Guelph and Wellington has a history of collaborating to make great things happen. We’ve had many shared successes by bringing together multiple stakeholders to respond to an identified need or gap. At the same time, within all of this collaborating, people can end up at similar meetings about slightly different issues, there may be missed opportunities to communicate, coordinate or work together for a common purpose. Within all this collaborating, there is room to be more strategic and intentional about the way that we work together across issues, across populations and across sectors.
About 6 years ago, representatives from 12 health and social service agencies across Guelph and Wellington started to talk about how to strengthen the way we collaborate; plan; gather, use and share local data and information; understand and talk about our community’s needs; seize opportunities to take strategic collective action and understand collective impact.
Consider how the social and health service system understands the strengths and needs of a child who lives in poverty in precarious housing; when we think about a child in this situation, we might turn our focus to the importance of early childhood development, the life long impacts of being born into poverty or how lack of access to affordable housing affects a family. We might consider how prevention, early intervention or education might support this child and her family. We might focus on the systemic changes needed to address poverty and lack of affordable housing options.
What if we were able to weave all this work together? What if we were able to use a common language and framework to understand and talk about our community’s needs and strengths? What if all this gave us a bird’s eye view of the gaps, needs, strengths and change efforts in Guelph and Wellington County?
This is what Toward Common Ground (TCG) is working on. TCG is an Ontario Trillium Foundation project that was created as the first big step to strengthen our community’s ability to work together in a different way for more enhanced and meaningful impact.