In June 2018 I attended the CONVERGE conference in Vancouver along with fellow lab members Kari Boyle and Jane Morley. I was attending to simply observe and absorb the conference and learn the state of social labs across Canada. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, but came away impressed by the determination and drive of the wide variety of attendees. There are labs across Canada working on wicked hard problems every day, from environmental and poverty issues to urban and governmental.
As in other FJIL-related matters, I was one of the few designers attending the conference, and I particularly enjoyed discussions around problem solving, ideation, and innovation. Discovering different viewpoints from people with a variety of backgrounds was fascinating and led to deep conversations throughout the two day event.
A key part of attending Converge was attending the breakout sessions – I was interested in learning about different funding and business models for labs across Canada. Coming from a tech/design studio background, I’m well-versed in client services, funding and grants, and raising venture capital. As the labs are ultimately focused on improving social conditions (whatever the specific context may be), it’s a different avenue to funding than my experience with purely commercial works.
The Converge conference made it clear that there is a vibrant community across Canada who truly believe they can and will make a difference, and several online community initiatives are forming to keep the various lab members talking (we’re all stronger together!) Moving forward with the lab, I’m excited to see how both our initiatives and the greater social lab community evolve and continue the challenging push to create change.