Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Social Innovation Shared Space: Great things are afoot!

Guest Blogger: Sean Quigley, Executive Director, Emerging Leaders

Sometimes an idea comes up and fades away and comes up again and fades. But some ideas have too much pull, are too good, not to continue working on. Such is the case for a shared space for social innovation. 

What is a shared space for social innovation? Well one example of this is Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation. From their website : “The Centre for Social Innovation is a social enterprise with a mission to catalyze social innovation in Toronto and around the world. We believe that society is facing unprecedented economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges. We also believe that new innovations are the key to turning these challenges into opportunities to improve our communities and our planet. CSI is a coworking space, community centre and incubator for people who are changing the world. We provide our members with the spaces, relationships and knowledge they need to turn their ideas into impact.”

Pillar Nonprofit Network (Pillar) and Emerging Leaders (EL) have recently begun working on a feasibility study for such a space in London. Through generous funding from the London Community Foundation, Ministry ofCitizenship & Immigration and United Way of London Middlesex, and with partners such as Web.isod.es, and the Centre for Social Innovation, we are exploring how to make this sticky idea a reality in London.
Pillar and EL have been hosting a series of design jams to tap the brilliant energy and great ideas of our partners and the wider London community. We have asked questions about whether London needs a social innovation shared space? Who are the people and organizations that would be a good fit? Where should this space be located? How can it be sustainable? Should it be only nonprofits or should it be a mix of social entrepreneurs, social enterprise, start-ups, and established businesses?
On March 19th, EL hosted one of these jams at the Goodwill Centre and there was a coming together of ideas fueled by our seeders. The Seeders are people who have a strong vision of what this space could be. We have heard from entrepreneurs, nonprofits, community leaders, and Londoners who create impact in our community. There was open, honest, and respectful discussion about what this space needs to be, combined with a palpable excitement about the need for such a space.
Pillar and EL will continue to carefully work through the process of understanding the feasibility of this kind of space and continue to engage the community in helping us to shape these ideas into a concrete plan that can be honestly evaluated. We are truly excited by the potential of this space and all signs are pointing towards this dream becoming a reality.
As we continue along this path and explore this potential, we will share our progress both here and on social media. In the meantime, stay tuned. Great things are afoot!