How do you know when to pivot an ambitious idea to something more realistic? How do you let go of an idea that inspires you? LEDlab Program Manager Kiri Bird explores lessons learned from our Connected Kitchens project with Carnegie Community Centre and shares audio clips from a recorded project debrief.
In September 2015, LEDlab launched with four graduate students matched to community partners seeking to accelerate community-driven social enterprise projects that would put money in the pockets of DTES residents. One of these projects, Connected Kitchens — in collaboration with Carnegie Community Centre –was framed as an ‘inquiry-based project’ which would test the assumption that there is untapped potential for food startups in the DTES, specifically in the community kitchens programs of SRO (single room occupancy) hotels.
Carnegie and LEDlab planned to spend one semester (four months) in this inquiry phase and then decide if there was enough traction or uptake to continue the work into in the new year. Three months into Connected Kitchens, all the partners were disappointed with what had been accomplished.
We hadn’t been able to pin down a core team of DTES residents that would help lead the project, and we hadn’t started using community kitchens to produce food to sell. When we couldn’t find traction or community buy-in, we trusted ourselves enough to take a step back and reexamine our commitments and priorities. After careful discussion, the Carnegie team and LEDlab decided not to continue with the Connected Kitchens project for a second semester.
LEDlab is an initiative of RADIUS and Ecotrust Canada, and the current expression of RADIUS Lab.