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Q&A with Community Partner: Groupe Convex

Interview with Groupe Convex Executive Director Caroline Arcand and OISE/UT PhD Candidate Ushnish Sengupta on the Groupe Convex case study

1. Please provide us with a brief description of Groupe Convex.

Groupe Convex (GC) is a nonprofit organization under which there is a group of diversified social purpose enterprises, employing people with various abilities, including people who are at great risk of unemployment, among whom the majority faces an intellectual disability. The social enterprises also employ Joe Average and Above Average, from the rural community of Prescott-Russell, in Eastern Ontario. The term ‘convex’ was chosen to highlight the fact that when someone looks into a convex mirror, his or her image is magnified. Therefore, the organization aims to increase its employees’ self-esteem by allowing them to assume a valued role. A valued role, in our northern American society, is one of the workers! Being at work is one of the most ''valorizing'' roles for any Canadian citizen.

Q&A with CURA Community Partner: TorontotheBetter

Interview with TorntotheBetter Secretary-Treasurer Tim Burns on the TorontotheBetter case study

1. Please provide us with a brief description of TorontotheBetter.

TorontotheBetter is an initiative that was created to facilitate participation in Toronto's social economy by enterprises and the general public.

2. What motivated you to become involved with this project?

We created TorontotheBetter primarily for two reasons: 1) to make it easier for buyers to locate and use social enterprises in Toronto; 2) to raise awareness about the possibility and actuality of economic activities that are motivated by ends other than financial gain.

3. How do you see TorontotheBetter benefiting from the research?

TorontotheBetter is benefiting by gaining greater awareness and understanding of Toronto's social economy.

4. How do you see the larger social economy benefiting from the research?

The benefits will be in 1) recognition by enterprises of their participation in an economic sector that is greater than their micro-enterprise, thus encouraging greater ambition, and 2) awareness of the concrete social effects and benefits of their work, thus increasing commitment and belief.

Q & A with CURA Community Partner: the Atkinson Housing Co-operative

Interview with Associate Professor Jorge Sousa, Department of Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta, on the Atkinson Housing Co-operative case study

1.Please describe the portion of your organisation that is involved with the CURA.

The Atkinson Housing Co-operative is located in downtown Toronto and was originally called the Alexandra Park Housing Project. Since 1969, there has been a strong active tradition in the form of a residents’ association in Alexandra Park. In the 1990s residents mobilized to deal with growing drug use and other social problems. They wanted greater community-based control in order to develop and implement local solutions that could improve the health of their community. In a referendum in 1996, 72 per cent voted to convert their project to a co-operative. After much community development and tireless negotiations the conversion occurred in 2003, which is arguably the result of a 12 year effort that relied on the commitment and expertise of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto.

The Atkinson Housing Co-operative has functioned well over the last 9 years, and coming up to the 10th year anniversary they have much to celebrate. The property has not fallen apart. There is an engaged membership, and a board of directors that are elected annually. The property management and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto have been pivotal to supporting the co-operative, but the final responsibility rests with the members.

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