Highlights from CityStudio – Summer 2021


Our Team is Growing Suparna and Renee sitting in chairs in front of the chalkboard at the studio

We recently welcomed two new team members, Suparna Gupta and Renée McMillen, both alumni of  CityStudio. You can read more about their path from and back to CityStudio in our recent blog post, Old friends, new colleagues, and see their individual biographies below.

A New Strategic Plan

We’ve reached the end of our current strategic plan and now are set to renew it starting June 23, with the Vancouver Design Nerds, one of whom is a CityStudio alumnus, as our facilitators. We will be exploring three key questions:

  1. How do we best innovate our services to grow and evolve with our Vancouver partners?
  2. How do we best market our services and brand to municipalities and academic institutions across Canada and internationally?
  3. What direct contributions can our society make to the emerging issues facing our planet, our cities and our citizens?

Residential School site in Kamloops, BCOur Dark “History”

We were shocked and saddened by the devastating news of 215 children found buried at the Kamloops Residential school. We grieve this tremendous loss and remain open to take direction from communities and survivors of the Indian Residential School System.  As settlers on unceded lands, we are recommitting as an organization to this important work and to seek out the truths behind our dark “history.” Refer to our latest blog post that will help guide us as we seek out these truths.

Will Tomorrow Be Worse?

There is an overwhelming trend of late where we find ourselves asking will tomorrow be worse? Worse for democracy, the environment, equity and choice. This trend also indicates what seems like a clear call and mandate for new action for our charitable society, as we occupy a unique translator position between two of our largest public institutions across a growing network. We will be asking to what extent are we compounding privilege as opposed to inclusiveness?



This Summer

Usually summer is slower, but not this time. We are running all our offerings (engagement, course and research collaborations) engaging over 400 students in six courses from three academic partners. In one, 200 BCIT Computing Systems students proposed innovative apps to advance the Climate Emergency Action Plan; 75% of students surveyed reported feeling more connected with the City after this experience. We are also having a Lunch & Learn for new city staff and calls for proposals for specific challenges in the City. This summer we will also be renewing our website, and reporting to our community partners, starting with the Mayor and Council, for which we’ve recorded video report that will be posted soon on our YouTube channel.

Welcome, Renée McMillen, Our New Resident Storyteller

You know already that a remarkable CityStudio alumna has joined us as Communication and Engagement Coordinator; check Renée’s bio. It feels so gratifying to hire someone that has gone through the program and is now ready to bring skills and talent to the team. Renée will be supporting 80% Vancouver Program and 20% Society communications. Welcome, Renée!

Back to in-person for Fall 2021 & our 10th Anniversary

Post-secondaries have a clear direction to be mostly in-person for the fall term and the BC Restart Plan also indicates normality. We are planning our programming accordingly, including HUBBUB, while retaining and supporting good aspects of remote work. Very importantly, this fall mark’s the 10th anniversary of CityStudio – stay tuned for celebratory updates!



Welcome, Suparna Gupta, Our New Marketing and Sales  Coordinator

CityStudio Global welcomed Suparna Gupta to the team to co-create and implement a marketing strategy to launch new CityStudios. Once a CityStudio student at Langara, she comes to us recently from MOSAIC, working in client engagement and communications. Welcome, Suparna!

Our Collective Impact in the CityStudio Network

Across our 15 city network we’ve had our first chance to aggregate our collective activity: 809 city staff in 15 cities have worked on 2700 projects with over 17,000 students in their cities during class, for credit. These students have contributed more than 400,000 hours in their cities. Our next step, working with evaluator Trilby Smith, is to develop an evaluation framework to track outcomes across the CityStudio network.

Telling our Story, Scaling our Model

Recently, with the end of the pandemic somehow in sight, opportunities for presenting our work are emerging again, with two in the past weeks and one upcoming. We presented at Campus Community Engage Canada along with Brad Badelt from the City of Vancouver and Kinga Kolton from CityStudio London and the City of London. We also recently presented at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Forum to share our thoughts on a regional CityStudio model. And upcoming on June 22, we will present at the Amsterdam Metropolitan Solutions Lab on our local and collective impact, details can be found here.