The power of community economic development
Thrive wants to see a vibrant local economy in Calgary. It envisions an economy that is resilient through hard times, helps reduce poverty and encourages environmental sustainability. Other cities have used CED approaches with great success to work toward this vision. Their experience shows that CED can work for our city too.
Community economic development
- builds pride and vitality in a community
- nurtures local entrepreneurs rather than recruiting businesses from elsewhere
- generates commercially successful businesses that create meaningful work and pay a living wage
- creates opportunities for low-income residents, reducing poverty and allowing everyone to participate in the mainstream economy
- focuses on the local economy, uses and produces local goods and services, and reinvests profits locally
- lets communities create their own future
CED can help individual Calgarians build their strengths, develop their skills, increase their income and expand their circle of support. It can help Calgary’s communities be places where people want to live and do business, with good jobs and affordable housing in vibrant neighbourhoods. It can help Calgary’s economy by starting successful businesses that are supported by the community and offer opportunities for Calgarians living on low incomes. It can help by promoting the kind of economic and entrepreneurial activity that restores and regenerates our environment and builds our capacity to live sustainably.
Each of these critical CED elements reinforces the other. Together, they build up the assets of our community as a whole. The private sector applies a CED lens to its operations. Consumers make socially and environmentally responsible choices. The City uses a CED lens to develop public policy and bylaws. And CED organizations have the capacity to implement effective programs and activities.
The result of community economic development is a vibrant economy in which nobody is left behind. The Thrive community facilitates connections between Calgarians interested in or already using CED approaches. By focusing on four critical pathways, it promotes promising practices and innovation, and encourages collaboration.
The strength of self-organizing networks
Networks bring together individuals, groups and organizations from multiple sectors in a community. The people who show up are self-selected: they hear about the network, care about its purpose, and decide to meet and work with others who share their interests. Network gatherings offer people the opportunity to have conversations about things that matter, and participants often continue their discussions informally in person and online. These conversations help people recognize where change might be needed in their communities. Together, they begin to articulate a vision and collaborate to make that vision a reality. This kind of proactive networking process means that residents can shape the communities around them in a way that is important to them.
The vision of the Thrive network is to expand the community of people using CED approaches to create a thriving local economy in Calgary for all, forever. Such a broad vision relies on the power of networks – it is beyond the scope of a single organization. Thrive, because it is a network, is able to engage individuals and groups from all sectors of the community. It brings together residents who might never otherwise meet or work together. They exchange knowledge and ideas both during network gatherings and in their own personal interactions over time.
When they get together, participants in the Thrive network find others doing similar work, learn from those with different approaches, and begin to see how their work and passion can fit into the bigger picture of CED in Calgary. While single organizations often have people with diverse ideas and skills working in them, they are all working toward the single mission of that organization. In a network like Thrive, there is no single organizational mission. Instead, Thrive offers a larger community vision, one broad enough for many different missions to fit into. Thrive participants spend most of their time working toward their own goals. They come together as a network because they recognize their part in the bigger picture offered by Thrive’s vision. Using the strength of this self-organizing network, Thrive harnesses and multiplies the energy of all the CED work now being done in Calgary.
Thrive values you
It’s the Thrive participants who drive the success of the network. Their ideas and energy move Thrive forward. The relationships they form materialize in action and in the work that leads to change.
Do you want to get involved? There are lots of ways to do it. You can sign up to received email updates and information about events. You can respond to a blog post – or even write one. Ask some bold questions, share your biggest ideas. You can come to a Thrive event to learn more about CED and to meet those already involved in the network. You can pass on information about Thrive to people who might be interested in its vision. You can help Thrive identify where community economic development is happening in your neighbourhood or working world.
Do you have an idea about community economic development that you’d like to try out? Thrive is the place to explore it. The more people there are involved with Thrive, the more likely it is that you’ll find someone who shares your interests and wants to see your idea implemented.
Joining the network will connect you with hundreds of other Calgarians who care about having a just, vibrant and sustainable local economy. It’s the best way to make CED dreams come true.