Linking, Creating & Integrating

Over the past few weeks I have been dipping in and out of learning, education, academic, research, community spaces. These events each brought about a different perspective for me while simultaneously reminding me that nothing is really that different. At the core of each of these conversations, I was critically reminded how important it is for someone to host conversations that matter. These conversations each lead to a new connection, a new resource, a reminder of something you already knew and hopefully fuelling action.


Each of these conversations were convened by different people or organizations and what is interesting is that they happened for me one after another felt like a building of a previous conversation.

Just yesterday, I was listening to a podcast by RadioLab about “What Does Technology Want?” and a story stood out for me about ow inventions all come at the same time, more or less. An invention needs to have a foundation of other ideas and technology before it to lay the ground work and then almost overnight the idea is born in many places at the same time. For example, the lightbulb was invented by Thomas Edison alongside 22 other patents filed around the same time.


This seemed to be a resonating theme with these 3  conversations. Put on by different organizations, probably all catalyzed by something slightly different and yet the conversations all started to feel the same to me. I was drawn to these particular conversations for the knowledge that was going to be shared, the people I would meet and the sparks that would be created.

  • Linking People and Knowledge Symposium (University of Toronto OISE and HEQCO)- connect researchers and practitioners in knowledge mobilization
  • Creating the Future (Sheridan College and University of Toronto OISE) – establish a foundation and value of undergraduate applied research in partnership with industry, academic institution and students
  • Cafe Hub (by Woodgreen Community Services in partnership with SPACE Coalition, City of Toronto, Toronto District School Board, Ontario Public School Board Association and others) – create integrated service delivery that is fluid and effective for communities

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These events left me with 3 big “I wonders”:

  1. I wonder how these conversations would be different as they open up to the community and stakeholders who would be most greatly impacted by the conversation
  2. I wonder how these conversations stem from liabilities and risk aversion.
  3. I wonder how these conversations will turn into action


Each of these conversations left me wanting to see what the next would be like when more people were brought into the fold. There was a few too many, “well, I assume…” “what works for us will work for them…” “I don’t think that will matter…” statements being made that made me question the validity of the conversation. Each felt a little one-sided and a bit like it was meant to paint a certain picture.


More than once, I heard people say “if only [insert rule here] didn’t exist, then…” or “we can’t do that for liability reasons”. It left me feeling like while rules give us order, at one point is it needed to revise what has come before and when do those rules, laws and procedures stop serving the people they were intended to protect.


Where are these conversations headed? Is this the first of many? Is there a plan that these conversations are a part of? Are we at the beginning, middle or end? What comes next? What keeps the momentum going? IMG_20140501_140514

Ultimately, I am seeing threads being pulled through each of these conversations and I will continue to try and weave these conversations together and participate as much as I can.








NOISE for Change – New Opportunities for Innovative Student Engagement

It was a cold and rainy evening when we arrived on the York University campus and found our way to the workshop room. The participants were lining up for the dinner before the workshop took place. The NOISE for Change group had been meeting since August to do work together and now in March, it was easy to see that they had clearly forged new relationships and were making an impact on one another. Meeting at York University, the high school students from Emery High School were introduced to the world of University and were embraced by their York University counterparts from Bachelors and Masters of Social Work. The NOISE for Change project is an amazing testimony to bringing together youth leaders and inspiring peer to peer projects. It was inspiring to see the investment everyone had made into the project and to each other.

Exhibit Change - 03

NOISE for Change has been making some big bangs in the Jane-Finch neighbourhood from their pilot project out of York University. “NOISE for Change, an opportunity for innovative student engagement, brought together 20 grade nines, 20 grade twelves, 20 Bachelors of Social Work students, 20 Masters of Social Work students and 20 York Social Work Alumni for such a unique program.”

In Community Action Pods, the groups worked together on projects for the community, many of them focused on bringing positive attention to the neighbourhood.

We were delighted to come and offer a Design Thinking 101 workshop for the Pods who are in the thick of their project work. As per usual, we opened up the workshop with the Oreo Cookie workshop to make an analogy to how we are all design thinkers. This activity always breaks up any apprehension that the participants have going into a design thinking workshop and put a little bit of sugar in their systems for the next bit of work.

Exhibit Change - 22

For the design thinking workshop, in our short time together, the groups explored a few possible design challenges that have popped up as projects brought forward by the community during past design jams at Green Change. Groups designed for community gardens and parking lot parties, no one wanted to take on the Tool Library, but we can come back to that another time.

The groups worked quickly at coming up with stakeholders and ideas for how they could make some of the projects a reality. As the groups are working on their own positive change projects in the neighbourhood, it was great to see them take what they have learned so far and apply that to these new challenges.

We are looking forward to seeing what comes from NOISE for Change next year as the take on new projects and youth leaders, it is inspiring to see their great work.



Yesterday, we facilitated a furniture design charrette in Jane and Finch for the Centre of Green Change. After a bit of dinner and an idea dump on the floor about the 4 main areas of programming, the participants were off to the races. With playdoh and hot glue guns, there was little need for enticement to get some of the youth building furniture. We ended up with a variety of table designs of different heights and convertible features, some firm stances for and against benches, and a pizza oven! Designs ranged from functional to artful, each with personality and adaptability in mind. There was a desire for open spaces and hidden spaces, like the indoor treehouse reading space. There was a strong focus of bringing natural elements and inspiration.

The process delivered many ideas and introduced the project to a whole new group of youth, this furniture charrette was the beginning of a longer conversation about sustainability and what you can make with your hands.

Maybe, one day we can build this growth table.