WellAhead Co-Design: What exactly happened?

Mali_Blog Author

This blog post was originally published on the WellAhead website. It has been reproduced here with the author’s permission.

In August of 2015, most people we talked with said we were quite likely crazy. Well, not all said it exactly that way: ‘those timelines are ambitious’, ‘schools move very slowly’, and ‘did you say first even in September?!!’ were other versions of what we heard. Internally, our team wondered the same: was it completely unrealistic to aim for some kind of ‘ideation’ sessions early in the fall?


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Scaling from Practices, not Principles

 Lessons from expanding a new service within the disability sector

Guest blog by Gord Tulloch, Director of Innovation, PosAbilities

In my last blog post, I talked about the personal and professional crises of faith that led to the creation of Building Caring Communities (BCC), a new service consisting of a team of community connectors who work across Metro Vancouver and Powell River to both grow community and to build personal support networks around persons with developmental disabilities. This service is operated between four community living organizations and is in turn procured by a crown authority funded through provincial government.

bridging communities

We were provided with funds from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation to try to spread the model throughout British Columbia (scaling out). We hoped to first expand within the disability sector and then laterally to other sectors (e.g. seniors, immigrants and refugees, etc.). Considerable work was done in the first year of the grant to consolidate the BCC model.

And we thought we were ready.

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Indigenous Innovation Summit: What Happened and What’s Next?

Nicole_Blog author en
The inaugural Indigenous Innovation Summit (#IIS2015) was a groundbreaking event. This gathering brought together many stakeholders who don’t necessarily always work together: Elders, youth, service providers, academics, artists, social entrepreneurs, foundations, government representatives – the list goes on. A total of 320 people attended the proceedings from November 18-20, at the beautiful Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Hosted by the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC), and organized in partnership with the Winnipeg Boldness Project, the 4Rs Youth Movement, Canadians for a New Partnership, the Circle, and the Foundation, the Summit convened people interested in social innovation, solutions finance, social entrepreneurship and more.


As the first of three planned summits, the focus of this one was to develop a common language around social innovation and solutions finance; to connect those with resources to those with ideas; and to highlight some of the most innovative work currently taking place in Canada and abroad. Read the rest of this entry »

Our “En Route to Paris” series is coming to an end.

Nicolina_blog photo en


Quite a lot has changed since we started our blog series just six months ago. Sadly, Paris has been the target of terrorist attacks. Innocent people lost their lives, and global insecurity levels have gone up a few notches. For a few days, several journalists expressed doubts about whether the climate summit would still take place. Many feared that the climate of fear and uncertainty might overshadow the climate of planet Earth. Although one can wonder which is the greater threat to humankind, terrorism or climate change, this polarization is not quite necessary.

In fact, a growing number of opinions establish a connection between the two threats. In an interview with Radio-Canada in Malta on Saturday, November 28, Ban Ki-Moon said that if climate change goes unaddressed, its effects on certain regions of the world may foster feelings of frustration in entire populations, which in turn may create a fertile breeding ground for radicalization. In an October 2014 study, the Pentagon used the phrase “threat multiplier” to qualify climate change as a catalyzer for a host of problems, including the rise of terrorism. Restricted access to water and food, massive population displacements, worsening poverty and higher political instability may all contribute to creating favourable conditions for the inception of terrorist groups. Therefore, talks about world peace belong side-by-side with discussions about climate change, and the 147 world leaders at the Paris summit owe it to humankind to find solutions to global warming.

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RECODE: One year in, and we’re learning a lot

Chad_Blog Author

This blog post was originally published on the RECODE website. It has been reproduced here with the author’s permission.

A few months ago I posted our initial thinking and plans for evaluating RECODE’s systems change work. The post describes the complexity of evaluating systems change, and you can see our first steps here. And if you want to dig a bit deeper, check out Kathryn Meisner’s post about the site’s development.

So what are we learning about how to effect change? Even in these early days, we’ve started to see some patterns.


Plan for your plan not to work – at least not how you planned it


Recode 1yr

Good planning is helpful and necessary, but when planning for systems change, system entrepreneurs would be well-served to read Henry Mintzberg and his writings on Emergent Strategy. “Instead of the deliberate approach, the emergent approach is the view that strategy emerges over time as intentions collide with, and accommodate, a changing reality” (Karl Moore, Ivey Business Journal).

Given that our very activities bring about a constantly changing reality, we need to concurrently and constantly adapt our actions and plans. Success in this context is deeply connected to our capacity to adapt, even if in the particular moment when nothing is going according to plan, it might not feel like it.

Recode paths Read the rest of this entry »

Building Caring Communities: Rethinking Services to Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Guest blog by Gord Tulloch, Director of Innovation, PosAbilities

Have you ever had a professional crisis of faith? One where you question the entire foundation of your work and career?


Four organizations (posAbilities, Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, Inclusion Powell River and Simon Fraser Society for Community Living) were facing down a troubling problem together: why were people with developmental disabilities rarely part of community life? Why were they often segregated within programs and services versus thriving in community? And what was our role in that?

Despite forty or more years of deinstitutionalization, where thousands of people with developmental disabilities moved out of massive institutions and into staffed homes in the community, and despite our collective desire to answer the mission of our funder of “good lives in welcoming communities,” people were not part of community life. Not really. This was the starting point of change: acknowledging to ourselves that whatever we were doing and trying and saying, it wasn’t working.


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Getting the Facts on Carbon Pricing and Business Competitiveness

Ecofiscal Cover

By Chris Ragan, Chair, Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission

The Ecofiscal Commission’s first carbon pricing report, The Way Forward, made the case that provincial carbon pricing leadership is both a practical and effective way to make urgent climate policy strides. But different carbon prices raise valid concerns about business competitiveness.

Today we’re releasing new research to shed light on those concerns.

Our findings: business competitiveness challenges are likely smaller than often thought, but nonetheless present decision-makers with important considerations as they develop new provincial carbon pricing polices.

The Road to Paris and Back is Anything but Linear

Our new research comes as governments across the world prepare for next week’s Paris Climate Summit. Addressing climate change is a clear priority for the world’s nations. This is evidenced by the fact that more than half of the 155 countries that have submitted Intended National Commitments include or consider carbon pricing within their plans.

However, no matter what commitments or decisions governments make in Paris, the road back will be anything by linear. That is as true on the international stage as it is here in Canada. Provincial governments are adopting different carbon pricing policies at different paces.

Provincial leadership protects our long-term economic interests by getting policy in place now, which can be ramped up and coordinated over time, steadily encouraging low-carbon innovation. But in the shorter-term, it does beg the competitiveness question.

Different Carbon Prices and Competitiveness Pressures

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Working with Cities, Provinces and First Nations – the Winnipeg Boldness Project

Speech delivered at the Philanthropic Foundations Canada Symposium, Toronto, October 28, 2015. 

Winnipeg Boldness

This presentation was originally called Working with a City and a Province, but I’ve modified that so it better represents the work we are doing in the Winnipeg Boldness Project, hence: Working with Cities, Provinces and First Nations – the Winnipeg Boldness Project. The lessons that we’re applying in Winnipeg stem in part from the formative experiences that we gained from two other initiatives.

Stephen-Huddart-authorVibrant Communities is a partnership that the Foundation embarked upon with the Tamarack and Caledon Institutes, and is a ten-year collective impact initiative to reduce urban poverty. Today, 47 cities and nine provinces are part of Vibrant Communities Canada.

Another initiative, ALLIES, was a successful cooperation between McConnell and Maytree to improve the rate at which professional immigrants find suitable employment. It was the first time that we co-funded significantly with governments and the private sector.

In retrospect, these successes seem clear and concise, but at times they were anything but. Working on complex challenges with cities, provinces and First Nations is, well — complex.

A commitment to positive change 

Two years ago, we were looking for a place to support improved outcomes in Indigenous early child development, possibly through the use of a social impact bond. We came to Point Douglas in Winnipeg’s North End, a community of 50,000 people, many of whom live in conditions of toxic stress. 87% of Indigenous babies born here are deemed at risk; 50% of Indigenous children arrive at kindergarten deemed not ready to learn, and 20% of kids born here are removed from their families and placed under care of the state. A completely unacceptable set of circumstances.

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En Route to Paris: How Can Clean Energy Clean Up?

Guest blog by Dan Woynillowicz, Policy Director at Clean Energy Canada. This blog was originally published on Policy Options. It has been reproduced here with the author’s permission.  


Part 2 of our analysis on how Ottawa could chart a new course in its approach to energy and climate policy — and thrive


In the first part of this series, we explored how Canada could benefit from changing its tack on energy and climate. Specifically, we recommended that Ottawa show up as a constructive participant in global climate talks and support provincial leadership on clean energy and carbon pricing; we also encouraged Ottawa to make better use of the carrots and sticks it has available to expand clean energy and cut carbon pollution.

This post explores three remaining actions Ottawa could take to rewrite its reputation and position Canadian companies and citizens to prosper in a world embracing cleaner energy systems and technologies. There’s clear evidence the global clean energy revolution is well underway — the question for our new federal government is just how much skin Ottawa is prepared to put in the game.


#3: Use Energy More Efficiently and Use More Renewable Electricity

While the previous federal government didn’t appear to give much thought to how it might decarbonize Canada’s economy, let alone meet its 2020 or 2030 climate targets, a group of Canadian researchers fortunately have done just that.

As part of an international research effort that will be tabled at the Paris climate negotiations this December, the Low Carbon Pathways Group of Carbon Management Canada has produced Pathways to Deep Decarbonization in Canada. As the report notes, “fuel switching to decarbonized electricity is the single most significant pathway toward achieving deep emissions reduction globally.” In other words, ditching fossil fuels in favour of clean, renewable electricity is our best tool in fighting global climate change.

And the same is true for Canada. What does this look like? First, we need to use energy much more efficiently. Second, we need to rely far more on solar, wind and hydro and a lot less on coal and natural gas to power our lives (and use carbon capture and storage where we do consume fossil fuels). And third, we need to replace fossil fuels with clean electricity. Rather than filling up with oil, we would drive electric cars. Electric heat pumps, not natural gas, would keep our homes warm in winter.

In each of these areas, the federal government can play a critical role in guiding Canada down the low-carbon path by regulating, coordinating and collaborating with other levels of government and industry.

The Liberals have acknowledged this role and the opportunity, promising to shift subsidies from fossil fuels to “new and clean technology”, provide funding to expand both large-scale and community-level renewable electricity generation, support energy efficiency in product manufacturing and building retrofit programs, and add electric vehicles to its fleet. While the scope of each of these commitments remains to be seen, they’re on the radar (for a change).

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En Route to Paris: A Clean Energy Agenda for Canada

Guest blog by Dan Woynillowicz, Policy Director at Clean Energy Canada. This blog was originally published on Policy Options. It has been reproduced here with the author’s permission. 

As a new federal government gets up to speed, here’s how Ottawa could position Canada to compete and prosper in a world embracing clean energy. (Part 1)

Clean energy Canada p1

With the longest election campaign in more than a century now behind us, our newly elected federal government has a clear mandate to get moving on a climate change and clean energy agenda. Prime minister-designate Trudeau’s Liberals campaigned on a platform that recognizes environmental protection and economic prosperity must go hand-in-hand, and sees clean energy infrastructure as a key climate solution. Having won a majority, his government must now figure out how best to capitalize on the tremendous potential of Canada’s clean energy sector, while renewing Canada’s commitment to climate leadership.

It will be no small challenge given Canada is a resource-driven economy and one of the world’s leading fossil fuel suppliers. Yet this past June in Germany, Canada committed, along with our G7 counterparts, to decarbonize the global economy before the end of this century.

Achieving this goal requires a global shift from fossil fuels to clean energy — an energy revolution that is already underway, even in Canada.

The global energy system is changing rapidly. Clean Energy Canada produces a pair of assessments each year, Tracking the Energy Revolutionboth globally and within our borders. Although we follow new developments in energy technology, government policy and investments day-in and day-out, the sheer pace and extent of the clean energy shift isn’t apparent until you step back and look at the key trends, moments and milestones:

  • Investors moved USD$295 billion into renewable energy-generation projects in 2014 — an increase of 17% over 2013.
  • The value of the broader clean energy market in last year  (including buildings, vehicles, and more) grew to USD$788 billion.
  • The prices of solar technology and advanced batteries continued to drop — and will keep dropping.
  • The United States and China signed a ground-breaking climate and clean energy cooperation agreement.
  • India set a target of 175 gigawatts of new renewable electricity capacity by 2022. (For comparison, the capacity of Canada’s electricity grid in 2013 was 127 gigawatts.)
  • Within a couple of years, a price on carbon pollution will apply to more than half of the global economy.

Many Canadians will find these facts surprising — which is understandable, given the scant attention typically paid to such stories on Parliament Hill, Bay Street or in the news. As a nation, we predominantly continue to think of energy in terms of commodities (oil, gas, coal, uranium) rather than advanced technologies and services — to our own economic detriment.

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