« Back to Civic & Community Engagement

Vital Conversations

Calgary Public Library

Innovation Leader: Cathy Freer-Leszczynski, Manager, Community Services , cathy.freer-leszczynski@calgarypubliclibrary.com

Problem Statement

The principles of Canada’s democratic society are rooted in the ability and freedom of its citizens to engage and participate in the electoral process. And yet we have witnessed disturbing trends of voter apathy in recent federal, provincial and municipal elections.
  • 59%: An All Time Low Federal Election Voter Turnout in 2008
  • 41%: A Record Low Alberta Provincial Election Voter Turnout in 2008
  • 20-30% (confirm #) Voter Turnout in City of Calgary Municipal Election in 2007

Innovation

In 2010, The Calgary Public Library (CPL) in partnership with the Calgary Foundation (TCF) and the new Office of Sustainability, City of Calgary, will be hosting a series of Vital Conversations - dynamic community forums at Library locations around the city inviting citizen engagement and dialogue around key issues of:
  • Sustainability
  • Starting in Calgary (new Canadians)
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Belonging & Leadership (voting, engaging in community)

This Series builds awareness around the community leadership roles of Calgary Public Library as a catalyst and convener, creating a meeting place for citizens to discuss local quality of life issues and for learning more about what is happening in our community.

Progress

144 attended the inaugural event at Central Library in January 2010. This event successfully reached a new audience and engaged a diverse audience. Using principles of “action learning” participant groups facilitated by volunteers were encouraged to discuss and brainstorm “what possibilities have the power transform our city and would inspire you?” Innovative ideas presented included “more public dialogue with action/unified vision involving all sectors”, “developing innovative partnership models” , “reconnection with principles of neighbor power”.