A collective movement for environmental justice

Graham Whiting of  Whiting Design , a Kitchener-Waterloo based “licensed architectural firm that provides sustainable building design in Ontario”

Graham Whiting of Whiting Design, a Kitchener-Waterloo based “licensed architectural firm that provides sustainable building design in Ontario”

To address the complex challenge of protecting and preserving the environment for future generations Graham Whiting suggests what the not-for profit community refers to as a collective impact approach.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation defines collective impact as “a method of getting people to work together differently in pursuit of a clearly defined common goal to address complex social issues in communities. Issues suited to collective impact are those that are not easy to resolve, have persisted over time, and cannot be solved in isolation.”

Local not-for-profit Tamarack has a video explaining collective impact, too.

In my discussion with Whiting over coffee at DVLB (we share a love of supporting local businesses and business owners), he explained we need to move beyond environmental change efforts that place individuals and their habits at the centre (i.e., water use, recycling, light bulbs etc.). Indeed, he is unapologetic when he argues the following:

“This is not the scale at which the large, necessary changes need to happen. We need to think collaboratively.”

For Whiting – and in the spirit of a collective impact approach – this means identifying the issue or challenge to be addressed, and then bringing people together who have knowledge and interest in solving that problem.

Furthermore, it means moving the conversation about the environment beyond a particular political party.

“The need to collaborate and work with grassroots organizations should be around common problems to solve, regardless of political stripe,” he states.

As a social worker and community developer for more than 10 years, Whiting’s vision for public consultation and social change that is more community-driven and less top-down is music to my ears.

Rather than municipal governments driving the agenda and the process, the municipal government would instead be a partner in social change efforts. Instead of fitting public consultation into projects at a few key points, interested community members would be meaningfully involved throughout all phases of community change efforts.

What is your vision for community consultation to address complex social, environmental, and cultural issues?

Jen VasicComment