Hive Toronto MeetUp – One Collaboration Doesn’t Fit All

group website

For this year’s first Hive Toronto Meetup, we delivered a workshop called “One Collaboration Doesn’t Fit All”. Hive Toronto is a network of youth-serving organizations and inherent in their culture is collaboration. It is about this network working together to do more. And yet we have all been in one too many collaborations that didn’t pan out for one reason or another.

Bringing together design thinking and best practices about collaboration, Jenn led a hands-on and participatory workshop for participants. The workshop was scheduled for 2 hours, so participants were really only able to get a quick taste and introduction to design thinking. The goal of the workshop was to demonstrate some of the existing collaboration group dynamics that appear in everyday collaborations through somewhat fictitious and extreme challenges.

Here are some of the challenges that groups faced:

  • Collaborations formed based on minimal shared goals
  • Working through a task without knowing the teams strengths or weaknesses
  • Directives given in step-by-step rather all at once
  • Sudden changes to plans
  • Short timelines

feedback website

Divided into groups, teams were asked to:

  1. Elect one person to come select 2 pieces of paper
  2. Create a mindmap connecting these two words
  3. Identify possible areas for solutions
  4. Elect one person to come select a final piece of paper
  5. Work to understand their user
  6. Come up with ideas to solve their user’s problem
  7. Present their idea and receive feedback

The full report back is here. 

What if? Teachers Beyond the Classroom

What if? This is the first of hopefully a series of posts that act as reflections and provocations to design challenges that Exhibit Change has encountered. The What if? questions are not intended to be solutions or definitive statements, but rather questions that begin a series of exploration and understanding. 

A few weeks ago, I participated in a community forum.

The event’s goal is “to develop a strategy to help underemployed and unemployed teachers explore career opportunities outside of schools”.


“In 2006, 30 percent of teachers in their first year after graduation were either unemployed or underemployed. By 2010, that proportion had more than doubled, to 68 percent. Nearly one in four new teachers got no work at all, up from just three percent in 2006.” – Way Too Many Teachers: University Affairs

Leaving the day, this challenge started gnawing at me and I thought What if?

What If, we took a studio approach to this design challenge? Who would be the right people to interview? How could we get decision-makers to put strategies in place to mitigate this? Who are the teachers that are still enrolling for these positions when the circumstances seem so grim? What happens if all teacher colleges stopped operating for 5 years?

This is something I am looking into investigating more.


On November 22 2014, CivicAction’s DiverseCity Fellows Neil Price, Jamil Javani and Michael Bosompra hosted Teachers Beyond the Classroom community forum at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.

My concern heading into the day was that our panel was going to be surface level to the deeper employment challenges and immediate need for solutions. The room was a mix of pre-service teachers, teachers working in schools now, and teachers who have left schools and are working in different areas of education now – including a school trustee and business.

To kick off the day, I participate in a panel alongside Camesha Cox, a teacher who has started her own organization called The Reading Partnership and David Montemurro, a teacher educator from OISE who works to place teacher candidates in field placements. I was representing the perspective of someone that has collaborated with educators.


I am thankful to Neil, Jamil and Michael for taking on this wicked problem. There will be report and the community forum was structured around these research questions:

  • What skills do teachers bring to the table for non-school employers, and what careers need those skills?
  • Are teachers’ college students being adequately prepared for job opportunities outside of schools?
  • What impact can teachers’ college graduates have on various industries and organizations in Ontario?
  • How can employers, governments, and universities better support teachers’ college students and alumni in finding work outside of schools?
  • How might recent changes to teacher education in Ontario impact teacher employment outside of schools?


Evolving Exhibit Change

I am proud to announce that Exhibit Change is going on a evolution journey.

With a lot of excitement and a good mixture of freaked-out-ness, Exhibit Change is embarking on a refining process. It is time to put the mess out on the table and to see what comes out of it.


To capture this process, I have started a new website called Evolving Exhibit Change, you can go there to read more closely about the process. 

HMW question

There are 2 reasons for a new website rather than posting here.

1. Having a clean space that doesn’t come with all the baggage, assumptions, history and existing goals is the best way to really say I don’t know where this is going and I am ok with that.

2. At some point, I think that a new website will likely happen and I want to be able to continue capturing what is happening while that transformation is ongoing.

GS workshop

Hopefully you are now asking yourself, how can I help?

There are a ton of ways! 

1. Check out the ENGAGE page on the Evolving Exhibit Change site – over there I will be sharing current questions through polls and surveys to get a sense of where the EC community is at.

2. Do the collaborator/supporter/friend survey – don’t worry there are no right or wrong answers.

3. Volunteer for a longer interview – if you’d like to see yourself as a future client of Exhibit Change give me a holler at designthinking [at] and we can set up a call or coffee.

4. And of course, following along and stay tuned to the evolving process, through Facebook, Twitter and the Evolving EC website. 



Our Tune Up Experience Tackling Accessibility

Last year, we hosted a Tune Up Workshop with Equal Grounds. Tune Up, is a hands-on design workshop taking ideas to action while practicing how to co-design solutions with users. For Tune Up last year, we had 20 practicing design thinkers and 4 people from Equal Grounds participate in designing 4 possible ways that Equal Grounds could offer services and get their enterprise off the ground. Here is a blog from Co-Founder, Terrence Ho.


It’s been almost a year since we participated in the Exhibit Change Tune Up back in December 2013.

Equal Grounds started in 2013 a few years after my brother Torrance graduated from college and could not find employment. We decided that if employers were not willing to provide opportunities we would create opportunities for him instead. After prototyping different things that he could do from data entry for small businesses to running a petition campaign, we were contacted by a family friend that heard about our project and wanted her son to be involved who also has muscular dystrophy. That’s when I realized there are many more individuals that are impacted besides my brother and his friend.

We brought our team to Tune Up because we felt we needed clarity in our direction and whether what we are tackling and our problem definition of “how do we create employment opportunities for people with disabilities” is actually true or a problem that doesn’t exist.

There were four key concepts that came out of Tune Up:

  • Internship Concept – whereby a company brings on an individual with accessible needs into their workplace for a short period of time or on a small project to see of there’s a fit.
  • Accessibility Website – as a source for information on AODA and consulting services.
  • Accessibility Centre – where individuals with disabilities can work from, with on site attendants to allow persons to work remotely for other companies and have proper care. It was even suggested that we have a remote site in a warmer climate of Florida!
  • Accessibility Association and Awards – bringing together all organizations working on employment and accessibility and awarding other organizations and companies that have achieved and gone beyond the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards.

What these concepts from the design thinkers that day did for us is validate our concepts that we were testing and have thought about.

Nine months after Tune Up this is where we are, still tackling the opportunity of “how can we create employment opportunities for people with disabilities?” There are three key initiatives we are focused on:

1) Inclusive Consulting: We designed and pitched an accessible consultancy at the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) Studio and Showcase where we received positive feedback from the panel. Our main focus is to provide AODA audits, training and strategic/metric development. This has spun into its own entity called Employable Accessible People. We are currently building our team of consultants as we gear up for our first client.


2) Arts and Socialization: We’ve also been prototyping a wheelchair dance and theatre program for the last seven months. With eight core members we continue to adjust our program to meet our member’s needs. We teach everything from line dance and salsa to improv activities. We were recently invited to participate in the opening ceremonies of the ParaPan Am Games in 2015. We are very excited with this opportunity and continue to look for more individuals with mobility needs to join our wheelchair/scooter dance and theatre program.

3) Writing and Awareness: Our third endeavor is our Enables Me network around raising awareness through writing. We have a team of writers sharing their personal experiences and to report on accessibility news locally and abroad on topics from sports, work, travel and technology. You can read the stories at:

Our objective is to become a go to source for accessibility stories and information online. We continue to look for writers that want to share their personal experiences and to report on accessibility news.

As you can tell our work continues to evolve well after Tune Up, we are thankful for the opportunity to have the minds of so many thoughtful and experienced individuals that day.

— Terrence

A HUGE thank you to Terrence for recounting this story for us to share.

Gazebo Confessionals: A Partnership with the Institute Without Boundaries

From its conception, LandMark was designed to have 3 main components: a community engagement element, a citizen design lab and photo-stories. The citizen design lab was originally imagined to be an interactive city-building space where participants could build and rebuild the city throughout the night, highlighting that city-building is never done by one person alone.

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As LandMark grew as a project, we knew that strengthening our community partnerships meant collaborating with different organizations so when the opportunity to collaborate with Institute Without Boundaries arose, we knew we had to embrace the opportunity.


We met with the new incoming students in early September to share the initial concepts but really to create the container for a LandMark citizen design lab that would take on a new spin. We didn’t want to dictate what the students could or could not do, that would defeat the purpose of the collaboration. We shared the same creative brief with the students that our photographers worked with and knew that the openness might be daunting at first, but it offered a lot of opportunity for creativity and originality.

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The IwB class is a small group of about 10-12 students. In an afternoon of brainstorming and ideation, they came up with two ideas that eventually became the Gazebo Confessionals and a Fondest Memories Wall. Both installations offered visitors a way to interact with LandMark either by individually sharing a story on the Memory Wall or connect with a stranger or several.


A HUGE thanks to the students of IwB who toughed it out for LandMark and really helped us animate St. James Park in an exciting way.

Wrapping up LandMark

It is hard to believe that a little less than a month ago, we stayed up all night in St. James Park for LandMark. This project was an unbelievable triumph of community partnerships and stories.


In February, we submitted a proposal for a Scotiabank Nuit Blanche independent project following a few conversations with the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA. The idea for LandMark was born out of a goal to capture stories and bridge together different community organizations from the neighbourhood to complete one goal.


We specifically chose St. James Park as the site for our proposal, as it is a site rich with history and controversy. It is well known as the site of the Occupy Toronto protest and demonstration in 2011, the site of the St. James Cathedral which is the first church in the city of York and where you can still take bell-ringing classes, and now it is home to Music in the St. James Park where you can enjoy free concerts in the park on Thursdays throughout the summer. We knew this was a park of many layers and it was those layers that inspired the theme of LandMark.

To uncover the city, layer by layer.

This theme alongside the curatorial mission to capture the stories of everyday heroes, LandMark emerged as a one-time event that can only be created by these partners at this time.


What is remarkable about this project, is that each of the partners were like a moving piece of well-oiled machine, without each other, this project would never have come to life in the way that it did. Much like a community, we are a series of individual pieces that can operate separately, but collectively can accomplish larger goals without taking on the entire workload individually.

It is our goal to take what we have learned from LandMark and put it into longer and continuous community partnership projects in the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood and strengthen the foundation that has been built.

Behind the Scenes of LandMark: Uncovering Isorine Marc & Jamii

Crowdsourced #1

LandMark was a month-long community engagement project that Exhibit Change ran in partnership with the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA.

Involving over 40 partnerships is make it a reality, one of the key elements of the project was the matching of our team of photographers with local organizations in order to highlight how these community projects are helping to make Toronto a great city to live in.

Our LandMark photographer Diana Nazareth interviewed her community partner Isorine Marc, who is the founder of Jamii, to uncover the story that would be translated into the photo essay for Scotiabank Nuit Blanche.

Tell us about your mission? What was the inspiration for your idea/company/project?

In 2008, some of my neighbors and I came together to organize in The Esplanade neighborhood a few small but meaningful grassroots community activities throughout the summer days. Events ranged from outdoor barbecue to gardening, including bike clinics, movie nights and a mini arts festival. Within a couple of months, the change was obvious: after thirty years of living next to each other, neighbors started living with each other. This is the very core of Jamii’s inspiration.

I believe in one’s creativity; I believe in the power of arts to build our community stronger; I believe in people taking ownership of their public space; and I believe in the importance of nurturing a sense of pride of and belonging to the place where we live.

I founded Jamii in 2011. Jamii’s mandate is to enhance The Esplanade neighborhood’s vitality by initiating and producing arts-based community-engaged projects and events in and around Crombie Park.

The success of Jamii is not only in its vision, but also in the people and organizations that support it. The list is long, but it’s important for me to mention one of our greatest partner, CORPUS, the dance/theatre company I work for. It’s been a decade of taking arts to the street throughout the world. CORPUS has been supporting and partnering with Jamii – since the very beginning, to transform The esplanade with creativity.

The echoing of “change comes from within” resonates on The Esplanade. I’ve been living here since 2006, and I love my “village” – as I call it. The people I work with, engage with, partner with are my neighbors, friends, daughter’s friends, classmates, teachers (…). It ‘s not an outside force that comes in our homes to bring change: it’s us, Esplanadians, who create our tomorrow.


How would you describe yourself in 10 words or less?

Passionate, engaged, happy, social, driven, enthusiast, hard-working, persevering, focused, generous and loving. That’s 11.

What is most sacred to you?

As of today: my 2-yrs old daughter. She needs my love and guidance.

Who or what is a current influential force in your life?

The excitement burning in me when thinking of what’s possible.
The discipline to see things through.

What was the hardest part of growing up for you?

I can’t think of any: all was happening to get me all set for what was coming. What I love is continue growing up and getting ready for what’s always ahead.

What advice can you offer to young women with GOOD ideas today?

Trust that you’re capable and don’t think about it twice: just do it.

Where will you be in 5 years? What will your ‘mission’ look like?

I don’t know where I will be, maybe here – maybe there; but I know it will be nice and I’ll feel good about myself, about my life.
I hope that The Esplanade neighborhood will be thriving and as creative as ever, under the leadership of Jamii; and if not under its leadership, I hope that Jamii’s legacy will be in the air, one way or the other.

Where can we find out more about your project?

Behind the Scenes of LandMark: Tara Noelle & Young People’s Theatre


LandMark was a month-long community engagement project that Exhibit Change ran in partnership with the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA.

Involving over 40 partnerships is make it a reality, one of the key elements of the project was the matching of our team of photographers with local organizations in order to highlight how these community projects are helping to make Toronto a great city to live in.

We interviewed Product Magazine photographer Tara Noelle about her experience in photographing the volunteers at Young People’s Theatre.


What’s your background and why photography?

I am a local based portrait photographer who studied Fine Arts and Film Photography at OCADU. I stepped away from mix media art work to focus more solely on photography as a medium and career.

I enjoy that a great photo can suggest many emotions regardless of their subject, in a way suggesting everything while revealing nothing.  Why photography? I could be here forever… there are so many why’s, so why not?

Tell us about what inspired you after meeting up with your community partner?

Where to begin? While exploring the space, I was impressed by the quality of the in-house custom designers, and who could forget the story about how the large stage is supposedly haunted? However, what soon became clear to me was that the strength of Young People’s Theatre  is truly the young teenage volunteers who bring YPT to life.



What was the concept that guided the creation of your Scotiabank Nuit Blanche photo essay?

I wanted to try convey as much as possible about the people behind the scenes of YPT in one photo but still keep my minimalist portrait style in mind.


Connect with Tara: | Facebook: Tara Noelle Photography | Twitter:@taranoellephoto | Instagram: @taranoellephoto

We accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

Starting on July 29th, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has hit the social media world by storm and hasn’t stopped yet. Last night we were challenged by my lovely hubby Edmond Wong. Check out his video here. 

Like most people, you may have heard whispers of this ice bucket challenge filtering through the virtual grapevines and been wondering what the big deal was and what the heck is ALS?

ALS was first found in 1869 by French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, but it wasn’t until 1939 that Lou Gehrig brought national and international attention to the disease. Ending the career of one of the most beloved baseball players of all time, the disease is still most closely associated with his name. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. (Source: ALS Association website)

The ALS Association launched this public awareness campaign and have been putting eyes and dollars in their pockets to further their fight to find a cure.

We accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

What we like about this challenge:

  • It’s about the people
  • A bias towards action
  • We can do more together than alone
  • A little risk can have a big impact

And for these reasons, we have chosen to challenge 3 friends that we think embody these values.


We nominate:

1. Dr. Brett Jacobsen, Head of School at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School 

2. Jen Hanson, Executive Director of Connected in Motion 

3. David Kelley, Founder of IDEO 

Here’s our video!

You have 24 hours to respond!


Everyday Heroes

We all know them. We pass by them everyday. They are the people who make the little things happen and it is a thankless job.

For our Scotiabank Nuit Blanche exhibit, Landmark; our goal is to capture the stories of everyday heroes.

We usually think of Landmarks as the buildings, monuments or public spaces that have been named after a famous person, we are flipping the idea of Landmark on its head and going after the people that work tirelessly to keep this city running.


There is a story I have heard time and time again that is the quintessential story of ownership. A caretaker at NASA was noticed working late into the night and when asked why he was there working so hard, he responded “Because I am helping put a man on the moon.” It is this dedication that often goes unnoticed and why we are so proud of the stories we will be able to share.

We are proud to be working with 11 community organizations to showcase their stories through photography essays.

These organizations will be sharing their everyday heroes with us!

  1. Young People’s Theatre
  2. Enoch Turner Schoolhouse & Parliament Interpretive Centre
  3. C’est What
  4. 1812 Re-enactors
  5. Market Vendor
  6. Toronto Tool Library
  7. Crisis Centre for Mental Health
  8. Jamii
  9. St. James Cathedral
  10. First Post Office
  11. King Edward Hotel

We can’t wait to see what they come up with.

Here are some of our heroes:


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