Beyond Engagement the Art of Community Building

Fuelling a vital, prosperous and connected city

The Calgary skyline drawn in sugar on a table with coffee cups
Living a Creative Life | Photo: Jason Stang

Image logo - Living a Creative Life Logo whiteCesar Cala and Marichu Antonio will facilitate an interactive session to explore the creative combination of community organizing and artistic endeavour.

How can we start to build common ground, how do we develop shared agendas, and how can we help foster authentic conversations toward community change?

In public and creative realms, communities are often relegated to the roles of audiences and beneficiaries. Seldom are communities recognized and acknowledged as partners and collaborators, as initiators and instigators. How can we go beyond narrow engagement and work with communities to discover, deepen, and strengthen common pathways to change?

Community development is arithmetic because it deals with the gathering of people in their numbers, sets, and groups. It is chemistry because it is a coming together in a dynamic mix of diverse strengths, capacities. It is art because it aims to reinterpret, to pose new meanings and symbols, to sketch the outlines of new realities. It is both messy and methodical. This workshop is an invitation to share our learning in our different fields of practice.

Image photo - Cesar and Marichu

About Marichu Antonio

Marichu Antonio is a pioneering leader and innovator. She is currently Executive Director of ActionDignity, a community based organization of more than 70 ethnocultural organizations that facilitates the collective voice of ethnocultural communities towards full civic participation.

Working with communities, Marichu focuses on addressing issues of systemic discrimination and inequity. Marichu was the Community Development Manager at the Centre for Newcomers for 13 years, expanding the agency’s community and economic development programs.  She founded EthniCity Catering, a social enterprise that provides employment experience to immigrant women.

Among her current and past leadership positions are:

  • Leadership Council, Cultural Plan for Calgary
  • Governing Council, Calgary Local Immigration Partnership
  • National Diversity Advisory Council, Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada
  • Board Member, Momentum
  • Founding Director and former President, Babae Council of Filipina-Canadian Women
  • Founding Director, Philippine Festival Council of Alberta

Marichu is a recipient of the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and Avenue Magazine’s A-List of Volunteers in 2009 in recognition of her contributions towards strengthening communities.

About Cesar Cala

Cesar Cala recently worked as Partnership Lead and Manager of Neighbourhood Strategy at United Way of Calgary and Area. Before moving to Canada in 1996, Cesar was involved in community development in the Philippines and other parts of the world for more than 15 years on issues of human rights, democratic reform, people’s participation and grassroots development.

In Calgary, he pursued community development, both in volunteer and professional capacities, with organizations like the Arusha Centre, Oxfam-Canada, the Developmental Disabilities Resource Centre of Calgary, the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary, the Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre, Sustainable Calgary, Calgary Foundation, and the Asian Heritage Foundation for Southern Alberta. He occasionally lectures at the University of Calgary on community development and social justice.

Cesar has led and participated in a number of groundbreaking projects in Calgary, among them, the 1000Voices hub at the Genesis Centre, Vital Signs Calgary, grassroots grantmaking and Fiesta Filipino. In 2012, he received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and in 2015, the Governor General’s Caring Canadian award.

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