Hillhurst School wins Calgary Award for one of their 3 Things

We like sharing inspirational stories and The Calgary Awards are filled with them! The awards are an opportunity for The City, our municipal government, to recognize contributions that improve our community. Hmmm… sounds like many “Things for Calgary”. On Wednesday, June 10, Hillhurst School received the Calgary Award for Environmental Achievement from an educational institution.

Hillhurst School Giving Day

Hillhurst School’s Giving Day is one of their 3 Things for Calgary. In December 2014, Hillhurst Elementary School hosted its first Giving Day to replace a Christmas program that did not meet the needs of this culturally, geographically and socio-economically diverse school population. Students, their families, the teachers, school staff and community members were asked to donate items to create a market for “Giving Day”. Each student who donated one or more items received 10 tickets to make purchases, followed by the school and larger community to attend to buy items. All sales proceeds and leftover items were donated to charities. In addition to the many lessons learned about inclusiveness, charitable giving and working collectively to make the event happen, there was a very important environmental learning component to the project: reduce, reuse and recycle. Green Calgary was brought in to talk about ‘giving the earth a break’, and students traced their items from production to landfill. Students were exposed to the three pillars of sustainability: people, planet and profit. Of great significance, over 300 young minds were given an understanding of their responsibility as stewards of our environment.

David Ball, principal of Hillhurst School accepted the award but there were also a few students on hand to celebrate with Mayor Nenshi.

Hillhurst School’s award is just one of the many highlights from the evening celebration on June 10, 2015. Shaw TV recorded the whole event and often they rebroadcast it on channel 10. For the 2013 winners check out Shaw TV.

Alberta Provincial Election May 5, 2015: One of your 3Things

Voting, as we said in our blogpost during the 2013 municipal election, is the cornerstone of our society. This time around we are asking you to exercise your democratic right and vote in the upcoming provincial election on May 5, 2015.

Elections are a great opportunity to do one of your 3 Things for Calgary. Consider volunteering on a political campaign, talking to your friends about the election issues, and voting- all can be some of your 3 Things!

And, of course, vote on May 5, 2015. Check out the following four videos about the importance of voting.

Talk, Act, Lead: Samara’s Democracy 360 Report and our very own 3!

Well well well, would you look at that. Samara Canada, a national, non-partisan organization that champions increased citizen engagement in politics, launched a new blog today - Democracy 360 - about how Canadians talk, act and lead in politics. And right out of the gate, they’ve featured none other than 3 Things for Calgary. The article is called Count on Calgary for Engagement and you can read it here. Thanks for the airtime, Samara Canada, we think you’re pretty swell, too!3 Things Event Neighbourhood Potluck Food and Conversations

One of Anita Hofer’s 3 Things was to host a neighbourhood potluck!  Neighbours, Food and Conversation!


We Should Know City Hall #3 (We like that number!)

The Mayor’s Civic Engagement Committee–with the enthusiastic support of the City of Calgary City Clerk’s Office–hosted the third We Should Know City Hall event on November 3, 2014. The turn out was great, the buzz of conversation was inspiring, and we introduced our latest version of the popular “Is It Municipal?” game (to explore the differences between the various orders of government).Is It MunicipalThe workshop provided citizens with tools and confidence to better connect with our City Council–whether it is how to contact City Councillors, attend a Council or Committee meeting, or when to call 311 (anytime!). It was all about how easy it is to provide the public voice to the City’s decision-making process. And it helped participants to feel more comfortable coming down to City Hall!We are in the midst of gathering feedback on our latest format of our workshop, and then we will start planning the next one! In the meantime, here are some handy links on how to get more involved with The City of Calgary, including links to help you connect with City Hall.CONTACT THE MAYOR AND MEMBERS OF COUNCIL ONLINE

The Mayor

Contact the Mayor via the online contact page on The Office of the Mayor website

Members of Council

Use the City’s online contact page to send a message to your Ward Councillor or view their websites.  Alternatively, if you would like your communication to go to all Councillors, you may select the General Contact Form and place “Please forward to all Council Members” in the message.

Legislative Services

To access Agendas, Minutes, video, and meeting schedules, go to the Frequently Asked Questions page. This page includes information on how to present at meetings and information on the different types of committees and their mandates.

Use the Boards, Commission and Committees page to review the approximately 80 Boards, Commissions and Committees (BCCs).  This page provides information related to BCC composition, mandates, and meeting schedules. Don’t forget that, although the recruitment has ended for this year, there is an annual recruitment in late summer where you can get involved by applying to be a member.

Use the Council Policy Library page to review all Council Policies.

In committee roomCalgary Planning Commission Agendas and Minutes    

Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) Agendas are not accessed through the same system referenced above under Legislative Services. CPC Agendas, Minutes, and meeting schedules can be accessed here.

Public Hearing Page

This page provides a copy of the advertisement of items being considered at the next Combined Meeting of Council during the public hearing portion of the agenda. It provides links to the reports considered by CPC that will move forward to the Combined Meeting of Council earlier than the full agenda for that Council meeting is available.

Many thanks to everyone who participated! And for those who were unable to attend: we look forward to seeing you next time!





Q&A: The [amazing!] Bench Project

finished bench

Not long ago, Calgarians noticed homemade benches popping up in their neighbourhoods—random, beautiful benches made by anonymous people to make our city that much better. The Bench Project (@BenchProjectYYC) is an amazing example of how a little idea can capture the imagination of thousands of people. In recent days, the project by a mysterious trio has been profiled in the media and even CBC Calgary is adopting it as a Do Crew project (you can volunteer with them to make a bunch of benches).

This is a great example of 3 Things for Calgary and a project that can inspire us all to do something to make our community better. We contacted the anonymous bench-builders to ask some more questions about their project, what it means for Calgary, and what’s next.

Q: What inspired you to create The Bench Project? And when did you decide to just do it (and make it more than just a good idea)?

We have been inspired by many projects and organizations including a movement in New York, documented by streetseats.org, where individuals and businesses have independently (and spontaneously!) added benches and chairs to the streets to provide more public seating.  We love this sort of “tactical urbanism” – people taking it upon themselves to act and feel empowered to transform their public space; graciously providing a need for others without receiving anything in return.  We wished that this was happening in Calgary and figured the best way to see it was to start it ourselves.

Our passion about cities and public space also inspired this project.  We believe a quality urban realm that provides space for people to linger and connect with each other and their surroundings is integral to a healthy and happy city. Instead of petitioning our councillor or the City to provide this space, we saw bench bombing as a quick and easy way to get more seats on the streets.

We decided to take action while we were working on a separate public space project through more traditional means.  This project required many connections, approvals and time, but we were so driven and excited to add to the urban realm that one day we just headed to the hardware store!

benches backyardQ: The Bench Project has struck a chord with Calgarians (and people further afield). Why do you think that is?

The anonymity of the project was one reason why the public and media have reacted so favorably to The Bench Project. We decided to go this route because it de-emphasizes who is doing it, and places the focus squarely on what it is – an intervention by everyday citizens to improve the urban experience and hopefully increase social connectivity within our neighbourhoods. We appreciate the incredible response from Calgary and beyond, but the point is we want to show that good deeds still feel good (so good!) even when you don’t directly receive any thanks.

The idea is simple, and that can inspire Calgarians to conduct projects of their own. There is no need for specific skills; it just requires thinking about how action can brighten the day of a stranger. This makes it universal, and we hope that others can find their own personal and unique ways of doing the same. For a couple dollars a business can leave a pitcher of lemonade outside the store for passers-by, citizens can be ‘snow angels’ and shovel their neighbours walk: you don’t have to spend much money (or any!) to make our city a better place.

Lastly, cities can be big and disconnected places. Calgary has a small town mentality, and we wanted to highlight this. The Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative maintains that “our neighbours strength is my strength”, and we believe that a sense of pride is contagious.

Q: In the interests of inspiring others to take action in support of making Calgary even better:

What was/is easy about your project?

Doing it! We had a fun time creating the benches, and the act itself was an exercise in community building – so many friends chipped in during the design, construction, and bombing phases.  We are not woodworking experts by any means and ultimately learned much of what it took to finish the project simply through doing it.  Anyone and everyone can do the same.

What was/is challenging?

The builds take a number of steps (cutting, two coats of paint, stencilling, and top coating), and without a garage, we found ourselves taking up the front lawn for extended periods of time.

The placement required some thought: we focused on busy streets that do not have a lot of public space so we could help create a more inviting and accessible environment. We also wanted to tip our hats to some neat local businesses, while finding spaces that would be natural points for rest without disrupting pedestrian flow. Our favourite results so far have been in front of Kalamata Grocery, where the owner regularly his morning coffee on the bench while reading the paper. The Hemporium is another great spot, as it is on the north side of 17th (more sun) and protected from the rain and snow by an awning.

If you had to start again at the beginning of your project, would you do anything differently?

Given the anonymous nature of the project, we were initially unconcerned with actively promoting the project. It is nice to see things grow organically, but there is always opportunity to create the conditions for that growth. For our next project we may connect with stakeholders to ensure greater buy in, and hope that this increased ownership would result in connecting with a broader audience more quickly.

finished benchesQ: What’s your advice for people who might want to do a similar project for Calgary? (kinda the same question but maybe not)

DO IT. It doesn’t matter if your idea is perfect, just start, and tweak it as you go. A completed C+ project is better than an A that never sees the light of day. There is a lot of value in learning from your mistakes, so get started, fail small, and go bigger once you know what works. If you still need encouragement to just get started, watch Jason Roberts’ talk on how to build a better block.

Q: Have you had enough of benches yet? What’s next?

The benches are one path to creating a more meaningful and inviting public realm – though we are not done with benches, we are constantly thinking of other ways to create site-specific interventions to improve our urban experience. We have been fascinated by the concept of “urban acupuncture” whereby small-scale interventions performed in carefully chosen spaces can influence a much larger context, or the urban fabric as a whole.

We are in the conceptual phase of converting an underutilized piece of land on a very busy street into a pocket park. There are many lost spaces in any city; the trick is to identify these gaps, find ways that they could be better used, and get to work. Don’t be scared by an idea that may not last forever – ContainR in Sunnyside is a great example of this. If enough people are working to fill the gaps that emerge from temporarily vacant land and commercial space, we will build a city with moments of delight where dead space once was.

Most importantly, “what’s next” is up to us all as citizens. We hope that The Bench Project has encouraged other Calgarians to collectively view public space as our extended living room, and to treat it with the appreciation and affection that leads to a more vibrant and connected city… a place to call home.Paingint a bench