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Remembering Jini Stolk

Kyle Shantz

Kyle Shantz

Managing Director

This week, all of us at Centre for Social Innovation were saddened to hear that Jini Stolk, one of our most cherished friends, longest serving board members, and greatest community champions, had passed away.

Jini was a founding member of CSI; she joined while the first CSI space at 215 Spadina was still under construction, at a time before coworking really existed. Her early questions and feedback about the model were “defining moments” in the development of CSI’s governance model, which would go on to inform coworking movements around the world. Anytime a coworking space has a helpful staff member to turn to for help, you can thank Jini.

Jini’s contribution to the creation of CSI was documented in one of our first books, Emergence:

Jini Stolk had just started the Creative Trust (a collaborative group whose membership includes dance, music, and theatre companies) when CSI was putting out feelers for members. “I had moved from my home to a desk in someone else’s office,” she says, when she heard about the new space. Pat Tobin put her in touch, and like Sandy at the Documentary Organisation of Canada, Jini came in for an information session and a tour. The meeting, she remembers, was held in CSI itself, which at the time was “absolutely raw, unfinished warehouse space.” Tonya’s presentation was “about a vision for a space where people from the various nonprofit sectors, and social enterprises, might share space and common activities.” Though this sounded great, says Jini, “I did have one question, which was: “‘I’m really busy running my own organization —are we expected to run this place as well?’”

Jini was essentially concerned that membership in CSI would add a whole new layer of responsibility rather than alleviate pressure. This was also something Tonya and the other founders had been discussing —just what the respective roles of CSI and the member organizations should be. “Tonya said that this immediately clicked with her,” Jini remembers of that meeting, “and that [CSI] would need to be professionally managed and facilitated…in a friendly and enabling environment.” Tonya still recalls this exchange as well, calling it “the defining moment of our governance.” CSI would not be a co-op but a community, in which members could join in as little or as much as they individually wanted.”

Jini served on CSI’s board, and the first board of the Ontario Nonprofit Network (also co-founded by CSI’s CEO Tonya Surman). Tonya would often describe Jini as her first call when she was starting something new, and a catalyst for much of the change she has made in her career.

At CSI Annex, where she spent much of her time, she was know to be a kind and welcoming presence with a dry wit who made everyone feel welcome.

You can read a full announcement, and more about Jini’s many contributions outside of CSI, here. There will be a public celebration of life on September 11 from 4-6pm at Wychwood Barns.







CSI’s founders Margie Zeidler, Eric Meerkamper, Mary Rowe, Pat Tobin and Tonya Surman, along with with founding tenants Jini Stolk and Sandy Crawley.

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