A comprehensive recap of TISGB’s 2023 programming and an introduction to our goals moving forward
By Eric Ennis, TISGB Board Member
Happy New Year! The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay (TISGB) team is thankful for a successful 2023 and is excited to continue building on the lessons we learned through 2024. Thank you again, to our supporters who enable the Institute to do this work of providing a platform and growing network for accelerating action on our common issues!
The Institute is focused on 4 interconnected Priority Areas:
- Achieving Sustainability through a Greener Economy
- Social Finance & Affordable Housing
- Business & Innovation
- South Georgian Bay Arts Network
In 2023, the Institute responded to the community’s strong interest in Achieving Sustainability through a Greener Economy and Social Finance and Affordable Housing. The Institute collaborated on 5 programmed regional events with residents, business, government, non-profit, and philanthropic leaders. These events enabled participants to learn together and begin developing collaborative initiatives that are contributing to a resilient, equitable, and sustainable Southern Georgian Bay.
March 31 Event: “TISGB 2023 Strategy Session”
2023’s first major event was the Strategy Session with 75+ people from across the region who gathered at the Marsh Street Center in Clarksburg to work on our aligned strategic goals. The Institute’s 4 priority areas were discussed in detail. This session revealed a keen desire to continue focusing on Social Finance & Affordable Housing as well as Sustainability & the Green Economy. At this event, the team also launched the Institute’s E-Book, which is a shareable resource for the Who/What/So What of the Institute. Please share it with your network and encourage them to join our programming.
TISGB was excited to launch the Affordable Housing Toolkit, the product of an 18-month project that offers tools to address the greatest challenge affecting the sustainability of our communities – housing unaffordability. The launch event, viewable at the header-link above, introduced the toolkit and its contents, which include the connections between housing and the labour force, NIMBYism and YIMBYism, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #11: Sustainable Communities (often referred to as SDG11) as a framework for goal setting, alignment, and data gathering, and ways that our communities can work together to maximize success.
The team continued working on the Housing Affordability problem with a virtual panel discussion featuring the Ottawa Community Land Trust and Tapestry Community Capital. These social enterprises are pursuing innovative ways of preserving housing affordability and shared the lessons they have learned along the way and offered suggestions on how we might apply them in our region. This event is posted at the header-link above.
TISGB – Board of Directors
Over the summer, the Institute’s board welcomed the collective strengths of Melanie Rodriguez, Melanie Pockaj, Eric Ennis, and Jennifer Armstrong who brought their skills in finance management, fundraising, philanthropy, social impact, and economic development to the table. We are fortunate to have their time, passion, and expertise!
October 27 Event: “Achieving Sustainability through a Greener Economy”
The fall season began at the Marsh Street Centre in Clarksburg by bringing 70+ multi-sectoral leaders together to share the successes of their sustainable practices and the lessons they learned while implementing them. The first panel focused on progress being made by the successful collaboration of counties, municipalities, and community organizations. The second panel connected innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic development to see what a greener economy could look like in our region.
The guided workshop session after the panel discussions helped identify the desire to explore the possibility of a regional Sustainability/Green Economy Hub. These hubs typically function as a rallying point for businesses, municipalities, and non-profit organizations that wish to adopt sustainable practices and learn more about what resources are available to help them do so. The Institute team is developing a plan to work with Green Economy Canada to consider the justification and feasibility of a Southern Georgian Bay hub.
November 17 Event: “New Ways to Finance the Housing Affordability Gap”
The last event of 2023 was hosted at Meaford Hall in with 4 leaders from the municipalities of Meaford, Town of the Blue Mountains, Collingwood, and Owen Sound opening the day, which focused on how Social Finance can help close the Housing Affordability gap. Over 100 people learned many new things from the first panel featuring solution finders from across Canada who have successfully applied innovative housing finance strategies in their own communities. The second panel featured leaders from around Ontario who are working on non-market development and are identifying region-specific speed bumps and solutions to the housing affordability problem.
During the guided workshop after lunch, participants discussed ways to apply the lessons learned to these problems as they exist in our region. The Institute’s Social Finance & Housing Group is organizing a retreat in January to analyze the notes from these discussions and develop a next-steps plan.
2024 Programming Goals
Over the last year, community engagement in Institute projects grew by 30%, and both resident and sector leadership engagement grew in all 6 regional municipalities. We are excited to continue helping our region develop by connecting people, conducting research and publishing reports, and fostering collaboration to build on what we are all learning together.
We have 5 programming goals for 2024:
- Deep dive into understanding the ecosystem required to help finance the kind of rental housing needed to support our local workforce.
- Explore a regional model for a Sustainability / Green Economy Hub in our region.
- Feature Triple Bottom-Line businesses, social enterprises, and B-Corporations and learn how to nurture more. This kind of Business & Innovation cuts across all priority areas.
- Continue to promote artists, arts organizations, and arts businesses.
- Continue to build on our evolving communications strategy and incorporate new writers into our monthly newsletters, available at The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay (tisgb.com).
Thank you again – as one of the over 700 people who subscribe to our newsletters, our programming partner/sponsors, our Design Teams, each of you who contributed to 2023 program support, and to our volunteers who contributed thousands of hours of their own time to make all of this happen! Our community is better because of you.
To help support the Institute you can share our newsletter, e-book, event reports (all linked above), and affordable housing toolkit with your network. For additional information about how to join, partner with, or sponsor the Institute, visit: Join Us | The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay.