Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Robert R Janes Award for Social Responsibility and Giving Tuesday

“Imagine a day dedicated to giving back … around the world, across Canada and in your own community! Just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, Giving Tuesday is the opening day of the giving season.”

This year, while museums across Alberta work with their communities to create programs that give back and promote social and environmental awareness, the Alberta Museums Association (AMA) will be participating in Giving Tuesday to raise awareness and support for the Robert R. Janes Award for Social Responsibility. The Robert R. Janes Award for Social Responsibility is an annual award that recognizes, supports, and furthers the work of museums that are solving community issues and promoting health and well-being. The Award was made possible through an initial donation from Dr. Janes, who continues to provide funding to the Award, and relies on additional community funding to continue directly supporting museums that are true contributors to the social, cultural, and educational fabric of Alberta. Award recipients are museums that do things differently and demonstrate leadership by building museums as true community spaces that affect our environmental and social landscapes.

Recipients of the Robert R. Janes Award for Social Responsibility receive $3,000 to investigate their drivers for success, scale up their activities, and host a workshop designed to model their lessons and successes for other institutions. The 2014 recipient, Fort Calgary, used the funds to examine the impact of their community garden on their neighbours in the inner city and demonstrate how the garden encourages stronger relationships with their community. Funds were also used to host a one-day workshop that explored what community engagement and social responsibility mean to the Fort and to their long standing partner, Suncor Energy Foundation.

The 2015 recipient, Historic Fort Normandeau and the Kerry Wood Nature Centre in Red Deer, will host a workshop in the spring of 2016 to share their environmental sustainability and socially responsible work. As part of the AMA’s Giving Tuesday initiative, AMA staff will spend Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at the Centre lending a hand with this work and learning how it is integrated into the day to day life of the Centre. Follow the AMA @AlbertaMuseums and through the #GivingTuesdayCA and #MuseumsEngage hashtags as we explore the Centre’s important work, and the impact it has on the Red Deer community.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Community Engagement Learning Opportunity

The Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement is hosting a three day workshop, Community Engagement: The Next Generation, on the latest tools, techniques, and technology for community engagement. A leading voice and practitioner of community engagement in Canada and internationally, the Tamarack Institute has worked closely with the AMA to develop and implement the Community Engagement Initiative.

The workshop takes place November 24 - 26, 2015 in Edmonton and is being presented by Tamarack’s Paul Born, Louise Mehlihan, and Rachel Gainer.

Tamarack believes this new generation of community engagement is profound.  It requires a new way of thinking about audiences, available resources, and interactive engagement. 
At Community Engagement: The Next Generation, delegates will:
  •   Explore the latest engagement techniques
  •    Interact with transformative technology
  •     Learn to apply proven techniques to initiate and maintain engagement

The workshop will focus on the latest engagement techniques and technology that will transform how to engage with clients, customers, funders, and partners. Through dialogue with leaders in the field of engagement and social change, delegates will enhance their capacity to effectively hear the voices of those they serve and learn key strategies to mobilize them towards a collective impact. 
Participants will explore and learn to apply:
  •       A toolkit for Community Engagement practices
  •      Proven techniques that companies have been using for years to increase customer loyalty
  •       Systems change theory and the role engagement plays in building movements for change
  •      Engagement technologies and the amazing power these have given us to listen to and communicate effectively with large groups of people

AMA members, and those with an interest in community engagement, are encouraged to attend this event. Discounts are available for colleagues who enroll together. To learn more or to register, please visit the Community Engagement event page.

For more information, contact

Interested in the workshop but cannot attend?  Follow the conversation on twitter through @AlbertaMuseums and  #EngageYEG.

Monday, 2 November 2015

How Did Our Garden Grow? Fort Calgary's Community Garden in 2015

Fort Calgary, the 2014 recipient of the Robert R. Janes Award for Social Responsibility, hosted a Modelling What Works workshop to share their experience connecting with their community through their Community Garden. Workshop participants came away with knowledge, plans, and enthusiasm to inform and encourage their own socially responsible work – and were able to get their hands dirty in the garden!

Gardening on the prairies is not for the faint of heart! Although Fort Calgary’s community garden was blessed with a warm spring and warm fall the summer can best described as a “challenge!”

Two major hailstorms back to back in the afternoons of August 4th and August 5th, ultimately affected the yield but despite that we had another successful summer. The hail came at a time of peak harvest which was very unfortunate. It was devastating to watch an act of god destroy such good intentions and hard work  – but that turned quickly to watching Mother Nature’s amazing power to heal. The hailstorms were also a nice reminder of what life was like on the prairies. A hailstorm could mean a very stressful and bleak winter to settlers who relied on their garden to feed their families.

Fortunately, our Suncor Energy Foundation garden measures success in many ways. While the yield was down we continued to offer a variety of vegetables and herbs to The Women’s Centre in Bridgeland, two Wood’s Homes youth at risk programs, and the Alex’s Homebase community kitchen program – all social agencies in Calgary. The garden continues to employ from the hard to employ sector and was home to numerous volunteers throughout the summer.

The garden location at the west end of the new Elbow River bridge increased the garden profile significantly. There is an estimated 300,000 people using the bridge annually - many of them now stopping to learn about Fort Calgary and the garden. The Mountie scarecrow continues to be the star and subtly educates passers-by on the roots of the Fort.

We continue to be proud recipients of the Robert R. Janes Award. For those of you who attended the garden workshop in the spring, the lettuce that you planted that day was harvested several times and is now producing seed for next year!

In another couple of weeks we will put the garden to bed for the winter – so it will be ready to “grow” next spring. Stay tuned!