Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability

CAFES & Carleton University 2022 Community Engagement Project

During autumn 2022, CAFES Ottawa partnered with a sociology/anthropology class from Carleton University, to carry out the 2022 CAFES & Carleton University Community Engagement Project. 

The Carleton University undergraduate sociology/anthropology class SOCI 2180: Foundations in Community Engagement is led by professor Deborah Conners. A portion of the foundations course involves students breaking up in to groups and pairing with a local community association (CA).

At the beginning of the semester, the five CAs outline specific goals they are trying to achieve and the second-year sociology students consult and collaborate with the CAs during the semester to help reach those goals. The projects are intended to engage diverse communities in climate change and environmental resilience efforts. Professor Conners guides the students and community associations through the community outreach projects to foster an educational and beneficial experience for all involved. 

Students created products such Instagram posts, infographics, videos, posters, press releases, news articles and in some cases planning community engagement events. Students analyzed and discussed insights and experiences gained as they brought their conceptual learning in the course together with their experience of working towards achieving the objectives of a real-world project. 

This outreach project was a unique learning experience about the challenges of doing community outreach during a pandemic. The COVID pandemic has highlighted the need for reimagining community outreach. After two years of coming in and out of lockdowns, people are isolated from society. Leading to a need to find avenues to bring people together in a real way and to rebuild the community ties that were destroyed during the pandemic.

The community outreach projects concluded with a series of presentations taking place in early December 2022. CA & CAFES representatives, as well as some members of the public attended the presentations in person and virtually alongside Professor Connors and students. Students presentations showcased their achievements of the semester including social media product campaigns, lessons learned, and successes.

Below are the five community associations who volunteered for the 2022 project. Click on any of the association names below to check out their website.

The achievements of each group are showcased below. Beginning with the combined group of Centertown community association (CCA) & Glebe community association (GCA), next being the Dalhousie community association (DCA), followed by the Hunt Club community association (HCCA), and finally the Kanata greenspace protection coalition (KGPC).


The groups of Centertown community association (CCA) and Glebe community association (GCA) combined forces during the semester.

The main goals of the GCA during the semester were to

  1. Raise awareness in the community about climate change
  2. Demonstrate and help residents in the neighbourhood to get involved in finding solutions

The mains goals of the CCA during the semester were to

  1. Provide information, participation, and consultation to residents on important issues in the community, and work with governments at all levels to promote the interests of our community
  2. Bring awareness to and engage its residents on the impact of climate change and its solutions
GCA x CCA Workshop Promotional Poster

The combined student group worked towards the common goals to help in the planning, promotion, and execution of the virtual panel discussion on climate resiliency hosted by the GCA and CCA in November 2022. As a part of the workshop planning, the large group of students created posters, a newsletter, social media posts and flyers to promote the event, as well as creating resources for the community associations to use for other purposes going forward including infographics, an informational video and maps.

University students putting up posters with community association representatives & high school student volunteers

In November 2022, the combined GCA and CCA group hosted the virtual workshop drawing a large audience to learn from the featured panel of environmental experts and leaders, which was followed by a community discussion regarding concerns and solutions towards climate resiliency in the Centertown and Glebe communities. The CAs and students decided to host the workshop virtually as the course took place in recently post-pandemic times. Below is a short clip of the workshop that took place.

A short clip of the workshop introductions

Below is a newsletter report made with the goal being to share information about the scope and seriousness of climate change impacts facing their communities. This was shared via email to hundreds of community members with the intention of reaching out to middle-aged adults and local businesses, as well as to ensure inclusiveness with community members who do not have social media or cannot easily connect online.

As a part of creating resources and products that the CCA & GCA could use beyond the panel discussion in November, part of the student group created or modified existing maps to demonstrate the importance of tree canopy stewardship to combat the heat island effect in these communities. Following the maps are infographics, educational resources, to share more detailed information about the state of the two community's tree canopy and the need for regeneration.

The Dalhousie Community Association brought two key community engagement goals to their student group.

  1. Recruit a wider scope of people who are passionate about the community’s development. Dalhousie is interested in promoting the association to the community, specifically the youth of the Dalhousie region, the senior Asian community, and precariously housed individuals so that their committee more accurately represents the population of the community.
  2. (A more long-term goal) transform an empty lot into a greenspace for the community. 

In order to tackle both goals, the team worked to create an informational video, brochures and posters to promote expansion of greenspace through community involvement and deepening connections through shared goals.

Below features a clip of the video created by students to help capture the attention of the targeted audiences in a visual way. The video includes current tasks and future goals of the DCA, showing potential members why they should engage and how their contribution will benefit the community. If you'd like to check out the full video, visit the DCA website - it is posted on their home page.

We Are DCA! Video. To see the full video visit the DCA website:

Students created a brochure showcasing the DCA, a product that offers information about the Dalhousie community to inform residents of the benefits of being more involved in the community and through introducing ways in which the public can contribute to the goals of the community.  This contributes to the overall goals by being a product that be distributed to the target audiences at local events, businesses and pubic gathering spaces.

Dalhousie Community Association Brochure

The Hunt Club Community Association brought four key goals to their student group, including

  1. Increase the participation in the volunteer driven projects
  2. Create a database showing the growth of the number of pollinator gardens in the Hunt Club community
  3. Spark excitement throughout the community about the Butterfly Way Project while generating pride in the community for environmental efforts
  4. Emphasize the community diversity present as well as increase the representation and participation from the diversity of citizens

To achieve these goals, students created a pollinator garden data sheet for the association to keep track and promote their project, including interactive maps of existing pollinator gardens. Secondly students created an Instagram page where the HCCA can share educational and informative posts to engage a wider, more diverse audience to participate in existing and upcoming projects. Thirdly students created educational resources, infographics, that the HCCA could have on-hand to promote their project either online or with printed copies.

The pollinator plant garden map used gathered data of existing pollinator plant gardens to create a greater visualization of the project's community reach. This, like the data sheet, intends to spark excitement and to improve the methods of sharing the pollinator garden details in the Hunt Club community. Below is a link to the interactive pollinator garden map, followed by a screenshot of the community's pollinator gardens on the map." width="640" height="480"></iframe

The Hunt Club Community Association pollinator gardens established as a part of the David Suzuki Butterflyway Project

The Instagram page was created to get a wider audience, specifically youth, to engage with the community and join projects to make Hunt Club a better, greener and safe space. The posts created aimed to spark "a buzz" about the ButterflyWay project; generate pride and passion in the community for environmental efforts; to shed light on the diversity of the community, and to build strong relations, and bridges with different neighbourhoods and people of the area.

A screenshot of the Hunt Club Community Association Instagram page made by students, featuring some of the posts made by students

Posts included diverse information, such as a call for new board members; introducing viewers to the concept of pollinator gardens, the benefits of gardens designed for pollinators, and gardens in relation to climate change impacts; the David Suzuki Butterflyway Project concept; and the new & existing gardens in the Hunt Club community. Students worked to make the Instagram account professional, using graphic design resources like Canva to create educational and visually appealing posts.

Below are the infographics created by the HCCA student group with the intention of providing another avenue of outreach towards gaining community support for their pollinator garden projects.

The student group working with the Kanata Greenspace Protection Coalition worked towards the goal of greater outreach to a larger audience in Kanata and to activate civic engagement to protect greenspace under threat in the region.

In this effort, the university students, firstly, reached out to younger audiences through emailing different high schools in the Kanata and Stittsville communities. This included distributing a digital flyer with logos and statements about the group's project to save greenspace in Kanata, and how other students can get involved in greenspace protection.

Secondly, the team reached out to local community organizations such as Ecology Ottawa to help spread their mission's message across the city, in hopes to build alliances and gain more supporters for the coalition.

Thirdly, the students created in depth infographics and other multimedia content to inform and emotionally engage an audience, building community relations. Enhancing the KGPC social media page, and sharing these products to their audience.

KGPC Digital Flyer

Students created a digital flyer with logos and statements about their cause to spread awareness amongst high school students about the KGPC projects, and how high school students can get involved to help save the greenspace. Forming these relationships with young students can aid the KGPC in getting more activity and engagement on their social media pages and/or the events that they hold.  

The student team created a Students supporting the KGPC Instagram page to draw a more diverse audience from the community to stay informed as to what is happening to the local greenspace and how to get involved.


Kanata Greenspace Protection Coalition - Students Who Support KGPC Instagram page

Students then created a press release to communicate with the Kanata, surrounding communities, as well as Carleton University students. The message being that developers are threatening the natural spaces that are essential to the regions biodiversity, climate resiliency, and overall population health and wellbeing.


Each group overcame unique challenges through the semester such as coordinating a larger student group; composing a feasible campaign plan that works within the limited time given in the semester; various technology challenges; working around pandemic restrictions and public attitudes at the time and effectively reaching community members and targeted audiences.

Despite challenges, the benefits met by students and community associations was apparent. For many of the students, this is their first experience consulting and collaborating with a real-world organization. What the students produce will not only go towards their course grade, but will continue to be used by community associations. This fosters a sense of added purpose for the students as going forward their work will be used by an organization, which typically isn't the case in undergraduate settings.

Community associations met benefits such as added or new skills in social media; obtaining living documents and products that can be edited and reused in the future such as promotional products, informational products, and even community engagement events; connecting with a more diverse audience through the use of promotional products made by students, as well as connecting with a student body who are interested and/or passionate about community engagement. Although the level of success is challenging to quantify, there were benefits to be gained by all involved, as well as a generally positive experience.

A big thank you to the community associations who volunteered their time to connect with the students involved, as well as Carleton University and Professor Deborah Conners for making this unique collaborative community engagement project possible. Congratulations to all students who completed the 2022 Foundations in Community Engagement course.

Stay tuned to hear about our upcoming 2023 Carleton x CAFES Community Engagement Project!

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