ICA Canada and the Technology of Participation

ToP® or, Technology of Participation, is the brand name given to the methods that ICA has developed over the past 40 years. These methods have proved effective in empowering individuals, organizations and communities to create a vision for their future, work through issues that arise while on the path towards that vision, and create the actual steps for how to get there.  The ToP® methods are at the heart of ICA Canada's programs and they include, but are not limited to, such methods as; The Focused Conversation Method, The Consensus Workshop Method: The Historical Scan; Meetings that Work; Strategic and Action Planning; Self-reflective tools; Imaginal Education; and Charting.  Tools such as these form the basis for any community development program that we are involved with. 


The Courage to Lead

The Courage to Lead courses encourage individuals to think deeply about their experiences in this world, create strong visions for how they would like to be, and then take concrete actions towards becoming that vision. The facilitators of this course, as well as the guidebook, emphasize these same processes of thinking critically and moving towards commitment and action.  The course is built around an interactive, self-reflective book written by Brian Stanfield, an ICA Colleague, dedicated to promoting positive social change through first changing the individual.

Listen to the Drumming

The many partnerships that have evolved between ICA Canada and African partners through the Listen to the Drumming Campaign have been strengthened by the use of these methods.  In Il Ngwesi, Kenya, ToP methods were used alongside traditional modes of decision-making.  The community met several times to create a vision of a community that knows what HIV/AIDS is, knows how to protect themselves, and knows what to do if they test positive. With this strong vision in place, they built a strategic plan that they were then successfully able to implement. ToP methods were also part of creating peer education sessions, sessions with the Ministry of Health, and encouraging a strong network that would create sustainable programming.

ICA Canada has also worked in partnership with ICA Kenya, OPAD Zambia, and ICA Tanzania in the support of critical HIV/AIDS work, and has active links throughout the continent.

Indigenous Literacy and Language Initiative

In the work we are creating with First Nations, these methods of interacting with communities are highly valuable. They enable the work to be co-created, and will be a valuable tool as we move towards designing and implementing program and curriculum that works with families of young children to enhance culture and language.  ICA Canada is currently working in partnership with Ka:nen Our Children Our Future to design a one year pilot project that will engage Indigenous families with young children in speaking and learning their traditional languages.  The pilot project is currently in the design phase.

Youth as Facilitative Leaders (Until 2012)

As we have worked with youth across Ontario, the methods have been
used to facilitate the creation of individual and group visions for what
youth would like to see happen in their communities.  These methods of
group facilitation were modelled and taught to these youth so they then
have enhanced leadership skills to bring about these visions in their
own communities.  Youth have designed and implemented community
celebrations, talent shows, community clean-up initiatives, and found
ways to encourage other youth to be more actively involved in their

Community Facilitators' Initiative (As of 2012)

Community workers in the Toronto area are trained in ICA methodology in order to enhance their facilitation skills, to build their capacity for the challenging work that they do and to increase the impact that they are able to have across the not-for-profit sector.  We model ICA process during CFI meetings and retreats so that participants can experience the power of a well-designed conversation and can participate in effective consensus building processes.  During the mentorship component of CFI we use ToP methods to coach participants through personal strategic planning and to debrief difficult workplace situations.  We also provide guidance and opportunity to use our methods in their work and personal lives throughout the length of the program.  The greatest impact potential in training social agents agents in our methodology lies in the application of these powerful tools in the field.  We build the capacity of developing leaders and support them in effectively addressing our city's most critical issues.


These tools and methods of facilitation enable ICA Canada staff to be concerned with the process of HOW change happens in communities and form the basis for how we support grassroots change and social justice.