Category Archives: Think

Thoughtful engagement, deep reflection, intellectual or academic topics

Co-Creating Civic Proposals for Systemic Change

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How might we move or collective thinking and action beyond single-issue social action?

Does it make sense to build our urban worlds and future societies by winning one political issue at a time?

Can we design civic business models for our cities and society?

In February’s Design with Dialogue we workshopped our framework for co-creating civic design proposals with a group of 35 citybuilders, ranging from youth activists to City of Toronto people to architects and SFI students.

A significant design challenge of our time is anticipating the relationships of multiple environmental and social problems as a complex system of nonlinear relationships. However, we cannot think about, model or discuss the relationships well, especially in the heat of discussion with deliberative groups and decision making processes. We need not only better engagement and dialogue processes for citizen deliberative problem solving, we require relevant tools.All social services, determinants of health, and economics are complex and interrelated. So why do we expect any political body or activist group to get it right? Only meaningfully diverse, multi-stakeholder groups can envision the variety of interests and outcomes in complex social systems.

With the OCADU Strongly Sustainable Business Model Group and with Strategic Foresight & Innovation students we designed a relevant framework from the common language of business model tools, adapted for civic decision models for flourishing cities and settlements.

The Flourishing Cities framework adapts a design tool for strongly sustainable business models as a visual organizer for engaging stakeholders in co-creating normative  operational guidance for civic groups, community planners, and local governments. Flourishing can be understood as “to live within an optimal range of human functioning, one that connotes goodness, generativity, growth, and resilience,” or as John Ehrenfeld states it:

“Flourishing is the possibility that human and other life will flourish on this planet forever.”

This visual model enables a participatory mapping of propositions, values, and preferences that might yield significantly better group decisions for sociocultural and ecological development and governance in any planning engagement. Participants developed working models in 30-40 minute studio sessions, and presented compelling narratives for issues in:

Climate Change Action and Citizen Motivation

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Community Equity

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Affordable Housing

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Placemaking for Well-Being

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An additional table developed a model for Textile Waste Recovery.

 

The Flourishing Business Canvas is shown below, the basis for the Flourishing Cities model adapted in the workshop.

Unlike the Flourishing Business Canvas, the “Cities” canvas has not been employed in actual practice yet. This is a proposed concept, developed from extended research and is presented as a model for further inquiry and evaluation.

Presentation and references from DwD Flourishing Societies Framework.

 

Innovative Learning in Canadian Higher Education

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April’s DwD was convened by an graduate student-led panel, organized by Strategic Innovation Lab and Strategic Foresight & Innovation, responding to the question:

What new ways of learning, particularly in higher education, will Canadians need to thrive in an evolving society and labour market?

The roundtable and dialogue was sponsored by Imagining Canada’s Future, the strategic development of next-generation social science for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) with the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS).

This question was one of their key Future Challenge Areas. The SFI team documented the session and prepared a report for CAGS and SSHRC. This report is now available to the public, linked here and titled Innovating Canada’s Higher Education.

Canada, like many other countries, is at a tipping point in the way its education system, especially higher education, is conceptualized, structured and delivered in light of the knowledge and skills required for the 21st century. The panel discussed and explored the following issues:

  • What knowledge, skills and delivery methods are required in order for the public education system to create an innovative, resilient and culturally rich society?
  • What aspirations and expectations will a diverse and global citizenry bring to the work environments, jobs and labour markets of the future?
  • What conditions are needed for new models of research—particularly, co‑creation of knowledge with the public, private and/or not‑for‑profit sectors—to flourish?
  • What roles will emerging and/or disruptive information and communication technologies play in learning for individuals, institutions and society?
  • What role should individuals, institutions and governments play in promoting and supporting the life cycle of knowledge—including creation, accessibility, retention and mobilization—across sectors, both domestically and internationally?
  • How can we harness Canada’s strength and innovation in the arts, digital media and cultural industries to build social, economic and cultural well‑being?

Panel and workshop photo-documented by SFI student George Wang.

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SFI graduate student panelists opening the first part of the event.

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Tables were convened by graduate student panelists for each of the main questions.

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Responses to each table’s question captured on standing boards.

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Graphical recordings by SFI students Maggie Greyson and Ana Matic during panel and in closing plenary.

The final report is now available here, and was delivered to very positive response by CAGS and SSHRC, especially for its vivid capture of the innovative process and the visual approach to communicating the results of the civic dialogue.

The convening team had suggested some related readings for members of the panel and public:

Joseph Wilson on learning: ‘People are envious of what we’re doing in education’ (or any of the Possible Canadas articles)

Democracy Hacks  was recommended as a relevant podcast.

The Governor General David Johnston has been advocating rethinking education, and this may be his legacy for Canada in 2017.

A pan-Canadian joint undergraduate degree is taking shape: Pan-Canadian University

Slow Learning, a site presenting critical visions for self-directed, community learning

 

HOSTED BY THE SFI DIALOGUE TEAM

Inessa Chapira
Christina Doyle
Maggie Greyson
Conor Holler
Goran Matic
Corey Norman
Adrienne Pacini
Sheldon Pereira
Patrick Robinson
Peter Scott
Jacqueline To
Ryan Voisin
George Wang
with faculty advisor Peter Jones

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Cultural Values & Social Change: The Common Cause Framework

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How do cultural values shape environmental and social movements?
How might deepening our understanding of cultural values and frames help us to co-create the solutions for a more equitable, sustainable and democratic society?
May’s DwD was hosted by Aryne Sheppard, who led an inquiry into the Common Cause framework as an instrument for understanding how we are shaped by our culture and the way in which we respond, both as individuals and collectively, to the most pressing problems that we face.

Environmental campaigns tend to fall into two categories:

1. Public engagement and behaviour change; and,
2. Institutional (corporate or government) engagement.

But there is a deeper level we must consider as we move towards a sustainable future: the realm of values. Cultural values influence our behaviours, attitudes and voting decisions. Culture is a key influence in shaping our view of the world and our sense of responsibilities within it. As social change leaders, it is critical to understand the role values play in individual lives and cultural norms. Working to understand and rebalance cultural values is a powerful tool if our goal is to build a more equitable, sustainable and democratic society.

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Aryne discussed how power dynamics in society are seldom the subject of public scrutiny and debate. The dialogue explored how fostering intrinsic values—among them self-acceptance, care for others, and concern for the natural world—has real and lasting benefits.

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The Common Cause model, with a values mapping resulting from participants selection of supporting values (green) and negating values (red) with respect to societal betterment, based on our individual perspectives.

For more information explore The Common Cause Framework 

About the Host

As an adult educator and facilitator, Aryne Sheppard has worked in the areas of personal growth & wellness, leadership development and community capacity-building for over 12 years. She has have a track record of creating innovative, experientially-based programs in both the non-profit and public sectors.  She believes that valuing the inner life, as individuals and as a society, is one of the most important things we can do to create deep and lasting change. Aryne earned her professional designation as an educator from OISE / UofT, specializing in Transformative Learning, with a Master’s degree in Adult Education & Counseling Psychology (2004). Aryne currently works with the David Suzuki Foundation in Toronto and her consulting practice is called Living Simply.

Creative Leadership for Climate Change

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Creative Leadership for Climate Change at the Intersection of Art & Neuroscience

By Kelly Okamura and Don Officer

Except for a few stubborn holdouts most of us are convinced climate change is something serious to be concerned about. But where do we start? At week’s end we barely have energy enough to sort out the blue boxes and the green messages.

This is the big issue governments and interest groups must contend with individually and will again collectively at the Cop21 climate change summit this year in Paris. Our guest presenters this March have been exploring ways to meet that challenge and are hoping to showcase a few at the upcoming summit.

Scott Baker and Ross Curtner of Adjacent Possibilities led the DwD participants on March 11 in a mindfulness-oriented dialogic session that built on personal engagement. During the evening they demonstrated several ways to concentrate our skills and capacities in a group setting.  At the summit their team plans to use wearable EEG technology to assess participant mindfulness.  At March’s DwD we discovered how effectively the practice could focus on what matters to any group.

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Our session began with a classic mindfulness practice: imagining a raisin. We pondered the qualities of raisins and recalled personal memories of raisins.  Then we experienced a raisin through guided practice. The raisin exercise led to partner work dialogue on climate change. Impressions were articulated, recorded and plotted on a grid divided into abstract-concrete, and engaged-disengaged quadrants.  Everyone shared in open session before splitting again into groups of four to consider the big question, “How might we most meaningfully engage mindful participation on climate change?”

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The consensus was we had participated in a successfully led, thought provoking dialogue offering new ideas, new “adjacent possibilities” as we contributed to the Paris project.  I left with my own insights on engagement with “wicked problems’” that seem to offer no openings or purchase.  I wish the team success in Paris.

 

ABOUT THE HOSTS

How do we experience climate change? How does the nature of our experience influence our ability to take action? How might insights from art & neuroscience inform our leadership on the issue?

March’s DwD  was hosted by Ross Curtner and Scott Baker of Adjacent Possibilities.  Drawing inspiration from systems thinking and game design, the session provided participants the opportunity to prototype the mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics of renewed relationship with this complex issue.

At heart, Ross Curtner is a facilitator, curator and purveyor of purposeful play. Putting these passions to work he’s lead strategic planning retreats for cleantech investment and business development groups, designed leadership experiences for arts foundations, consulted for government and recently, co-founded Adjacent Possibilities, an agency which connects artists and entrepreneurs to enable new approaches to complex challenges. An alumni of MaRS’ Studio Y Fellowship, he previously worked at The Stop and Community Food Centres Canada. When he’s not scheming of creative ways to address big issues, you can find Ross exploring Toronto’s forests with the PINE Project. @RossCurtner

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Scott Baker was raised on wind-licked west-coast of Vancouver Island and has since been working at the intersection of climate policy and civic engagement with the Canadian and European Green Parties, Leadnow, and Tides Canada. Currently Scott is a StudioY Fellow at MaRS Discovery District and the co-founder of Adjacent Possibilities.

 

The Co-evolution of Connected Citizens in Canadian Governance

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Can we motivate civil society to form a collaborative approach to Canadian governance?

 How will governing – public decision making – be influenced through citizens evolving new digital and place-based channels?

The January DwD was a public workshop convened by OCADU’s Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) as part of our ongoing SSHRC-sponsored action research conducted during 2014.  We hosted 25 participants in reframing and representing key challenges and future innovations that might influence civic participation and governing across Canadian government sectors.  A current model of the Gigamap (large-scale system map) as a departure point for participant contributions, you can contribute to the discourse by building on and critiquing the findings of a recent major workshop via card sort and dialogue mapping.

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Governance in our digital era is a central challenge facing government institutions and societies in the coming decades where information ownership is uncertain, power is dispersed, and authority and accountability need to be reconceived. Last November  we convened a diverse group of practitioners, policy experts and academics to explore how digital technology and new flows of information have been influencing governance and government practice, and where it might have potential to more significantly transform analysis, engagement, policy, service delivery, and accountability.   We are seeking many perspectives on the promise and concerns of digital engagement, and the positive possibilities for designing and delivering public policy and services. We want to hear your views on how governments at all levels in Canada might re-conceive various governance practices as digital tools and practices continue to evolve.

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We are interested in discovering how the practices and expectations of governance are and will be shifting from the vantage point of citizens and other stakeholders, communities, and sectors. We aim to explore how Canada – with all of its levels of government and regional diversity – might evolve as a basis for considering how government practices ought to transform.

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Digital era governance can be understood from a technology-centric viewpoint or a governing practices perspective, which largely colours the values and strategies under discussion. Since the start of the Internet era, governments have sought greater efficiencies and interaction with citizens and stakeholders.  Digital governance includes issues such as citizen rights and uses of data, the questions of government control through ICT, and the online management of benefits and services. It is now simple to pay parking tickets online. But understanding the core issues and arguments in legislation remains as murky as ever. Is it fair to suggest that digital rights may filter the power of citizen access?

We asked participants to do some homework to familiarize themselves with some of the issues and trends in “digital governance” and the larger trends concerning Canadian government relevant to discussions.

Gigamaps:  The Gigamap presented at the Ottawa conference was displayed in the workshop as an evolving model. Final visual maps may appear more like this online Gigamap on the Circular Economy from a student team in our OCADU SFI course. Maps may include system diagrams as found in this student project on the adaptation of veterans to civilian life http://resetremembrance.ca