Mission & Vision

Our Mission: To inspire, enable and support community-led multi-generational, multi-stakeholder networking that increases awareness of local climate change impacts and promotes local resiliencies, especially for the more vulnerable.

Our Vision: Canadian neighbourhoods have access to a local resilience hub or network that leverages social capital to help communities adapt to projected weather extremes and respond to weather related emergencies.

CREW’s Beginnings

CREW grew out of a community meeting in January 2014 that was held in response to recent weather events (July 2013 floods and December 2013 ice storm). It was assembled by CREW co-founder, Rita Bijons, a highly regarded environmental activist, and the City of Toronto’s Senior Environment Officer, Dave MacLeod. Representatives from 21 community-based groups attended.

People attending that January meeting agreed that in order to optimize the city’s scarce resources, an active and committed volunteer network would be invaluable in providing information and resources to help communities and residents prepare for future extreme weather. CREW Toronto helps to inform, educate and build that network as it connects Torontonians to resilience information, models and toolkits from many urban centres and creates City Ward Resilience Profiles.

Resilience is strongest in communities with robust social networks: CREW’s overall objective is to create City Ward Resilience Profiles that show where community resilience is either present, tenuous, or absent. CREW identifies and maps the people, institutions and businesses that become the go-to people and places during an emergency. These are the “shadow responders” who provide immediate services in an emergency such as evacuation, shelter, first aid, and food provision, and who contribute to rebuilding afterwards. CREW maps and connects the shadow responders and the official responders.

Resilience is strongest in communities with robust social networks

In 2016 CREW developed a Neighbours Helping Neighbours program with 22 low-income seniors from a variety of ethno-cultural backgrounds. Over a period of eight months the seniors guided workshops and focus groups to create a toolkit of materials that they would use in outreach to their neighbours. They called themselves Extreme Weather volunteers. CREW uses an Asset Based Community Development approach to the slow-work of building local resiliencies by connecting neighbours to each other, building supportive social networks and training residents to prepare their neighbours for extreme weather emergencies.

CREW has worked with student groups from high school to university and community groups including environmental advocacies, neighbourhood associations and service agencies. It has contributed to academic research and municipal initiatives. CREW has worked with Public Health, Emergency Management and Environment and Energy in Toronto. In partnership with Faith & the Common Good, CREW explored the potential of faith based organizations as Community Resilience Hubs.

A MakeWay Project

CREW is a project on MakeWay‘s shared platform, which provides operational supports, governance, and charitable expertise for changemakers. The shared platform enables more time and money to go towards achieving greater impact. MakeWay is a national charity that builds partnerships and solutions to help nature and communities thrive together.

CREW is committed to principles of dignity, independence, integration, and equal opportunity. For more information please see MakeWay’s Accessibility Policy and Plan.

Community of Practice

CREW is a founding member of the Tamarack Institute’s Community of Practice on “Citizens and Emergency Preparedness.