Greening the Inner city: Eco-Friendly Community Development

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Winnipeg Inner-city Research Alliance

WIRA Summer Institute 2003

Greening the Inner city:

Eco-Friendly Community Development

June 2nd to 7th, 2003

Final Report
Institute of Urban Studies
July 2003

Sponsored by:


Overview of Report 3

Prologue/Introduction 4

1.0 Objectives 5

1.1 Shared Learning Experience

1.2 Hands-On Approach to Learning

1.3 Drawing on Community Expertise
2.0 Participants 5
3.0 Sessions 6

    1. Introduction to the Summer Institute 6
    2. Community Development and the Environment 6

    3. Housing and the Environment 7

    4. Transportation Alternatives 8

    5. Re-Cycle and Re-Use of Buildings 8

    6. Small-scale Inner-city Environmental Initiatives 9

    7. Waste Management 10

    8. Aboriginal Approaches to Greening the Inner city 11

    9. Community Economic Development And The Environment 12

    10. From Blue Box to Ballot Box 13

    11. Evening Lectures 14

    12. Other Activities 16

4.0 Participant Feedback 18

4.1 Ratings


  1. Conclusions 24

    1. Looking to the future


A: Summer Institute Schedule 26

B: Course Outline 27 C: Course Assignment 30 D: Field Trip Materials 32

E: Publicity Material 34

F: Evaluation form 37

Urban Studies Special Topic (84.3010/3)

Greening the Inner City: Eco-friendly Community Development”

This course is intended for community workers, residents and university students, and will explore issues of environmental sustainability in the inner city. By drawing extensively on case studies and field project work, this course will examine challenges and successes of environmentally-sensitive community development. Topics will include: strategies for ‘greening’ the neighbourhood, energy-efficient housing development, and the role of transportation. A focus throughout will be the potential to create jobs and build skills for community residents using environmentally-friendly community development.


  • The second WIRA Summer Institute - Greening the Inner City: Eco-friendly Community Development – was held from June 2nd to 7th 2003.

  • 34 participants attended, including 27 students and 7 community representatives.

  • Students took the course for academic credit and completed a major paper following the one-week intensive course. Community participants received a professional certificate.

  • The course consisted of daytime and evening workshop sessions, a fieldtrip and an optional social evening.

  • The evening sessions were open to the public and were attended by approximately 300 people.

  • A broad range of ideas and perspectives were represented by the 31 community and academic presenters who contributed to the 9 daytime and 2 evening sessions throughout the week.

  • Working examples and practical experience balanced and connected with the theoretical component.

  • Themes throughout the week concentrated on environmental issues in the inner-city, including strategies and community-based initiatives developed to address these issues.

  • The informal and relaxed tone of the week complemented the participatory and interactive nature of the sessions.

  • Forays out of the classroom and into the community provided a more concrete context for the week’s discussions and presentations.

  • Feedback from participants, presenters and organizers indicate that the WIRA Summer Institute 2003 was a great success.


The Summer Institute 2003 was sponsored and hosted by the Institute of Urban Studies and the Winnipeg Inner City Research Alliance. The Institute of Urban Studies undertakes and coordinates applied multi-disciplinary research aimed at practical solutions to urban development challenges in a broad context, but with a special emphasis on the inner city.

The Winnipeg Inner City Research Alliance (WIRA) is a group of academic researchers and community partners committed to action-oriented research that will benefit Winnipeg’s Inner City. It draws people together to build partnerships, develop ideas and initiatives to help arrest neighbourhood decline, and strengthen community capacity. The WIRA initiative is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. WIRA is part of the Community-University Research Alliance initiative. It is committed to fostering innovative research, training and related activities that work toward the social, cultural and economic development of communities.

The WIRA Summer Institute is the main component of WIRA’s educational mandate. Targeted at university students and community practitioners, the Summer Institute is held in each year of the WIRA initiative.


The Summer Institute builds knowledge and capacity at the community level and adopts a practical, hands-on approach. Instruction consists of lectures, seminars, field trips and sessions with community groups. Sessions are led by local and national experts in the field, and facilitate an exchange of ideas among participants.

Planning of the Summer Institute is a complex and collaborative process, undertaken by a group of dedicated staff at the Institute of Urban Studies. Many thanks to each of them for the time and effort they contributed leading to two very successful initiatives. A supplementary document detailing the Summer Institute planning process may be obtained by contacting the Institute of Urban Studies. For more information about the Institute of Urban Studies, the Winnipeg Inner city Research Alliance, or the Summer Institute, please visit the website or call (204) 982–1140.


The WIRA Summer Institute is designed with a number of objectives in mind. The intention of each Summer Institute is to create a unique, shared learning experience for university students and community practitioners through a series of workshop-style sessions addressing a range of key issues related to community development in Winnipeg’s inner city. The Summer Institute aims to take a “hands-on” approach to learning, to combine classroom learning with “in the field” experience of Winnipeg’s inner-city communities, and to provide instruction that combines theory with practice.

1.1 Shared Learning Experience

The 2003 Summer Institute was successful in creating a learning environment that drew on and built upon the experience and knowledge of presenters and participants alike. Sessions were structured to encourage hands-on activities, question and answer sessions, group work and dialogue. Community participants and students made valuable contributions to discussions throughout the week, particularly in relation to their own neighbourhoods or areas of expertise.

    1. Hands-on Approach to Learning

The Institute combined lecture-style classroom instruction with other types of learning experiences. Some presenters engaged the participants in group-work. Some sessions included tours of neighbourhoods, which added a more concrete and practical dimension to the participants’ learning. The three-hour field-trip to various locations in the inner city was an interactive experience as participants worked on a small project in groups.

    1. Drawing on Community Expertise

The majority of sessions were facilitated by local community practitioners. The Summer Institute was an excellent opportunity to bring together individuals working in different areas of community development in the inner city. Often, presenters met others who work in similar areas of interest. They were able to connect and learn about each others’ initiatives. A few attended other sessions. A number of informal connections and plans for future collaboration were made between and among participants and presenters.

A total of 34 participants registered and completed the Summer Institute 2003: 27 University students took the course for credit plus a certificate, and 7 spots were taken for certificate by representatives of community organizations. This class size again proved to be appropriate for the type and quality of interaction aimed for in the course.


Each day of the Summer Institute included six hours of sessions. In addition, there were two evening presentations of two hours each, plus a three-hour session on Saturday morning. This year the Institute had an environmental focus. Within this focus a number of different theme areas were covered during the week including:

  • Community Development and the Environment,

  • Housing and the Environment,

  • Transportation Alternatives,

  • Re-cycle and Re-use of Buildings,

  • Neighbourhood-level Initiatives,

  • Waste Management,

  • Aboriginal Perspectives on the Urban Environment,

  • Local Economic Development,

  • From Blue-Box to Ballot Box: How Do We Encourage Citizen Participation

  • Principles of Community-based Planning, and

  • Smart Growth

Each of these theme areas roughly corresponded to one three-hour daytime or evening session. Each session generally had more than one presenter in order to offer a wide range of information, perspectives and ideas in the theme areas (see Appendix A).

3.1 Introduction to the Summer Institute

Presenters: Tom Carter, Anita Friesen, Michael Dudley

(Institute of Urban Studies)

To start off the week, participants were welcomed to the Summer Institute and given a general overview of the week, including information about the course content, the assignment, attendance and participation, course materials, and tone of the week (Appendix B and C). They were provided with a comprehensive package of information and forms. Each participant also received a WIRA Summer Institute 2003 travel mug, a notebook made of recycled paper, and a nametag. Michael Dudley led students through a brief tutorial on citation methods and useful research resources for the course.

3.2 Theme: Community Development and the Environment

This session served as a useful introduction to community-based development.

Topic: Basic Concepts, Theories and Practices

Presenter: Judith Harris (University of Winnipeg)

Dr. Harris began the session with a broad overview of basic community development concepts and theories, setting the stage for the Summer Institute’s community development and environmental themes. Key trends in the inner city were discussed. Participants identified qualities and characteristics of ‘community’, and then looked at ‘development’ as a concept and the three schools of development thought. This led to a discussion of community development, followed by an examination of tools used in analyzing community development.

Topic: A Short Introduction to Radical Planning Theory and Practice

Presenter: Doug Aberley (University of British Columbia)

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