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'"Paula Carr is one of those rare individuals who can masterfully support complex initiatives achieving multiple goals simultaneously without losing focus. Her creative and very practical approaches move outside of standard operations in order to achieve above-standard outcomes. Paula is an inspiration to work with and her commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and community are the foundations on which she operates. Her long association with Collingwood Neighbourhood House has provided a unique training ground for understanding the needs and opportunities not only for direct service, and NGO governance but for effecting change at all levels.

If you are fortunate to get a chance to work with Paula, not only will you get you more than you expected, you will also likely notice your own capacities increasing."

Claire Gram,
Population Health Policy Consultant,
Vancouver Coastal Health

Our Practices
At the Collingwood Neighbourhood House and in the Renfrew-Collingwood Neighbourhood we became known for building community through a collection of overarching practices. These include:

Active convening
We developed personal ways of inviting people to take part in community projects, and ways of helping residents and service providers to invite others.

Grassroots co-creation
We developed ways of defining goals and carrying out projects with people who normally don't work together. This requires cooperation across differences of age, generations, incomes, class, perspectives, political leanings, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and abilities.

Multisector, multidisciplinary co-creation
We developed ways of connecting people across different communities, government and public bodies, businesses and residents, academics and residents. And we found ways to encourage people to work together across different disciplines such as arts and culture, education, social services, economic development, and recreation.

Support for resident-led initiatives
We found ways to help individual residents pursue community projects they initiated. It is one of the ways we help to create community leaders.

A focus on building relationships
We made a special effort to get to know the neighbourhood and develop personal relationships with local residents, particularly those who are community connectors.

Taking time
We believe community development takes time. So we take the time needed to resolve differences, overcome conflicts, and achieve results that everyone can be proud of.

Flexible leadership
We have a range of leadership styles to encourage community development from the grassroots up. Sometimes we lead from above, but more often we lead from the side, and from behind.

Uncompromising appreciation
Neighbourhoods often have to deal with contentious issues. Conflict and negativity undermine community and sap people's energy. We developed a culture of appreciation that includes a low tolerance for behaviours that undermine community and a sense of belonging.

Fostering a family feeling
We encourage a culture that makes everyone feel at home, and able to offer and receive support when needed, just like a well functioning family.

Welcoming newcomers
We welcome people who are new to the neighbourhood, and find ways of integrating them into the activities of the neighbourhood.

Creating a neighbourhood hub
We built places for people to meet and work together. It is also a place where residents come together to access variety of services from day care to . . . social and amenity planning. As one resident put it, Collingwood Neighbourhood House and its partners act like a magnet.

Weaving together learning and growing
As we got larger we wanted to get better, so we invest in coaching, mentoring, and succession planning

Weaving together service development and community development
We integrate service development (which includes knowing the neighbourhood and its people; developing multicultural family and immigrant services; building facilities, expanding programs and integrating recreation) with
community development (which includes encouraging resident-led initiatives; reaching the marginalized; fostering an intercultural neighbourhood).