Dream big for Caledon
By Monty Laskin/Caledon Community Services
There’s no possibility for Caledon’s challenges to be thoroughly and sustainably addressed without collaboration. Going it alone achieves many things but without a plan that brings Caledon’s resources together, nasty challenges persist. This was the thinking way back in 2013 when a group of community organizations came together. We wanted to tackle things like poverty, hunger, unemployment, family discord, violence, youth malaise, bullying, mental health. Piece of cake, right? Sure, we could have settled for the simple stuff but not this group. We wanted to touch on childhood development to end-of-life care. And everything in between!
We agreed to make the intractable challenges of the community a priority, those things that really compromise people’s quality of life. It was then, five years ago, that Caledon’s community services underwent a pretty significant transformation.
We look back at the decisions we made then and without a doubt, we see that something shifted. Are we better off? The facts speak for themselves. And the facts say that it’s a slam dunk.
Here we are, it’s August 2018. Apple Computer is a has-been and the Leafs have won two Stanley Cups in a row. Whodathunk either? And all those Caledon community organizations that had big plans back then can now reminisce about their vision in the summer of 2013. We were all looking to make changes simply by working together.
I remember the thrust back then. We wanted to shift from isolated impact to collective impact. In our minds, this shift wasn’t simply about increased collaboration. We knew it required an approach to social impact that emphasized the relationships between organizations and the progress toward shared objectives. It was hard work. It required a few leaps of faith from us all.
What made it possible was the Exchange. This new community hub in Bolton was a driving force. We all anticipated its opening in the Fall of 2013. Those first few weeks mobilized everyone to dream big and set our targets high. Really high!
When the Exchange opened it was a big thing for Caledon. There was a ribbon-cutting and lots of well-deserved honours for the people who made the dream come true. Rightly so. It took a year to find the right site, then another year of planning, architect drawings and massive construction. There was a large cast of supportive businesses and community residents who pulled it all together. Then the launch of collaborative services ensued around health, nutrition and community building. I remember the opening day. It really was quite special.
Back then the founding group of Exchange supporters had big plans. They wanted to provide more services; connect people to one another; link service providers; educate the community; eliminate poverty; be an incubator for other rural/suburban communities; build new friendships; allow people of all backgrounds and means to come together; build capacity in Caledon. Across all of these things, food was the driver. Food was the common engagement tool. Delightful. Delicious too!
Sometimes it’s nice to dream and imagine what can happen when, as Margaret Mead says, a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens come together to change the world. Making the dream come true, however challenging, is just as nice.
We have the next five years to make that happen.
Monty Laskin is the CEO of Caledon Community Services