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Vital Conversations

This is an outstanding city.
But you don't just take.
You've got to build.

Fran Deacon

Wife of the late Fraser Deacon,
Founder of Toronto Foundation

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Our Vital Conversations

In mid-October 2017, Toronto Foundation hosted a series of five dinner conversations in neighbourhoods across Toronto centred on some of the city’s deepest challenges —those issues we have seen over the years in Toronto’s Vital Signs Report that are stagnating or are getting worse, and where there is need and opportunity for philanthropy to get more involved: housing precarity, aging with dignity, social inclusion, climate justice, and child and youth poverty.

The conversations were focused on the perspectives shared by people in the community with lived experience related to the issues, with others around the tables listening and learning, including philanthropists, professionals who work on the issues from policy, program or research perspectives, Toronto Foundation board and staff, as well as representatives from the community organizations hosting the dinners.

Shawn Micallef, journalist, author, and university lecturer who is known for his passion for Toronto and its people, also attended each of the dinners, and he recorded stories (below) from the residents who shared their own accounts and perspectives.

Special thanks to author, placemaker and city builder Jay Pitter whose Deep Listening Circles format inspired us to host these events and informed our methodology.

Read about Aging with Dignity in Rexdale

Read about Child & Youth Poverty in Scarborough

Read about Climate Justice in Lawrence Heights

Read about Housing in Parkdale & Little Portugal

Read about Social Inclusion in West Hill

To learn about local organizations addressing these issues, read our Good to Give Guide.