth of training in community organizing. How will you invest in your own development and growth as community leaders?

    Strengthening our members: A strong community organization needs strong core teams within each member organization. This is one key element we have yet to develop. Core teams are the leaders who use community organizing within their own organizations and/or communities to make them stronger and engage them with the wider alliance. In the fall we will launch our first training for core teams. How will you build a strong team to organize and renew your community?

    Over the next year we also expect to start seeing the work of our current issues teams come to fruition. We hope to see movement towards setting aside land for an Indigenous gathering place, and education rooted in relationships building towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. We also will work towards having seniors being able to access the services they need to stay in their communities.

    What lies ahead is an exciting year. I look forward to the journey we will take together.
Ryan Andersen
For more information or to become involved in MACG please email Ryan Andersen at: ryan@calgarycommongood.org.