Véronique Pelletier is passionate about cities and the great outdoors. As a planner, she understands the ecological, social, and economic impacts of urban form. She believes that municipal policies go a long way in making communities a better place to live, work and play. With this in mind, she also thinks the small things, such as that little bike box during her bike commute to work makes life easier and much more enjoyable.

This is her photo journey from the 2016 Urban Exposure Project.

There is a famous francophone song I learned at kindergarten that is sung around bonfires on hot summer nights. It goes like this (with translation):

The love is in the heart
And the heart is in the bird
And the bird is in the egg
And the egg is in the nest
And the nest is in the hole
And the hole is in the knot
And the knot is in the branch
And the branch is in the tree
The tree is in its leaves
Marilon Marillé!
Songwriter, Zachary Richard

I always thought of United Way as an organization that is helping the bird, so love could find a place in his heart. Through UEP, I discovered United Way is actually helping to find the best place to plant the tree, root the tree, make sure the branches are strong, and that there are perfect spots to build a nest. You get the picture.

Working upstream through its Neighbourhood Strategy, United Way is empowering communities to build strength and resiliency. In partnership with communities and the City of Calgary, United Way is acting at different levels. Through my camera lens, I captured three of these levels: the place, the spaces and the programs. Photos are of the Genesis Centre located in Calgary’s Northeast. United Way considers the Genesis Centre as a model of community hub and envisions this model in other communities with a high level of poverty. Place, spaces and programs all work in synergy to bring people together and build a great community. Marilon Marillé!


A tent is set up in a field for an event
An urban planner could debate if the Genesis Centre could be considered the centre of the community. But for the residents, there is absolutely not doubt about it, the Genesis Centre is the heart of the community. It is a gathering place where the community, composed of very culturally diversified groups, shares together in recreational, educational, social, and cultural activities. What is special about the Genesis Centre is that the project was initiated by the community and envisioned as a place where diverse uses cohabit and respond to the unique needs of the diverse community. The Genesis Centre ‘hub’ now regroups, among others uses, the Calgary Library, the YMCA, sport fields, and 1000 Voices.


A community group meets
The United Way provides social services through 1000 Voices, a facility which has its own wings in the Genesis Centre. 1000 Voices consists of multiple meeting spaces: workshop meeting rooms, private counselling rooms, and flexible office spaces. Behind these closed doors, the Lead Up program’s first workshop was taking place.


Community members and United Way staff smile after a community strategy session
Lead Up is a program that builds community leaders. Based on an asset-based community development strategy, the program connects individuals to leverage existing strengths within a community. During the first workshop, future community leaders were sharing their assets: what they are passionate about, what knowledge they could share, and what they are good at. Valorine Melani is showing the results of the exercise in company of Cesar Cala, the United Way Community Facilitator.

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