Community Counselling & Resource Centre

Vital Conversations aim to create a vision for Peterborough community

October 6th, 2017

In order to have a vision for Peterborough, the right people have to be in positions of power.

That was the consensus of the residents who chatted around a table at the launch of the Vital Conversations campaign.

The campaign is asking for 100 community volunteers to host conversations with their friends and neighbours to gather feedback on their thoughts and feelings.

The Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough (CFGP) plans to use the information to assess where to allot its grants this year. The foundation pools the charitable donations it receives to create endowment funds, which are then given to local organizations that enhance the quality of life.

The launch for the campaign happened at The Venue on Thursday. About 60 community activists, non-profit volunteers and business leaders shared lunch before playing Vital Conversations. It's a card game that gets people talking about the local economy, jobs and sense of belonging, for example.

Hanah McFarlene was part of the group discussing the vision for Peterborough.

But what her group discovered was that there is lack of vision for the city. They couldn't decide what it would look like in five years, let alone 20.

To figure that out, McFarlene said her group believes the municipal government needs to have a vision.

The 30-year-old said it's important to keep that in mind when election time rolls around next year.

"If we're feeling like there isn't vision at the municipal level, we need to be sure in a year from now ... that we are asking the people that we know who have vision and are interested in listening to people ... to ask those people to run for city council," she said.

The group agreed that they want to see councillors who're passionate and dedicated and are making data-driven decisions.

"Really, it's quite simple," McFarlene said. "The formula to see the future is just getting the right people into positions of power."

Vital Conversations is an arm of Vital Signs, which is like a snapshot of community vitality, gauging how the community is doing in terms of quality of life.

Sense of belonging plays a big part in residents' quality of life, Joelle Favreau said.

Favreau was the guest speaker at the campaign launch. She's the community development co-ordinator at the local YWCA.

She said there are strong ties to belonging and health.

"If you feel lonely, you can be at risk of all sorts of chronic illnesses ... premature death that is connected to loneliness," Favreau said.

In her work, Favreau said she's noticed three factors that play a role in belonging: Being seen, being heard and being valued.

The campaign is a way for residents to be heard through engaging in conversations.

"Those conversations are absolutely critical to help us belong to one another," she said.

CFGP put a call out to residents late last month, asking them to volunteer to host a meal and play the Vital Conversations game.

Hosts are asked to invite four to eight friends and neighbours play the game over a potuck in the park, coffee at a café or lunch at home. Funding is available for those who want to host, but might not have the means.

So far, 51 citizens have signed up to host. Anyone living in the city, county, Curve Lake or Hiawatha First Nations is eligible to host.

NOTE: To sign up to be a host, go to