What We Do
Synapcity is Ottawa’s community broker and leading organization for civic education and neighbourhood engagement.
We energize and activate people and institutions to converse, open mindsets, understand viewpoints and work together as citymakers. We do so through dialogue, events and education that address the challenges and opportunity we face as a city.
Facilitation & Conversations
We create opportunities for Synapcity friends and alumni to exchange ideas, reflections and good practices to expand individual and collective knowledge, while also making space for decision-makers, organizations and institutions to join the conversation and share their perspectives.
Training & Education
We develop programs for people of all ages and backgrounds who wish to get involved and be of service to their community.
Through guided sessions, hands-on and experiential learning, workshops and panel discussions featuring fellow citizens, elected officials, public servants and other subject-matter experts, aspiring changemakers learn the mechanisms and intrincacies of impactful citymaking and community development.
Events & Conferences
We organize and collaborate in virtual and in-person community events, speaker series and conferences on topics that matter to our communities and impact our city and feature diverse voices, initiatives and success stories from Ottawa and around the world for residents at large.
Theory of Change
Unsure how to work with the system to achieve their goals
KNOWLEDGE & RESOURCES
Inclusive culture of participation and civic purpose
Unsure how to engage people to achieve impactful outcomes
ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE
Inclusive culture of participation and civic purpose
Past and Current Initiatives
The Hosting Network
A peer-to-peer training circle for facilitators, developing Ottawa’s collective capacity for hosting better conversations.
Civics Boot Camp
Our original program for civic literacy, giving citizens real-life Ottawa case studies to take from problem to solution.
CityTalks Speaker Series
Featuring voices from Ottawa and around the world discussing crucial issues faced by cities.
Synapcity Ward Talks
Want to find out more?
Community Impact Report
Community Impact Report
Strengthening Ottawa’s Social
The Synapcity Impact
It is with Synapcity that I was inspired to start an initiative, Y2Y! where the youth help one another find jobs. People now compliment me on what I do, and I realize it is very important to have an organization like Synapcity that would remind me that I too can make a difference.
The GottaGo! campaign grew out of a Civics Boot Camp practicum in late November 2013. Challenged to engage with a hypothetical issue, a few of us seized on the opportunity to strategize about getting a network of public toilets in Ottawa.
We presented our pitch and strategy to a wildly enthusiastic panel of civic experts who told us to “go for it”. We have not turned back.
Whether you are authoring a handwritten letter to your local councillor or starting a new social media campaign with like-minded advocates, the Synapcity’s diverse and whole-of- community approach to collaborative engagement has brought city and citizen closer than ever before.
Synapcity has developed an engaging and immensely valuable program. The Boot Camp and CA’s ongoing events equip the
people of Ottawa with the knowledge and tools they need to get involved and help make our city better
Alumni of Synapcity return with Increased confidence and ability to do advocacy, to use their voice, to influence decision-makers either at City committee meetings, during elections or within our Safe People Advocacy group. One has also begun
reaching out to involve other people
Synapcity continues to make a huge impact in Ottawa. Through its people training, consultation facilitation and civic leadership, Synapcity is generating increasing enthusiasm about, and
engagement in, our city. Ottawa is an even better place as a result of this important contribution.
Over 400 Civics Boot Camp Alumni
feel more confident and empowered *
of participants plan to start a new initiative *
*Civics Boot Camp Participant Survey
Spotlight on our Alumni
Many amazing Ottawa social innovation initiatives started right here.
Joan Kuyek, Shawn Walker and Mariane Eriksson had never met before they participated in Synapcity’s Civics Boot Camp in 2013, but they were all passionate about sustainability and the environment. As their practicum project, they chose to focus on the lack of toilets in major public spaces in Ottawa.
Greeted with an overwhelmingly positive response during Boot Camp, the trio decided to move forward with what they called the GottaGo! Campaign, which aims to create a network of safe, accessible, free, clean and environmentally responsible public toilets and water fountains in parks, major transit stops and key public places in Ottawa.
The team has researched the issue in depth, met with key decision-makers in the city for advice and support, grown their team and their presence on social media, and developed a clear and compelling vision for the public toilet network.
In 2014, Maria Gomez Umana graduated from the Synapcity Civics Boot Camp with a burning desire: improve the city. Specifically, she wanted to develop a stronger sense of community in her Kanata Lakes neighbourhood. She felt this West-Ottawa suburb needed more heart—an informal place where people can meet, get to know each other and discover the power of inclusivity.
Drawing on her passion for literature and culture, she decided to build a miniature library to put in front of her house. This compact structure would be stuffed with books for people to borrow so neighbours could come over and have a look—and maybe strike up conversations and feel more closely tied to their community.
Maria mobilized friends and family to collect construction materials and she contacted the City of Ottawa to find out about regulations. Soon, this labour of love was open for business. And now the library is a real neighbourhood hub.
Jeremy Colbeck is a Synapcity alumni, having joined our 2016 Civics Boot Camp. Since then, and along David Mazur-Goulet and Lise-Anne Léveillée, he has gone on to relaunch BeetBox Co-Operative Farm, a workers’ cooperative that grows wholesome and organic vegetables.
“The three of us started imagining what the project might look like. David had operated a small market-garden for a couple years prior called The BeetBox. It was an easy decision to relaunch the business and capitalize on the existing social capital. The relaunch of BeetBox was always anchored by a mission to work collaboratively thus the incorporation as a worker’s cooperative. We were fortunate to find a land rental opportunity in the greenbelt where Riverglen Farm operated for a decade. We’re renting a 110-acre property with a farmhouse and 80 acres of fillable field.”
Reflecting on his time with Synapcity, Jeremy said “What I took from Civics Boot Camp was the idea of finding people. It’s very rare that a single person can get something done, and I hadn’t internalized that until the program. Sometimes, it’s not so important to make the exact changes we want to see happen in our community but rather to find people to work with so we can get something done.”
Earlier this year we launched the Synapcity Sessions, a series of in person events aimed to spotlight key issues in Ottawa.
In January, we gathered with supporters, partners, alumni, founders, along with former and current board members to launch our new Synapcity Sessions event series. These sessions will bring together community members alongside engaged individuals and organizations working to create change. Each session will be hosted in partnership with a key organization to help us deliver impactful, educational content while facilitating insightful dialogue that encourages positive change.
We started the launch with words for our former founder, Caroline Andrew, who sadly passed away last fall. Former founders and friends spoke passionately about the influence Caroline had over their work. Following this we introduced the sessions, outline the topics we will highlight throughout this year. To wrap up we heard from a panel of our new board members who spoke about their work in the community along with the future of Synapcity.
Our first Synapcity Session happened this past February and we were delighted with the turnout and results from this session. Close to fifty passionate and engaged individuals joined us as we delved into the important topic of Community Food Security. Our partner Just Food was on hand to help guide the conversations and we heard three excellent presentations focusing on access to land, access to food and food waste. Thanks to Dr. Sarah King of Just Food, Spencer Tittley from the Ottawa Community Food Partnership and Akil Mesiwali from The Box of Life for their excellent presentations. In case you weren’t able to join us you can watch all three presentations over at our YouTube channel and from the link below.
After the presentations we divided participants into several breakout groups where individuals were able to share ideas, stories, thoughts and opportunities. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Ottawa's Tree Canopy
Our Synapcity Session on Ottawa's Tree Canopy took place on Thursday May 11th and featured organizations such as CAFES Ottawa, Forêt Capitale Forest, Greenspace Alliance of Canada's Capital, Treefest Ottawa, Ecology Ottawa and more. Attendees heard about initiatives to help protect Ottawa's trees and discussed several key subtopics during breakout sessiosn after the main presentations.
Digital Equity Ottawa
Our session on Digital Equity in Ottawa took place on Thursday June 15th. We were joined by our core partner the Social Planning Council of Ottawa and also heard presentations from Connected Canadians, the National Capital FreeNet and Incubator 13 who also hosted us for the evening. After the main presentations, attendees joined several breakout groups to discuss issues such as access to the internet, digital literacy and access to devices.
We had a fantastic session on Youth Engagement this past September which included organizations such as Youth Ottawa, Youth Action Now, Youth 4 Youth Canada, CHEO YouthNet, Global Shapers Ottawa, Innostation and more. We learnt about some incredible initiatives helping young people engage across our city.