Our approach to the Vital Signs differs greatly this year than in previous years. In the past, the report was considered the ‘end goal’, and there was little done after its release. However, the consequent question after the report’s release was a big ‘So what?’ In an attempt to answer this question, this year we wanted to actively engage the community and meet people where they’re at, whether it’s twitter, Facebook, or through our blog.
This is why, for the very first time, Vital Signs will be holding a series of community dialogues throughout metro Vancouver in the spring of 2011. The dialogues will give the public a chance to come together with Vancouver Foundation and the area’s own Community Foundations to discuss the advantages, challenges, and hopes that are unique to various communities. We’re also looking for a way to integrate one of the biggest learning from this year’s Vital Signs: the importance of the sense of belonging in people’s lives.
To help our team plan the community dialogues, we formed an advisory group consisting of Vancouver Foundation staff members to advise and give feedback about our approach to the dialogues. With backgrounds ranging from Donor Development, to Granting, to Communications and Investment, each member of the advisory group brings a cache of knowledge about the community and their experiences with public meetings.
In our initial discussions about the community dialogues, there was a clear consensus that the event should be a welcoming one where people are inspired to become involved. There was also unanimous agreement that the dialogues should create a space that allows people to listen to one another. How we do this is a little trickier; we are currently exploring different dialogue models and approaches to create this welcoming space.
The issues that we address in Vital Signs – like affordability, arts and culture, housing—are present in our everyday lives and people’s experiences. While the report and website are valuable sources of information, there is opportunity to use Vital Signs as a way to engage people in our communities, and to explore their passions and concerns.
In the New Year, we’ll let everyone know about dates and venues. Stay tuned!
*Written by Onjana Yawnghwe, Assistant, Vital Signs team