Art of Social Innovation Training | Postponed

Art of Social Innovation 

Full Invitation: Art_of_Social_Innovation_Toronto

Fee:  $900 for corporate, $750 for non-profit, $650 for youth/student 

participatory leadership in times of change

3 day training




The complexity we are facing in the world right now is pushing us to ask some new questions about how we act, what our organizations do and how to respond:

How can we increase our capacity to learn?

How can we thrive in complexity and shifting systems?

How can we create initiatives and socially innovate within complexity?

How to work with relationships, difference, real diversity?

In Toronto and beyond, social innovators and pioneers of new ways of doing things are popping up all around us. We can’t predict the results. This by nature is complex. The complexity can be overwhelming – halting our learning, making us feel stuck, tense, and even perpetuating fragmentation and conflict – with and among those who are also trying to make a better world a practical reality.

This training will explore:

How we can use methods and practices of collaborative and participatory leadership to connect social innovation efforts, learn from one another and address the complexity of the challenges facing communities and organizations today?

This is for people who:

– are not shying away from all the work it takes to make a better world a practical reality

– see that making a better world cannot happen in isolation

– want to increase their capacity to learn

– need to work with diverse voices and invite real diversity into their work

– are ready to develop their own capacity, and the capacity of those doing good work around us


  • art of hosting is a technology of social learning.
  • art of hosting is a practice of personal and collective leadership that makes the world a better place.
  • art of hosting is about adaptive knowledge and not getting addicted to best practices

The Art of Hosting is an intensive three day experiential personal leadership and professional development training designed to build community and explore powerful participatory leadership practices to address complex community, organizational and societal challenges.


– Learn practical, participatory tools — and how to use them — including: chaordic project planning, world cafe, open space, pro action cafe, and more.

– Immerse yourself and your team in a supportive and co-creative space.

– Experience the connection between personal transformation and the capacity to create change in the world.

– Connect and learn with a community of leaders working to bring change into diverse settings in Toronto and beyond.

– Explore tools for resilience and systems change

– Learn how to work within the systems all around us, to see how systems are changing and shifting and exploring how can we thrive in complexity

 Register Here!  

EdCamp BootCamp Training | August 21, 2013

edcamp_logoEdCamp is a uniquely powerful movement growing through out education professional development. It is a way to connect to other educators, to other people thinking about what is happening and will be happening in education, to explore your own questions and curiosities.

EdCamp BootCamp is a way to explore the mechanics of the unconference.

This will be a one day training ALL about unconferences and facilitation. Unconferences are participant-driven, the content is created on the spot by the people who are in the room. This training will give an overview of a few different techniques and facilitation methods that can be used for EdCamps. Coming to EdCamp and meeting like-minded people is awesome and being able to facilitate when you get back to your place of work is equally as powerful.

Nathan at EdCamp HK
From EdCamp Hong Kong – a little lesson on how to make coffee before we got going for the day

This training is intended for individuals who have organized or are thinking of organizing an EdCamp in their own community and is looking for some basics on how the facilitation happens. Participants will learn about unconference models, practice unconference techniques and dynamics. Learn strategies of how to design the day, how to facilitate conversations and how to capture what happened to share beyond the day.

Tickets for participation for EdCamp Design Thinking are still open. October 5th, 2013, join educators, learners and designers who will be discussing “How might design thinking impact the future of education?” An opportunity to meet other EdCampers and practice.

*All proceeds/fees from EdCamp Bootcamp will go to funding EdCamp Design Thinking* 

Register for EdCamp Bootcamp – August 21, 2013

To read about other EdCamps:

EdCamp Hong Kong : Reflection Blog from Bad Kids Collective – The Amazing Race 

EdCamp Toronto: Reflections from EdCamp Toronto


How might we bring design thinking to Glen Shields public school?

Andrew GS

We are doing design thinking at Glen Shields Public School. We started this process with a conversation about the school and what the culture was like and how might we be able to work together on professional development, student engagement and learning design thinking.

Glen Shields is a school that hosts a community of diversity, equity, inquiry and empathy. Their principal and teachers are committed to bringing opportunities to their students and engaging their school community.

GS teachers workshop Brandond

We are starting our work with Glen Shields through teacher training on design thinking, workshops with students on design thinking and working towards building a language and foundation for work to come next year.
We have requests for more workshops and teachers saying that they are already bring the ideas back to their classrooms. It is exciting to see where this is going. The students are just embarking on their journey and we meet with them again this week. Can’t wait to see where they go!This year we are focusing on the design thinking process with 44 students and 11 educators to prototype the process.

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.


Engineers Without Borders – If change isn’t systemic, it isn’t change at all

ewb-canadas-logo-jpg1As the engineers get ready to be deployed on their international assignments, they go through and intensive amount of training with a focus on human-centered design and empathy problem solving. Engineers Without Borders is famous for shifting the way international development work is done;

” We co-design systemic innovations with local partners, with the goal of fixing a broken system or introducing a new model.”

As well as they way they are reporting and documenting their work, EWB was the first NGO to introduce the Failure Report to learn from mistakes happening in the field directly from the staff working on the ground.

EWB Workshop The unique way in which EWB is investing in people is what made me most excited to be delivering a Design Thinking 101 workshop to them in a week where they also focus on systems thinking, foresight and experience design. Admittedly, I was a little nervous to be bringing design thinking into a room of engineers who are heading out on some absolutely amazing ventures in Africa, each one doing something that sounded more and more complicated and I just had to check-in with myself and reminded myself that these are exactly the wicked problems that design thinking can facilitate.

In just under 2 hours, after getting a breakdown of design thinking, the engineers took on a wicked problem to practice. The two designs that emerged were a self-contained shelter for a homeless person who has been kicked out of the Salvation Army for violence or substance abuse during a snowstorm in Vancouver including some augmented reality software and a floatation device that can be used as a food and health sanctuary in times of flood and conflict in Africa for women and children that could dissolve to feed and nourish the fields.

Both teams were able to dig into the challenge and emerge with some great ideas, in the reflections they realized the importance of framing the problem and being able to focus on select stakeholders, to evaluate where an “impossible” idea may feed into a realistic solution and to continue to unpack where they made decisions and had biases.


Launching EdCamp Design Thinking

In 2011, I joined the inaugural EdCamp Toronto organizing committee. In 2012, I instigated EdCamp Hong Kong (the first EdCamp in Asia), participated in starting the harvest team for the second EdCamp Toronto and attended EdCamp Ottawa. Needless to say, I am a fan of the EdCamp movement and have been watching it grow over the years.  So, I was pretty excited when I passed an idea past the co-founders of Dan Callahan and Mike Ritzius to launch a spinoff of the original EdCamp with the addition of design thinking methodologies.

On February 20th, we will be hosting our first meeting and planning EdCamp Design Thinking!!! I am pretty excited 🙂

At the meeting we will be building a model for all future EdCamp Design Thinking, a model to be tested, to be hacked, to be spread. A model that is going to share the the process of problem finding, idea generation, empathy mapping, to design solutions and to pitch. The goal of EdCamp Design Thinking is to promote the 21st century skills: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication as well as entrepreneurship.

I love the beginning of projects, so much potential! Our planning team currently is made up of designers, educators, innovators and people who are passionate about education.

For more information, check out the EdCamp Design Thinking wiki.

Make it happen,


Green Change Community Consultation

Join us for a conversation about the future of the Green Change Agents Program, in a co-design process we will be gathering input on the future of the Green Change Agents Program, the vision for the core curriculum, the “ultimate” Green Change Agent and what community partnerships look like.

Green Change Agents Program – Community Consultation

WHEN: Friday, November 30, 2012 from 12:30 pm to 4:00 pm
WHERE: Driftwood Community Centre, 4401 Jane Street (southeast corner of Jane St/Driftwood Ave)
WHO: Individuals and community partners working on, or interested in, local environmental action, community engagement/education, and social justice, as well as past participants of the Green Change Agents Training Program
OVERVIEW: Green Change presents an immersive, interactive session to (re)engage community partners and residents around the next iteration of the Green Change Agents Program and develop strong partnerships that will influence its new structure and content

Clara Stewart-Robertson, Project Coordinator for Green Change
and Jennifer Chan, Education Innovation Consultant

We have included some important background information below on the Green Change Project and Green Change Agents Program to help bring everyone up to speed. We promise that it is worth the long read! 

What have we been up to lately?
Since the last round of agent training in early 2011, the Green Change Project has experienced numerous challenges, including a complete staff turnover and the loss of organizational memory, partnerships, and participants. While the resulting transition proved difficult at times for our new staff and caused some delays in our programming – as well as the construction of our new Centre for Green Change, – it also presented an incredible opportunity to pause, breathe, and reflect upon the project at a critical stage in its development. Moreover, that very “break” gave us the space to experiment with new creative processes and activities, seek new relationships with other innovators across the city, and stretch our capacity to lead change. Many of you played a part in this exploration and we are so grateful to you for your dedication and your inspiration over the last year!

So, once we had distilled all the lessons learned as well as our emerging ambitions for the project, we recognized that we needed to:

  • Develop better organizational clarity and communication
  • Develop more systematic and systemic community outreach
  • Scale up inclusion and diversity in our operations and programs
  • Formalize our commitment to community design, environmental health, and just sustainabilities

What better place to start this transformation, we thought, than with the redesign of our cornerstone Green Change Agents Program?

The purpose of the Green Change Agents Program was, and continues to be, to uncover and grow the capabilities and potential in all Jane-Finch residents to transform the way we treat each other and the planet. Through the program, participants are offered opportunities to build their environmental knowledge, take leadership on community projects, connect with a network of local mentors, and create pathways to employment.

Can we co-produce a more effective and sustainable program? 
Over the last year or so, we have been working with graduate students from York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies to unpack what happened during those previous agent programs, interview past participants and facilitators, and discover emerging trends in the “green economy” and “green jobs.” More recently, we have begun to evaluate similar environmental education and community leadership programs operating throughout the Toronto region, Canada, the United States, and Europe to help us think about how we could do our work differently.

We will be posting more direct outputs from our research online in the coming months, but for now, please get in touch with us for more information!

How can YOU contribute to this process? 
As we begin to translate this research into more concrete ideas and practices for a revised agent program, it is important that we hear from as many different people as possible by hosting meaningful public conversations with our partners and residents. We want to ensure that we provide a fertile ground where we can all work collaboratively, creatively, and strategically toward the program’s growth and development. All of you have so many wonderful ideas, projects, and job/entrepreneurship opportunities to share with the Jane-Finch neighbourhood, and we want to find the best ways to move them forward.

Unfortunately, our timeframe for delivering a redesigned Green Change Agents Program is extremely short due the conditions of our funding. Our goal is to test run the new program this February during the “12 Days of Green Change,” and then deliver two consecutive rounds in March and June 2013. That said, we are strongly committed to ongoing dialogue and community engagement, starting with the community consultation on November 30th.

The purpose of this community consultation session will be to:

  • Share the draft vision and principles for a redesigned Green Change Agents Program
  • Engage with community partners and residents to amplify/coordinate emerging partnerships and learning opportunities
  • Collaborate on the challenges currently facing the Green Change Project

If you know other community members or organizations who might be interested in contributing to the Green Change Agents Program, please share this invitation with them or contact us directly. We will do our best to accommodate everyone at the session, however, space is limited at the Driftwood Community Centre.

Additional details: Lunch and refreshments will be served. Please let us know if you have any specific food allergies or needs. Childcare can be provided upon request.

RSVP to the Green Change team by email at, or call  416-663-2733, ext. 235

WiToPoli Workshop

A small selection of the post-its from the workshop.

Sometimes the challenges we face in creating a better city can seem very big and overwhelming. Some might even say impossible… So what better place to meet on a Sunday morning with a group of incredible, interesting women, than the Academy of the Impossible. Coming from diverse backgrounds like planning, community engagement,  engineering and entrepreneurship, everyone there had in common the belief that women have an important role to play in city building.

Women in Toronto politics had conceived of this workshop as a way to get women together to brainstorm around ideas and issues to be put forward as a deputation for city council, in advance of the next budget. Facilitated by Exhibit Change, the day was high energy, with inspiring conversations from the get go. The world cafe format started the day off, allowing us to identify which conversations were already in the room.

The first question, where is your heart in Toronto, led to impassioned conversations about home, family, neighbourhoods, which touched on topics like development and opportunity. Following this, the groups dispersed and reformed, to think about the question “what does the city of Toronto give you?” The host at each table facilitated, building on the previous themes. Topics of opportunity, way finding, community and a sense of home expressed the appreciation and conversely some of the frustrations that people experienced in Toronto. Finally, the question “what does the city of Toronto need from its citizens?” sparked conversation on engagement, action and mobilization around some of the challenges the city faces. All the participants were then asked to note down challenges on post its for harvesting the rich conversations.

Delicious lunch gave time for mingling and personal connections, while the. WiToPoli team worked to link and connect the post it’s into themes.These themes informed the after lunch session, but not before a fun “idea speed dating session” to get the neurons firing in novel ways. Participants broke out into themed tables and got down to the nitty gritty details of coming up with practical solutions to some of the issues identified, to be presented as a deputation.

The next two hours was a flurry of intense discussion, debate, and proposal making. Note takers kept careful track of the core of the proposals, to be given to the WiToPoli team to create deputations from. At the end of the workshop, everyone offered their reflections on the day. Inspired, connected, and engaged seemed to be shared feelings, with comments in how heartening it was to be among a group of people who don’t think “you care too much”.

Lastly, the participants wrote their pledge as to how they would Exhibit Change going forward. WiToPoli are working on the deputation, so watch this space!

Participants in full swing with intense discussion at the World Cafe

“Women Are City-Builders” co-hosted with Women In Toronto Politics

On September 23rd, we gathered with 30 brilliant minds in a co-hosted workshop with Women in Toronto Politics at the Academy of the Impossible.

We were primed for a day of  discussion, multiple view points and a lot of work. I had the utmost pleasure of getting to facilitate the day and it was made so much easier by the sheer brilliance of the participants. We hosted a group of women (& a few men) who’s backgrounds came from politics, law, non-profit, education, community-based organizations, you name it. Very interestingly, the majority of the participants were not born and raised in Toronto, with only 6, the others landed in Toronto at different times varying from the last few months to 10+ years ago.

This really shone a light on the fact that citizen engagement is not necessarily about your geographic roots. The diversity didn’t stop there either, we had folks coming from all parts of the city which was highlighted in discussions about how Toronto is a city made up of smaller “cities” with overlapping issues.

From a process side, I am always delighted when people really give in and let go of their stranger shields early. We were asking people big questions early on and after a bit of hesitation the conversations never stopped. In fact, I always feel a little bad when I have to be the one to move to the next question or agenda item. I am sorry, I promise I do it for a reason!

It was nice to be reminded that our style of facilitation is unique and lent itself well to this conversation. We were able to map out the themes in the room over our morning discussions and then emerge to do the work in the afternoon. The energy and momentum from the day are indescribable, what comes next, only time will tell. WiTOpoli fueled the fire, now we have fanned it a bit more, so the next piece is to set this place a blaze 🙂

Inspire Yourself!


p.s. THANKS SOOO much to my beautiful team – Linn, Alex and Terrence, you are rockstars!

Furniture Design Charrette for the Centre for Green Change

We have been working with the Centre for Green Change for a few months now. In the summer, we hosted a “Design Jam” to start generating ideas with residents about what the space might look like.

The jam spurred a whole slew of ideas that will add life to the Centre for Green Change programming and space on the inside and outside. One big idea was about the furniture: what could it look like? how could it be flexible and adaptable to all the different programming? how will it be sustainable?

On September 26th, we are meeting again to focus on furniture. We will be designing furniture for the new space and will have access to the York University sculpture studio on November 2nd and 3rd to build stuff! We are looking for designers, builders, ideas people, photographers, creative folks in general to join us. Please RSVP to designthinking (@)