Written By Jane Bisbee.
It was another meeting in Red Deer; many of us having feelings of deja vue. Brought together by Paul Cabaj, Edmonton Community Foundation, Momentum, and the Canadian Community Economic Development Network. In a space generously donated by Peavey Industries, these organizations had done the legwork to gather 50 players from Alberta’s social innovation landscape.
The gathering was triggered by the announcement of the creation of a Social Finance Fund in the 2019 Federal budget. Once again, money was potentially on the table, and so fifty players from Alberta’s social innovation landscape gathered for a full day of strategy planning. Just five years before, when the provincial government posited the creation of a Social Innovation Endowment, similar gatherings had taken place. Hence the feeling of we’ve been here before. Some veterans could recall a similar occasion ten years earlier, occasioned by another promise of money.
But what happened that day is what has made this time different, in a very encouraging way.
The conversation was lively and deep. We agreed that we had to keep talking. To find a way to drive our own agenda around this ecosystem, to grow and strengthen its capacity. To learn more about what each other was doing, to share ideas, challenges and to co-operate on solutions. This time, we agreed it wasn’t just about the money.
Towards the end of the day, many felt this work had to continue, and driven by the ecosystem itself. We recognized that if we worked together, we could leverage combined expertise towards the goal of a more equitable economy. It was time to take control of this collaboration if we did not want that feeling of deja vue another five years down the road.
These things don’t happen without manpower and resources. Someone looked around the table, and said we should be able to come up with enough cash to start just from the groups in the room. And that is exactly what happened. The organizations that make up the Steering Committee of AB Seed each put real money into the pot, rolled up their sleeves, and committed to the long term.
It has been a wonderful learning journey so far. This newsletter is just one outcome, where we hope to share what we have learned about how each of us has a place in the puzzle that will change Alberta for the better.