Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Centre for Social Innovation
And its Jane Jacobs DNA

From The Centre for Social Innovation is a social enterprise with a mission to catalyze social innovation in Toronto and around the world. We believe that society is facing unprecedented economic, environmental, social and cultural challenges. We also believe that new innovations are the key to turning these challenges into opportunities to improve our communities and our planet.

CSI is a coworking space, community centre and incubator for people who are changing the world. We provide our members with the spaces, relationships and knowledge they need to turn their ideas into impact.

An exciting concept, "building a culture of collaboration". I wasn't aware of CSI until Nanaimo City Councillor Bill McKay this week suggested it to a representative from the performing arts community who was addressing Council in regards to a City-owned performance hall which has received a bleak report on the state of its health. But my interest in the work of Jane Jacobs had led me to a couple of the principals, Margie Ziedler and Mary Rowe.

When the Jacobs' first moved from New York to Toronto Jane's husband Robert worked for Maggie Ziedler's father's architectural firm and the families were very close through the Toronto years and Maggie's neighbourhood based enterprises (restoring small heritage hotel properties) are strongly influenced by Jane Jacobs. 

Mary Rowe is an urban scholar and Jacobs expert listed on the CSI website as being associated with Ideas that Matter a "Canadian organization… particularly interested in issues related to cities, urban economies and the values of diversity, community and the public good. Founded in 1997, the work of Ideas that Matter is inspired by the wide-ranging ideas and principles of Jane Jacobs".

Which brings me to Alan Broadbent. He's the founder of Ideas that Matter. I heard him at a Sam Sullivan sponsored forum in Vancouver and Sam introduced him as "making money in the morning and spending it in the afternoon on his causes," and said that after each time he'd had a discussion with Broadbent, his life was changed in one way or another.  His main focus presently seems to be his Maytree Foundation and Cities of Migration which works to help immigrants integrate into Canadian society. He's also written a book on municipal governance reform Urban Nation.

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