Neighbourhood Projects, Our Schools|

CityPlace/CityLab Urban Planning Adventures at the Rotman School of Management/University of Toronto

On Monday evening, February 24th, CityPlace Board of Directors member
Peter Chiaramonte took part in the Rotman School of Management CityLab
Guest Lecture panel, alongside Cardus.ca Public Policy Thinktank’s Social
Cities’ Senior Fellow, Milton Friesen. Also present during the Q & A were
Varun Chandak, President, Access to Success Organization, and Neel Joshi,
Director of Student Life and International Experience with the Rotman
CityLab Fellowship.

Above: Milton Friesen, Peter Chiaramonte, and Rafael Gomez

The Rotman CityLab Fellowship is an exciting program made up of elite U of
T graduate students from three distinct, yet interlocking, programs: Rotman MBAs, Urban Development specialists, and students from Dr. Rafael Gomez’s Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. The program matches talented teams of young, professional consultants with local Toronto Business Improvement Associations (BIAs), and non-profit groups that organize businesses and property owners by neighbourhood.

CITYLAB IS AN INNOVATION HUB THAT BRINGS TOGETHER STUDENT, ACADEMIC, AND CIVIC LEADERS TO CO-CREATE A BETTER CITY FOR ALL—BY PROVOKING STUDENTS AND CITY LEADERSHIP TO INSPIRE, ENERGIZE, AND BUILD A HEALTHY, SUSTAINABLE, AND VIBRANT COMMUNITY.

-<a href=”https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/business-education/rotman-mbas-take-their-skills-to-the-streets/article35438312/” target=”blank”>The Globe and Mail</a>
#Rotman #RotmanSchool
The Rotman CityLab Fellowship

Exploring the “Art of Organizational Vitality” in Our Local Communities

Dr. Friesen spoke about his work with COTA Toronto’s home placement programs to help people with mental health case management needs, as well as discussing a variety of Business Improvement Areas and events he and his organization have participated in. For instance, the Halo Project, he also talked about new ways to compute and measure a city’s “Social Infrastructure.”

How do you measure a city’s social infrastructure?

“Any city’s social infrastructure includes several factors. Key among them
would be local religious congregations. It has long been known in Canada
that churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples have social, spiritual,
and communal value. But what if we could measure the value of what they
contribute—as economic catalysts—to the common good in their
neighbourhoods and communities? That is the jumping off point the Halo
Project.

“Urban planners are in constant interaction with social structures at a wide
variety of levels. I have found that computational modelling is valuable for
these explorations alongside traditional statistics, machine learning, and
spatial statistical approaches.”

Cardus is a non-partisan, faith-based Policy think tank dedicated
to promoting a flourishing society through independent research,
robust public dialogue, and thought-provoking commentary.
Among other things, the Cardus Education Program addresses the
benefits and value of diverse learning systems so that parents can
make informed choices on the education best suited for their
children.

Cardus is a non-partisan, faith-based Policy think tank dedicated to promoting a flourishing society through independent research, robust public dialogue, and thought-provoking commentary.

Among other things, the Cardus Education Program addresses the benefits and value of diverse learning systems so that parents can make informed choices on the education best suited for their children.

cardus.ca

Especially relevant to many CityPlace residents, perhaps, is Cardus’s support for “the ongoing development of the common good at a city scale—exploring social structures, relational networks, and emerging ideas and practices,” says Milton Friesen, Director of the Cardus Social Cities program.

Enhancing Social Enterprises in Support of Innovation, Individual Creativity, and Organizational Learning

Dr. Chiaramonte presented his own personal narrative on corporate
consulting as a “side-effect” and sideline to a 30-year academic career. He
discussed consulting for projects with a social enterprise or “public good”
intent—like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CIO).

“Some of the others,” he added, “like ABB-Daimler Benz Transportation—
ADtranz, a multi-national rail transport equipment manufacturer—was
certainly a private enterprise. But with a focus on advancing safe, reliable high-speed rail transportation. Which makes it a socially constructive enterprise from my point of view.

“Other organizations I’ve worked with that I consider social enterprises to a degree—include the U.S. Air Force, Marines, and Navy Seals. Given the oaths they take to fight across the full-spectrum of conflict to protect us.”

“Other organizations I’ve worked with that I consider social enterprises to a degree—include the U.S. Air Force, Marines, and Navy Seals. Given the oaths they take to fight across the full-spectrum of conflict to protect us.”

Does Evaluation Help or Impede Social Innovation?

It all depends

To borrow a phrase from contingency theory: It all depends. It may be prudent to encourage an early articulation of problems as a baseline for comparison later. Rather than assume some prescribed assessment to be a definitive judgment of performance right from the beginning.

Personally, I would counsel against squeezing social innovations into boxes of operational goals and rational models. (Tempting as it may be for some.) That way, maybe, we can treat the questions themselves as points of reference to come back to later—when more specific, or formal evaluative thinking becomes sensible or necessary.

How is social enterprise learning to be measured and assessed in terms of future policy planning?

The answer to this would have something to do with the epistemological frames of reference we use coming at the issue, wouldn’t it? For instance, those with a positivist-functionalist point of view will tend to see leadership in terms of positional power, authority, and (more than likely) in terms of a career achievement orientation. Versus those from a position of critical inquiry, who are more likely to take a socially constructive approach.

Positivists assume universal truths can be objectively measured. Conversely, radical humanists like us view reality as socially constructed, inherently subjective, complex and nonlinear. You can’t capture that with self-reporting data and rating scales alone—or at all—in many if not most respects.

An emergent complex system cannot be “made” to work. It either works or it doesn’t. The corollary—and every administrator’s angst—is that pushing on the system doesn’t help make it work. It only makes matters worse. Take John Gall’s, Systemantics, for example. What it’s going to take—and what’s in danger of being lost or forgotten—is human teaching for human learning.

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