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Deep dive: Columbia Institute’s annual civic governance forum supports elected officials pushing for change

The Columbia Institute is an independent public policy think tank that supports leadership for inclusive, equitable and sustainable communities. Based in Vancouver, their projects focus on civic governance initiatives, scholarships for working people and mature students, and research with partners and policy experts on the urgent issues shaping BC communities—education, poverty, housing and more.

The Columbia Institute’s annual civic governance forum, High Ground, offers an opportunity for elected officials to gather and share ideas, tools and approaches to progressive leadership in public office. It encourages participants to learn from one another about the leadership, policies and practises that can respond to their constituents’ most pressing challenges.

High Ground is entering its eighteenth year. Last year’s forum, organized around the theme “Be Bold,” drew over 80 elected officials (including mayors, councillors, school trustees, regional directors and ministers). It featured plenaries and discussions on topics like advocating for a living wage during COVID-19, making local elections more inclusive and how community-based collaboration can support healthy ageing. 

This year’s theme is “Seeking Higher Ground: Leading Through Instability.” Columbia wanted to explore this theme as we are in a period of governing, at all levels, within ongoing, long-term, urgent and emergency conditions on many fronts. The forum wanted a chance to explore how local electeds can do their work in both proactive and responsive ways that serve to advance progressive visions and actions in their communities. 

High Ground is taking place virtually on Thursday, March 24 (morning), Friday, March 25 (afternoon/evening), and Saturday, March 27 (morning). More details about the speaker lineup and schedule will be provided closer to the event date.

To learn more about High Ground or register to attend, check out the Columbia Institute website or contact