The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good was formed when a group of organizations from the faith, labour, non-profit and education communities decided to come together to work collectively on some of Calgary’s most pressing social issues. The Alliance is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation, one of the oldest and most successful community organizing networks in North America. Its model is to bring together religious congregations and civic organizations at the local level to build broad-based organizing projects, which create new capacity in a community for leadership development, citizen-led action, and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities. The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good and similar alliances in Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria joined together to form the Industrial Areas Foundation Canada (IAFC)
The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good has brought together 32 organizations that represent 35,000 Calgarians. We have united in a broad-based alliance in order to:
- build enduring relationships across the diversity of our city;
- develop leaders who can be public leaders and who can strengthen their own communities;
- use their collective power to have an impact on the most pressing issues our city is facing.
The Industrial Areas Foundation Canada works through its local affiliates in order to develop and train leaders. IAFC also works with these leaders to conduct research into local community issues.
Some of the impact we have had includes:
- Our campaign to change how we respond to mental health crises resulted in the expansion of the Police and Crisis Teams (PACT) so that there are 6 new teams that are now available 22 hours/day. The Mobile Response Team’s consult line is now available 24 hours/day.
- Our campaign to support the creation of Calgary’s Mental Health strategy celebrated the release and funding for this new strategy. We are especially excited to see our priorities of changing crisis intervetion, early intervention, and prevention of mental health issues through the school system and informal supports were all significant components of this strategy.
- The Calgary Alliance united communities together in the #KeepCalgaryStrong Campaign which preserved approximately $70 million in community services including the low-income transit pass, that approximately 60,000 Calgarians rely on, as well as the Mental Health Strategy.
- The Green Line Campaign resulted in the Green Line being approved with a 14-1 vote. Funding has now been approved by the provincial and federal governments. As a result, there will be better transit under-served communities. This project will create 20,000 jobs and eliminate 30,000 t of greenhouse gasses each year.
- We have developed the leadership of hundreds of people through our Foundations of Community Organizing workshop.
- Our leaders have built relationships and a commitment to work together between their 32 different communities. Out of these relationships initiatives have grown such as the Elder-Led reconciliation process, the interfaith-bible study (between Jews and Christians), and the Calgary Inter-Faith council.
- We have strengthened our members in their own mission and communities. (In one organization, for example, a leader used our listening process to create meaningful conversations between youth and adults outside their families. In another, members are working with seniors to manage better on fixed incomes.)
The Industrial Areas Foundation Canada works through the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good to develop leaders through workshops, seminars, and ongoing coaching. This is done so that these leaders can collaborate and apply the practice of community organizing to their organizations and the Alliance’s collaborative work.
We conduct research into social issues with community leaders so that these leaders and their communities can not only understand the social issues impacting them but also develop solutions and strategies for addressing these issues.
The Calgary Alliance for the Common Good is a vehicle that allows our members to build relationships across our diversity, develop mutual understanding, engage in important public dialogue and take collaborative action on shared social issues.
To be effective the Calgary Alliance needs three
- We need community leaders and organizations that want to become members of the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good and work collaboratively to address our shared social issues.
- We need funding to continue and expand our work.
- We need sponsorships that can enable organizations and leaders from lower-income communities to participate in the work and leadership development that the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good Provides.