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Milton Friesen

Core ideas that orient a significant amount of my work include the exploration of complexity science by means of various network approaches. Network dynamics are a persistent feature of our human interactions including the organizations, institutions and societies that Cardus is working to support and make sense of. Planners are also in constant interaction with these social structures at a wide variety of levels. Read More ›

Bio last modified May 1st, 2017.
Articles by Milton Friesen
  • Building the Social City

    Milton Friesen

    The networks of relationships needed to make a community not only liveable but also sociable can be vast and complex. But as Milton Friesen writes, they can also be entered into, appreciated and drawn upon by something as simple and convivial as shared conversation over grits and fried catfish. 

  • Is God Good For Cities?

    Milton Friesen

    Milton Friesen, Program Director for Social Cities at Cardus, shares the importance of strong social fabric and the contribution that religious communities make to the health of their cities.

  • The Long Chain of Care

    Milton Friesen

    You can download and read Milton Friesen's latest paper, Charity and Social Capacity, on the Cardus website. Imagine that you are the crew of a ship sailing from Italy to Hamilton. You arrive in Canadian waters only to discover that complications related to the sale of your vessel means it is stuck in limbo in Hamilton harbour and you along with it.

  • Sustainable Cities and Social Capital: Common Dilemmas and Hopes

    Milton Friesen

    My exposure to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) began in 2001 as a newly elected municipal councillor in Vegreville, Alberta and the physical infrastructure advocacy that FCM has built a solid reputation on was quickly apparent. Fast forward to today. I was an invited workshop moderator at the Sustainable Communities Conference organized by FCM and sponsored by one of their internal programs, the Green Municipal Fund.

  • Giving is a Group Project

    Milton Friesen

    The Charitable Giving by Individuals report by Martin Turcotte of Statistics Canada is a comprehensive and important summary that makes use of the 2013 General Social Survey data to outline a picture of individual charitable giving in Canada. The word charity suffers many misconceptions. On balance, it has had a long history of association with sacrificing oneself for the sake of others, an antidote to selfish absorption, careless distraction and mindless accumulation.

  • Law, Design, and the Human Habitat: Part II

    Milton Friesen

    This article is the second half of Social Cities director Milton Friesen's report from a recent trip to Dallas for the Congress for the New Urbanism. For part I, which looked at the workshop and the code, click here.

  • Law, Design, and the Human Habitat: Part I

    Milton Friesen

    I recently had the privilege of attending the Congress for the New Urbanism 23 in Dallas, Texas, along with over a thousand other planners, architects, community organizers, urban designers, developers, city-oriented creatives.

  • 3D Cities: Tower, Slum, and Sprawl

    Milton Friesen

    Looking North from the Hamilton GO Centre, early morning, 2012. Photo: Milton FriesenAround the world, the aggregate annual growth of new city dwellers moving in from elsewhere is measured in the millions. Where, exactly, do all these people end up living?

  • Remembering How to Innovate

    Milton Friesen

    Innovation can be very, very difficult. Are we turning enough to the deep well of human history? History has many social and cultural lessons to teach, and they may be more applicable to social innovation than we think.

  • Persistence, Underwritten by Hope

    Milton Friesen

    This past week I had the privilege of participating in the Neighbours: Policies and Programs unconference put on by the Tamarack Institute in Kitchener, Ontario. One of the key ideas that framed the gathering was the conviction that neighbours are absolutely critical in building great communities and cities.

  • Dancing with Data: Fewer Sequins, Bigger Payoffs

    Milton Friesen

    Dancing with the Stars seems to be omnipresent on TV these days. I confess that, contrary to certain members of my household, I'm not a fan. The lesson I'll draw for this post is one very profound insight: different partners require different approaches in choreography, costumes, and complexity. When you dance with data, it is important to keep that lesson in mind.

  • Disruptive Innovation or Passing Oddities?

    Milton Friesen

    Clay Christensen's insight that companies may do somewhat well refining what they know but fail to take advantage of disruptive innovation appears to be as true today as it was when he first published his work more than 16 years ago. For some time now I've been pondering whether mobile banking represents a disruptive or sustaining innovation in the financial services sector.

  • Becoming Socially Incompetent

    Milton Friesen

    Lonely in the CityIt is difficult to read the new Vancouver Foundation Report Connections and Engagement and not feel deeply moved by what it represents. After polling 275 charitable organizations and 100 community leaders, they identified loneliness as the most significant and worrisome social trend they are encountering.

  • Clear Cutting Social Landscapes

    Milton Friesen

    In the modern era, we have treated the plenty of nature as limitless—the carrier pigeon, buffalo, cod, rainforests, oil, agricultural land, and oceans. In painful slow motion, the long dawn of our awakening may be taking place. In time? Certainly not in some cases.

  • Writing Life

    Milton Friesen

    My children surprised me last week with a ticket for the Miriam Toews luncheon here in Hamilton. Toews was going to be reading from her latest novel, Irma Voth, and taking questions from the audience. Upon entering the hall, I realized that I was among a small minority of men in attendance. I also learned that it was the Na'amat Canada Hamilton group that had sponsored the luncheon (Na'amat is a humanitarian women's movement that provides support to women and children in need).

  • Mathematics and social architecture?

    Milton Friesen

    At Cardus we are exploring the language and practice of social architecture. Turns out it can mean a lot of things. Sometimes it means the nature of the relationships between people and institutions, other times it means the structures of the institutions themselves and how they relate to each other—government, business, nonprofits, natural communities, and so on.

  • Skills of the Future—Can we read the crystal ball?

    Milton Friesen

    Do a Google search of "top ten skills" and you'll get a sense of how we are collectively anticipating what's around the corner. Here are four sample lists to contemplate. Take your pick. General Public speaking Writing Self-management Networking Critical thinking Decision-making Math Research Relaxation Basic accounting  

  • How Institutions are Born (sort of)

    Milton Friesen

    Our landscape, literal and figurative, is full of institutions. Mostly, we accept their existence without a second thought. From time to time they may try and impress us (see Maclean's new Canadian university rankings) or unwittingly enrage us (try getting statistics from your local government), but mostly they just pass unnoticed.

  • The Teenage Brain

    Milton Friesen

    I used to have one. Now I have two in my house, a third just about to enter the ranks, and a fourth peering eagerly over the fence. My interest in the teenage brain is, therefore, both nostalgic and pragmatic. I both remember being a teenager, and plan on surviving the process of raising them. Since I am responsible for the care and feeding of some of these unusual creatures, it seemed that failing to read the National Geographic article on the subject would have been poor form indeed.

  • Sugar-High Campaigns: The Morning After Social Media Success

    Milton Friesen

    When Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi won his campaign, many people talked about the role that social media had played. Nenshi went from being back-of-the-pack to a 27,000-vote win in a little over a month. Many credit the win to a mobilization of younger voters who are heavy users of Facebook and Twitter—the Obama campaign is another prominent case study and the changes in Egypt from another angle yet another.

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