Step 5: Programming Opportunities

September 2020 → October 2020
Status: Complete

The following list of recommended activities derive from analysis that intersects findings from the statistical study with the space assessment. By identifying low-scoring wellbeing variables, and spatial opportunities that can maximize social interactions between neighbours, our team devised high-impact design and programming actions that can boost residents’ social wellbeing. We believe these actions will serve as sources of inspiration for the Social Animator and their team.

We have grouped these actions into four main categories: 

  1. Creative Culture
  2. Social Food Culture
  3. Flexibility; and
  4. Social Diversity

Each category includes various actions that can be implemented throughout the year to address the identified gaps. We developed these actions with the ongoing pandemic in mind and acknowledge that we will need to be creative when proposing options to stay safe and connected. Additionally, each action highlights the variables that are being addressed. 

By focusing on these social programming actions, we believe the Social Animator will successfully accomplish its goals to boost residents’ wellbeing and social connectedness.

Insight: If you are reading this section, you are probably a developer, property manager, a neighbour keen to find opportunities to connect or a sociability champion. If you would like to learn more about each action, the opportunities and possible challenges, please do not hesitate to email our team and we will provide more information. We are happy to guide your desire to boost sociability in your building.

Creative Culture:

Image credit: Elizaveta Artamonova

Developing a creative culture in the community includes encouraging residents to take part in various creative activities together. These activities help strengthen people’s bonds with their social community, as well as the physical environment they live in. Creative activities also help boost engagement and social connectedness in the community. Some actions that can help build a creative culture are:

Co-Create Murals:

Enable the creation of a series of outdoor and/or indoor wall murals for residents to nurture a sense of belonging and ownership in the community.

Encourage Creative Patio & Balcony Contests:

Organize a series of contests to encourage residents to personalize their patios, front gates, and balconies.

Organize Hobby Workshops:

Enable the use of common spaces and activity rooms for various hobbies and activities to allow people to meet others who share similar interests and passions. Create online opportunities while physical distancing restrictions are in place.

Social Food Culture:

Image credit: Priscilla Du Preez

Social food culture is about creating opportunities for meeting new friends and developing a sense of community over food.  It helps to create new and strengthen existing relationships within the community. Some actions that can help build a social food culture are:

Provide Community Gardening Opportunities

Identify spaces that can be transformed to support community gardening activities. These spaces should have sufficient sunlight and access to water for hoses. These spaces should also have clear sightlines and barrier-free access to ensure that people can use the community garden safely. Community gardens should also include furniture for people to sit and gather.

Enable Shared Meals

Organize (socially-distanced) picnics and community meals that bring people together and enhance wellbeing. These meals provide opportunities to meet new people and deepen existing relationships.

Promote Food Sharing

Create a shared pantry for herbs and vegetables from the community garden. Complement the pantry with space for residents to share recipes with each other, through an on-site pin-up board and/or an online forum. These recipes can reflect the seasonal harvest from the community garden. The shared pantry and recipe-sharing board should be placed in a central and communal location to ensure that all residents have access to it.


Image credit: Bilyana Dimitrova

Spaces need to be designed to be usable for multiple purposes and for various group sizes throughout the year. This ensures that residents can readily shape and utilize common spaces to suit their lifestyles. Flexibility helps to foster greater senses of resiliency, spatial inclusion, and awareness. Some actions that can help build flexibility into spaces are:

Activate the Courtyards:

Design the courtyards to support various activities, group sizes, and ages. With small playgrounds, picnic tables, water features, giant board games, and creative seating opportunities, courtyards can become a focal gathering point for residents. They should support a wide range of activities, from being a place to simply sit, read or enjoy the weather to a site for residents to gather for community events.

Provide Flexible Seating:

Ensure that spaces have flexible seating that allows for various uses and group sizes. This will improve spatial inclusion and allow people of different ages or with mobility impairments to join activities.

Provide Spaces for Creative Games

Identify underused spaces, such as parking lots, that can be transformed to accommodate various social activities and creative games when they are not being used. The large open spaces of parking lots and garages can support large board games, hopscotch, four-corners, and other physical activities for all ages.

Centre Emergency Preparedness in Lounges

Ensure that lounge spaces consider the necessary equipment and infrastructure to serve as an emergency hub in case of a natural disaster. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring well maintained first-aid kits, non-perishable foods, water, batteries, and up-to-date emergency procedures (especially for earthquakes). During the pandemic, emergency hubs should also include disposable masks, hand sanitizer, and any other relevant public health information. If these emergency hubs are large enough, they can also be used as a gathering point for the community during an emergency.

Social Diversity:

Image credit: Houzz

Ensuring that the community has individuals of different races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, language, genders, cultural backgrounds, and ages helps to make communities thrive.  Promoting this diversity helps to make communities feel more welcoming to all and makes it easier for people to reach out to make new friendships. Some actions that can help enable social diversity are:

Create a Meeting Point for Activity Clubs

Create a fun meeting point for activity clubs, such as a distinctive outdoor structure or bulletin board. These spaces can become a key gathering point for residents to organize and promote events throughout the week. Clubs also help increase and strengthen community ties, which improves wellbeing. This can range from a dedicated space for weekly outdoor painting to a bulletin board with notices for new events.

Organize Bicycle Workshops

Organize workshops so residents can learn to ride, maintain, and repair bicycles.  Teaching people, both young and old, can help to develop a culture towards active transportation that can improve both physical and mental wellbeing.  

Create a pet and bike wash station

Enhance the car wash area so that it can also be used by pet owners and cyclists; this will help to create a new social area where people can meet other residents.

Promote events through monthly newsletter

Expand the existing Collingwood Village newsletter to include smaller events and ongoing social activities that help increase awareness about different happenings each month. 

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