How can community leaders make a positive impact on the issue of affordable housing shortage in Greater Victoria?
That's the whopper question that our Community Leadership Development class explored on April 15 in our Community Learning Day. Read on for more about this intense, challenging, eye-opening learning experience.
Our program opened with a presentation by Marika Albert, Managing Director at the Community Social Planning Council. Marika is the author of several recent research studies about the dynamics and data around housing in Greater Victoria. Her presentation gave insight into the housing continuum and some of the economic and policy realities shaping the housing situation.
Our cohort then formed up in four teams, mixing people up from different Community Action Teams so people got a chance to work with a new team. Over the rest of the morning, they formed the foundations of a response to the theme question, and then got to hear the perspectives of four different community leaders with experience in the housing issue. (We're really grateful to these four for giving up their Friday to this event!)
- Ian Batey, chair of the board of Greater Victoria Housing Society
- Roberta Bell, Homeless Outreach Worker with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre
- Ally Dewji, Development Manager at Dockside Green
- Carolyn Gisborne, chair of the Land Use Committee of Burnside Gorge Community Association.
Each of these guests shared their personal experiences as a community leader working on this issue, and the challenges, opportunities, and processes they've journeyed through in their work. While each of the learning teams rotated through the four tables, we had "table hosts" recording the main themes or headlines that emerged in the discussions. Thank you to Cara Jones, Lise-Lotte Loomer, Fiona Prince, and Tracy Scott, for being our awesome table hosts!
The themes and headlines that came out of the presentation were shared back to the whole room, and then our other guest expert, John Reilly (Manager, CRD Housing Policy and Programs), filled in our understanding by talking about some parts of the issue that hadn't been brought up yet. All of these themes (from the table and John's comments) were recorded on chart paper on the wall.
Over a working lunch and into the afternoon, the four learning teams used the input from the morning's discussions to shape a presentation with recommendations in response to that theme question ("How can community leaders like us make a positive impact on the issue of affordable market rental housing?"). Each team made a presentation to the guest panel with their thoughts, and then the panel provided feedback on each team's presentation & teamwork, and their relevance to the issue.
By 4pm when we wrapped up, everybody's brains were pretty saturated with new perspectives on the housing issue, as well as a little wrung out! Some of the things that our participants said about the day are:
"I really enjoyed this CLD – it was very practical and the type of things we talked about fit in well with the program – we got a chance to take some of the things we have been working on and apply them to a different issue."
"Having experts here was fantastic – lovely to learn from people actually working on this important topic."
"I thought the facilitators who joined us at each table were incredible – so much information was offered, and they were all very open and honest with questions."
"I have learned the power of tapping the collective knowledge of the group. Facilitating conversations and keeping it moving forward is an important skill and have become better at this."