What makes an inclusive space? Do the terms capacity building, or loose parts play come to mind? If not, don’t worry you, you aren’t alone.

These are terms a few members from the Westminster Ponds Centre learned recently from the Future Cities Canada “The Summit- Resilient Cities Start Here.” Hosted by Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto on three dates,  May 19th, June 23rd and July 21st, “The Summit” discussed  Transforming Spaces into Inclusive Places.

Cities are created for a diverse range of people, however, are not built everyone. In striving towards sustainability in a city like London, Ontario, it is important to consider the issues of exclusions and challenges some community members face when interacting with our city. There is inequality in how public spaces and our cities are designed. The Westminster Ponds Centre wants to ensure we talk about what it means to be inclusive in a city and ultimately how we are participating in striving for equality in designing spaces.

The Westminster Ponds Centre (WPC) is a unique space, and resides on the Anishinabewaki, Territory. Located on an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA), the WPC holds strong history of WWII veterans. It is our hope that the Westminster Ponds Centre will play an integral role in the improvement of London striving towards being an inclusive city. We as a social enterprise of ReForest London, are beginning to, and further plan to, offer collaborative, and educational opportunities for the London community. These opportunities will involve progressive and important qualities of a city that is signified as inclusive. In this blog post, we take a look at how we as a space will make significant contributions to creating a generation of more open, diverse and inclusive groups and spaces.

Let’s look at this in a simple way, and easily applicable fashion by going through a few terms associate with city building. By expressing how the WPC does and will work to bring these words to life, we can help to further explain the vision of what the WPC will one day become.

 

Graphic from Evergreen.

Next, capacity building, which refers to, “providing the support and resources, such as workshops, mentorship and research, needed in order for people to make a positive impact on their cities, from residents and organizations to practitioners and city officials,” as defined by Evergreen.

The WPC runs a program called Signal Boost Initiatives which provide quality webinars, and soon to be in-person events, on environmental topics, presented by London experts, with an increasingly local focus! Through this initiative, we are participating in capacity building with London community members. In giving participants the tools for education and action, a positive impact will be made on the city, and we will become one-step closer to improved sustainability.

 

Graphic from Evergreen.

A community hub is “a public space where residents can connect with several activities, programs and services — such as health, social, educational, cultural and recreational — at once. Each hub is unique to the community it serves and meets local needs,” as defined by Evergreen.

The WPC provides a space for locals to come, learn, collaborate and experience the beauty of the land. As a community hub, the WPC will host events, learning opportunities, and a unique general meeting space for Londoners to participate in new niche experiences.

 

Graphic from Evergreen.

Loose parts play refers to “materials – such as wood, pine cones, stones and sticks – that can be moved, carried and redesigned to encourage children to interact with the natural world while experimenting with their physical and creative abilities,” as defined by Evergreen.

Have you heard of the  WILD CHILD initiative? Run in collaboration with Childreach, WILD CHILD offers a free Outdoor Playgroup 3 times a week all year round at the Westminster Ponds Centre. Through this program, children have the opportunity to interact with loose parts play in a natural setting.

 

Graphic from Evergreen.

Nature play is “a child-led, unstructured play, occurring outside and using natural materials. This approach provides children with the freedom to be the architects of their environment, to invent and build using their own creativity and problem-solving skills, all the while developing an appreciation for the natural world,” as define by Evergreen.

WILD CHILD involves children having the opportunity to play in the forest or next to a stream. The program makes nature play accessible to London children, and will give them the chance to get wet, muddy and maybe slide in some snow!

As you can see, the Westminster Ponds Centre is a forward thinking enterprise which plays an important part in making London a more inclusive city. Follow us to stay updated on our initiatives and news!

Thank you Evergreen for running the inspiring talk on inclusive cities and teaching us more about city building.