The work of Calgary On Purpose is to discover and communicate a shared purpose for our city, built upon a culture of trust and empathy. What distinguishes this project is its divergence from traditional decision-making processes: COP is more than a grass-roots movement; it is, at heart, a project in deep listening. For COP, listening to Calgarians means recognizing their experiences as valid, and connecting those experiences, and those people, to a renewed sense of purpose. The challenge in municipal policy-making is to identify a meta-narrative without sacrificing individual perspectives. In this sense, our vision of a public ‘discussion’ is an expression of vulnerability on the part of the speaker, and an exercise in humility, on the part of the listener. Rediscovering Calgary’s purpose requires a grounding in history, without devolving into a retelling of that history; it means recognizing a loss of purpose, and finding a common language for hope.
What is the shared purpose of our city?
To what extent do we conflate material with cultural values? How do we meet our material needs while generating cultural wealth?
How do we define empathy and trust and what are their preconditions, if any?
What is our role as citizens, and that of the private and the public sectors in creating change?
To identify and articulate a shared purpose for our city.
To truly listen to Calgarians and foster a culture of trust and empathy.
To identify what it means to be a ‘successful’ city, connecting with global partners and consultants.
To break from traditional decision-making processes and instead, move towards publicly inclusive, holistic consultations.
To remain cognizant of the technological dimensions of information-gathering that might distort those consultations.
To remain attentive to the nuances of language: the difference between rebranding and narrating, stakeholder and citizen engagement, conservation and conversation, and project and purpose.