Social Cities: Investing in Communities


Critical decisions that direct our shared future as Canadians increasingly deal with the place where more and more Canadians live: cities.

Please donate by December 31, 2014 to receive a 2014 charitable tax receipt: click here.

For a flourishing urban life, physical infrastructure matters. Water, food, electricity, gas, and building materials need to be organized into systems, often ones that are complex and interdependent. And cities need to pay close attention to these systems because when they don’t work, everyone notices: potholes tell us the roads need attention and murky water suggests that our water mains might need repairs.

Yet at Cardus, we realize that the social infrastructure of our cities needs similar attention. Particularly when the various signs of breakdown—loneliness, community disintegration, or crime—manifest themselves, we know it’s time to work towards renewal.

For this reason, Cardus has been working in several major Canadian cities and a handful of smaller ones in order to raise awareness about the current state of our social infrastructure. Although it’s an uncommon phrase, social infrastructure is concerned with the way in which our families, schools, workplaces, courts, businesses, governments, and many other organizations relate to each other in their dependence on agreements, shared cultural values, and common social goods.

We have noticed a gap between faith-based organizations and municipal planning processes. Despite significant contributions to community well-being, there remains a missing piece of social infrastructure that prevents greater respective contributions to more resilient and enriched communities. We and our community partners are pioneering new approaches that explore what might be developed to bridge this gap.

Cardus is also making significant investments in learning how our historic work on social architecture can make a particular contribution to the social resources of our city institutions and organizations. Stepping out into new territory requires significant support, talented people with an ability to learn and persist, as well as strong institutional partnership skills. We are bringing all of this to our Social Cities project and would greatly value being able to count you among this visionary effort. Your financial support for our research programs will provide a tax deductible receipt for you and a strong signal to us that we are on the right track.

Finding new ways to invest in the social infrastructure of our communities is as vital as maintaining bridges, clean water, and policing. We believe that the best time to invest in this work is now.

Milton Friesen
Program Director, Social Cities
December 2014

Please donate by December 31, 2014 to receive a 2014 charitable tax receipt: click here.


Cardus is a non-partisan, not-for-profit public policy think tank focused on the following areas: education, family, work & economics, communities, end-of-life care, and religious freedom. It conducts independent and original research, produces several periodicals, and regularly stages events with Senior Fellows and interested constituents across Canada and the U.S.