Baci, Inclusion Powell River, Kinsight Logos
Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), Inclusion Powell River and Kinsight

Starting around 2011, our organizations collectively resolved to address the problem of social isolation and segregation of persons with developmental disabilities. We were dissatisfied that so many individuals were living unwitnessed lives, that they were not encircled by community nor part of community life. Not really.

We pooled our resources and created Building Caring Communities (BCC) together. BCC is a collection of community connectors whose focus is on community: finding hospitable people and places; creating and cultivating community connectedness; catalyzing community opportunities and bridging the individuals we support to them; and coaching our folks to acquire the confidence and skills needed to take steps into community.

We share the same theory of change and evaluation framework, but practice and process varies between organizations. This allows for us to experiment with a range of practices and approaches, and for some organizational autonomy, while also learning together and building a community of practice.

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In With Forward Logo

In 2014, BACI, Kinsight and posAbilities contracted with InWithForward to help us understand the lived experience of social isolation in a mixed market/social housing project, and to design interactions that might help build connectivity between diverse tenants. We hoped this might give us some insights that could be actioned by our community connectors.

InWithForward moved into an apartment in the building and lived there for three months. The experience was so rich for us, from the learning that surfaced, to the uniqueness of the methods and the array of possible solutions, that we wanted to continue with them. But InWithForward wasn’t interested in a consultancy relationship, they were looking for long term partnerships with organizations committed to change. This is because social research and development takes time, dedication and a different value set – one that emphasizes experimentation over compliance, and people over systems.

Several years later, and we are still in deep partnership. This includes being co-founders of Kudoz Experience Society and Degrees of Change Design Inc., a for-profit that holds the intellectual property rights for our learning and prototypes (e.g. Kudoz, Real Talk, Meraki, etc.)

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Degrees of Change Logo
Degrees of Change

In 2017, the partnership with BACI and Kinsight evolved into the creation a new Memorandum of Understanding and brand, or “storefront,” that represented our organizations’ co-investments in social research and development, including the emerging prototypes, and that captured and shared our learning. Under this brand, we co-create and/or co-sponsor events or initiatives that fit in with the change principles we’ve articulated and adopted (the “stretches”). Although our organizations can autonomously engage in projects, where that engagement coheres with our shared aspirations and strategies, we also include it under the Degrees of Change brand.

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Public Health Association of BC Logo
Public Health Association of BC

When Can You Dig It outgrew us, PHABC came to our rescue. They are a unique and amazing non-profit organization that focuses on many of the social and environmental determinants of health. PHABC is the creator of Farm to School, a program that partners with schools throughout BC to expose children and youth to the connections between land and food, and to nutritious eating. They undertook to not only provide oversight for all the community gardens we had built in Metro Vancouver, but to scale the concept across BC. Can You Dig It is fundamentally about using community gardens as a way to build neighbourhood connectivity, including people living on the margins.

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Association Houses Logos
Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC, Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House

In early 2018, Degrees of Change partnered with these community organizations to deliver on a grant we received from the Vancouver Foundation: The Front Steps. This project was originally conceived to develop the idea of bringing together seniors and youth leaving care in order to see if they could solve the housing affordability problem—seniors may live in a house that is paid for but lack the everyday connection and supports to stay, while youth leaving care struggle to find a place to live and they have so much to offer. If we brought them together, what might happen? So much learning is coming from this project, including how to bring together two very different demographics for meaningful conversations and connections, and how to enable them to identify and solve the issues that matter to each of them. This is the “essence” of a platform—bridging and enabling people to work together versus supplying them with a service.

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Christ Church Cathedral Logo
Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral is a beautiful church in the heart of Vancouver. They are an inspiring group of people committed to accessibility, diversity, and to serving persons on the margins of society. They are also lovers of dialogue and the arts. Sharing so much in common, we have crafted a draft memorandum of understanding which signals our commitment to sharing resources and engaging in projects together. We are anticipating it will be ratified in February, 2020.

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Emily Carr Logo
Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Over the past year, we have been deepening our relationship with Emily Carr University. We believe that arts and culture have a critical role to play in deepening our conceptions of who we are, both as individuals and being together, creating new stories, contesting power, advancing social connections and resilience, and so on. This past year saw us engaging with a graduate student for a project, as well as providing sites and opportunities for their students to conduct projects in socially engaged art. We are also looking at a whole series of ways we might work and partner together in the future, which has led to the development of a draft memorandum of understanding which we hope to ratify in early 2020.

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Neworld Theatre

Neworld Theatre is an award-winning arts organization that has been telling stories of difference and diversity for almost 25 years. Their passion around having honest explorations of identity and responsibility resonates with us. Over the past few years we’ve helped sponsor King Arthur’s Night as well as co-sponsored and participated in the LEAD Ensemble, a space for people with and without disabilities to come together to co-create new scripts.

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Happy City Logo
Happy City

Happy City is all about designing connected, vibrant and resilient buildings and neighbourhoods. If you haven’t read Charles Montgomery’s book, Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design, you’re missing out. It’s essential reading. We’ve worked together with Happy City on several projects over the years. For the most recent one, they asked us to help them figure out how to design inclusive, public plazas in Vancouver for people with cognitive disabilities. Together with Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion we supplied Happy City with some design support and folks with disabilities to do some co-design work. We can’t wait to see what we learn and what comes out of this important project and visionary group of people!

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UBC School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture (SALA)

The School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Inge Roecker, faculty, and also principal of ASIR Studios), and posAbilities are going to be doing research together that looks at both (1) new typologies and designs for inclusive and affordable housing, and (2) new roles and practices around animating them. In addition to a literature review, we will be horizon-scanning the global landscape for examples from across sectors, and then co-creating new designs with families and non-profit providers. Back in 2013, Inge presented us with a set of architectural designs for a unique co-housing development that almost took place in partnership with Central City Foundation, Vancouver Native Housing Society, Catalyst Community Developments Society, Copula House, and posAbilities.

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Outsiders and Others

Outsiders and Others is a not for profit arts society with a focus on bringing non-traditional artists to the forefront. This includes outsider, folk, self-taught, visionary, intuitive, and artists with disabilities. They operate a window-only gallery, located at 716 East Hastings Street in Vancouver. You can purchase work from their website or at the gallery, via a QR code in the window.

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