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How do you make housing a community conversation?

As part of National Housing Week, CSI partnered with Evergreen, Stories We Don’t Tell, and The Discourse to host a conversation about housing and home. Six different inspiring people to explore the idea of what home is to them and to tell us about their journey in finding it. Here are reflections on the event from co-producer Paul Dore.

How do you make housing a community conversation?

This was the question that gave rise to Stories of Home. It was posed to us by Evergreen last year, and our continued shared interest brought it to life again with new partners and new communities in 2018.

The answer, at least from our perspective as the producers of the Stories We Don’t Tell (who are we? More info here), was to focus on what we knew best, asking people to share their story. Hosted at CSI Spadina we invited people into a warm (Nov 22 was a cold night), welcoming, and comfortable space to hear them.

National Housing Week, which is an opportunity for Canadians to come together and acknowledge that safe, affordable housing is an integral part of strong livable communities. Evergreen works with partners in the Toronto area to raise the profile of important housing issues that affect us all. By working with a wide range of private, non-profit and public partners, the flurry of activities throughout National Housing Week engages different audiences, the public, the media and housing stakeholders to raise the collective profile of housing issues and catalyze action toward innovative change.

What made Stories of Home successful in the past two years has been the commitment of the partners to holding this question at the forefront throughout the planning and execution. Look no further than the tagline of the show’s media partner The Discourse, to see their connection “Community-powered journalism informed and funded by you” and the show opened with their Director of Communities speaking to her experiences of housing and home growing up in Scarborough. (Interested in learning more? Check out the Discourse’s weekly newsletter, and sign up for their recently launched Scarborough specific content as well.)

From there the incredible lineup of storytellers took the stage. We wish we could take more credit for finding these folks, but once again the community stepped up. With recommendations from MYTORONTO (support their work here), Stories of Ours, and Evergreen we were treated to an evening of laughs, tears, and moments of touching honesty that sucked the air right out of the room.

So, how do you make housing a community conversation? We see the success of Stories of Home to be determined by how well the event itself builds community and expands the conversation on housing outside of its often wonkish walls. And we’re proud to say that by the end of the evening, the electricity in the room was palpable. Many people stayed behind to speak with the storytellers and learn more about them. Others stayed to talk with other audience members about what they heard that night.

Stories We Don’t Tell would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our partners, the Centre for Social Innovation, Evergreen, The Discourse, as well as all of the storytellers and everyone who joined us. With the eye to keep this conversation going year round, we recorded the event and all five storytellers can be heard on our podcast!

Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash

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