Monthly Archives

June 2018

Fellows Guest Blog: Jillian Read & the Radical Act of Trying

By | Fellows | One Comment

Jillian Read is a writer, communications strategist, impressive person and member of the 2018 RADIUS Fellows.
Photos by Matt Hanns Schroeter

I would not say I’ve gone through my life feeling like an overly impressive person. Sure, there have been moments: like when Evan P.* gave me a Star Wars-themed Valentine’s Day card in early 2000; or when I successfully convinced a group of approximately 15 people that I was “down with it” by carrying a single, capped peach cooler around the only high school party I was ever invited to; or when I began cuffing my jeans.

But, last year, I felt truly unimpressive. And it all came down to my bed. You see, I was (and, regrettably, still am) living in my childhood bunk bed, which was (and, perhaps more regrettably still, is) fitted with Winnie the Pooh sheets.

Before you race over to my RADIUS profile, yes, I am an adult woman (allegedly). But, in 2017, I was also more sick than I’d ever been. My Crohn’s Disease, which had been kicking me in the large intestine since late 2009, decided to go for a full body slam this past summer. I was living in Scotland at the time, and I spent the first week of July planning an E.T.-style escape from the Gastroenterology Ward of Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital (fortunately for one and all, my plan never came to fruition).

A pre-planned trip back to Vancouver four days after my hospital release made me realize that I needed to be home. So, I moved. Away from my sister and the green-walled flat that we’d shared for nearly two years; away from the job that I loved so much (so much) that I worry I’ll never fully recover from leaving it; away from the person who I was and could have been if I’d stayed. I moved…back into my childhood bedroom.

And that’s about the time that I came across RADIUS.

When I applied for the Fellowship, I did not feel like a “top emerging social innovator,” or a “radical doer,” or a “change-maker.” I felt like a squeezed-out tube of toothpaste. But, people kept asking me how I was doing. And it hurt to see them look away when I answered honestly. So, I climbed out of my bunk bed and slid onto the couch and opened the application form. I answered questions about where I hoped to be in five years at a time when I wasn’t sure how I’d feel in five minutes. I applied.

Of course, when I received an e-mail thanking me for my application and offering me an interview slot, I assumed that RADIUS had accidentally sent me the interview invitation for an infinitely more impressive person named “Julian Red” (who was, I’m sure, at that very moment, single-handedly solving the affordable housing crisis while also probably shepherding a family of ducks across the highway or whatever it is that “radical doers” spend their time doing).

If that was the case, 1) I’m sorry, Julian Red, and 2) RADIUS was incredibly good about it, because they didn’t escort me out of the interview room upon my entry, and they did, in fact, invite me to join this year’s Fellowship. So, now, I — a semi-professional Sick Person, an underemployed Millennial, and an adult bunk-bed-dweller — am also a RADIUS Fellow.

This means that, every week, I get to share oxygen with fifteen other people who I find endlessly interesting. We talk about the problems facing our community in a room constructed almost entirely out of whiteboards. We learn about how to be better leaders and listeners. We share food and connections and project ideas. We show up and try to make our communities and our systems better. We try and we try and we try.

And RADIUS has taught me that trying is a radical act. To be a “change-maker” is to move through this world hoping and caring for ourselves and the communities in which we live. It means trying, even when the problems that we face seem as fixed and cage-like as my childhood bunkbed.

You know, maybe that’s why RADIUS asked me to be a Fellow. Because, at a time when I felt used up and sad and sorry for myself, I spent an entire Saturday afternoon writing out reasons why they should pick me. I dared to imagine myself as valuable within and because of my state of sickness. I tried. And that makes me feel pretty impressive.

To be clear, not Evan-P.-Valentine’s-Day-card-level impressive (as if I could ever reach such lofty heights again), but impressive nonetheless.

*Name has been changed to protect my decades-long crush and also my tender heart.

Labs for Social Change: Stories of Impact for the “Lab-Curious”

By | RADIUS Lab | No Comments

Canada is home to what might be the most diverse social innovation lab ecosystem in the world. Social innovation lab practitioners are working tirelessly across a wide range of intractable issues that are important to Canadians – including reconciliation, sustainable energy transitions, poverty reduction and civic participation. With the increasing popularity of labs in recent years – and their proliferation at universities, within governments and in communities across the country – the time has come to showcase and share this work!

On June 26th, you’re invited to join RADIUS SFUSFU Public Square and SFU Continuing Studies for a evening of storytelling with Canadian lab practitioners. These systems change leaders will share stories about the insights, new solutions, and tangible and intangible impacts their work is having on shifting resource flows, mindsets, and culture. Labs for Social Change will showcase the diversity and impact of the social innovation lab work being done across Canada, and create a space for the lab-curious to learn from more experienced practitioners.

Are you…

  • Looking for strategic approaches to address complex problems?
  • Engaged in collaborative or multi-stakeholder initiatives?
  • Interested in social innovation or social change?

If you answered “yes”, or even “maybe” to these, we’d love to see you at Labs for Social Change: Stories of Impact for the Lab-Curious!

Labs for Social Change will be the public kick-off event before CONVERGE: Canadian Lab Practitioners Exchange, an invite-only gathering of 100+ of Canada’s leading lab practitioners taking place at SFU on June 27th and 28th. If you are actively running a social innovation lab, please reach out to to learn more about CONVERGE.

Labs for Social Change: Stories of Impact for the Lab-Curious will take place at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue on traditional, ancestral and unceded Coast Salish territory.

>>Register here<<


Diane Roussin

Boldness Project – Indigenous Child Welfare, Winnipeg, MB

Diane Roussin is a dedicated community leader and a proud member of the Skownan First Nation. Diane has worked tirelessly for over two decades with organizations and projects that respect the ability and the right of Indigenous families, children and individuals to care for themselves and thrive. Most recently, she became the Project Director for The Winnipeg Boldness Project, a research and development project focusing on improving outcomes for children in the North End of Winnipeg through social lab processes. Diane holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Social Work degrees. She is a cherished member of a large extended family and a loving mother of two daughters whom she adores.

John Purkis

Natural Capital Lab/GTA Housing Action Lab, Ottawa, ON

John Purkis is a sustainability expert, facilitator and systems change specialist. He works with all orders of government, businesses and other organizations to generate and implement bold visions for a sustainable future. He designs and facilitates transformational change processes with organizations both in Canada and around the world. Recently, as the Director of The Natural Capital Lab, John lead a group of approximately 40 senior level innovators to explore barriers and policy changes required at a federal, provincial and municipal scale to integrate natural capital into decision making and accounting practices. John also co-managed the GTA Housing Action Lab and was a member of CMHC’s Sustainable Community Planning Committee.

John holds a BSc in Environmental Science from Brock University (1995) and a graduate Diploma in Institutional Administration from Concordia University (2000). He also completed independent studies in business at Concordia University (1996-1997). He enjoys woodworking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and photography.

Kiri Bird

Local Economic Development Lab – Economic Inclusion, Vancouver, BC

Kiri Bird is a process designer, strategist and facilitator of collaborative systems change initiatives. Kiri is founding Manager of the Local Economic Development Lab (LEDlab), an initiative of Ecotrust Canada and RADIUS at Simon Fraser University. LEDlab is a place-based social innovation lab in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which incubates community-driven solutions for a more vibrant and inclusive local economy. In 2016 LEDlab was the recipient of the RECODE-Cities for People Civic Innovation Award, and in 2018 the City of Vancouver’s Healthy City for All Leadership Award. Kiri has a background in communications, community engagement and economic development both locally and internationally. She holds a Master’s degree in Resource and Environmental Management and Planning from Simon Fraser University, and is passionate about addressing inequities and advancing happiness, well-being and resilience in cities.

Lindsay Cole

City of Vancouver Solutions Lab, Vancouver, BC

Lindsay Cole is currently leading the creation of the Solutions Lab at the City of Vancouver – a place where breakthrough, transformative solutions to some of the city’s most complex problems are being sought. She’s worked on a variety of exciting projects with the City, including leading the planning and public engagement process for the award-winning Greenest City Action Plan. Prior to joining the City, Lindsay co-founded and co-directed Sustainability Solutions Group, a workers cooperative consulting company doing climate change and sustainability work. Lindsay splits her time between Vancouver and Roberts Creek, and in addition to her work life she’s also an active volunteer in community economic development, a PhD student, and the parent of an incredible 9 year old.

Moderator: Darcy Riddell

J. W. McConnell Family Foundation

Darcy Riddell leads the instructional team for SFU’s Social Innovation Certificate program and is the director of strategic learning for the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. She has spent 20 years advancing sustainability and social change as a campaigner, strategist, process designer and facilitator. Darcy completed a PhD in social innovation/social and ecological sustainability at the University of Waterloo, where she researched strategies for catalyzing and scaling innovation in complex systems.


REPORT :: ReframeWork: From Insights to Action

By | Events, Future of Work | No Comments

In February of 2018 RADIUS, in partnership with the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity,  SFU Public Square, and ALT/Now hosted ReframeWork: a national gathering of thought leaders and innovators focused on the Future of Work.

ReframeWork’s purpose was to connect a diverse, cross-sector Canadian network with broad perspectives and deep expertise on relevant questions about the present and future of work. Together, participants shared insights and worked to build a shared understanding of the richest areas of opportunity for innovation and entrepreneurial solution-building in order to influence broader change.

Insights and takeaways from ReframeWork have been synthesized into a new report, created from session notes, artifacts, and observations gathered by the program team. It highlights some of the key dynamics, ideas, tensions and opportunities that surfaced over the two-day event.

Read the ReframeWork Final Report here.


SFU Students in Oxford for the 2018 Map the System Global Finals!

By | SFU | No Comments

After rising to the top of the Simon Fraser University and Canadian national rounds of Map the System, a team of SFU undergraduates – comprised of Health Sciences students Stephanie Lam, Janani Ravikularam, Katrina Jang, Hussein Elhagehassan and Benta Cheng – are at the Saïd Business School this weekend competing in the Map the System Global Finals!

An initiative of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford, Map the System (formerly The Oxford Global Challenge) encourages students to think differently about social, environmental, and economic challenges by mapping out the landscape of current problems and solutions while identifying missed opportunities for change.

Our SFU team, known as Bridging the Gap, conducted qualitative research looking into mental health outcomes in second generation Canadian youth, ages 14-24. Specifically, they explore the ways how processes of individual and familial acculturation impact mental health, such as the coping strategies youth use in times of stress.

Team member Benta Cheng provides some background on why the topic is close to the team’s hearts:

“Our team was inspired by our own lived experiences. As we actively researched this topic, we saw ourselves in the problem landscape. Based on the discussions we shared with our peers, we were curious to see whether other second generation Canadian youth outside of our networks shared similar sentiments and struggles. The answer was overwhelmingly “yes”. It was a reminder of just how complex this issue is.”

At the Map the System Global Finals, taking place June 1st – 3rd, the Bridging the Gap team will compete with 14 other finalists from around the world and present their research to a panel of esteemed judges.

The RADIUS community wishes Stephanie, Janani, Katrina, Hussein and Benta the best of luck at the Global Finals this weekend! We look forward to following their remarkable achievements as they continue with their academic and professional journeys.

Pictured left to right: Katrina Jang, Janani Ravikularam, Benta Cheng, Stephanie Lam, and Hussein Elhagehassan.
Photo courtesy of Isabelle Soares.