Coming Soon: A Calgary Innovation Hub

From Metro News:

March 23, 2012

Group hopes to connect for community change

By Katie Turner

Metro Calgary

Putting the right people in the right place at the right time has the potential to create social change with economic benefits.

That is the concept behind Social Innovation Calgary’s Community Innovation Hub, which city council recently endowed $75,000 to get the project moving.

One of the co-ordinators of the project, Gena Rotstein, said they are hoping to create a space that would facilitate for-profit and non-profit groups, coming together to share ideas.

“It’s anything that’s going to drive social change in Calgary and have an economic benefit,” she said.

With the seed money from city council, the group is working to build a model and test it to see if a Community Innovation Hub is viable for Calgary.

Ald. Gael MacLeod, who presented the idea to council, said the potential benefits are endless.

“I’m very interested in the whole notion of social enterprise, in the sense that it creates social outcomes; doing well by doing good,” she said.


Social Entrepreneurship: The Great Equalizer

Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.

 Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation

Does anyone really feel free?

Think about how your basic needs are met.

Are you reliant on yourself and/or your family to meet your basic needs? Are you working hard to make ends meet? Do you feel trapped … like there is no escape from your INDEPENDENCE? Do you sometimes, but not as often as you think you’ve earned, experience joy?


Are you reliant on government and/or charity to meet your basic needs? Are you working hard to make ends meet? Do you feel trapped … like there is no escape from your DEPENDENCE? Do you sometimes, but not as often as you think you’ve earned, experience joy?

We are the same, you and me.

Sure 10% of us are probably content. Another 10% of us probably never will be. But for the rest of us … the 80% of us … the majority, whether we are rich or poor, we work hard at being happy. But in this land of plenty, land of the free, we can’t quite grasp why striving to be happy is so damn exhausting.

We are the same, you and me.

We live under the illusion that we are different because the poor are DEPENDENT and the rich are INDEPENDENT and our systems currently value independence higher than dependence. But believe you me, whether you are rich or poor, you are working your ass off to survive.

We are the same, you and me.

Yet, we are at war with each other … a war between the dependent and the independent … a war between the rich and the poor.

Those who are independent loathe welfare, scream “entitlement” at every turn and think people should have to earn their way, exactly as they have done.

Those on welfare want their independence, loathe “the man”, spew out liberal bullshit at every turn because in spite of their best efforts to earn it, self-reliance is an unattainable dream.

So the war between us continues. We rage on about socialism and the free market and morality and job creation and work ethic and a higher minimum wage and the left and the right. But this is a divisive battle that can’t be won (no matter who we elect) because they’re both wrong AND they’re both right.

It’s a paradox.

Our societal purpose is to strike a balance between dependence and independence, between community and the individual. Opposite values exist on a continuum and aiming for the centre is the path to restoring balance (and health) in our society.

DEPENDENCE |———————————–AND————————————| INDEPENDENCE

COMMUNITY |————————————AND———————————–| THE INDIVIDUAL

Aim for the Centre. It’s the Balanced Approach.

We tried building a society tipped towards independence and the individual, but it isn’t working. The rich, independent souls are crying out for community. The poor, dependent souls are crying out for independence. Our healthcare system is overburdened, our mental health is in crisis and we are scratching our heads and wondering why.

It’s because OUR survival, each one of us as individuals and therefore as a whole, requires a balance between dependence and independence. We are ALL feeling the ill effects of our separation from our communities. We ALL need help every once in awhile. It doesn’t matter how much money we have or don’t have, we will always need people, relationships and community in our lives. Like it or not, we are in this together. The saying is true. No man is an island. Nor (if we look deep into our hearts) do we want to be.

“By bridging the divide, social entrepreneurship reconciles the paradoxical nature of our human values of dependence AND independence, community AND the individual.”

As you can see from the Return on Investment continuum below, social entrepreneurship (as represented by the pink boxes) bridges the divide between the DEPENDENCE-fuelled not-for-profit sector and the INDEPENDENCE-fuelled private sector.

Return on Investment Continuum

used with permission from the Trico Charitable Foundation

Our societal instability and suffering currently stems from the fact that the public and private sectors operate in isolation of one another. If the sectors continue on their separate paths, deeply-felt and faithfully-trusted relationships, stability, joy, safety, security, comfort, love and all other elements of true wealth will remain an unattainable dream for both the rich and poor.

We are the same, you and me.

Who is it that suffers the most in a separate and divisive world? It’s PEOPLE. What the public and private sectors have in common are PEOPLE.

It’s we who suffer … we the people … the individual citizens, rich or poor, that feel powerless in the face of an overwhelming systemic oppression caused by our great divide.

It’s we who suffer … we the people … the individual citizens either trapped in poverty or working tirelessly to bridge the divide between the haves and the have nots with donation dollars and volunteer time and relentless efforts in our communities.

And for what?

Sure we’re doing ok. But is anything getting better? Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? We’re ALL working our asses off here! We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders and all we ask in return is for the government to save for our children’s futures and the private sector to not exploit away our children’s futures.

All we want is a fair shot.

Is that too much to ask?

Social entrepreneurship is a humane and just exit strategy for big, inefficient government bureaucracies, a financially-unsustainable not-for-profit sector and a socially/environmentally-unsustainable private sector.

Our three sectors (public, private and not-for-profit) as they currently exist, separate and divisive, are in need of unification and healing.

Our three sectors (public, private and not-for-profit) as they currently exist, separate and divisive, create a power imbalance that reinforces the inequality between the rich and the poor.

It’s not about public vs private anymore. There is a third way. We can leverage the principles of social entrepreneurship to build a bridge that unites all of the sectors, a bridge that allows us to move away from the divisive and dualistic thinking that pervades our society towards a unified and holistic approach.

Social entrepreneurship is the path to our freedom, the path to our Society 2.0 … a society where it’s not who you know or what family you were born into, but rather how hard you work … a society where our efforts convert fairly into our rewards.

Social entrepreneurship is the great equalizer.

We are the same, you and me.

The only question we must ask ourselves is,

“Do we, in fact, want to be equal?”