It’s Time to Come Back

Lisa Amerongen

Lisa Amerongen

Director of Communications

Dearest Innovators,

It is with an obscured, but not absurd, smile on my face, that I am excited to share something wonderful: I am making coffee, and I am not at home. I am in a CSI building, wearing a mask, and I can see with my own eyes Tonya and our incredible Community Teams (not all at once, of course). And we are preparing 110,000 square feet of community-owned social innovation space for your safe return.

Over the past four months, so many of us have gained a new appreciation for the things we may have taken for granted: our extended families, shared meals, cherished friends, and the people behind so many public services that went from invisible to essential. We’ve lost customers and funding. We’ve lost team members. And, despite the great advances of this modern age, exemplified by Zoom et al, we have, for the most part, lost three of the five senses we use to experience the world.

A More Human World

But today, I can smell the coffee, and the old wood beams, and the century old bricks at Spadina and Annex. At Regent Park, it is the warmth of sunlight that streams in through the floor to ceiling windows in this modern building that I can feel on my skin. In every CSI Community Building, my fingers remember the shape of the key fob in my pocket. And for the first time in months, in three dimensions, the presence of my teammates is making my heart swell extra-full with gratitude.

On August 4th, We Welcomed Everyone Back to the Buildings

So exciting, right? And look, we know our design model which is built to “encourage” serendipitous collaborations could, in some circumstances, be the antithesis of pandemic caution. So some things have changed change. I’ll save the CSI space-specific details for the Community Managers and their resident members, but universally, it’s safe to say that we aren’t sharing forks for the time being.

And of course we’re all be wearing masks, and of course that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

But there may be a bright side in addition to the wise and generous acknowledgment of your potential to be an asymptomatic super-spreader: have you been putting off adult braces? THIS IS YOUR TIME.

Public Opening On-Track for September 4th, New Members Welcome Now

It’s time. For now we’re focused on getting everyone back together, but Dr. Theresa Tam willing, we’ll be ready to welcome the public back again in September. In the meantime, for the first time in years, we have a few vacant offices available at CSI Spadina and Annex. Regent Park remains full but there are  few more Team Tables waiting for their next social distanced project. If you’re looking for flexible space, this is your chance to grab some before we open to the larger public.

We don’t imagine they’ll stay empty for long, so let us know if you’re interested ASAP by emailing join@socialinnovation.ca.

Before CERB there was The CSI Rent Pool

And finally, here is some great pandemic news (if that’s possible). If you can remember way back in March this pandemic was unbounded. We didn’t know if we were looking at SARS, MERS, or the 1918 Flu. But here is what I hope you’ll remember about CSI during this time: we committed to not leaving anyone behind. In April we invited our members to sideline their leases and “pay what you can” with no means-test required.

We also launched CSI Supports, aggregating business, financial, and personal development resources to help our members get through these challenging times. We ran programming, like a Business Resiliency workshop with CSI Member Challenge Factory and a How to Deal with Digital Burnout event in partnership with The Burnout Project, to equip our community with skills to come out of the pandemic stronger. And we opened our doors to new members who are leading our care and recovery efforts, like The People’s Pantry.

After all, we defined and committed years ago to what our values are, and in 2020 #TogetherOrDie feels particularly apt.

Building The Next Economy Together

Here’s where our values create value: while much of the economy emerges from COVID-19 heavily indebted to old economic models, our community is as strong as ever. We trusted that those who had secure funding paid their fair share, and those that lost their markets to the greater good paid what they could. CSI imagined our responsibility to hold the hopes and seeds that would, more intentionally, rebuild a Next Economy that puts people and planet first.

We believe the shift to the Next Economy is urgent and possible, and that applying social innovation principles and practices is essential for identifying, creating, demonstrating, amplifying and scaling the solutions that will be required to create it. In 2020 CSI will bring its space, community, culture, and acceleration into alignment with our affiliated charity: the Social Innovation Institute, which brings research, education, labs, challenges, and networks. Together, we’re empowering our thousands of members to build the Next Economy.

See You Soon

As we Canadians emerge from the places that we call home, I hope you feel the way I do: like there is more opportunity now than ever before, like we have never found each other more valuable, and like our values: people and planet first, have never been more widely accepted.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you back to your community. The world needs social innovation now more than ever.

Shona Fulcher
Chief Community Officer 

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