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Kate Mossop, Long Pham and Martha Nguyen – Community
One of the things most educators learn early in their careers is that the school is not an island. It is a nexus that connects the families, organizations, natural environment, values and history that comprise the culture in which it resides. If the stability or health of one of these suffers, the whole network suffers, and must martial resources to support the flagging member.
Different communities have different nexuses; locations where their various subjects, interests and expressions meet. Sometimes these forces conflict. Sometimes they combine. At our best, we find compromise and coordination between them. But the interaction often relies on the quality of the space provided for it. These spaces come readily to mind: parks, town halls, pubs, sites of worship, and the afore-mentioned schools that most of us grew up in. In the early 20th century, the value of spaces like these was made explicit when Community Centres began to appear in the north-eastern U.S. (and maybe it’s not so coincidental that the first of these were hosted in school buildings). Since then, the presence of Community Centres in even small towns and villages has become nearly ubiquitous.
It’s a real joy, and a lesson in humanity, to speak with the folks who give their time, energy and care to the operation of these centres. Listening to people like Kate, Long and Martha talk about the truly dizzying range of services, resources and spaces they offer our community is both humbling and inspiring.
In this episode, we discuss how the University Settlement Community Centre in downtown Toronto strives to meet and adapt to the needs of our unique neighbourhood. The proportion of our neighbours who are newcomers and/or English-Second-Language (ESL) is larger than in most places, and the challenges they face are wide-ranging. Kate, Long and Martha spend their lives providing for these people, offering them routes to participation, contribution, recognition and, ultimately, belonging in our shared home.
Anyone interested in community-building, whether in an educational context or otherwise, will find some actionable ideas and general wisdom in this episode to help them move their community in the direction of health, interconnectedness, openness and reciprocal care.
And if you’d like to learn more about some of the specific ideas discussed in this episode, you can use the links below as your starting point:
If you haven’t listened to our previous Podcast click here