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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. Read More ›

Bio last modified December 11th, 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

    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. Who will look after you in this strange turn of events? The common good that makes our lives both possible and enriched does not happen by chance.

  • Giving is a Group Project

    Milton Friesen

    There are many angles to consider in the report. In reading between the lines of the report and its summary data, it appears that the lone personal charitable impulse may be as rare an entity as the lone genius or heroic figure is increasingly proving to be. The report is about individual giving but even passing reflection shows that individual does not equal solitary.

  • 3D Cities: Tower, Slum, and Sprawl

    Milton Friesen

    John Bentley Mays wrote an article in the Globe and Mail in May that featured an interview with Antony Wood, the Executive Director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. According to the article, Mr. Wood suggested that there are really only three major options for the 200,000 or so people that arrive in cities around the world every day. These options are towers, sprawling suburbs, or informal developments (slums).

  • Remembering How to Innovate

    Milton Friesen

    For instance, Newton's Principia may not help you build a faster processor, but the story of Hans Neilson Hauge (cf. Cam Harder) can help you gain vital perspective on your difficult social innovation labours.

  • Persistence, Underwritten by Hope

    Milton Friesen

    One of the profile people at the event was John McKnight. People in the community leadership and community development world know him well, and I won't re-iterate his well-earned and impressive credentials. What I most resonated with as I step back from the event is the way in which John attends to relational language in his talks and comments.

  • Becoming Socially Incompetent

    Milton Friesen

    Vancouver is the most connected city in Canada in terms of social media, but is also among the most lonely cities in the country   People aged 25-34 are the most lonely demographic   High-rise apartments are the most lonely locations   Most people don't know their neighbours well enough to say hello or to offer even minor assistance to them   People are about as connected to their neighbours after three years as they were when they first moved in (in most cases, very little)   Most people don't get involved in civic life because they don't think they have anything to offer  

  • Glorious Adaptation: Institutions that are Future Ready

    Milton Friesen

    I happened across Jantsch's book a couple of months ago while on one of my habitual shelf reads at a local university. It was the title that caught my attention and led to a Contents scan and then the discovery of Chapter 9 "Adaptive Institutions for Shaping the Future". After re-reading my notes from social innovation scholar Frances Westley's keynote at the Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities I realized that the reference I had noted as "Jantz" was Westley referring to Jantsch and then it all made a whole lot more sense.

  • Clear Cutting Social Landscapes

    Milton Friesen

    Could the same be true of our social landscapes? Are the "old" institutions, both formal and informal, being over-taxed, eroded, or clear-cut faster than they are being replenished, floundering on a demand gradient greater than their supply? Are we dismantling them because they are perceived as obstructions to building the better future? I offer a comparative reflection.

  • Writing Life

    Milton Friesen

    Convivium contributor Milton Friesen reflects on the beauty, gift, and service that writers and their books bring to the world. 

  • Mathematics and social architecture?

    Milton Friesen

    The physical structures we build, the infrastructure that supports us, and the communication links that enable our exchanges have a specificity that can be partially underwritten by mathematics. These mathematics and the materials of our built environment are the stock-in-trade of engineers, architects, planners, economists, consultants, and legislators.

  • How Institutions are Born (sort of)

    Milton Friesen

    But where do these odd creatures come from? I fell to pondering this while watching this TED talk about an approach to hyper-local education in India called Barefoot College. It's a well-known case, but what I'm interested in are the design elements that were involved in founding it, the conditions of its birth. Institutions represent densities of people, resources, ideas, buildings, pipes, wires, paper, and so on. The founders of Barefoot College decided to orchestrate these densities by utilizing local resources: grow the institution from the resources that are right around it. They've been running since 1972.

  • The Teenage Brain

    Milton Friesen

    First, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research suggests that teenage brains, like newborns', undergo significant reorganization. From my experience and observation, I can only assume that this reorganization happens via loosely glued Post-It notes that often fall off of the assigned neural boxes, resulting in fantastic logistical confusion.

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

    Milton Friesen

    Amassing support for something using the lightning fast channels of social media can shift the tide quickly. The question we are increasingly pondering is what happens once the surging tide returns to equilibrium. In institutional terms, what sort of infrastructure do we have to continue to govern once the support has been gained? This isn't, of course, completely new to the current era.

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