Archive for the ‘Guest’ Category

Ancient stories, new technology: Indigenous media treads new ground

by Cara McKenna

Ryan McMahon is finding power in voices with Makoons Media Group 

Now is the time for Indigenous people to break new ground in media, says Janet Rogers, who has worked in radio for a decade. Rogers hosts a show called Native Waves Radio on CFUV in Victoria. “We’re picking up these tools on our own and without the colonized filter, we’re kind of fumbling our way towards creating and maintaining a voice through the medium of podcasting.”

It’s not a simple task, says Ryan McMahon, founder of Makoons Media Group, whose best known success to date is the Indian & Cowboy podcast network. “White people have always controlled the gaze … and that gaze has always exploited us and our weaknesses,” he says. McMahon wants to change this and is scaling up his vision of an Indigenous podcast network, with support from the Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund (IIDF).    

The Indigenous Innovation Demonstration Fund provides support to organizations seeking to develop or expand their Indigenous social innovation and social enterprise. The Fund was created through a partnership of the National Association of Friendship Centres, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.

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Montreal subway cars get new life and revitalize public space

By Elvira Truglia 

Montreal’s South West is in the midst of transformation. Some residents have had roots in the borough for generations, while others have flocked to the area attracted by new housing as well as business opportunities.

Two young entrepreneurs want to create a unique space in the borough that will pay homage to Montreal’s history while opening up space for locals to mix and enjoy the arts. Brothers Frédéric and Etiénne Morin-Bordeleau are going to integrate eight Montreal métro cars, called the MR-63, into a three-storey sculpture that will house a community space, café-bar and art gallery. Montreal’s transport agency (STM) approved Project MR-63 along with six other submissions to repurpose the retiring metro cars after putting out a call for submissions in the spring.

With the brothers’ goal to make art accessible, MR-63 will be a place for emerging and established artists to exhibit their work. It’s one of the reasons South West borough Mayor, Benoit Dorais enthusiastically endorsed the project.

A new public space for a borough in transition 

Art is seen as the equalizer for the borough with mixed social backgrounds. “I think we need to be able to provide locations where there will be opportunities for all people to rub shoulders,” says Dorais. He sees MR-63 as a way “to promote the arts while respecting the history of the neighbourhood, the history of the South West, and the history of Montreal”.

Locating the MR-63 building in the Quartier de l’innovation (QI), a district in the southwest of the city that straddles Montreal’s cultural, artistic, economic, technological and multimedia boundaries, seems like a logical fit.

He thinks the innovative sculptural form of the building will act as the calling card but that people will stay and return because of its functionality.

Exhibits will give visibility to local artists who will also be given opportunities to build their capacity to market their art and run their own businesses.

The café-bar will introduce people to locally produced food and eco-friendly vendors. The community space will also host public events, and will be available to rent for private events.

“In short, what we want to do is to use MR-63 to animate public space,” says Dorais.

 

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A Nation Healing Through Stories

By Pam Chookomoolin. 

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Photo credit: Brandon MacLeod

I’ve read that no great work can be done without knowledge. They say knowledge is power. My own path towards enlightenment and empowerment has led to both personal and communal healing through two of the most powerful tools we know: storytelling and sharing.

My first few steps down this particular path started in the spring of 2015, as the thick ice of the Winisk River began to break up and flow past my hometown of Peawanuck, ON. It was then I signed on with the Indigenous Reporters Program. Peawanuck, located 32 kilometres upriver from Hudson Bay, is one of 13 remote First Nation communities in northern Ontario where the program, developed by Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), has operated to date.

Journalism has, for me, become a very empowering tool, through which I create and share my own stories with my neighbours, community and across Canada. Journalism offered new knowledge, an opportunity to build on my own skills, and be a part of the changing landscape of Canadian media — a landscape that is slowly beginning to reflect the true history and demographics of Canada and contribute to the healing of a nation.

I did not always see the bigger picture or the critical role Indigenous journalists can play in supporting reconciliation by sharing their stories from their perspectives. Signing up, I thought it was just journalism theory, but within a few weeks, with hands-on training, we were already sharing stories and discussing the potential positive impact journalism can have.

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Is our playbook out of date?

by Vinod Rajasekaran

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Canada spends over $300 billion annually on social outcomes, according to the OECD. Our fast-evolving societal challenges — ranging from mental health, Indigenous communities’ access to quality education, and a lack of affordable housing — demand equally fast-paced and nimble research, learning, experimental and replicating approaches so people can access the best possible services, supports and solutions, no matter where they live in Canada.

 

This is where R&D comes in.

 

Canada’s not-for-profit, charitable, B Corp, and social enterprise organizations have built strong capabilities in volunteer management, donor stewardship, and program delivery, among other things. Along with an appreciation and celebration of these competencies, there is increasing consensus that social change in the 21st century requires an additional strong capacity and capability in research and development, or R&D.

Just as R&D in the business world drives new and improved products and services, R&D can also help social mission organizations generate significant and rapid advancements in services and solutions that change lives. However, currently only a small proportion of social mission organizations repeatedly incorporate a wide range of new knowledge (like insights into how the brain works and how positive behaviours can be encouraged) or new technologies (like machine learning) or new processes (like human centred design).   (more…)

Social Innovation and the Serious Business of Play

Guest blog by Joanne Benham Rennick, PhD, Executive Director, Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation, Wilfrid Laurier University. This blog originally appeared on the RECODE website. It has been republished here with their permission. 

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I played a game of ping pong last week that made me laugh so hard I was in tears. It was not your typical ping pong game (should you have one). Instead, it involved three people at each end of the table. The first person served the ball, then ran to the other end to receive it back from the second person. That person then sprinted off to make the third return, and so on until there were six bodies racing around the room with tiny paddles and desperate looks on their sweaty faces. The skill level was not high so ingenuity and adaptation was critical. A missed ball had to be chased down and banked off the wall or ceiling to get it back in play. A hit into the net required a sideways grab and tap to avoid the imminent crash. Innocent bystanders had to be avoided. There was grunting, sliding, wild paddle swings, crash avoidance efforts, and high-speed dodging. One player took a ping pong ball to the back of her calf that left a small, bright-red welt. But what was most memorable about the evening was the incredible, child-like laughter that erupted.

Reflecting on the experience a little later, I realized with some surprise that I hadn’t laughed that hard in a very long time. I am very fortunate to do a job I love with people I respect and appreciate. I get to work with students and colleagues that are full of energy and enthusiasm for generating positive change. We work on big, complex issues and we take our work seriously. We think a lot about poverty, inadequate social supports, climate change, species loss, discrimination and all the other complex issues our society faces. We work unceasingly to support students and community members trying to innovate solutions that are transformative yet achievable. When I thought about that ping pong game I felt a little ashamed that I got so much pleasure out of such a seemingly unproductive activity.

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Students bring their talents and skills to community projects through Vancouver’s LEDlab

By Elvira Truglia

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This fall, the Local Economic Development Lab (LEDlab) gave the green light for a new group of students to start working on community projects in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. An award-winning community-university partnership between Ecotrust Canada and RADIUS Simon Fraser University, LEDlab works with community partners to jump-start ideas by matching graduate students to non-profit organizations for eight months. Students use this incubation period to help launch or scale new and innovative ideas. The added human resources LEDlab provides allows the community partners to try new things in a safe environment and to learn from and support each other in the process.

“One of the largest reasons that ideas don’t take off is it is difficult to access funding to develop the idea, and dedicate staff or resources to them,” says LEDlab’s manager, Kiri Bird. “We provide the human capacity to advance the idea, sometimes with a technical or business skillset that the non-profit might not have in-house.”

Brandon Toews, an MBA student at SFU with an arts background, is one of the four students in the cohort, funded through Mitacs, a national non-profit supporting research and training across Canada.

Before joining LEDlab, Brandon Toews says he was extremely troubled “to see the lack of resources that were available to marginalized and vulnerable communities and to see how often they were overlooked or outright ignored”.

He’s now happy to be involved with the Binners’ Project, a grassroots initiative in the Downtown Eastside with the goal to become “a project once led by support staff, that over time becomes one led by the binners and for the binners.

“I want people to know that binning is a legitimate living, people work hard for it,” says Michael Leland who has been collecting redeemable containers in the Downtown Eastside for the last 11 years.

Now a team leader with the Binners’ Project, the 58-year-old former commercial fisherman wants to remove the social stigma associated with “binning,” the term for collecting and reselling recyclable materials.

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Cities for People + Getting to collective impact

Read the original article, Ten Key Ingredients for Collective Impact: Powering Town Halls for Societal Change, by Indy Johar, Imandeep Kaur, and Orestes Chouchoulas on Dark Matter Laboratories.

One of the goals set out by the Cities for People initiative during its inception over three years ago was to shake up the ways in which we work in cities. How? By approaching big issues from a thematic, collaborative, multi-sectoral angle, rather than on a project-by-project (setting out objectives and following a linear timeline to tackle one facet at a time) basis. The ‘experiment’ laid out in the first phase of Cities for People, which wrapped up in summer 2015, was to see how taking a thematic approach would enable us to identify ways to scale up, out, and deep – on the kind of ‘wicked problems’ cities are faced with, from inequality to housing to public spaces. Underpinning this effort was the belief that lasting change comes from individuals and organizations, often in different sectors (public, private, nonprofit), working deeply together to drawing out commonalities and symbioses that lead to breakthrough moments. This concept is easy to agree upon, but can be difficult to put into practice: how do we actually work in this way to transcend traditional partnerships that quickly become removed from the problem with which they’re trying to address? This article lays out ten essential pieces of the collective impact puzzle necessary to develop a practice of deep collaboration.


 

The energy behind collective action (referred to variably as Collective Impact, Collective Innovation, and Collective Change) is fundamentally rooted in the understanding that meaningful change is increasingly not in the hands of any single organisation. No single actor is able to bring about structural impact in terms of addressing life outcomes, health outcomes, alleviating poverty, or even creating new connected products and services. Whether seen from an interventional perspective or a political and organisational legitimacy perspective, the complex interdependencies at the heart of our largest challenges are not addressable by agents acting in isolation. It is increasingly recognised that impact at these scales requires us to build open, large, diverse, multi-sector coalitions committed to a shared mission, common accountability, allied political intent (small “p” politics), and change at a systems level. These open movements seek to work beyond individual agendas, missions, and activity to leverage our collective capacity for organised and coordinated agency but also to manage and moderate the “unintended aggregative consequences” of our siloed individual decisions.

When many citizens and organisations band together in pursuit of common objectives they generate new kinds of power, agency, and innovation.

Some see Collective Impact as nothing new?—?just partnerships rebadged and rebranded. We would argue that this misses the point. Collective Impact is not about partnerships between a handful of key institutions sitting in a closed board room but rather about a new architecture for movements of citizens and organisations numbering in the hundreds. Collective Impact is a fundamentally different social scaling theory that changes everything. Collective impact represents a different politics of change that transcends partnerships between a sample of stakeholders and looks to all-embracingmovements.

Therefore, inevitably Collective Impact requires new models of planning, organising, and financing. While we continue to invent them, we have identified a few key ingredients:

1. An authentic invitation to a shared challenge

The core momentum behind mobilisation en masse comes from a genuine and authentic invitation to address a shared challenge that many of us face consistently. There is beauty and great potential in the energy generated by individually motivated participants joining forces.

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Major step for social enterprise in Canada: Federal Government launches social enterprise directory

Guest blog by David LePage, Principal, Accelerating Social Impact CCC:ASI. This post originally appeared on the Accelerating Social Impact CCC website. It has been republished here with the author’s permission.

With little fanfare the Federal government has taken a major step forward in supporting the social enterprise sector – providing clarity on a definition and supporting the development of a national directory.

The directory defines social enterprise as “an enterprise that seeks to achieve social, cultural or environmental aims through the sale of goods and services. The social enterprise can be for-profit or not-for-profit but the majority of net profits must be directed to a social objective with limited distribution to shareholders and owners.”

 

The Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development’s definition is clearly signalling that from their perspective a social enterprise has to blend a community impact and insure the majority of profits are also reinvested in community. Rather than looking at a corporate structure, they have opted for a performance based model, which allows several different corporate forms to be included – if the purpose and the structure both align with and meet this definition.

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Who gets to decide the future of food?

Guest blog by Nick Saul, President & CEO, Community Food Centres Canada

Nick Saul_Blog Author ENThe first thing you notice in the ad campaign is the model’s index finger stuck suggestively in her mouth, fingernails painted in alternating shades of orange and taupe. The slogan: “Finger Lickin’ Good.” It’s an advertisement, I quickly learned, for KFC’s brand new edible nail polish, which comes in two chickeny flavours: original, and hot and spicy. I’m not afraid to admit that this toxic junk food ad nearly had me—an inveterate optimist—coming close to despair for the state of our food system.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. The way we currently move food from field to table often seems hell-bent on making us sick, damaging the planet and dividing us as citizens. Fast food companies worldwide spend billions of dollars a year to hook us on fat, sugar and salt (marketers behind the edible nail polish told the New York Times the product is an attempt to “remind the younger generation” of “the great taste and good times the brand stands for.”) Corporate agricultural giants grow larger and more predatory, pushing low-impact, regional, non-chemical approaches to the sidelines. And as we see every day at Community Food Centres Canada, four million Canadians struggle simply to put food on their table.

Yet, despite all of this—despite, even, the end-is-nigh portent of chicken-flavoured nail polish—I continue to believe that the future of food doesn’t have to be so dim. A different world is possible so long as we can mobilize enough people to push for it.

The Table Community Food Centre - After School Program 2014 #2 (David Zimmerly) (1)

Of course, a paradigm shift has been brewing for some time. Farmers, chefs, home cooks, foodies, beekeepers, health care reformers and advocates for low-income people are the canaries in the coal mine, sounding the warning about the unsustainability of this bloated, inequitable and unhealthy food system. We’ve seen an explosion of farmers markets, CSAs, and 100-mile restaurants. More and more people are gardening, eating local, and working to regain lost cooking skills,

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Future Food: rebuilding the middle of the food system

Jessie Radies_Blog Author_ENGuest blog by Jessie Radies, Local Food Associate, Northlands

The future of our food system depends on us and the choices we make every day. In North America, what we eat, where we buy it and what we grow, all help determine the make-up of our global food system.

There is growing collective recognition that our global food system, as it operates today, is not feeding our planet efficiently and comes at a great cost.  Regions are not encouraged to be self-reliant, farming is not financially viable with an ongoing effort to drive down the cost of production, starvation is still a reality and much of the food grown and raised is wasted before it ever gets eaten.

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Globally, science and agriculture are focused on providing enough calories to feed a global population of 9 billion people by 2050.  Today we imagine this by making agriculture production efficient and low cost; having infrastructure that can transport, store and process food products and ingredients efficiently around the globe.  It also requires chemicals and GMO’s to increase annual production and protect against disease and minimize the risk of crop failure. It means varieties of fruits and vegetables are grown based on their ability to be shipped, so oranges, bananas and fresh tomatoes can be a staple in our North American diet year round and can be shipped thousands of miles before they end up on our plate.

In my lifetime our food system has changed from one that was basically local to one that is primarily global, but the emergent edge of food is hyper-local and small, made up of urban agriculture, heritage varieties and artisan products.

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