CED as verb, not verbiage

It was a national gathering, a meeting of minds (and eating of very large chocolate chip cookies) to discuss building support among funders, policymakers and leading practitioners, and explore opportunities for shared and sustainable prosperity.

Some, like members of the Quebec-based Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation or Kaye Grant representing the Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation and Catherine Scott spearheading the Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy for Canada came from across the country to attend. Others including MLA Annie McKitrick and Martin Garber-Conrad of the Edmonton Community Foundation found six extra hours in the day to roundtrip Alberta’s longest and busiest highway. We with Thrive, well, there really wasn’t any manner of suffering on our part and shucks, we sure were super happy to be invited.

By all accounts, ours included, the seasonably chilly end of April gathering in Calgary hosted by the Canadian CED Network (who recently worked with partners to secure $5.8 million over 5-years for collaborative efforts to strengthen Canada’s social enterprise ecosystem) was worth attending. One part small group discussion exploring the precisely imprecise arena of community economic development (CED), one part chatting it up which we understand resulted in a network win, or two. Nice.

When we connected back with the group for some post session sentiments, we liked how our fellow workshop participant Heather McRae, EdD Dean at MacEwan University’s School of Continuing Education summed up the day-long dialogue.

“Lots of things are happening in the world of CED despite the challenges in defining who we are. Maybe that is what is great about this space – it is fluid and dynamic. Its roots are in a shared belief about community, and this notion makes the space elastic and full of opportunities and challenges.”

Elastic, yeah, that’s good. Stretching, reaching from where you are to where you want to go. Or maybe, as the group of practitioners, academics, not-for- profit representatives and government officials circled in the discussion, contracting our verbiage as we just get on with righting an unfair economy. Godfather of all things good/member of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada David LePage brought it home when he explained that community economic development is not a noun.

“It’s the tools we’re using to build healthy communities and a lens that a certain group uses. But it’s not universal, and must not diminish what we’re trying to achieve –  jobs, food, and housing.”

If you’re hungry like we are for this kind of thing (you know, eating very large cookies and learning from local economy leaders), then there are at least 10 signs you’re someone who should attend EconoUs CCEDNet’s 8th annual national conference in Calgary September 13-15. Thrive is co-hosting the event in partnership with REAP, Calgary Economic Development, the Institute for Community Prosperity at Mount Royal University, Momentum and the Calgary Regional Partnership. For updates on speakers, events and more be sure to check it out on Twitter and Facebook.