About Us

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.

Central Questions:

  • 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.