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Proof: How Shared Spaces Are Changing The World


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This report shares the most recent research on the impact of the Centre for Social Innovation in order to demonstrate just what shared spaces for social innovation can accomplish.

For more information on the Centre for Social Innovation, visit

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Proof: How Shared Spaces Are Changing The World

  1. 1. proof How SHared SpaceSare cHanging tHe world 1
  2. 2. For additional copies of this publication, please visit: more information contact: proofsssi@socialinnovation.cahttp://socialinnovation.cayou are free How Shared Spaces are Changing the World to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work to remix — to adapt the workunder tHe following condiitonS attributionYou must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor(but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work). Share alikeIf you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting workonly under the same or similar licence to this one.for more informaiton see: 978-0-9865436-4-7 90000 9 780986 543647
  3. 3. the centre for Social innovation catalyzes andsupports social innovation in toronto and around theworld. we create community workspaces, incubateemerging enterprises, and develop new models and WANTmethods with world-changing potential. TO HELP? { 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. We are working together to fix our future.
  4. 4. t he Centre for Social Innovation opened its doors in June 2004. At that time, we had incredible pas- sion, extraordinary vision, and only an inkling of how We tried to share as much information as we could, as frequently as we could, but we began to realize that we needed another strategy to meet the growing interest we would make it all work. It was, needless to say, an in creating shared spaces for social innovation... adventurous start. At the time, we weren’t aware of any other similar models. It felt like everything we were do- ...So we created this series. ing was new. We were making it up as we went along, Shared Spaces for Social Innovation is about sharing our and through hard work, clear vision, and a fair amount story and empowering others to learn from our expe- of good fortune, we made it work. Our model and our rience. The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) has al- team proved their mettle and within a few short years ways been open with its model. We’ve long preachedforeword we were running a 23,000 square foot facility that was the benefits of shared spaces and we’ve been doing home to over 180 members representing missions from our best to encourage as many new spaces as possible. arts to environment to education to social justice. We figured that the best way to open our model – to reveal everything we’ve learned in hopes of supporting Slowly, as our model grew, we began to attract the at- the emergence of new and better spaces – was to docu- tention of others who were interested in what we were ment what we’ve done and make it available to anyone accomplishing. Some were at the idea stage and inter- who was interested. ested to know ‘how we did what we did’. Others were already building shared spaces and wondered what It has taken a fair amount of courage for us to let it all they could borrow and adapt to their community. Still hang out and give it all away! Many people advised others were asking if we would come to their city to us that we should be franchising, licensing, and hold- establish a Centre for Social Innovation. ing our knowledge close to our chests. But this went against our values. Instead, we are putting this whole What began as an occasional trickle began to gain series into the creative commons for others to benefit steam. By our fourth year we were overwhelmed with from and contribute to. requests and inquiries about our model. We were, and continue to be, absolutely delighted and honoured by We believe that good ideas scale when they are open. this attention. But we struggled with our own capacity. We also believe that ideas get better when we share. We are a small social enterprise that has been stretched We look forward to working with you on this journey to to the limits evolving our own community and programs. create and grow new strategies for social innovation.
  5. 5. The Shared Spaces for Social Innovation Series is made up of a work in progreSS three books: Of course, the story of the Centre for Social Innovation By contributing to a shared body of knowledge, we’re emergence: the Story of the centre for Social innovation. is still unfolding. And yet the challenge with writing a empowering others to be even more successful, build- book is the finality of it all. We therefore invite you to ing this field and advancing our own spaces in the pro- In this book we weave a narrative around our genesis and de- participate in our online space. At first, we’ll have pdf cess. velopment. Starting back when the Centre was just a glimmer versions of the series publications and a set of tem- in the eyes of a few social entrepreneurs, Emergence follows We’re not yet sure what it will look like, and we’re very plates and tools available for download. In time, we’ll our growth from concept to operation to scale. sure that it won’t be up to us alone to determine. But make amendments to these books, release additions we’re hoping this effort starts us along a path to an rigour: How to create world-changing Shared Spaces. to the series and create a platform for a community of open community of practice that is creating the spaces practice. This book is a manual for those planning or operating a shared where people change the world. space. It reveals the accumulated knowledge of six years of open Sourcing our Model experience and offers a ton of tips, lessons and tools for devel- oping a strong organization and vibrant community. Shared Spaces for Social Innovation reveals just about access new releases and @ everything we’ve learned about creating and growing proof: How Shared Spaces are changing the world. shared workspaces. We’re telling our story, sharing our supporting materials. This report shares our most recent research on the impact of research, and offering the tools and templates we’ve the Centre for Social Innovation in order to demonstrate just created along the way. what shared spaces for social innovation can accomplish. But sharing is a two-way Each book can be read on its own. Together they provide a identify yourself as part of street. Actually, it’s more like a comprehensive picture of the Centre for Social Innovation. this growing community. highway interchange! While it is truly our pleasure to provide this material, our hope is that you will embrace the Creative Com- Looking to build or grow your own mons spirit. This means recognizing our contribu- download all of our shared space for social innovation? tion and letting us know what you’ve used, adapted, templates and tools. and developed. More importantly, it means sharing your experiences and tools with other shared spaces. CSI offers tailored consulting, training, and speaking services to help you with challenges from start-up to scale. Get in touch by sending a note to 9
  6. 6. thank you We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to A publication like this only comes together with incred- the many people who have made the Centre for So- ible dedication. Eli Malinsky has played author, editor, cial Innovation and this series possible. First, a thanks project manager and overall superhero on this project; to the CSI Staff and Board team, whose vision and in- Shared Spaces for Social Innovation provides only a dustry have made the Centre what it is today. Second, glimpse of the value that Eli brings to CSI and to this a special thanks to our incredible network of partners emerging field. and supporters, including Urbanspace Property Group, Hamutal Dotan deserves special recognition for her Canadian Heritage, The Ontario Trillium Foundation, writing on Emergence and Proof – her effortless style Canadian Alternative Investment Co-Operative, Asho- perfectly captures the tone of the Centre for Social In- ka, Harbinger Foundation and the Province of Ontario, novation. For turning beautiful words into compelling Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. publications, The Movement continues to mesmerize and engage. We’d also like to recognize Margot Smart, looking forward who meticulously designed and analyzed the 2008 This series starts with the Centre for Social Innovation. But member survey, which forms the basis of our statistics. we know there are dozens of like-minded spaces around the Finally, we would like to recognize our members. They world, and we hope to add other stories, experiences, tem- are the reason we do what we do. They inspire us, plates and tools over time. they motivate us, they ground us and they challenge Our vision is a vibrant, shared platform that includes the expe- us. Their passion, commitment and creativity are what riences of shared spaces dedicated to social innovation around make it all worthwhile, and it is truly our honour to sup- the world – your experiences. We’re hoping to work with a port their work. community of likeminded people that is sharing ideas, strate- gies and… who knows? Just imagine a network where we can share promising prac- Now let’s change the world together! tices, collaborate on joint projects and infrastructure, replicate good ideas and leverage investments from community to com- munity. Let’s work together to support each other, our members and to Tonya Surman build this exciting field! executiVe director10 11
  7. 7. Table of conTenTs forew0rd mission neTworks ideas 6 40 44 48 1 2 3 conTexT T inTroducTion impacT collaboraTion money happiness 14 28 38 52 56 60 conclusion 6412 13
  8. 8. Creating the spaCes where Change cHapter 1 conTexT happens14 15
  9. 9. c context c a shared spaCes glossary SI Co-location refers to spaces that are Coworking refers to the sharing of Community Hubs are shared spaces Hot Desks are temporary, shared Incubators provide programmatic, Social Innovation refers to new shared among a number of separate workspace among freelancers and that provide direct services to the workspaces that are typically found strategic, administrative and/or fi- ideas that resolve social, cultural, organizations. Multi-Tenant Nonprofit other independent workers. Co- geographic community in which they in coworking spaces. nancial support to small projects and economic and environmental chal- Centers are types of co-location working spaces provide workspace are situated. Community Hubs co- organizations. lenges for the benefit of people and spaces that focus on the nonprofit and community to people who are locate service providers that offer a planet. sector. often working on their own. range of supports such as language Even more simply, a social innova- instruction, job training, after school tion is an idea that works for the programs and drop-in groups. public good.16 17
  10. 10. c Alongside new technologies has been Real estate prices are soaring world- c context the rise of ‘independents’ who work wide, making it increasingly difficult with several clients but who are not for small groups and individuals to find bound by the restrictions of any one affordable workspace. physical space. For-profit and nonprofit strategies are blending together. Shared spaces – and frequently their members – are exam- ples of how mission-based and market- based approaches can coincide. why are shared spaCes emerging? The pendulum is swinging from global back to local. While the 90’s promised ‘virtual work’, the new millennium is There is increasing recognition that reinforcing the importance of space. the problems we face are too com- plex to be addressed by any single Shared workspaces are themselves a social innovation player. Shared spaces connect diverse The incentives for cost sharing have – an entirely new way of working. The dominant work- organizations and individuals, giving been growing. Nonprofits and chari- them the chance to collaborate, share ties are enduring ongoing cutbacks in place model has been separate organizations working knowledge and develop systemic solu- administrative budgets while facing separately. That may have made perfect sense at one tions to the issues they are trying to increasing demands from communities time and it may still make perfect sense in many instanc- address. and individuals. es. But it is by no means a universal or desirable ap- proach. The nature of work is changing – and with it the workplace. These changes offer incredible potential for economic, social, cultural, and environmental progress in the coming years.18 19
  11. 11. c context c I our theory of Change C   The physical space sets the conditions for com- munity. Community develops as people start to I   Community relationships allow members to ex- change ideas, to collaborate easily, to find ser- a s we’ve built and expanded CSI over the past few years, we’ve developed our theory of change— it’s our way of capturing how the Centre for Social In- feel comfortable in a space, are happy to spend time in it, and develop relationships with other members doing vices and access knowledge that might otherwise be hard to come by. In short, community is what leads to the same. A kitchen, for instance, isn’t just a place to innovation, because a community of other creative, en- novation creates the conditions for social innovation to eat; it can also allow for shared meals and impromptu gaged people is what blows away the cobwebs, allows emerge. gatherings, and those, in turn, are the basis of the re- you to see an old problem in a new light, and helps S   Serving as the foundation is the physical space, the environment which our members see and feel and touch and inhabit every day. It’s at the very base lationships which lead to a real sense of kinship among the members. With some delicate animation, the bonds of community are forged and strengthened, building you find creative ways of implementing solutions you might not otherwise have considered. And that—all the myriad ways in which space and community foster social C of the pyramid because it’s what sets the tone for every- social capital and a network of relationships. innovation—well, that’s the whole purpose of the Cen- thing else: our members want to come to work simply tre for Social Innovation. to enjoy the space. The physical space is the container S for everything that occurs at the Centre.20 21
  12. 12. c context c Sierra Health Nonprofit Innovation Center in the The Hub, a coworking space, also applies a social National Community Development Institute builds Sacramento area ( change lens to their work ( capacity for social change in communities ( a three-pronged We have witnessed the birth and growth of three dis- The second movement is often referred to as cowork- The third movement is a movement toward incubation tinct but related movements. The first is a movement ing. Born of ‘independents’ (freelancers, sole practitio- of social change projects. Although it’s a fuzzy term, movement toward co-location. Co-location generally refers to the ners, consultants, etc.) primarily in the tech and design incubation generally refers to support given to early- t he shared spaces movement is exploding. While various forms of shared workspace have been around for decades, the idea of shared space as a more-or-less permanent sharing of space among orga- nizations. Within this field, there is a particular trend sectors, coworking spaces are generally more informal and of smaller scale than co-locations. Many members stage projects and organizations. This support can in- clude programming, trusteeship, shared services, in- toward co-location of nonprofit organization within a are motivated by opportunities for social connect- vestment and financial back-end services. The past few unique field of practice is more recent, and the past few single facility, often known as a Multi-Tenant Nonprofit edness; as independents, they are too often working years have seen an increase in the application of tra- years have seen a dramatic rise in the number of shared Centre. The members in these centres are individual alone. ditional incubation strategies for commercialization to spaces and in the interconnections among them. organizations who have decided to share space, often social enterprises. Coworking spaces provide shared space for part-time an entire building, as a strategy to save costs and ad- members and are popping up all over the globe. This vance their missions. The Nonprofit Centers Network in movement, more ad-hoc than the co-location move- San Francisco (, a project of Tides ment, is being loosely connected and organized through Shared Spaces, is the primary organizing body for a the Coworking Wiki ( While most network of over 200 such shared spaces, mostly in the coworking spaces do not apply a ‘social change’ lens to United States, and is leading the charge in developing their work, one notable exception is The Hub (the-hub. and connecting the field. CSI is a proud member of the net), a global network of coworking spaces now reach- Nonprofit Centers Network. ing into over 20 countries around the world. CSI is an affiliate of The Hub Network.22 23
  13. 13. c context c a Social cHange lenS S The Centre for Social Innovation is designed to support and foster social innovation. All of our members are selected based on their commitment to that goal, and all of our programming is designed to increase the capacity of social enterprises, non- profits, charities, green businesses, artists, designers, creators, and activists to improve the well-being of people and our planet. a focuS on SMall 5 We focus on groups with five or fewer staff. The vast major- < ity of our members are one- and two-person operations. It is the Csi twist these small groups that are in the greatest need of shared fa- t he Centre for Social Innovation is a hybrid of cilities and administration; it is also these groups that are best these movements. Like co-locations we provide positioned to collaborate and connect with others. permanent, stable office rental to organizations. Like pHySical deSign coworking spaces, we provide part-time desk spaces [D] to ‘independents’. Like an incubator, CSI provides pro- We understand the critical role of physical design in setting gramming and shared services to its members, and of- the tone of a space and the behaviour of its users. We have fers a handful of projects support ranging from strate- developed a very specific approach to physical design that has gic advice to back-end financial services. been a key ingredient in our success and in the ‘experience’ of the Centre for Social Innovation. This makes us unique. In fact, there are a few other unique characteristics of the CSI model. aniMation aS practice * A Community animation is what turns “a place to work” to a space of social innovation. We’ve been building the practice of animation and developing its role as a central feature of suc- cessful shared spaces.24 25
  14. 14. c context c So, just who are the members of CSI? It’s an eclectic mix that cuts across sectors and organizational types, ages Sector % and skill sets, and it’s an altogether glorious jumble. Environment 52 Arts 39 Culture 39 Social Justice 31 Capacity Builder 30 Technology 25 Community Economic Development 21 Social Services 18 Other 18 Law / Advocacy / Politics 17 Lega Health & Disability 15 l Form Public Space 15 % Professional Association 10 Incor Recreation 8 porat ed Fo r-Prof it 23 Incor porat member snapshot ed N on-Pr ofit 23 52% of members describe themselves as working on the environment, 39% in culture, 31% in social justice, i n November 2008 we conducted a comprehensive member survey. The survey comprised more than one hundred questions, investigating everything Regis Unico rpora ted 24 <4 and 25% in technology (respondents were allowed to select multiple sectors). tered Char from customer service to the effect of membership ity 25 Incorporated for-profit and incorporated nonprofits are Dont on organizational revenues. The results include, in Know equally represented among our members, at 23% each. 6 addition to quantitative measures, more than 2,000 25% of members are registered charities, and 24% are submitted comments, anecdotes, and suggestions. unincorporated. Ot We are honoured and grateful that so many of our We are a community of the small but mighty: 94% of CSI he r members were willing to share their thoughts and Wa lk 10% Bi ke members have three or fewer full-time equivalent staff. 37 insights with us, and thrilled to now be sharing them 8% % Two-thirds of members are under the age of 40, doing with you1. Getting Here their best to keep the other third feeling young! Thirty- seven percent of members bicycle to work every day 4% 41 % D riv e (fewer in Toronto winters!). it ns Tra [1] Throughout this report, unless otherwise noted, any statistics download the survey and a or feedback attributed to CSI members refers to the informa- report of the results: tion gathered from the 80 respondents to our November 2008 survey, who represent about 30% of our membership.26 27
  15. 15. the summary cHapter version is: 2 inTroducTion it’s working28 29
  16. 16. introduction i n 2004 a small group of social entre- preneurs launched the Centre for So- cial Innovation in the heart of downtown CSI housed thirty-five people working in fourteen organizations when we opened. We’ve had several growth spurts since Toronto. We did so in the belief that sus- then, and we now provide shared space tainable design, thoughtful community- and services to over 180 social mission building, and responsive programming organizations and projects. Our mem- could foster social innovation, and that bers are nonprofits, activists, artists, working collaboratively was more pow- tech wizards, and all manner of socially- erful than working alone. We created minded entrepreneurs, and they work in an open-concept space in a beautiful sectors ranging from the environment to heritage building and selected a diverse social services to arts and culture. group of social mission organizations with which to fill it. We didn’t entirely CSI members generate an estimated $25 million per year in revenues. It’s a space + communiTy = innovaTion know what would happen next, but we lot of activity to pack into 23,000 square had no doubt that it was worth finding out. feet, and a testament to the value CSI and its members create. After just a few Our aim, in building CSI, was to catalyze years of existence CSI is a vibrant mini- social innovation. A social innovation is a More simply, a social economy, dynamic and constantly evolv- new idea, or a new application of an old innovation is an idea that ing. We have been recognized (we can’t idea, that resolves social, cultural, eco- help but be a little proud to say) at the nomic, and environmental challenges for works for the public good. local, national, and international levels the benefit of people and planet. More for our work, and have been honoured simply, a social innovation is an idea that with, among others, the Toronto Com- works for the public good. Social inno- munity Foundation Vital Idea Award, the vation is about doing things differently, Canadian Urban Institute City Innovation and social innovation happens when Award, and the Ashoka Global Fellow- people re-examine assumptions about ship for executive director Tonya Surman. how things ought to be done.30 31
  17. 17. introduction public Sector When we created CSI we had more questions than answers: nonprofit would members benefiT from exposure To oThers who were like- minded? H ow does social innovation emerge? Well, it can’t be neatly pinned for-profit Now, more than six years after we first opened our doors, we finally have the Turnover is low, the waiting list is per- manent, and CSI is only going to keep down or reduced to a formula, but we would They be time, the experience, and the body of growing over the next few years to keep can say for certain that it requires the evidence to help us answer these ques- up with demand. Members have made freedom to explore and the opportunity able To work more tions. In the pages that follow you will new connections, shared knowledge, to collaborate across silos. Social inno- efficienTly? find a summary and analysis of our find- improved their bottom lines, and in- vation can emerge in the for-profit, non- ings—our internal report card, in a man- creased satisfaction in their work. They profit, and public sectors and, increas- ingly, it is happening in the intersections would ner of speaking—based on the member survey we conducted in November 2008. are fulfilling their missions, fulfilling them better, and developing a much deeper between the three. It requires energy, organizaTions ThaT We have, under one roof, the collected understanding of and engagement with practical smarts, the ability to do a lot with few resources—and perhaps most came To work in The wisdom of nearly two hundred member organizations: it’s an unprecedented op- the social mission sector of which they are a part. Quite simply, CSI both fosters of all, it requires a community of sup- same place end up portunity for reflection, evaluation, and social innovation and is a social innova- port. That is why, around the world, we are witnessing the emergence of shared working TogeTher? learning, and we didn’t want to let too much longer pass before making the tion—a new model for how individuals and organizations committed to social spaces designed to foster social innova- most of it. and environmental progress can com- tion. Social innovation is happening in the intersections between sectors. would social bine their energies to both create a more The detailed discussion of CSI’s impact innovaTion acTually unfolds over the following chapters, humane working environment and do more effective work. Organizations, governments, and businesses must explore beyond emerge? but the summary version is: it’s working. traditional divides. Community support is required to foster this innovation.32 33
  18. 18. introduction We believed in our theory of change from the very day we decided to open CSI: we were convinced that if we cre- ated the right kind of space that com- munity would emerge, and if we sup- ported the right kind of community that innovation would emerge. What we didn’t know back then was just how that innovation would manifest itself—we didn’t know what shape it would take. We started to get a sense of this as CSI and its members flourished and grew, but it didn’t fully come into view until we conducted our member survey. By then we had a substantial population with a significant amount of experience in the space, all of whom were very generous What we’d been after, what the in sharing their experiences and insights survey crystallized and what we with us, and we were able to draw out a more nuanced sense of the ways in detail in the chapters that follow, which space and community were con- tributing to social innovation. are the ways in which membership in CSI catalyzes social innovation. + =
  19. 19. introduction We wanted to understand just We found that These six impacts how space and community membership at are key to catalyzing creates the conditions for social CSI produces six social innovation in a innovation to emerge. key impacts. shared space. SOCIAL INNOVATION MISSION NETWORKS IDEAS COMMUNITY COLLABORATION MONEY SPACE HAPPINESS36 37
  20. 20. eaCh of these six cHapter impaCts plays a 3 impacT role in Catalyzing soCial innovation38 39
  21. 21. 71% of organizational Essentially all of CSI’s leaders at CSI say the shared space has enabled “CSI has provided efficiencies members (97%) say 71% 97% they are proud to bring their organization to work and services that took a huge funders, partners and more efficiently. clients to their workplace. administrative burden from our small overworked staff.” 70% of individual tenants say that working in the 70% shared space has enabled them to do their job more effectively. “CSI has enabled impacT our organization to concentrate its juices.” An additional benefit of having access 73% of organizational leaders at CSI say that to better facilities is increased profes- Mission sionalism. CSI provides facilities that are more conducive to professional activity 73% membership in the shared space has enabled their organization to improve its than many organizations’ previous loca- professional reputation. tions. This boosts staff energy, and al- At first glance, you might think that or- Simply: the space we provide, the very lows members to put a polished face on ganizations opt for a shared workspace foundation of our theory of change their operations. According to the sur- in order to save on expenses. That is cer- pyramid, aids innovation because we vey, 71% of organizational leaders feel 76% believe that member- tainly the case sometimes, but not actu- take all kinds of mundane operations that membership at CSI has improved ship has improved their 76% organization’s image in the ally the general rule at CSI. Most of our off our members’ plates. Organizations the professionalism of their organization members came out of home offices and are better able to attract and retain top- 76% and 70% of individual members feel that community. they spend more on rent here than they notch staff because of the amenities and working in the shared space has enabled did previously. These are organizations working environment we provide com- them to do their job more effectively. running, for the most part, on shoestring pared to other, lower-cost options, and Moreover, 73% of organizational leaders budgets, and as congenial as they may organizations are better able to benefit at CSI say that membership in the shared find the atmosphere at CSI they also from their staff’s expertise because they space has enabled their organization to need to see real practical benefits. The are focused on program delivery rather 76% of organizational leaders say improve its professional reputation, and first and most basic of these is that mov- than clearing photocopy jams. We pro- that membership has enabled their 76% believe that membership has im- organization to access better facilities ing to CSI frees up an organization to vide space, but also take care of all the than they had previously. proved their organization’s image in the “It has allowed our “It is wonderful to work… focus on its mission, rather than having work that goes along with it: we deal community. Essentially all of CSI’s mem- to regularly tend to administrative, main- with everything from office cleaning to bers (97%) say they are proud to bring organization to focus its where so much is done for tenance, and other routine office tasks. phone line maintenance, which means funders, partners and clients to their limited human and financial you in terms of amenities so our members don’t have to. workplace. resources on mission.” that you can get down to business.”40 41
  22. 22. impact Mission How a Focus on Mission Catalyzes “The [CSI] space does physically what youth workers Social Innovation do personally...” The Frontline Partners with Youth Network (FPYN) brings together more than The core CSI staff team 1,000 youth workers from all eliminates basic office sectors across the Greater management duties. Toronto Area. They come together regularly to support The facilities offered to members at CSI And as for its successes? FPYN’s net- each other in dealing with the effects of also lend a sense of permanence and works have flourished from 200 to 1,100 gun violence, oppression, and hatred. professionalism to FPYN that is crucial members who represent hundreds of or- Through workshops and training, discus- for attracting and retaining their network ganizations. The network facilitates the sion groups, and information sharing, of workers. Having regular access to exchange of over 2,000 youth-related FPYN connects and empowers individu- meeting rooms for get-togethers helps information items every year and has als that are working in an otherwise iso- to bind the network together, and cre- held over 40 trainings and facilitations to lating and often traumatic field. ates a space of trust and openness. As youth workers.  Last year, FPYN complet- one worker notes, “The [CSI] space does ed a research study on Grief and Trauma Now in its third year at CSI, FPYN attri- physically what youth workers do person- impacts on Frontline Workers - the first butes much of its success to the services ally,” alluding to the sense of connectiv- and only study of its kind.  supporting youth and infrastructure available to its staff. ity and intimacy that CSI embodies. Hav- The core CSI staff team eliminates ba- Jenny Katz sums up the story neatly: “It’s ing the necessary facilities, equipment, sic office management duties, such as like these reverberating circles of impact. and technology provided by CSI means coping with photocopiers, phone lines, The infrastructure support we receive at workers aCross FPYN staff can dedicate their time to and printers. Without those burden- CSI allows us to focus on our mission and meet the needs of these workers. This some tasks, FPYN staff can concentrate to be creative about our work. We’re do- stability and sense of community encour- on developing the organization’s pro- ing things we imagined years ago but toronto age the workers to take chances, discuss grams and advocating for policy change. never had the means to achieve – and challenges, and collaboratively come up Equally, FPYN staff benefit from ongoing it’s making a real different in the lives of with solutions to any challenges they are support and mentoring from a diverse youth workers in Toronto.” facing in their work. group of business experts and innova- tors within CSI environment.42 43
  23. 23. “...the knowledge sharing, contacts, and general profession interaction have 79% impacT been invaluable.” Networks 82% of members indicate 92% of members indicate that membership at that membership at 82% CSI has expanded their 92% CSI has expanded their 79% of members indicate that Moving to CSI doesn’t just give an orga- each other, mutually aid and reinforce technology, and others—members have, personal networks. professional networks. services, programs, events, and other CSI initiatives have helped nization access to new facilities—it pro- one another, and introduces members to immediately on joining, ready access to them exchange contacts with other vides access to a whole new community other organizations who may have skills a vastly expanded network, with a wide members. of fellow members. As we all become or experiences that can enhance their variety of skills, experience, and knowl- increasingly aware of the power of social own work. edge bases, on which they can easily “The most important thing “Being a part of CSI has networks, the advantages this confers draw. are ever clearer. Small organizations such as the ones that that tenancy at CSI has done expanded my knowledge of take up residency in CSI often start out in This network expansion happens both for me is to expand my the social sector and vastly The most reliable way to find a new ser- someone’s basement: they generally ex- organically, as a natural outcome of shar- vice provider, collaborator, or colleague ist in isolation until they come here. This ing common space, and as a result of networks and horizons.” built up my network as well.” is often to ask for recommendations can not only be dispiriting, it poses prac- community animation. from people you already know, and the tical limits on the ease of learning about, best way to expand and deepen your pursuing, or implementing anything out work is by engaging with others who of an organization’s base skill-set: that have similar interests and have experi- is, isolation creates barriers to innova- “Tenancy in this shared “It seems like every time ences and insights to share. This is one tion. Because CSI members have been space has plugged me into I need a contact for a job, way that community creates innovation: intentionally chosen from a mix of sec- a whole new network of somebody [in the shared it brings people together to learn from tors—arts, environment, social services, friendly, interesting people.” space] knows exactly who to contact.”44 45
  24. 24. impact Networks How Expanded Networks Catalyze Social Innovation In the spring of 2006, Jane Jacobs – an urban planning icon – passed away. Her death affected many members of the CSI community; she had been an incredibly influential voice and thinker, especially in Toronto. 3 yearS a movement Shortly after Jane Jacob’s death, a CSI Jane’s Walk is a social innovation for its member named Chris Winter, of the unique approach of getting citizens en- Conservation Council of Ontario, at- gaged with their local urban environ- 68 begins with tended a meeting at CSI hosted by the ments. In a brilliant yet simple way, Jane’s citieS Ontario Smart Growth Network. The pur- Walk starts a conversation and rekindles pose of the meeting was to explore how the powerful relationship between city 400 a brisk walk to promote more walking in neighbour- design and citizens. Jane’s Walk is predi- hoods. Chris proposed the idea of hav- cated on an open, decentralized and ing neighbourhood walks to celebrate self-organizing model whereby anyone walkS Jane Jacobs. Each walk would be locally can offer to lead a walk by proposing a led and would encourage an explora- tour idea. Using a light-touch, a single tion of the urban environment and the staff person supports the leaders and 12,000 relationship citizens have with the spaces creates buzz that raises awareness of all walkerS they inhabit. the walks across the city. Chris shared his idea with CSI co-found- “It’s a story born and bred on networks,” Three years later, Jane’s Walk is operating ers Mary Rowe and Margie Zeidler. Using confirms Jane Farrow, the Executive Di- neighbourhood walks in 68 cities around their collective social networks and the rector of Jane’s Walk world-wide. “Our the world, boasting more than 400 walks support of the Jane Jacobs’ Award at the genesis was based on a web of connec- with over 12,000 walkers. It’s the story of Maytree Foundation, the idea went viral. tions formed and fostered through the the city by the city, led through civic ac- On Jane Jacob’s birthday, six weeks af- Centre for Social Innovation’s extended tion…and fuelled by networks. ter the idea was first hatched, 27 neigh- family. And our success is based on our bourhood walks were held in Toronto to ability to leverage these and additional explore and celebrate peoples’ relation- networks, reaching into all corners of the ship with urban spaces and with each city.” other.46 47