Approach and Agenda

The Symposium was organized as a peer learning event, with each participant attending both as a learner and a teacher.

The gathering was designed to maximize participant engagement, to create space for creativity and dialogue, and to enable relationships to form and deepen. To guide our time together, the event organizers integrated a few design elements to contribute to an extraordinary participant experience. Agenda elements included:

  • Hosted Dialogues: The Symposium was being clustered into dialogue around three core theme areas: Tracing the Linkages Between Social Isolation and Poverty, Learning from Stories of Community Resilience, and Fostering a Sense of Belonging and Reciprocity.
  • Insight Groups: Each participant found a home within a small group of 8-10 other participants, called “Insight Groups.” Insight Groups met periodically during the Symposium to check-in, share observations, and exchange ideas about the themes surfacing at the gathering.
  • In Conversation With: Sprinkled throughout the Symposium were “In Conversation With…” sessions where two or three participants spoke from the heart and shared their personal experience of social isolation and connectedness with the larger group.
  • Art and Creativity: An interactive creativity track within the program helped deepen our understanding of isolation and connectedness through the arts. In addition, a special evening event called Moments of Inclusion featured a remarkale youth art exhibit and discussion.
  • Reflection and Nature: We have built in a number of moments during the Symposium for individual and group reflection, to enable participants to appreciate the content both from the head and the heart space. Reflective activities include time in nature, dialogue walks, and guided journaling.
  • Commitments: At the Symposium, we seek not only to share ideas but also to identify post-meeting actions that individuals and groups can take. The last day of the meeting will focus on actions and commitments.

Symposium Objectives

  • To build an informed and energized community of practice/movement working on social isolation.
  • To share learning and deepen understanding of the causes, experience, and effects of social isolation.
  • To foster inclusion and establish linkages between perspectives and communities.
  • To share and generate insights on the programs, strategies, and policies that can effectively bring about meaningful social connectedness.
  • To discuss and affirm commitment and steps required to overcome social isolation and deepen social connectedness.

Overall Schedule

Tuesday, September 30
  • Evening: Reception and dinner hosted by the Samuel Family Foundation at The Rectory Café on Ward’s Island
Wednesday, October 1 – Evergreen Brickworks
  • Welcome and In-Gathering
  • Framing Remarks
  • Meeting Overview
  • Insight Group Discussion
  • In conversation with…
  • Lunch
  • Core Theme: Tracing Linkages between Social Isolation and Poverty
  • In conversation with…
  • Creativity Session
  • Day 1 Integration
  • Evening: Moments of Inclusion Youth Art and Action, followed by dinner
Thursday, October 2 – Evergreen Brickworks
  • Day 2 Welcome
  • Core Theme: Learning from Stories of Community Resilience
  • In conversation with…
  • Dialogue Walk
  • Lunch
  • In conversation with…
  • Core Theme: Fostering a Sense of Belonging and Reciprocity
  • Guided Journaling & Insight Group Discussion
  • Day 2 Integration
  • Optional Creativity Session
  • Evening: Social Isolation and Connectedness in Toronto and Dinner
Friday, October 3 – Evergreen Brickworks
  • Day 3 Welcome
  • Open Space Session: What is our commitment going forward?
  • Final Insight Group Discussion
  • Integrating Remarks
  • Close