Note: The Waterloo Institute for Complexity & Innovation (WICI) website can be found here.
On March 5th and 6th, SiG and WICI co-hosted an international, multi-disciplinary group for a symposium to explore the theories and concepts of social innovation. Along with a strong contingent from Waterloo, people came from as far afield as Australia, Sweden and the UK.
Concepts like complexity, governance, adaptability, resilience, scales, even the term innovation itself is used in different ways and has different meanings, particularly by people working in different disciplines or sectors. One of the goals of this conference was to find ways to bridge the gaps that exist between academic disciplines. The participants' ideas were, as one of them described it, like manifolds, sometimes sliding past each other, sometimes bumping up against each other and at other times moving in synergy.
As someone working to support social innovation it was a fantastic conversation to observe. My key takeaway was a reminder, if ever it was needed, that social innovation is a process; that the successes we hear about are often only a snapshot of a whole constellation of ideas, programs and efforts that were deemed much less successful.
A report on the symposium will be released in the coming weeks, and SiG will be exploring ways to support research projects and possible collaborations that emerged. Watch this space for more details.
On Jan 29th, people interested in the Waterloo Wellington Scenario initiative got together to continue exploring ways to ensure a positive future for our communities. Working with Andrew Hunter and Lisa Hirmer of Dodolab (a locally based team that use creative tools to help people identify barriers to change), 25 people interested in thinking about possible scenarios for the future met at the Button Factory in Uptown Waterloo to look together for opportunities to act, needs to be met, barriers to change and bridges that will overcome them.
Since last April, groups of socially engaged citizens from Waterloo and Wellington have been working together and meeting regularly to explore opportunities and challenges in need our attention. Anyone interested is welcome; there's no shortage of ideas, and energy is now being directed towards making sure these ideas gain traction and start to have real impact. Five important questions have emerged as being key in the future development of the region:
Are we supporting youth leadership?
Are we recognising diversity as an asset?
Are we developing a culture of learning, experimentation and innovation?
Are we fostering collaboration, especially across sectors?
Can our economy sustain local development and environmental services?
Two groups are already working on initiatives that consider one or more of these questions; one addressing the resilience of local youth and the other linking the social and ecological significance of the Grand River. Keep checking sig.uwaterloo.ca for information and news on this scenario initiative and to find out how you can get involved.