I learned about the “3P” Strategy in Mississauga: Proactive, Persistent, and Positive from Jim Tovey and John Danahy many years ago

Years ago, from attending community meetings with Jim Tovey (1949-2018) and John Danahy of Lakeview, Mississauga, I learned about the “3P” Strategy which was a key element (among many other elements) in the spectacularly successful community organizing efforts of Councillor Jim Tovey in the years before he died.

Jim Tovey had learned this way of addressing problems from his father who found the “3P” Strategy was of tremendous help in addressing issues that would come up regularly in the course of his family’s canoe trips in the wilderness lakes and waterways of Ontario.

Below is a text from a blog post that I wrote on Jan. 21, 2012. [1]

The text from January 2012 reads:

Strategic thinking is a key ingredient for success in any endeavour.

This is a concept that came across strongly in a presentation by John W. Danahy of the University of Toronto faculty of architecture, landscape, and design on January 18, 2012 at the Mimico Centennial Library.

The Lakeview community developed what it calls a “3P” Strategy in the course of its work on behalf of the Lakeview Legacy Project.

The successful community organizing efforts, starting many years ago, of the Lakeview Ratepayers Association have been based on the 3P Strategy.

Jim Tovey made good use of this strategy, in the years when he was head of the Association – before he ran for election as Councillor at the City of Mississauga.

The following text is based on a slide from John Danahy’s talk.

Proactive: Be proactive in identifying what negatively impacts your community, and more importantly, what may negatively impact your community in the near or distant future.

Persistent: Be persistent in gaining, and sharing with your community, the knowledge required to make fair, informed decisions, and to be able to engage all stakeholders in the discussion.

Positive: Never offer a solution to a difficult issue unless it is a positive solution. If you cannot find a solution where there are no losers, revert to the second “P,” Persistent.

The executive of the ratepayers association serving Lakeview adopted a set of operational principles for its work. The following summary of the principles is from a slide from John Danahy’s presentation.

The principles apply to everything the ratepayers association did in “working bottom-up in a planning system that was not used to citizens leading the call for regeneration and sustainability.”

The text continues as follows (in the following display I have broken the text into shorter paragraphs; the text from which I’m quoting was presented as a single column on the left side of the slide that John Danahy projected):

    • Most authorities expect resistance to this type of intensification agenda. The association’s “3P” theory for strategy was implemented to achieve local community, shared community, bureaucratic and political buy in. They took the view that there must be a creative way to find solutions that did not create losers.

It was not always possible to create the win-win situation but it was possible to identify core values and negotiate ways to protect those interests.

That attitude shifted the mindset from the usual notion of asking authorities to fix problems to one of championing a positive alternative to the status quo.

1 reply
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Note 1

    I’ve discussed the 3P Strategy in further depth at a post entitled:

    May 3, 2015 Jane’s Walk in Mississauga at Small Arms Building focused on the past, and the future

    At that post I discuss the origins of this strategy:

    Origins of the 3P Strategy

    At a conversation, among participants at a Jane’s Walk meeting that we staged at the Long Branch Library on Saturday, April 18, 2015, Jim Tovey shared details about the 3P Strategy that I had previously not been aware of. He explained that he has been a paddler all of his life. As I recall, he may have said that it was his father who had introduced him to the sport of canoeing in the wilderness.

    When you’re paddling in the Canadian wilderness, and an emergency arises, you need to have a strategy to deal with the situation, whatever it may be. That’s how the 3P Strategy originated, Jim Tovey explained, at our meeting at the long Branch Library on April 18, 2015.


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