The HEAL’s involvement in this year’s Place Matters Conference: Strengthening Neighbourhoods, Building Community
The second annual Place Matters Conference took place this year from September 23rd to 27th. This conference aimed to explore the social constructs of place, and community-driven, grassroots placemaking. Participants learned how we as a community can work together to improve our urban experiences and create a strong sense of place for all Londoners.
The HEAL was not only a sponsor of the event, but also had members involved in the planning and execution process. John Fleming, former Director of Planning for the City of London and Senior Research Associate with the HEAL, and Jason Gilliland, Director of the HEAL, participated in the workshop titled ‘Influencing Municipal Policy’ that took place on day 2 of the conference. This workshop focused on the engagement of community members in municipal advocacy in order to create change.
John, moderator of the workshop, began by thoroughly explaining how challenging it can be for members of the community to influence City Council. He discussed how complex this system is and how many stakeholders are involved in the decision-making process. He then went on to explain that even though there is complexity to the system, there are also tools that can be leveraged in order to successfully influence the shape of the city.
Jason, a guest speaker, gave two examples of attempts to influence decision making at the local level that involved fact collection and data analysis that he was involved with. Jason explained that the HEAL is able to assist citizens who want to influence decision makers by providing them with evidence and data, which are powerful tools. You can access the recording of the workshop here.
Alexander “AJ” Wray, a current doctoral student in the lab, also took part in and helped organize the conference. In addition to serving on the organizing committee for the conference, AJ put together a webinar on building relationships between post-secondary institutions and their local communities in his role as President of the Town and Gown Association of Ontario. Joining AJ on the conference planning committee were James Shelley (HEAL Knowledge Mobilization Coordinator) and two HEAL alumni, Ryan Craven and Sabrina Sater, who both currently work for the City of London.
Although this year’s conference looked very different to the 2019 conference, with virtual workshops, panels and tours, it was overall a successful event. Attendees left with tools and resources that they can utilize when trying to enhance their urban experiences.