Marlo Campbell | Uptown Magazine
They came armed with business cards, notebooks and a determination to make Manitoba a better place.
On Nov. 23, almost 400 representatives of community groups, small businesses, the Manitoba government, funding organizations, church groups and academia descended on St. John’s High School for Manitoba’s 5th annual community economic development gathering, hosted by the Canadian Community Economic Development Network.Established in 1999, CCEDNet now supports thousands of fledgling and established CED groups across the country, while also promoting CED concepts in hopes of influencing government policy.
So just what exactly is ‘community economic development?’
“We have debates about the definition,” jokes Rupert Downing, CCEDNet’s executive director and an international leader in the field, with over 28 years of CED experience in Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Basically, it’s action by community organizations to create economic opportunities and address social needs and, increasingly, it’s a triple bottom line of environmental, social, and economic benefits,” Downing says.
In other words, while poverty reduction strategies play a large part of CED work, the concept is more holistic.
Manitoba’s CED gathering featured 33 different workshops on topics such as advocacy, housing co-ops, sustainable neighbourhood planning, art as a tool for healing, the experience of newcomers to Canada, alternative energy, child care, and food security.
The conference also applied CED principles throughout the day: it was free of charge and open to all; served organic, fair-trade coffee; and provided lunch sourced from several local CED caterers such as Neechi Foods, served on biodegradable, eco-friendly dishes.
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