Making Shift Happen: Our Launch
On August 9th, the Edmonton Shift Lab made its public debut at a soft launch at the Edmonton Intercultural Centre. Our goal was to begin growing the collective making up the Shift Lab and to get a sense from community where the Lab should focus its energy and we succeeded in spades. Over 100 people came out to join us, hear what we are all about, and eat some great snacks.
In the Shift Lab we know innovation and tackling complex challenges isn’t all about chasing “the new.” Carving new ways forward is about both learning from past initiatives addressing racism and poverty and trying emerging approaches in the social innovation eco-system. We wanted this balance to be reflected in the launch.
To start off on the right foot the Shift Lab backbone team asked Elder Gilman Cardinal to launch the lab in community with a traditional blessing and smudge. The Shift Lab shared the process of the lab and three special guest speakers shared thoughts with us: Anne Marie Kallal (board president of Skills Society), Martin Garber-Conrad (CEO of Edmonton Community Foundation), and Jeff Bisanz (End Poverty Edmonton transition team). We finished with the best part of the lab: our first community campfire!
What is a community campfire?
Campfires are spaces where people come together to share stories, ideas, and build community. While we won’t actually burn anything, we want to carry forward the traditions of a campfire in our community engagement. Throughout the course of the Lab, there will be a number of campfires where we will share what the Lab is up to and get feedback and thoughts from the larger community.
As we have this idea of building off the work that is already existing we had our first community campfire in the format of a networking lab with many touchpoints people could enter to offer their insights and ideas in shaping the work of the Shift Lab. We had five different stations set up, each asking a different question. Keep an eye on this space as we will share more detailed summaries of those activities!
Overall, it was a packed house and we were taken aback by the community support and insights the participants shared. Thank you to the Edmonton Intercultural Centre for hosting us, Equi-Tea Catering for the amazing food, and Whimsical Cake Studio for the dessert.
What stuck with the Shift Lab backbone team from the launch
- What is community? This was a question that was asked a lot. Is a service agency part of a community? How do we define a community and who gets included? Do we mean Edmonton as a community or smaller micro-communities? This is a definition that we’ve intentionally left open-ended. We are committed to reaching as many voices as possible (i.e. not just service providers or public servants).
- Representation is important. People told us that they were very excited to see a “real representation of Edmonton’s diverse ethnocultural communities” at the event. People also told us that they were disappointed at the number of white people present.
- The value of action. People showed great interests and excitement in the possibility of an action oriented approach that builds solutions around racism and poverty in Edmonton. We hope to share the journey and allow others to learn from what we are doing. Stay tuned for insights from the Lab.
Want to get involved?
Time is running out to apply to join the Core Lab team: this is the team who will undertake research with community to explore assumptions, ideas, and realities around racism and poverty in Edmonton and then co-design and test solutions.
Too busy for the Core Lab team? Join our Community Voice Collective! This group will act as a bridge connecting community experiences to the lab process. They will support sense-making around racism, poverty, and systems and provide a link to people to co-design solutions with community.