A new partnership with a local non-profit organization is exploring the way communities talk to themselves about who they are and where they’re going, with the hope of creating more empowered, self-defined communities. 

REACH Edmonton collaborates with community partners to develop strategies that make Edmonton safer and more vibrant. It conducts its work through community involvement, stakeholder engagement, and inter-agency collaboration. Its key roles are to convene and co-ordinate community members in creating innovative community safety and crime prevention initiatives. 

In 2010, the REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities was established. Its ambition is to, in one generation (25 years), significantly increase community safety in our region; increase Edmontonians’ perception of safety and inclusion; and engage the people of Edmonton and the region in developing a culture of safety and crime prevention. 

REACH thrives on collaboration and working with community partners to develop safety strategies that make Edmonton a safer and more inclusive place to live, work, and play. 

One of the many community-driven initiatives REACH is involved in is the Neighbourhood Organizing Initiative, which aims to build capacity within communities to address their specific safety and well-being issues. This work begins when communities connect with REACH seeking safety and well-being support. REACH then responds by engaging community members to identify their needs and priorities.

REACH Edmonton works on developing a culture of safety and crime prevention. | Supplied by REACH Edmonton

These engagements aim to achieve:

  • An engaged, connected, and informed community
  • A common vision of what safety means for a community
  • Community-specific safety tools
  • Connections between communities and external resources and experts
  • Data that informs and drives community-owned safety initiatives 

The Neighbourhood Organizing Initiative is now actively supporting neighbourhoods as a convener and co-ordinator of local initiatives in McCauley, Chinatown, Leefield, and North Glenora.

As an extension of the neighbourhoods’ work, REACH is partnering with local, independent media to explore both homegrown solutions and the wider context of the challenges local neighbourhoods wrestle with. 

Marilyn Gray, responsible for communications and storytelling for REACH Edmonton, worked in community newspapers for nearly a decade before joining the REACH team. 

“This is a unique opportunity to explore what is happening in a neighbourhood,” says Gray.  What do the challenges look like, what quiet success stories are happening, and what kinds of futures are possible?”

She adds, “Over time, the stories a community tells itself about who it is, where it came from, and where it’s going affects the possibilities we can imagine. This collaboration is an opportunity to support the essential work of local, independent media in exploring who we are as co-creators of our communities.”

REACH Stories are featured on the REACH Edmonton website: (reachedmonton.ca/stories/). 

“What we hope to see is the cultivation of a community-wide relationship between REACH and community members. I’m hoping that people who are interested in these kinds of ideas, or who have insight into the challenges and opportunities in their neighbourhoods, will reach out to me and we can build this local body of work together,” says Gray. 

For more information about REACH Edmonton, visit www.reachedmonton.ca.

To connect with Marilyn Gray about REACH Stories, email [email protected].