Not good-bye, but see you later
“Hold your ideas lightly.”
From the very beginning, this has been one of the foundational principles of the Shift Lab. It’s a commitment to challenge our thinking, let go of usual ways of doing things, and embrace new ideas.
It’s a straightforward idea in principle, but in practice it can be heart-wrenching. Such is the case now: as of the end of March 2021, the formal partnership of the Shift Lab has ended.
Simply put, it comes down to capacity. The last year has been brutal — between COVID and the re-emergence of overt forms of white supremacist organizing, 2020 felt like a parade of relentless assaults on mind, body, and spirit. We, like so many of you, are tired, depleted, and in need of recharging.
It is also true that sometimes old things need to die in order to make space for new things to grow and emerge. Our hope is that by releasing the energy stored into Shift Lab, new ideas, projects, and partnerships can emerge.
Does this mean everything ends?
Heck no! Just because the formal aspects of Shift Lab are ending, doesn’t mean there isn’t rad work still happening. Case in point: four prototypes are continuing to roll out and that work isn’t going to stop (also the Stewards, though we are now scattered across Canada, have lots of plans to keep working together and being our creative, wacky selves).
You Need This Box: The Anti-Racism Subscription Box
What it is: A subscription service to help you learn how to talk about racism, do better as a white person, and create lasting social impact.
Status: More than 2400 people across Canada received boxes in the first rollout and another 2000 are planned to be sent out by the fall. Plans are underway for 3 more boxes as part of the continuous learning subscription.
The Treaty 6 awareness game, Exploring Wahkotowin.
What it is: A board game for ages 12+ to learn about how Indigenous peoples have historically been treated and to learn about what it means to be a good treaty relative.
Status: Natamoowin Education Foundation (led by none other than our own Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse) will be the new home for the game. Board game prototype testing is currently happening and soon you’ll be able to play it in Pe Metawe, a local, Indigenous-owned board game cafe.
The De-Escalators brochure
What it is: A brochure that explains how to intervene, stay safe and protect someone who is faced with an overt act of hate and racism in a public, work or school environment.
Status: Look for the brochure in Edify magazine as an insert later in the year. Plans are also underway to distribute it in some Edmonton Public Schools. We are also continuing to work with marginalized communities to see how this brochure can contribute to maintaining public safety.
The Reflection Pool App
What it is: Targeting Human Resources departments of organizations who want to learn about and get better at diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism, the app uses drip campaigns, story, empathy, gamification and personal reflection to help the sleepy middle learn about the four types of racism.
Status: The concept has been tested and funding secured to create the first version of the app, which is almost complete. We hired people with lived experience and anti-racism content expertise to develop the first modules integrated into the app. Our friends at the United Way of the Alberta Capital Region are going to be the first pilot partners. They are happy to participate as this supports their ongoing organizational journey to increase Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and is a great example of engaging our innovation community in creating solutions that do local good.
Way back in 2016, I am not sure anyone could have predicted how far Shift Lab would come: the hundreds of people we’ve worked with, the incredible prototypes, the impact on deepening social innovation practices in this country.
Though COVID means we cannot come together one final time to officially mark this transition point, all of us are leaving carrying new teachings, old questions, and a sustained commitment to dreaming (and scheming) revolutionary futures into being.
Thank you for coming on this part of the journey with us; we can’t wait to see what’s next.