by Amy Richardson, CFICE Communications RA

Community brokering is one of the models Community First: Impacts of Community Engagement (CFICE) uses to get the community more engaged with local institutions and resources. Jason Garlough, executive director of Ottawa Eco-Talent Network (OETN), helps to facilitate those connections to make Ottawa a better, more sustainable city.

“CFICE is really an opportunity to bring together so many different groups that would not normally be sitting around the same table,” Jason says.

At the OETN, Jason facilitates connections between researchers and academics (the talent), and local community groups and non-profit organizations. Once the connection has been made, the talent works with the organization to provide expert pro-bono advice and research for projects already on the go.

“We really want to make best use of human resources and empower organizations with mentors,” Jason says.

The OETN’s work has been made possible, in part, by CFICE’s Community Environmental Sustainability (Ottawa) hub, who helped OETN secure a 3-year, $160,000 grant from the Trillium Foundation.

“Because there was so much success in the first phase of CFICE for the community brokerage model, I really felt that there was a huge opportunity to continue being involved in the community-campus engagement brokerage working group. CFICE helped produce research and the business case for the need of community brokerage,” he says.

For Jason, his ideal Ottawa is one where people are making the best use of existing resources.

“I want to be living in an Ottawa where we don’t only use buildings for seven hours out of the 24 hour (day); where we have communities that are engaged and people have a sense of community,” Jason says.

This is one of the reasons why he became involved in CFICE’s Community-Campus Engagement Brokering Working Group. The Working Group seeks to understand how existing brokerage models work and identify best practices for establishing and maintaining productive community-first CCE partnerships.

“Community first is really about reaching out to the grassroots and listening to their needs. We have our ear to the ground listening to the needs of the organizations,” he says.

In making our communities better, Jason says community-campus partnerships play an integral role.

“We can leverage our strengths to build a more sustainable and resilient community. This makes better use of the multiple resources we have, the capacity we have for research and answering some big questions here in the Ottawa area.”

One of the ways Jason is currently doing this at the OETN is by developing a multi-sector Ottawa brokerage platform. Together with CFICE’s Community-Campus Engagement Brokering Working Group, they aim to streamline the community-campus engagement work of the various community and academic institutions in Ottawa.

Jason is hoping the project will have a big impact on the community.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the community and non-profits had access to the wealth of knowledge and know how to interact with the colleges and universities, building a better Ottawa and a better Canada?”

For more information about the Ottawa Eco-Talent Network, visit their website.