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Who Cares? Series
Good Conversation > Philia Dialogues > Who Cares? Series

One of the ongoing activities of the Philia Dialogue has been our co-sponsorship of a dialogue series with Simon Fraser University entitled, Who Cares? - Creative Responses to Our Social Obligations. The series invites inspiring speakers to conduct public dialogues on a variety of topics relating to how we, in modern society, care for each other, particularly those who are vulnerable. The dialogues explore new ways of creatively re-engaging citizens in their collective social obligations and seek to stimulate new ways of thinking about our social institutions.

In addition to the public dialogues, smaller dialogues are conducted with leaders from various sectors (academic, corporate, civic, environmental, labour, media, legal, religious, etc.) to explore the issues in greater depth.


The "Who Cares" series began with an initial set of eight dialogues in 2001 co-sponsored by The Vancouver Foundation, The VanCity Community Foundation, The Vancouver Sun, and Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN). To read a monograph of each dialogue, click on the headings below.

Dialogue 1: Colin Maloney (PDF, 45kb)
Dr. Colin Maloney is the Chair of the Board of L'Arche International. He is a recognized theologian, philosopher and self-described "cultural explorer." His presentation focused on the exploration of three questions: Who cares? Is caring enough? and How can caring be culturally institutionalized?

Dialogue 2: John Ralston Saul (PDF, 55kb)
Three themes were explored in this dialogue: caring and charity, structure and content, corporatism and capitalism. The first two directly inform the group's search for creative responses to social obligations, while the third speaks to a larger context that influences individual, collective and systemic caring responses.

Dialogue 3: Jacques Dufresne (PDF, 50kb)
Dr. Dufresne's presentation revolved around the idea that human beings and communities are inherently resilient. He introduced a set of principles designed to let natural human sociability emerge and presented a typology of "Hippocratic Social Intervention" that guides us to least harmful caring actions.

Dialogue 4: Dialogue among sectoral leaders (PDF, 45kb)
This dialogue was held with two ends in mind: to synthesize the learning of the first three sessions and to explore the design, structure and content of the next four. Participants shared reflections about their personal learnings, discussed foundational ideas, explored questions emerging from the sessions, and made recommendations for future dialogues.

Dialogue 5: Margaret Somerville (PDF, 50kb)
Ethics, the human spirit and caring were the themes of this dialogue. Dr. Somerville believes that in exploring our differences, ethics can create a communal space that builds upon our common human virtues. These virtues include honesty, trust and openness, and they contribute to our being able to work with the creative tension provided by our differences.

Dialogue 6: Sherri Torjman (PDF, 55kb)
This dialogue focused on two interrelated issues: the language we use to describe caring, and the way we measure the success of our caring interactions. Ms.Torjman's presentations centered on community - in particular, what caring communities do, the connection between community and policy, and the challenges that lie at the heart of community and caring.

Dialogue 7: Henry Mintzberg (PDF, 35kb)
This session explored the ideas contained in Dr. Mintzberg's paper, "Getting Past Smith and Marx: Toward a Balanced Society," in which he argues that the political, social and economic sectors of society are out of balance. The paper examines how capitalism has shaped our interpretation of human behaviour, our approach to development, and how we interpret caring. It concludes with an exploration of possibilities for making progress toward a more humane and balanced world.

Dialogue 8: Group dialogue (PDF, 30kb)
At the final gathering of the 2002 series, participants were asked to reflect on the last nine months and look to the future. Each participant was invited to share what the series meant to them personally and how it influenced their actions. The central question that emerged from this dialogue was: what now?


Redefining Citizenship - Constructing an Inclusive and Participatory Model of Citizenship (PDF, 70kb)
A dialogue with Mark Kingwell
In this dialogue, philosopher Mark Kingwell put forward a new notion of citizenship based on participation. This goes beyond an individualistic conception of citizenship, seeing it instead as something we share. In redefining citizenship we must therefore redefine our relationship to the others with whom we share our citizenship. And this goes to the very heart of what it means to be a person.

Mobilizing the Hidden Assets of Our Communities (PDF, 60kb)
A dialogue with John McKnight and Stefano Zamagni
This dialogue brought together two seminal thinkers involved in formulating a vision of how civil society operates as a creative force in re-crafting our economy and institutions in a more humane manner. Its focus on the social economy incorporated McKnight's asset-based approach to community development and Zamagni's examination of the relationship between social and economic capital.

Social Entrepreneurship - A New Face for Civil Society? (PDF, 50kb)
A dialogue with Charles King
This dialogue brought together leading social entrepreneurs from BC, Canada and the United States to explore the meaning of social enterprise, identify best practices, and consider the implications of social entrepreneurship for civil society. The keynote speaker was Charles King, current chair of the Social Enterprise Alliance, a U.S. organization devoted to building sustainable non-profits through implementing earned income strategies.

Who Cares? Burnaby (PDF, 30kb)
A dialogue with Milton Wong
In this dialogue, the first of the "Who Cares? Burnaby" series hosted by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), entrepreneur and philanthropist Milton Wong led a group of Burnaby leaders in a discussion of transformative issues facing leaders and communities, and some possible responses to the rapid changes occurring in our society and in the world.

The Governor-General's Roundtable on "The Good City" (PDF, 20kb)
In this dialogue, Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and John Ralston Saul engaged in dialogue with a cross-section of Vancouver residents on what makes Vancouver a good place to live. This was the latest in a series of urban visits in which Their Excellencies engaged citizens of several cities in dialogues designed to explore what makes those cities desirable places to live for all their residents.

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