Project Description

Visionary Communities is a four-year project using the Connected Communities Approach (CCA). It partners community and universities to improve living conditions in Kingston Galloway/Orton Park (KGO) neighbourhood, aligning with the residents’ and nonprofits’ aspirations.

The aim is to contribute to positive changes and create sustainable, vibrant, and safe neighbourhoods in Toronto, guided by community needs and actions.

We’ll work closely with people in KGO, like residents, local groups, and partners, to find out what’s already happening in the neighbourhood. We want to understand what the community cares about, its strengths, and the challenges it faces. With this knowledge, we aim to help come up with practical solutions that the community itself wants. We’ll share what we learn with the City of Toronto and its Climate Advisory Group, hoping to use this community knowledge to guide engagement and shape citywide climate policies and solutions. This includes making sure the city and formal institutions are accountable to the communities they serve.


  1. Co-develop an impactful ‘collaboratory’ focused on identifying and testing SDG solutions in / with the KGO community, operationalized through a community-university-city partnership.
  2. Deepen understanding of and align our work with existing relationships and areas of momentum in KGO through iterative processes of listening and reflecting back what we heard, strengths-based mapping and relationship building, and scanning of past and contemporary records of neighbourhood-based projects and activities.
  3. Work with local organizations and grassroots groups to co-create equitable sustainability transitions “pathways” (bundles of strategies/actions) that will further their aspirations for KGO and be advanced through their community-initiatives.
  4. Integrate SDG solutions and community aspirations/ objectives for the future of their neighbourhood through pilots and use cases.
  5. Evaluate, learn, and scale.

Timeline and Activities

April 2023 – February 2024
Establish strong partnerships and trust, match project principles with those of partners for effective collaboration, and boost project capacity by raising funds and hiring. Begin evaluation.
March 2024 – February 2025 
Understand KGO’s history, summarize insights, align with active community areas, and refine project processes iteratively.
March – June 2025
Build on learning and relationships to plan activities based on active community areas, and create a game-like interface for residents, groups, and youth to interact with models.
July 2025 – June 2026
Design and apply “solutions” for advancing pathways.
July 2026 – March 2027
Evaluate development of pilots with feedback incorporated to spur iteration and deepen learning.

Current Research Stage: Listening & Momentum Surfacing

Research Questions

At this point in the project, which focuses on objectives 2 and 3, our current research questions are:

  • What are the affordances of different methods for listening to community, mapping momentum, and reflecting back what is heard?


  • How might contested visions, priorities and aspirations gleaned through listening be fulsomely represented / engaged and inform sustainability pathways and how might inevitable power dynamics be effectively navigated?
  • How can lessons learned in KGO be transmitted and adapted to the city scale, and help connect visions and aspirations from multiple communities to equitable, community-centred, climate policymaking and solutions?


  • A document scan and analysis of project plans and reports, peer reviewed studies and research papers, and websites to understand and catalogue current and past KGO community development activities over the past 10 years.
  • Ongoing project development evaluation.
  • Three listening sessions / workshops with community groups to glean interests, capacities, priorities, and future visions for the KGO neighbourhood.
  • Two sense-making sessions.
  • 20 interviews (or similar community-approved dialogic method) with the staff of local community groups to ground truth and dig deeper into what is shared in the listening sessions and to determine alignment with the Visionary Communities project.
  • Two Community Speaks sessions.
  • Painting the picture activites to using arts-based / stories-based reflections of what was heard
  • Participatory modelling support for future scenarios development.
  • Sharing of the learnings with academic and non-academic audiences through a variety of channels.

These methods will help us identify areas of momentum and elicit the priorities, needs, and aspirations for the future of the neighbourhood of this sub-set of the KGO community.


Project description, theory of change and project governance (February 13, 2024)

Coming soon:

Approved ethics application

Approved funding applications