Metro Alliance for the Common Good -


August, 2015
Reflection: Why Organize?
I am often asked, "Why do we need to organize? Are there not already lots of organizations trying to make our society better? Isn't it the role of government, politicians and elections to make sure that what is being done is in the interests of citizens?" All good questions.
Community organizing comes out of analysis that says that democracies function best when the three major segments of public life, the market, government and civil society, are balanced.

Since the 1980s we have seen the emergence of many major social issues that were only minor issues before. We have seen what was once called the crisis of homelessness emerge. Food banks have gone from being rare to being present even in small communities. Isolation has become a major factor in people's mental and physical health.

It is interesting that since the 1980s we have also seen the decline of civil society. A strong civil society (community associations, faith communities, labour groups, bowling leagues, etc.) connects people. It also looks after its members when they face challenges in their lives. A strong civil society is also a powerful public voice making sure that we have public policies that protect the vulnerable, such as sufficient social assistance, affordable housing funding and a public health system.

As civil society has weakened, the market has become dominant. So dominant that it often shapes and drives the focus and actions of the government. Instead of being connected citizens and/or members of organizations in which we feel like we belong, we now often find ourselves being defined as consumers and/or producers of products.

Community organizing seeks to address the underlying structural issues behind so many of our social ills. It strives to do this by once again connecting the various aspects of civil society so that it is no longer split apart in ever weakening silos, but joined in powerful shared organizations. Community organizing seeks to once again teach the leadership skills so essential to public life and vibrant civic sector organizations. It also seeks to be a means whereby civil society, with its focus on the values and needs of its members, can again play a significant role in shaping our public life.

Community organizing is not anti-market or anti-government; rather it is a means by which we can come together to again have a balanced public life, where the market, government and civil society are all strong. Only then can we have a vibrant society in which there is enough for all.  

Recent Progress

Currently MACG is in the midst of a relational campaign to find community leaders who are interested in building a shared and powerful community organizing organization in Calgary. We have met with dozens of community leaders. Labour, faith and community leaders are all expressing a strong interest in creating a shared organization. The next challenge will be to nurture this interest into commitment that will create a sustainable organization.

I attended the IAF's (Industrial Area Foundation) national training and came back with many new insights about what we need to do and teach in order to succeed.

Work continues to progress with our partner organization, The Greater Edmonton Alliance. They have recently launched a pilot project to address maintenance issues and soft services that seniors need to stay in their homes.

Our sister organization, The Metro Vancouver Alliance, just scored a major victory when the Vancouver City Council passed a living wage ordinance for the city. One very big congratulation to MVA for their great work!

If you would like to become more involved in the work of MACG please contact me at

Please visit our website for more information about MAC-G  Calgary.


An introduction to MACG and Community Organizing

Are you curious about what MACG and Community Organizing are? Are you wondering if this might be a way of strengthening your organization or having an impact on your community?  This two hour introduction will outline the core principles and process of community organizing and talk about ways that you and your community can become involved.

Date: September 28, 4:00 pm and again at 7:00 pm
Location: Unitarian Universalist Church, 1702 - 1 Street NW Calgary

For more information and/or to register contact Ryan Andersen at or (403)993-7123(403) 993-7123.



The Metro Alliance For the Common Good brings together organizations and communities of Calgary to transform our city into a community which acts justly and respects all.



-Create a network involving people from diverse religious, non-profit, labour, neighbourhood and ethnic groups to foster meaningful relationships between and within these communities.

-Develop leaders who can promote healthy and effective civic life

-Effectively address the key justice issues facing Calgary

-Harness the voice and the power of the people of Calgary to transform our city by addressing the systems, policies, and underlying causes of poverty and injustice.


MACG is directed by a team of leaders from participating institutions. It is affiliated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), the oldest and largest network of broad-based organizations in North America.