One remarkable element of Jane’s Walk is how it turns the microphone over to the everyday people who live, work, and play in a neighbourhood, so they can tell their own stories and offer their insider points of view. Our City, Our Soul: Five Neighbourhood Stories, a new documentary film from the Calgary Foundation and Calgary Economic Development, is rooted in that same sensibility. It follows five grassroots community projects as they unfold in Calgary in 2014, and it focuses on the mostly unsung community leaders who quietly roll up their sleeves and make such projects happen.
Our City, Our Soul was commissioned to commemorate fifteen years of the Calgary Foundation’s grassroots granting programs, which help people turn their ideas into action right at the neighbourhood level. Grassroots grants are about supporting the dreams and efforts of people for their own neighbourhoods and communities, based on their insider knowledge and their passionate commitment to where they live. Grassroots grants are about supporting emerging local leadership and helping people strengthen the fabric of belonging and well-being in their neighbourhoods and communities.
In essence, grassroots grants put a little money behind one of Jane Jacobs’ most quoted ideas:
Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.
Grassroots grants help people create their city. Our film shows community leaders performing remarkable acts of placemaking, from turning a crumbling public tennis court into a site for public art, to transforming a neighbourhood’s discarded materials into a prized community gathering spot. Our film shows community leaders finding innovative ways to knit together the diversity of their neighbourhoods, from running collective art projects to developing new infrastructure that honours the importance of play. Galvanized, supported, celebrated, and connected through the small acts of neighbourliness and community life: People are where true power comes from in a community.
Our City, Our Soul: Five Neighbourhood Stories can be viewed below, or on the Calgary Foundation website. Please watch it and let it inspire you into new efforts or refuel you to keep on doing what you already do.
To learn more about grassroots grantmaking, click here.
Julie Black is the Citizen Engagement Associate with the Calgary Foundation, a community foundation that proudly serves as the City Organizer for Jane’s Walk in Calgary.