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Fellows

Fellows Guest Blog: Jillian Read & the Radical Act of Trying

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Jillian Read is a writer, communications strategist, impressive person and member of the 2018 RADIUS Fellows.
Photos by Matt Hanns Schroeter

I would not say I’ve gone through my life feeling like an overly impressive person. Sure, there have been moments: like when Evan P.* gave me a Star Wars-themed Valentine’s Day card in early 2000; or when I successfully convinced a group of approximately 15 people that I was “down with it” by carrying a single, capped peach cooler around the only high school party I was ever invited to; or when I began cuffing my jeans.

But, last year, I felt truly unimpressive. And it all came down to my bed. You see, I was (and, regrettably, still am) living in my childhood bunk bed, which was (and, perhaps more regrettably still, is) fitted with Winnie the Pooh sheets.

Before you race over to my RADIUS profile, yes, I am an adult woman (allegedly). But, in 2017, I was also more sick than I’d ever been. My Crohn’s Disease, which had been kicking me in the large intestine since late 2009, decided to go for a full body slam this past summer. I was living in Scotland at the time, and I spent the first week of July planning an E.T.-style escape from the Gastroenterology Ward of Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital (fortunately for one and all, my plan never came to fruition).

A pre-planned trip back to Vancouver four days after my hospital release made me realize that I needed to be home. So, I moved. Away from my sister and the green-walled flat that we’d shared for nearly two years; away from the job that I loved so much (so much) that I worry I’ll never fully recover from leaving it; away from the person who I was and could have been if I’d stayed. I moved…back into my childhood bedroom.

And that’s about the time that I came across RADIUS.

When I applied for the Fellowship, I did not feel like a “top emerging social innovator,” or a “radical doer,” or a “change-maker.” I felt like a squeezed-out tube of toothpaste. But, people kept asking me how I was doing. And it hurt to see them look away when I answered honestly. So, I climbed out of my bunk bed and slid onto the couch and opened the application form. I answered questions about where I hoped to be in five years at a time when I wasn’t sure how I’d feel in five minutes. I applied.

Of course, when I received an e-mail thanking me for my application and offering me an interview slot, I assumed that RADIUS had accidentally sent me the interview invitation for an infinitely more impressive person named “Julian Red” (who was, I’m sure, at that very moment, single-handedly solving the affordable housing crisis while also probably shepherding a family of ducks across the highway or whatever it is that “radical doers” spend their time doing).

If that was the case, 1) I’m sorry, Julian Red, and 2) RADIUS was incredibly good about it, because they didn’t escort me out of the interview room upon my entry, and they did, in fact, invite me to join this year’s Fellowship. So, now, I — a semi-professional Sick Person, an underemployed Millennial, and an adult bunk-bed-dweller — am also a RADIUS Fellow.

This means that, every week, I get to share oxygen with fifteen other people who I find endlessly interesting. We talk about the problems facing our community in a room constructed almost entirely out of whiteboards. We learn about how to be better leaders and listeners. We share food and connections and project ideas. We show up and try to make our communities and our systems better. We try and we try and we try.

And RADIUS has taught me that trying is a radical act. To be a “change-maker” is to move through this world hoping and caring for ourselves and the communities in which we live. It means trying, even when the problems that we face seem as fixed and cage-like as my childhood bunkbed.

You know, maybe that’s why RADIUS asked me to be a Fellow. Because, at a time when I felt used up and sad and sorry for myself, I spent an entire Saturday afternoon writing out reasons why they should pick me. I dared to imagine myself as valuable within and because of my state of sickness. I tried. And that makes me feel pretty impressive.

To be clear, not Evan-P.-Valentine’s-Day-card-level impressive (as if I could ever reach such lofty heights again), but impressive nonetheless.

*Name has been changed to protect my decades-long crush and also my tender heart.

Fellows Guest Blog: Shagufta Pasta on Feedback, Growth & Discovery in the RADIUS Fellowship

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Shagufta Pasta is a writer, educator, social planner, storyteller and 2018 RADIUS Fellow who calls Vancouver, Toronto and Joburg home. To read more about Shagufta’s life, adventures, and the books she’s reading, check out her blog, Seriously Planning.

Photos by Matt Hanns Schroeter

I am a career and experiential educator, and the paradox about seeking to prepare students for the world of work is that the longer you work in this field, the more removed you can become from the very processes and systems you are trying to improve. Before becoming a RADIUS Fellow, I felt that there was more I needed to know to effectively contribute to issues that I care deeply about. The RADIUS Fellowship resonated not only because I felt I had reached my own personal capacity and that I needed new ideas and inspiration to do more, but because I had a desire to have experiences where I would stretch, learn new things and become uncomfortable.

The first time I visited RADIUS, I knew I wanted to be part of the Fellowship program because of the tantalizing titles calling me from the RADIUS desks. This felt comforting; when I am unsure about how to move forward in my personal and professional life, I gravitate towards books. If there is one lesson I’ve learnt over the past few months as a RADIUS Fellow however, it has been about the value of learning not only from books but from people, and that welcoming and inviting feedback into my life and into my work from myself and others is necessary to create positive change in the world.

Receiving feedback has always been a growth edge for me. In one of our early Fellowship sessions, we had the opportunity to bring a project or challenge that we were working on to our peers for open and candid feedback. The thought of being one of the four or five featured projects left my stomach queasy, and so I turned towards that fear and brought Seriously Planning, a project that centers diverse stories to my fellow Fellows. The session was structured so that I had an opportunity to explain my project and challenge to our small group and answer questions for a few minutes but then could not interject, clarify or ask any questions while the group was deliberating. In fact, I had to turn away and take notes while the group was crafting possible solutions and ways to move forward. Though asking others so directly for feedback and advice felt deeply uncomfortable, I was astonished to discover how useful the entire process was to me. Within forty minutes, our group of 5 had come up with ideas and solutions and questions that I had been unable to see from my own vantage point, and I left the session buzzing with all the potential directions for my project that opened because of the generous expertise of others.

In another session with David Hatfield, he offered us a different way to approach conflict. We all have blind spots he suggested, and when you approach conflict from the perspective that another person can see something about you that you cannot, and that conflict is an opportunity to learn more about yourself, it is possible to change your feelings about it.  In that framework, conflict is not a disturber, it can be a messenger. To help us understand this better, we had an opportunity to rehearse with a partner a conflict that we were still thinking about. While skeptical at first, I left that rehearsal session with insights and a physical expansiveness in my body that I had been unable to arrive at previously on my own. The realization that valuable feedback and learning can come not only in moments when it is actively sought but also in moments where deep conflict is taking place, was an unexpected discovery.

In another session talking about deep democracy, we learnt about how every system has things that are marginal and dominant within it. That which is marginalized can cause disturbances until it is seen and addressed properly. That is true for systems but also true for ourselves, and our RADIUS sessions have made me acutely aware that I cannot create systems change until I am rooted within myself.  The Fellowship has taught me that social change starts from within. Through asking me to become curious about my relationship to power, my connection to reconciliation, my habits, my internal states, my conflicts, my goals, my approach to self-care and so much more, this Fellowship has expanded my definition of stories to be signals or information about the world, and made me someone who is far more willing and perhaps even excited, about opportunities to receive feedback from myself and others. It is something I will take with me from my Fellowship experience for a long time to come.

Fellows Guest Blog: “The RADIUS Effect” by Larissa Chen

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Larissa Chen is a 2018 RADIUS Fellow, Procurement Manager with Virogin Biotech Ltd, Founder of Boues, Communications Specialist & Board Member with Bridge For Health and one of Surrey’s 2018 Top 25 Under 25. Connect with her by email at chenlrss[at]gmail.com or on LinkedInLarissa, along with all of the 2018 RADIUS Fellows, will be presenting at concAUCTION – RADIUS’ annual networking auction and Fellows celebration – on May 15th. Get your tickets today!

Photos by Matt Hanns Schroeter

Every morning, I used to start off my routine with a cup of coffee. I loved how it made me feel – energized and ready to take on the day – I believed that was me at my best. In pursuit of the best version of myself, I joined the RADIUS Fellowship program as I was finishing my degree in Population & Quantitative Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, and looking for direction after graduation.

Throughout my undergraduate years, I worked in research, student governance, large-scale event planning, communications & marketing, and the list goes on, but I still felt misguided. I remembered my experience in RADIUS’ first cohort of Health Change Lab in 2016, and wanted to rediscover the explorative sense of self and enthusiastic community engagement I developed during that program. With the Fellowship, I yearned to find my people, a group of like-minded and curious locals, keen to discover, learn and strengthen our Vancouver community. I knew I was passionate about many issues and wanted to make an impact, but also wanted to become more intentional with my energy and efforts.

Soon enough, RADIUS became my compass through a perplexing transition period. I realized what I truly needed was structured self-reflection, and sought to grow more in-tune with myself. With each weekly Fellows session, retreats, seminars, coaching and networking event, I was determined to bring my best self to every RADIUS activity. Then, in a light bulb moment, I came to terms with the ‘RADIUS Effect’.

What is the ‘RADIUS Effect’? For me, when I enter RADIUS spaces after a long work day, my weary and fatigued self transforms into a spirited and attentive individual, lost in the awe of learning and fully present with my thoughts. I’ve noticed it’s so easy to be my best self, because somehow the RADIUS Effect takes over my headspace and spirit. The Fellowship sessions have challenged my own assumptions, habits, and routines, but also encouraged me to question and explore my blind spots and areas for development – particularly in discussions surrounding power and oppression, reconciliation in Canada, conflict transformation, and other complex issues.

As I continue to learn about fields outside of my comfort zone, I do so within the understanding, kindness, and resourceful support of my RADIUS family. More importantly, I’m building my toolkit of skills and knowledge; and the Fellowship has equipped me with an inclusive and open-minded lens to approach complex societal problems of today and tomorrow. In fact, I accompanied an SFU team visiting Victoria last month, to share existing activities and upcoming projects with ministers, and I heard an interesting statement: “These are complex societal problems and there’s no easy solution.” Immediately, I thought of my RADIUS experience – we must co-create and connect with our communities to approach these wicked problems. How can we work in isolation from our communities, when we ourselves are inherently so embedded within them?

Interestingly enough, my close friends have noticed a difference in me. I’ll share the lessons I’ve learned in the Fellowship to whoever is willing to listen, and become their biggest cheerleader in their ventures. Lately, my business partner has been commenting about how rejuvenated and lively I am; and strangers I meet during work will ask for my LinkedIn because they say I have this certain energy about me that is rare to find. Truth be told, I have to accredit a great deal of that to this sense of self I discovered during my Fellowship and engaging with my RADIUS family.

People used to refer to me as the “Caffeine Machine”, but nowadays, I wake up to a cup of green tea, an amazing podcast, and some mindfulness routines I learned through the Fellowship’s coaching program, and let my re-energized sense of learning, discovery and self-growth jumpstart each day. Right now, I truly feel I am at my best.

concAUCTION: ask. source. connect.

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Connect with changemakers on the leading edge of some of today’s toughest problems!

The 2018 RADIUS Fellows are a group of amazing local changemakers from diverse backgrounds who are working on a range of complex, pressing challenges – and you can help them!  

On May 15th, you’re invited to shake up your Tuesday with RADIUS at concAUCTION: our fun and inspiring networking auction and Fellows celebration.

You’ll hear pitches from each of the 2018 Fellows about their work and have the opportunity to respond to their “asks” of the audience. A unique chance to connect with the leaders who are shaping our world and shaking up our communities – this annual celebrations is not to be missed!

Get your concAUCTION tickets here.

About the RADIUS Fellows

The 2018 RADIUS Fellows are a remarkable group of 16 local changemakers from diverse backgrounds, working across the following areas:

  • Refugee and Newcomer Settlement and Integration
  • Health Promotion
  • The Future of Education
  • The Future of Work

 

About the “Asks”

Each Fellow will have 60 seconds to make an ask of the crowd. They are all working on awesome, impactful projects and initiatives – and they each need something or someone to help take their work to the next level. The asks can take any number of forms: an introduction, a piece of advice, a connection, a fresh idea or maybe even a collaborator. Audience members will be able to respond to these asks and connect with the Fellows about supporting their work.

concAUCTION is made possible by generous support from:

Event Agenda:

6:00pm – Doors Open
6:00-6:30pm – Networking, Finger Food (provided), Beverages (cash bar)
6:30-6:40pm – Welcome & Kick-off Door Prizes
6:40-7:00pm – Round 1 of Fellows Pitches
7:00-7:15pm – Networking Break
7:15-7:40pm – Round 2 of Fellows Pitches
7:40-9:00pm – Networking & Remaining Door Prizes

This event takes place on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
The venue is certified accessible and has one gender-neutral bathroom.

2018 RADIUS Fellowship

Introducing the 2018 RADIUS Fellows!

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It’s with much excitement that we introduce the 2018 RADIUS Fellows cohort! 

These 16 changemakers from diverse backgrounds will spend the next four months expanding their personal and professional capacities, growing their networks, supporting one another and building connections across the Greater Vancouver social innovation ecosystem. Program sessions will take place weekly at the RADIUS Hub under the leadership of RADIUS Education Programs Manager, Tamara Connell.

Unlike in previous years, the 2018 cohort deliberately comprises changemakers working in the following areas:

  • Refugee and Newcomer Settlement and Integration
  • Health Promotion
  • Future of Work/Precarious Employment
  • Future of Education

The Fellowship is made possible by funding from the Beedie School of Business,  SFU Innovates, and the Vancouver FoundationLearn more about the RADIUS Fellowship program here.

Meet the 2018 RADIUS Fellows! 

Mohammed Alsaleh

Mohammed Alsaleh is a Syrian-Canadian Human Rights Advocate, TEDx Speaker, and the B.C. Refugee Sponsorship Trainer.

He was a fourth-year medical student in Syria when he was forced to flee after surviving imprisonment and torture by the Assad regime for his involvement in the peaceful Syrian uprising.

Since arriving in Canada as a refugee in 2014, he has been building a new life in Vancouver resuming his activism as a public speaker and a volunteer raising awareness and helping other newcomers settle in B.C. From Syria to Canada, his journey and work was featured in the documentary “Welcome to Canada“.

Meheret Bisrat 

Meheret is a humanitarian, an advocate of inclusion and diversity and speaker of truth. Over the past 7 years, she has had the privilege of making meaningful impacts on the lives of new immigrants and refugees through her front line work in a nonprofit agency serving newcomers.  Her compassion, empathy, ability to form connections, love of engagement through dialogue and her curiosity of knowing people’s lives, allows her to understand people from various backgrounds. With a strong passion for social justice, Meheret strives to empower individuals and communities to advocate for themselves while addressing the inherent inequity that exists in our societies.  She is also a Board Member of the Ethiopian House Project, and is actively engaging with community members and other stakeholders to realize a dream of establishing an Ethiopian Community Center. Meheret graduated from SFU with a B.A. in Criminology. She hopes this fellowship experience will advance her natural leadership abilities.

Aslam Bulbulia

Aslam is a recent settler on Coast Salish territories with South African-Indian heritage. He has always tried to raise the bar set by his parents while being a good role-model for his brothers.

Through travel and studies, he explored political science, philosophy, city-planning, development, Islamic law and spirituality, user-centred design and decoloniality.

He has been shaped by experiences that include a Mosque tour of Johannesburg, teaching English in Toronto and Sharjah, performing stand-up comedy, co-producing a Palestinian-solidarity album, working for a large multi-national corporation, the ASRI Public Policy Fellowship and research positions within local and provincial government.

He is currently leading Community Engagement Initiatives at SFU’s Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies and involved with the Muslim Urbanists network. He is enrolled in the SFU Certificate in Dialogue and Civic Engagement, and part of CityHive’s Civic Engagement team, trying to understand how decolonising engagement can disrupt power and improve social cohesion.

Alan Chen

Alan is a keen intrapreneur with an eye for good questions and a lens for systems thinking. Raised in Vancouver and educated in Montreal, he embodies a gentle masculinity and an anti-oppressive approach in his interactions, politics, and work.

Alan’s pool of working experience comes from his time with McGill University’s sustainability community. Having completed a B.A.Sc. in Sustainability and Urban Systems, his personal diary of initiatives includes chapters on a leading a student-led placemaking group, living in an urban sustainability collective, as well as sitting on a committee to help seed-fund community-led sustainability initiatives on campus (all, he’d like to add, on rollerblades). In recognition of his efforts, Alan was awarded with the McGill University Emerald Key Catalyst Award in 2015 and was named onto the Corporate Knight’s 2016 Top 30 Under 30 Sustainability Champions in Canada List as well.

Currently, Alan works as an excitable assistant social planner with the City of Vancouver on the Vancouver Immigration Partnership, as well as a Program Liaison with Growing Chefs!

Larissa Chen

Larissa is an experiential learner and global go-getter, dedicated to community engagement and storytelling. Her passions lie in connecting with diverse individuals and identifying areas of strategic collaboration and support. She is the co-founder of Böues, a personal care company dedicated to creating natural products, aligning with her interests in social entrepreneurship and health promotion.

She has completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences in Population & Quantitative Health at SFU, with specialties in gerontology, social equity and health literacy. Larissa is now the Purchasing Manager at Virogin Biotech Ltd., a cancer research facility at UBC, and Research Assistant with the CLSA. Her other experiences include former President of the SFSS, SFU Senator and Communications Specialist for Bridge for Health. She also assists local small businesses and non-profits with developing effective digital marketing strategies.

Larissa enjoys travelling, photography, meeting new people, and appreciating Vancouver’s craft beer scene.

Christine Dyson

Christine is a recent graduate from Simon Fraser, and holds a BA in Environmental Geography, Minor in Environmental Education and Certificates in Spatial Information Science and Corporate Environmental Social Sustainability. Throughout her undergrad career, Christine was heavily involved within the SFU community in various student leadership positions. She believes these opportunities not only shaped her undergraduate education, but also taught her the importance of being involved within one’s community.

Currently, Christine is the Events and Marketing Coordinator for SFU Public Square, where she enjoys finding ways of connecting the university to the community and facilitating conversations on issues of public concern. She is continuously inspired by those she works alongside, and is curious about how she can help make a greater impact. With a passion for community engagement and education, Christine is thrilled to be a part of the RADIUS Fellows cohort.

Haitham El Khatib

Of Palestinian descent, Dubai birth and Lebanese citizenship, Haitham (Tibo) grew up surrounded by the sweet and sultry people and flavours of the Middle East; having lived in four of its countries. His travel and corporate experiences made Haitham a curious thinker and an avid adventurer. Motivated by asking “why?” he developed an interest in creating experiences that could shift one’s cultural perception. Upon moving to Vancouver, Haitham immersed himself in the west coast culinary culture graduating from the Northwest Culinary Academy, working in different capacities in the industry until embarking on opening his own concept, Aleph; an eatery that resembles a Middle Eastern garden, where people from typically opposing sides can find a point of commonality.

Showing the possibilities of peace through breaking barriers, it is through building community with this approach that Haitham aspires to contribute to social change. Why? To leave this world, slightly friendlier than it was when he walked into it.

Michael Hewlett

Michael Hewlett conducts applied research for SRDC, a non-profit consultancy that designs and tests social interventions to learn if those programs work, and how. Michael holds an MSc in Evidence-based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation from Oxford University (2016), and a BASc from McMaster University’s flagship Arts & Science Program (2014). He integrates maths, women’s studies, engineering, economics, medical humanities, physics, law, and other disciplines to appraise the evidence behind programs and policies, design research to test them, and develop novel responses to social issues.

As a RADIUS Fellow, Michael adds a rigorous, thoughtful, and practical approach to compliment the radical doing of a social innovation lab. He learned the latter through co-founding the McMaster Social Innovation Lab in 2014, a 45-member start-up that trained students in human-centered design and systems thinking.

If you have a project that you think would be of interest, particularly around emotions, adolescents, or food systems, you can reach Michael at mhewlett@srdc.org.

Robbie Hsieh

Robbie’s interest in creating meaningful employment for persons living with disabilities has led him to hold different roles for the past seven years. He began working as an adapted sports coach with the Canucks Autism Network, moving on to supporting students with special needs in the Burnaby School District. In his most recent role, Robbie managed a provincially funded employment program with Open Door Group serving youth with disabilities in the greater Vancouver area.

Robbie holds a BBA from Simon Fraser University with concentrations in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. He is keen to combine his business background and his work experience to help build a more inclusive labour market for persons with disabilities.

Julia Hulbert 

Julia Hulbert is a community engagement and communications specialist with a passion for urban planning, heritage, art and culture.

Julia has over a decade of experience working in the arts and culture sector in Vancouver and Victoria, BC. She completed her Bachelor of Arts, Honours, at the University of Victoria in Art History in 2010 and is currently a Master’s student at Simon Fraser University in Urban Studies. Her personal interests concern connecting people to place which she does through curatorial projects and community engagement activities.

Julia volunteers as a Heritage Commissioner with the City of Vancouver and is a member of the Heritage Advisory Panel to the Vancouver School Board. Her views on heritage are holistic and inclusive—she is passionate about the built environment and its capacity to shape collective experiences. Paramount to her interpretation of place is the understanding that the land contains layers of histories and values that are often in conflict. Her Master’s thesis explores these values and narratives by asking how the exclusion of intangible cultural heritage from municipal heritage plans creates barriers to the realization of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Actions.

In addition to her studies and volunteer work, Julia works as a consultant in cultural and heritage planning and public art policy development. Recent projects include the City of Victoria’s Cultural Plan, the City of Maple Ridge’s Cultural Plan Update and Maple Ridge’s Developer Public Art Policy.

Jesse Kancir

Jesse Kancir is a resident physician at the University of British Columbia, completing his training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, with special interests in population health and healthy communities, Canadian healthcare policy, and medical education.

Jesse’s training has focused on science, social science, and public policy, with education at the University of Waterloo, the University of Toronto, the London School of Economics, and the University of Cambridge, where he was a 2014-2015 Chevening Scholar.

He has previously worked as Policy Advisor to federal Minister of Health Dr. Jane Philpott, and was the 2013-2014 President of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students.

Bahar Khazei

Bahar is an educator and researcher and is strongly passionate about improving the education system for newcomers. She is currently a graduate student at the UBC faculty of education, researching policies that directly affect newcomer youth in the education system in British Columbia. She is also an elementary school teacher with training in Montessori philosophy. Bahar is involved with various projects and groups at UBC. As an executive member of the World University Society of Canada UBC chapter, she has worked directly with the WUSC Student Refugee Program and WUSC Ottawa to raise awareness about refugee issues in Vancouver.

Bahar is an outdoor enthusiast and loves working with students outside. She has taught youth about food cycle and sustainability and has worked with the UBC farm education programs and local not for profit organizations such as Soaring Eagle Nature School and Environmental Youth Alliance. In her spare time she enjoys, growing food, beekeeping, photography and hiking.

Caroline Merner

Caroline is a passionate environmental educator and a sustainability enthusiast. Caroline works at Ocean Wise engaging youth in ocean conservation. She co-directed the Dalhousie Student Union Sustainability Office in 2016-17 and, since 2015, has served as a Youth Advisory Group member for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. Her background in conservation has taken her to the Arctic, Hawaii, Peru, Chile and Banff, as a workshop facilitator and international conference delegate. As a graduate from Dalhousie University in Sustainability and International Development, Caroline’s thesis focused on effective climate change communication. For her work, Caroline has been named Green Student of the Year by Dalhousie University, an inaugural Young Women for Nature by Nature Canada, and a Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists by Starfish Canada. She is now thrilled to co-direct Climate Guides in Vancouver, a mentorship program addressing climate change.

Shagufta Pasta

Shagufta is a social planner, a writer and a builder of community. She has a Political Science degree from UBC and a Masters in Planning, specializing in Social Policy and Planning from the University of Toronto. Her Masters project examined how planners can better deconstruct and address conflicts that surface with proposed mosque developments. After graduate school, she coordinated the UBC Community United Way Campaign, helped organize donor engagement projects at United Way Toronto, and lived in Johannesburg for 2 years, an experience that changed her understanding of what inclusion can feel and look like.

She currently helps undergraduate Arts students at UBC figure out who they are becoming and what they want to do in the world. Outside of work Shagufta blogs, podcasts and vlogs about careers, work, cities and representative books at www.seriouslyplanning.com, experiments with vegetarian recipes, and organizes bookclubs – her favourite way to make new friends.

Jillian Read

Jillian finds bios hard to write (which is funny, because Jillian is paid to write things). Currently, she is a Communications Strategist and Consultant for Curitus, a B.C. firm specialising in project consulting and media support for charities. She has several years of experience working with community organisations in both Canada and the UK, including those in the arts, education, youth mentorship, and First Nations health care. In 2015, she made the somewhat questionable decision to move to Edinburgh after watching the classic Julia Roberts’ film, “Eat Pray Love” (she wishes she was joking). There, she spent most of her time managing Light Up Learning, an education charity that mentors disengaged young people and puts them in charge of their own learning experiences. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of British Columbia. It can be found hanging somewhat crookedly on her living room wall.

Michaela Slinger

Michaela’s first love is performing, and she made her public debut at age 3 singing the anthem at an NBA game. Although (regrettably) she does less performing now, Michaela’s life continues to be about connecting with people—audience or not. She has eight years’ experience coaching youth in competitive swimming and soccer, and her undergraduate thesis included the design and pilot of an educational after-school program. Michaela graduated from Quest University, an innovative liberal arts and science institution, where she was also involved with her school newspaper. She was chosen as one of ten undergraduate journalism fellows to work with Discourse Media on their Possible Canadas project during the last federal election. Michaela also worked with her student government, and spearheaded a voter engagement group for BC’s most recent provincial election. In her new life as a non-student, Michaela works with Open Door Group as Executive Assistant to the COO.

Don’t Miss Your Chance – Apply to the RADIUS Fellowship!

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Community blogger Laura Mannix is a 2017 RADIUS Fellows alumnus and Manager of Refugee and Specialized Programs at DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society.

The RADIUS Fellowship is Metro Vancouver’s preeminent professional development opportunity for top emerging social innovators from across the region. Applications for the 2018 Fellowship are open until 11:59pm on November 4th. To learn more about this opportunity, visit our Fellowship page or attend the Information Session on November 2nd

My experience in the RADIUS Fellowship enabled a journey that was significant, providing many experiences and opportunities that were fundamentally life altering. Going in, I wasn’t entirely sure what RADIUS was, or if I could be considered an actual  “change maker”  but I wanted the opportunity to be provided with insight into possible theoretical approaches, other perspectives and practices necessary to fully engage in meaningful community development. The Fellowship program offered a curriculum to enhance my capacity to make more impactful actions while connecting me to mentors, friends and peers that would inspire, strengthen and motivate me to continue the work I was doing.

As a newcomer to Vancouver, I had struggled to meet like-minded people and to foster authentic and deep friendships. As a young professional without established relationships or a forum like university to meet new people, it was an isolating and disenfranchising experience. The Fellowship provided me an entry into a vibrant community of diverse perspectives, ideas and lived experiences, some of whom I am now fortunate to call some of my closest friends. These are people I can rely on to have deep, open and meaningful dialogue. They are folks who have opened up their hearts and homes to me.

As someone who is away from their family, this kind of community is invaluable, and for this alone I am truly grateful for this journey.

2017 Fellow Laura Mannix at RADIUS’ annual concAUCTION event

The network I developed through the program (the Fellows, the RADIUS team and the wonderful people I was able to meet  as connections to RADIUS) have also contributed to the work I do in the community. I came into the program with a desire to build my personal leadership capacity, increase my knowledge and grow my network. Through participation in the program I was able to create partnerships to implement innovative refugee youth programming and recruit a key specialized advocate and facilitator to launch a pilot program for sexual and gender diverse newcomers.

I now feel immersed in a community and movement of people who are trying to create positive change and advance a more inclusive future in the Lower Mainland.

My exploration of the social innovation space continues. Thanks to the connection with RADIUS, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Social Innovation Certificate offered through SFU. I plan to continue collaborating with RADIUS and others in the network to help advance refugee and newcomer settlement and integration.

I am filled with gratitude to RADIUS for all of the opportunities and relationships that have emerged from the Fellowship program. Don’t miss your chance to participate if the Fellowship appeals to you! Application close this weekend.

The RADIUS Fellowship is currently accepting applications for the 2018 cohort. If you want to learn more, please review our website, join the Info Session on Nov. 2nd, and/or drop a line to the Fellowship Manager, Tamara Connell (tconnell[at]radiussfu.com).

Group Coaching in the RADIUS Fellowship

By | Fellows, Thought Leadership | No Comments

By Tamara Connell & Urszula Lipsztajn

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

We could all use a coach – someone to work alongside us, as we pursue professional growth. For a social innovator this can be even more important; the weight of trying to improve social, environmental and/or economic conditions can be heavy and exhausting.

Since the RADIUS Fellowship launched, the most promising local social innovators and changemakers have worked in four-month cohorts to build relationships with their peers, develop personally and professionally, and tap into the broader social innovation and social entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Coaching has been a part of the RADIUS Fellowship since the beginning. In 2017, we made available to the Fellows the most robust coaching offer yet. We began with Fellows individually identifying and describing personal development areas: what they wanted to work on; how this topic or challenge was currently affecting their lives; and what they would like to experience as different. With the support of their coach, Fellows co-created a coaching program individually tailored to their current and potential future ways of being in relation to their area of development. Once every three weeks, groups met to discuss progress and challenges related their specific coaching ‘assignment’ as was provided by the coach. Each Fellow not only got to receive coaching and feedback from their peers, but also become a critically important contributor to helping provide feedback, insights, and coaching questions to their peers.

Coaching is an optional – albeit very popular – component of the Fellowship. Of the 80% of Fellows who participated in the 2017 coaching offer, most found it to be very valuable. Several Fellows indicated that the coaching was among the most impactful components of the Fellowship program.

The group coaching is unique, and like most things at RADIUS, a bit unorthodox. We were nervous launching this new model, but it was a resounding success. Most participants reported that the group format helped them to build strong bonds with their group-mates, something that wouldn’t have happened with one-on-one coaching.

[The coaching offer] was greatly impactful for myself and was a wonderful, structured space to get to know some of our fellow peers. ” – 2017 Fellow

It was very valuable in building deeper relationships to other members in the cohort, and in deepening my understanding of potential challenges in reaching certain goals. I was offered many different exercises and ideas to further work on my goal, and am looking forward to working on this. ” – 2017 Fellow

The 2018 Fellowship, which is currently accepting applications, will include a robust group coaching offer much the same as what was prototyped in 2017, iterating slightly to capture learnings and hopefully be even more successful.

We’re thankful to all the 2017 RADIUS Fellows who joined us with open hearts and minds during the coaching program and shared their input during and afterwards.

We’re looking forward to offering coaching again in the 2018 RADIUS Fellowship.

Become a RADIUS Fellow – APPLY NOW!

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The RADIUS Fellowship is Metro Vancouver’s preeminent professional development opportunity for top emerging social innovators from across the region. During the intensive 4-month experience Fellows build relationships with their peers, develop personally and professionally, and tap into the broader social innovation and social entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Applications for the 2018 Fellowship are open until November 4.
The cohort meets weekly from February 6 to May 29, 2018.

What do Fellows say?

 I was challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone many times, but from that learned in ways I never would before. – 2017 Fellow

 The RADIUS Fellowship changed my life. It came to me at a time when I was stuck both personally and professionally… I feel ready, and set with the right tools to grow personally and begin a meaningful career. I no longer feel stuck.  – 2016 Fellow

 I felt the connection I developed within the Fellowship program firmly reintroduced me to a professional network here in Vancouver.  – 2015 Fellow

 I looked forward to working out of the co-working space, which was always buzzing with awesome changemakers.  – 2017 Fellow

The RADIUS Fellowship Program Details

Fellowship weekly sessions consist of a mix of facilitated learning experiences, dialogues with guests, and social activities. Sample topics of focus include social innovation, design thinking, personal leadership and engaging stakeholders in your work. Fellowship perks include access to a professional coach, membership at the RADIUS co-working space, and access to the broader RADIUS network through events, meet-ups and personal introductions.

Learn more about the specifics of the program, and apply here.

Are you a RADIUS Fellow?

Fellows are doers, explorers, innovators and changemakers. They are local leaders invested in Metro Vancouver communities. They have relentless dedication and an early track record building solutions in support of a more just, resilient and sustainable future. They are early in their professional careers, dedicated to learning and growing, and passionate about contributing to a strong community of social innovators.

Apply now!

Questions?

Get in touch! Shoot an email over to the Fellowship Program Manager, Tamara Connell if you have questions about the experience and whether it’s right for you – tconnell[at]radiussfu.com

The Art of Impactful Presentations

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Guest blogger Lana Friesen (pictured in the middle above) is a dancer, activist and member of the 2017 RADIUS Fellows. She will be one of the 22 changemakers presenting their “asks” at RADIUS’ signature concAUCTION event on May 16th – get your tickets now! Photograph by Byron Dauncey.  

As systems thinkers, many of us have looked very intensely into a vast web of interconnecting problems, opportunities, and strengths. Part of our challenge as changemakers is to present our proposed interventions and how they address needs within these webs. It can be quite a daunting task to communicate all of this in an impactful capacity when we feel overwhelmed by the amount of information we need to succinctly convey – as if we need to capture an entire galaxy of stars within a 60 second pitch.

One of the most useful tools Simon Goland offered the RADIUS Fellows at our most recent session was the Stepping Stones method. We identified a maximum of 7 different “stepping stones” that make up our presentation, and these stepping stones each consist of one image and one emotion. Rather than memorizing a script which has the tendency towards a cold delivery, presenters remember their intention as well as these stepping stones as a general, fluid path to follow while presenting.

I felt the impact of this method very strongly when Terri Rutty of the Food Trade Game transformed her presentation to a powerful story that grabbed my heart immediately after one sentence. With the help of other fellows in the program, Veronika Bylicki of CityHive shared her story and I could very vividly imagine some of the images she might have used as stepping stones.

When they say ‘a picture tells a thousand words’, I think we underestimate the ability of words to create images that convey an exponentially larger picture than a script alone – particularly if the communicator has an image in their own mind powering their words.

To convey the complex, intricate web of systems that we’re wrestling with as changemakers, it’s quite a relief to realize that we need not fully describe every single star – we simply need to hold the image and emotion in our minds, and let the words flow.

RADIUS Fellows alumnus Jannika Nyberg pitching at concAUCTION

concAUCTION – A Pivotal Moment

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Jannika Nyberg is a 2016 Fellows alumna and youth education superstar. 

This year’s concAUCTION is coming up on May 15th – get your tickets now!

I joined the RADIUS Fellowship because I was in search of my tribe, a community of dope humans who were actively building lives of courageous citizenry. At the time, I was working on a community development fellowship and feeling fairly isolated. I applied to the program, inspired by the promise of personal growth development and social innovation learning.

I left the program connected to a community of dope humans who continue (to this day) to support, challenge and inspire one another.

This collective support came in super handy when preparing for the 2016 concAUCTION, as I was forced to consolidate my complex-systems community development applied to democratic education project into a one minute pitch. Obviously, I need major help.

When I was first told about concAUCTION I was skeptical and nervous. A night to pitch our changemaking projects in one-minute to a room full of local leaders? Sounds scary.

It’s kind of like a live crowdsourcing of ‘asks’ (needed resources, suggestions or mentorship). People raise their hands to indicate they’d like to chat with a numbered Fellow, they get tagged with the corresponding number, and then on the break – BOOM! – idea sparks connection.

The night before the Auction of innovative ideas, I called up my fellow Fellows for pitch-perfecting advice. Thank goodness my cohort is full of concise, critical thinkers who so lovingly cut through my scattered mind.

The night of the event was…… Pivotal.

It was the first time I’d ever put my pitch on auction. It was the first time I’ve ever landed a dream job by pitching my idea live!

Well, almost…

concAUCTION introduced me to my current boss at YELL Canada, who would later hire me to live out my dream job.

Call it synchronicity… call it a happy coincidence… concAUCTION creates the space to connect you to amazing opportunity and above all, amazing people.

You never know who you’ll meet.

I’ll see you there.

The 2016 Fellows get ready to make their asks of the crowd at concAUCTION.

The 2016 Fellows get ready to make their asks of the crowd.

I Like RADIUS So Much, I Don’t Even Want To Pee

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Guest blogger Abeer Yusuf (pictured second from the left above) is a radio producer, scholar and member of the 2017 RADIUS Fellows (to name just a few titles). She will be one of the 22 changemakers presenting their “asks” at RADIUS’ signature concAUCTION event on May 16th – get your tickets now!

It has become such that now there’s an internal sign in my head that says: TGIT – Thank God It’s Tuesday.

I cannot wait to leave work and my home to turn up, say hello to all my friends, grab a glass of water and sink into some serious learning.

Unfortunately this also means I cannot pee for three hours on Tuesday evenings.

I am so in awe of everything everyone has to say, so excited to see how the other 22 minds in the room run – that I am afraid to leave the room for even 2 minutes lest I miss a really important point that someone makes during a session on mindfulness, or lose out on a great book recommendation or a snippet of an interesting conversation on decolonising travel (thanks Erin!).

Our group is a varied bunch – and each person, from the worlds they are connected to, brings something totally different to the circle we congregate in. I have really come to admire what each person has to say, what perspectives people contribute, and also just the learning I get to be a part of because of an insightful question a peer asks.

TRADITIONS

I really enjoy the small traditions that are evolving and developing. I make it a point to have an early dinner with someone different each Tuesday before our session begins; Randall, Lana and I engage in debriefs while walking back to the Skytrains on our respective ways home – which I know others in the group do too.

I am learning more and more about what people do, the value of checking with your heart and not just stopping at your head and the importance of different perspectives in solution-thinking.

Thanks to my growing RADIUS community and the friendships I’m developing, I feel a little more validated in my daily battles, I feel a little more at ease knowing that there are honest, genuine humans like me who are also up against similar challenges and issues, I feel a little more happy that I can take away pieces of knowledge and learnings from others and I feel completely overwhelmed at one of the best things to happen to me in a little while – RADIUS.

So what if I have to hold my bladder from 6-9pm on Tuesday evenings?

2017 Fellows with RADIUS Lead Educator Tamara Connell. All images by Byron Dauncey.

concAUCTION: Ask. Source. Connect.

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RADIUS is pumped to announce the third annual concAUCTION event!

The RADIUS Fellows cordially invite you to mix up your Tuesday night and join us for an experiment in connecting and celebrating.

Whether you’re looking to share ideas, offer support, deepen your network or just partake in the party, you’ll want to be there.

Purchase tickets here. 

Advance tickets $10-$30
Doors at 6pm ~ Action at 6:30pm
Tasty finger foods will be provided
Refreshments will be available (Cash only)

The Asks: Our Fellows will be making asks of the crowd. They are each working on something to make the world more awesome – a project, a venture, an initiative, a conference. Whatever it is, that something needs someone or something to make it more awesome – an introduction, a piece of advice, a link, a fresh idea or maybe even a collaborator.

Asks are only 60 seconds! This will be an enticingly fast and fun evening, where you’ll want to hold onto your hats but not your business cards.

This event takes place on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

The venue is certified accessible and has one gender-neutral bathroom.

A Storyteller’s Tale: RADIUS Fellows alumnus Brielle Morgan’s media journey

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RADIUS Fellow Brielle Morgan is one of the producers of an ambitious nation-wide story collecting initiative to engage communities in deep listening.

Brielle Morgan, a journalist and graduate of Simon Fraser University and Carleton University, has reported stories from around the world, spanning from Canada’s far North to East Africa. After working for more “traditional” media outlets for a few years, she felt a growing misalignment between the work she was doing and the work she wanted to pursue.

Brielle joined the RADIUS Fellowship program during its inaugural year with hopes of meeting a community of like-minded individuals in addition to sourcing support for her story collecting initiative, The Grandmother Project. Inspired and touched by the stories that poured out of her grandmother after just a few thought-provoking questions, Brielle worked with radio producer Angela Johnston, to launch the project. Together they aimed to encourage young people to engage more frequently in sharing thoughtful conversations with their grandmothers.

The Grandmother Project evolved into Storywise, an audio recording project that invites people to sit down one-on-one to listen to each other, to swap stories in a designated space, and to honour each other’s experiences in a memorable way. Participants – whether friends, family or curious strangers – receive keepsake recordings of their conversation. With permission, some talks are edited into short stories to share with the broader community.

At the Al Etmanski’s book launch event, attended by the RADIUS Fellows, Brielle was introduced to Erin Millar, Editor-and-Chief and CEO of Discourse Media, an independent journalism company dedicated to in-depth reporting on complex issues facing Canada and the world. The two saw alignment in the journalistic work they each wanted to pursue, and a few months later Brielle joined Discourse as Reporter and Producer. Part of Brielle’s new role was take what she learned from her experience with Storywise and apply to Discourse’s community engagement strategy.

This past March, Storywise organized an event series called The Big Listen, inviting individuals to bring a friend or family member and honour each other by asking questions about a meaningful experience. In partnership with the Vancouver Public Library, they recorded conversations in the newly refurbished Inspiration Lab at the Central Public Library.

Storywise co-founders Brielle Morgan (left) and Angela Johnston (centre) with Vancouver Public Library Inspiration Lab staff members Simon, Mark and Sam

In the first weekend alone, twenty-two people took part in sharing their stories with a loved one. Themes such as living with mental health, immigration struggles, and changing shapes of families in modern society emerged from the conversations.

A specific story that stood out to Brielle was a conversation between a five-year old boy and his parents (names withheld as per the family’s request). The boy described the people who lived in this uniquely imaginative solar system that lives in his mind. Fascinated by the details in the preschooler’s story, the parents continued to ask questions, exploring his world. Here is a short clip from that conversation:

Taking what she has learned from Storywise, Brielle has applied her learnings to a new project to engage communities across the country in deep listening and story sharing.

Starting this year, Brielle and the Discourse Media team will be working with the newly created non-profit Challenge for Change (C4C) to vision, design and execute a story collection project inspired, in part, by Storywise. C4C has launched with the support of Inspirit Foundation, the MacMillan Family Foundation and the National Film Board, adding capacity for large-scale events, short film and animation adaptations of audio stories, digital archiving, and collaborations with schools.

The RADIUS Fellowship program granted Brielle the opportunities to pitch, receive feedback, fine-tune, and walk away with a stronger and more impactful vision of her project. From what she terms her “tumbleweed of connections,” she was exposed to a journalism venture that aligned with her values, came across an opportunity to envision a nationwide story collection project and “feels more optimistic and excited” about the future of journalism in Canada.

Brielle Morgan with Storywise participant Elaine Benson

If you would like to learn more about The Big Listen and the upcoming Challenge for Change project, be in touch with brielle@discoursemedia.org.

Sonam Swarup joined Discourse Media as a Marketing Coordinator and was one of the 22 RADIUS Fellows in Radical Doing in our second cohort. For more information on the RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing, click here.

Fellows showcasing the characteristics of a 21st Century leader

Thought Leadership: Building your leadership capacity by building your inner capacities

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At RADIUS, we have the hypothesis that we can play a meaningful role in shifting towards a more just, sustainable and resilient economy. The RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing is one of our programmatic interventions towards this desired outcome. The Fellowship brings together a cohort of radical doers, untamed social entrepreneurs and innovators who are early on their changemaking journey, demonstrating remarkable accomplishment and a relentless dedication to creating positive, sustainable impact in all they do. We meet weekly over the course of 4 ½ months, and work towards three concurrent goals:

  •      Personal leadership development
  •      Project development
  •      Network development

Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing some of our thinking behind each of those three developmental areas. This week, I begin with reflecting on the first goal listed above, personal leadership development.

“The success of an intervention depends on the interior state of the intervener.” –Bill O’Brien

Personal leadership development for changemakers

This quote was introduced to me in 2011 by three students of mine in the Master’s in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability (MSLS) Programme, and it’s forever impacted the way in which I think about and structure my leadership development. It illuminated the distinction between the inner space of a changemaker – an intervener – and the more visible, tangible actions taken by that changemaker. If you’ve been introduced to the iceberg model or Integral Theory, you’ll be familiar with this focus on the interior as distinct (yet connected) to the exterior, visible actions one takes.

So what DOES it take for emerging changemakers to make successful, positive interventions in society? How does one build and maintain personal resiliency, strength, and wisdom in the face of all the challenges barraging us today?

Much of the past decade of my career has been devoted to helping foster increased confidence and competence in sustainability and social innovation leaders. Early in this journey, I admittedly built programming from a sensed place more than from any kind of framework. Then in 2011, these three aforementioned students (Christopher Baan, Dana Pearlman, and Phil Long) embarked on a thesis that asked, “If our work requires us to motivate and assist others in making transformational change towards a more sustainable society, what are the inner capacities that are needed to allow for our success?” Their five month long thesis culminated in the production of a model and practice guide called The Lotus, and it has since deeply informed my thinking and design of leadership sessions, including that of the RADIUS Fellowship. Read More

2017 RADIUS Fellows Retreat Recap

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Guest blogger Erin Brown-John is a communications professional, community builder, thereminist and member of the 2017 RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing. The following article is a re-post from Erin’s website, eebeejay.com.

On February 4, 2017 my RADIUS 2017 Fellows cohort braved the blizzard to arrive at Camp Alexandra for our program’s opening retreat. This was a chance for us to unplug from our daily lives, get to know eachother and work on setting some personal goals for our time in the Fellows program.

Once we were assembled it didn’t take long for us to skip to the good stuff: who am I? How did I get here? What difficult decisions have I made in my life? Each exercise throughout the weekend was an opportunity to reflect on our experience by sharing it with others.

I really enjoyed getting to know people and appreciated how the tasks we were asked to do were very purposefully meant to get us to explore different ways of telling our stories than many of us are probably used to. The more conversations I had, the more I realized that there are a lot of similarities between us. It might be a bad breakup, or getting fired from a job, or something as random as having a crippled waterfowl as a childhood pet. So rarely in everyday life do we get the chance to focus on other people for long enough to discover the things we have in common.

I was surprised to learn that two thirds of our group identified as introverts. It definitely didn’t feel like it. The lodge was humming with energy and early on we were already having conversations about how well the group gelled and what kinds of wizardry must have taken place in the selection process to make that happen.

But perhaps this was just because we’d spent a long time at the outset coming to a consensus about community guidelines that would enable us to be an open and supportive group. The list we arrived at was rather extensive and emerged out of deep discussions about listening well, showing respect for others’ viewpoints, creating space, expressing radical candour, and hugging consentually.

Read More

Meet the 2017 RADIUS Fellows in Radical Doing

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We’re delighted to present our third cohort of RADIUS Fellows! Once a week from now until June, this band of Radical Doers will gather together, connect with mentors and coaches, and strengthen their skills for creating impactful innovation.

This cohort brings together changemakers from a diversity of fields including mental health, education, filmmaking, urban sustainability, youth engagement, and refugee resettlement. They have studied at SFU, across the country, and around the globe – gaining degrees in everything from business to political science to art. You can read more about this exceptional group of people in their own words below.

The Fellowship program is made possible by funding from the SFU Sustainability OfficeRECODE,  SFU Innovates, and the Vancouver Foundation.

Learn more about the RADIUS Fellowship program here. Read More

One Radical Doer’s Path through Fellows and Trampoline

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Two years ago, Devon Carr had just moved back to Vancouver.  A sailor, tinkerer, chef, and innovator – he came to RADIUS searching for an impactful way to apply his considerable talent and passion. Today, Devon is leading two exciting initiatives.  

Coastal Cover & the Trampoline Business Model Validation Program:

I first met Devon in the 2015 when he brought “Coastal Cover” to the RADIUS Trampoline Business Model Validation Program. Devon’s idea was to pull old sails out of the waste stream by turning them into tents for special events.  

Over eight weeks, participants in RADIUS Trampoline build the skills and confidence they need to validate the business model and potential impact of a social venture idea. Participants test their idea to ensure that:  

a) the venture addresses a meaningful problem;
b) the solution is viable and competitive; and
c) the founder has the skills and passion to carry it forward.

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One of Devon Carr’s Coastal Cover tents

Most of the time success means a refined business plan and more confidence. Sometimes, though, success means recognizing that one piece of that triad is missing. Better to find that out in eight weeks than after eight months of trial and error!

That was the case for Devon. A couple weeks in, Devon realized that although the tent rental market was underserved and his business model was economically sound, his solution wouldn’t divert enough waste to be his life’s work.  After doing a couple of events he put the business on the shelf and continued to explore ways to apply his entrepreneurial learning.  

The next challenge that he sunk his teeth into emerged out of his experience with the RADIUS Fellowship.


Precarious Employment & The RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing

Devon was a 2015 RADIUS Fellow.  He credits this experience with fundamentally developing his understanding of social innovation (“like drinking from a firehose”) and with connecting him to a network of likeminded peers.  

While participating in the Fellowship – which pulls together the next generation of untamed social entrepreneurs and innovators early in their journey – Devon noticed that most of his peers faced precarious employment. These vibrant young changemakers who demonstrate remarkable accomplishment and a relentless dedication to creating positive impact are among approximately $5.5million Canadians whose work is seasonal, temporary, contract based, or self-employment.

Exemplifying the best of a social innovation mindset, Devon asked, “How might we create conditions to better enable young Canadians to take chances to create a better economy?”

Devon is close to launching a group benefits program for people precariously employed but dedicated to positive social change.  “I didn’t set out to be an insurance provider,” says Devon, “but I am dedicated to reducing the risks associated with following your own path, and benefits are great a way to do this.”

Moving forward

Devon is now structuring the benefits offering, and exploring a partnership with Ontario’s Coworking Health Insurance Plan (COHIP).  If you would like to learn more about whether this program may be a fit for you, please contact Devon at benefits[at]livelihoodinstitute.ca.

Ironically, Coastal Cover – the sail cloth tent company – is also alive and well.  Coastal Cover delivered 18 events in 2016, all in response to inbound inquiries.  “Even after I decided that this wasn’t the full deal in terms of impact,” Devon says, “I realised that it’s a good little business that can help generate revenue for other projects while serving a market need.”  

Today, Devon is an active member of the RADIUS community and is continuing to develop solutions that apply his unique skills toward addressing market and societal needs.

More about Trampoline

RADIUS is currently recruiting for its next Trampoline cohort, which runs January to March 2017.  Learn more or apply now by visiting the Trampoline page.   

More about the RADIUS Fellowship

Apply to the 2017 RADIUS Fellowship before November 26. For additional information, please email Fellowship Program Manager, Tamara Connell at tconnell[at]radiussfu.com.

Is the RADIUS Fellowship or the Trampoline Program right for you?

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The RADIUS Fellowship and Trampoline Business Model Validation Program are both currently accepting applications.

Theunis Snyman of Basic Design is an alumnus of both programs.  He’s active in the community and has partnered with and been contracted by alumni, by SFU, and by RADIUS itself. To help you decide if the Fellowship or Trampoline is right for you, Theunis shares highlights from his experience and learning in each program.

Theunis’ Journey with RADIUS

“The RADIUS Fellowship gave me a network of peers and friends, and a deep connection to a purposeful community. As a participant in the Fellowship, RADIUS gave me a place to really think about social change and surrounded me with people who supported each other in the work we do to solve problems. I didn’t have that before. And I’m forever grateful.

A year after completing the Fellowship, Jesi (my partner at Basic Design) and I were back for the Trampoline Market Validation Program. Trampoline was all about testing our business model. Through really frank conversations with expert instructors, we identified potential pitfalls that would impact our success. To get the most of out of Trampoline, you want to go into the program with clarity about the idea you are working on.

I came to RADIUS because I was really drawn to the idea of a community of people acting on their beliefs and creating solutions to complex social and environmental challenges. And that’s exactly what I found at RADIUS. SFU and RADIUS have supported me more than you can imagine.”

Apply to the RADIUS Fellowship

Applications are due by November 26th! Apply now.

The RADIUS Fellowship is looking for the next generation of untamed social entrepreneurs and innovators who are early on their changemaking journey, demonstrating remarkable accomplishment and a relentless dedication to creating positive, sustainable impact in all they do. Fellows will take a four-month journey from late January until early June 2017. During weekly learning sessions they will explore their own leadership, build their network; receive coaching and mentorship; and generously support their peers to help foster as much positive change as possible.

Join an information session on November 21st to learn more or email Fellowship Program Manager, Tamara Connell at tconnell[at]radiussfu.com.

Apply to the  RADIUS’ Trampoline Business Model Validation Program

Applications are due by December 6th. Apply now.

Trampoline gives emergent entrepreneurs the skills and confidence they need to validate both the business model and potential impact of a specific social venture idea. In this eight week program starting January 2017, participants will test a business idea they have in development and to ensure that the venture addresses a meaningful problem; the solution is a viable and competitive solution; and the founder is ready to carry it forward.

Learn more about Trampoline online or RSVP for an upcoming Ventures Q&A session by emailing ventures[at]radiussfu.com.

Funding Announcement for RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing

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We are thrilled to announce that the Vancouver Foundation recently approved three years of funding for the RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing. The support – totalling $105,000 – is a critical step towards continuing to offer this impactful program to a diverse set of emerging social economy leaders at an accessible cost.

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The RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing launched in 2015 as a response to a confluence of trends affecting the millennial generation as they try to engage in meaningful work within the Metro Vancouver region: an increasing sense of isolation and loneliness; precarious short-term employment; a substantial increase in the complexity and severity of many social and environmental issues; and higher education which often does not adequately prepare individuals to thrive within these conditions.

fellows-retreat-kitchen-picRead more about the origin story of the Fellowship here, in a recent blog by Jennifer McRae.

The Fellowship responds to these challenges by curating a cohort of 20 social economy leaders for a 4-month developmental program. Fellows are the best and brightest ‘radical doers’ improving the systems upon which we all depend. The Fellowship is structured to support Fellows’ personal, project, and network development.

The program structure and outcomes from the most recent Fellowship can be found within our 2016 Outcomes Report.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude towards the Vancouver Foundation, who joins our other key funders – The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s RECODE Initiative, SFU Innovates, and the SFU Sustainability Office – in helping to make the Fellowship Program possible. The program costs $5000 per participant to deliver, but with the generous support of our funders we are able to offer a sliding scale model to generate the remaining revenue required to fully fund the program. This financial flexibility allows us to prioritize accessibility, and ensure great diversity in our cohort, as explained in our recent blog.

Fellows have this to say, to all of our valued Funders:

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Applications for Fellows cohort #3 are OPEN NOW and will remain open until November 26, 2016, with the program launching at the end of January. If you belong in our next cohort or know someone who does, apply now or visit the Fellowship page of our website for more information. We’re looking forward to hearing more about you!

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Thought Leadership: Key Ingredients for Fostering Community

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By Tamara Connell, Lead Educator, RADIUS

In last month’s blog, Jennifer McRae described the genesis story for the RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing. In it, she shared detail about what drove her to dream, pitch and then build the Fellowship.

For the past several weeks, our team has been working to compile the outcomes report for the 2016 Fellowship cohort. In it, we discuss the Fellowship programming and the results in our second year. We share what we know works, what we’ve learned about how to do things better, and what we’re bringing forward into the 2017 Fellowship cohort – which will be accepting applications from Nov. 1-26, 2016.

Download the 2016 Fellowship in Radical Doing Outcomes Report

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The Fellowship Builds Impactful Community

Time and again, what we hear from Fellows is their gratitude for the community established through the Fellowship. Seventy-one percent (71%) of the 2016 Fellows reported at least one new collaboration within the cohort. The depth of friendships increased significantly, and when asked “To what degree did you expect to remain in touch with some of your cohort members?” 95% selected ‘Absolutely!’ and the other 5% selected ‘Very Likely’. Below are some quotes from 2016 Fellows:

fellows-quotes-3So how does this sense of community get built? What conditions foster the bonds that bring individuals to feel that after just a few months they have developed friendships which will last a lifetime?

Today we focus on three key elements which we feel contribute to the success of the Fellowship’s effort in building a supportive community within BC’s emerging social economy leaders:

  1. Inviting diversity
  2. Working in circle
  3. Sharing joy, pain, and everything in between

Inviting Diversity

When we use the word diversity at RADIUS, we refer specifically to diversity of lived experience. Sometimes lived experience is diverse because of our skin color or our family’s heritage. Sometimes our experiences are shaped by the situations that brought us to Canada, by our family unit structure, by our access to resources, by our gender conformity, by our sexual orientation, or by our ability to fit (or not) into some amorphous set of assumptions about what it is to be ‘normal’ in our society.

Within the RADIUS Fellowship, we do our best to draw a diverse group of Fellows into each cohort. We’ve experimented with a pay-what-you-can model to make the program accessible regardless of financial means. We offer our sessions in the evenings to allow Fellows the ability to continue day-time jobs. In our application review process, we aim to uncover the personal stories leading to ignited changemakers. We look for a multitude of perspectives around certain issues. We actively seek to invite diversity into the cohort.

In these, and other ways, we seek to ensure the  program is accessible to a large number of individuals.

Diversity is a valuable ingredient to community-building because it offers the chance to hear new perspectives, lean on different areas of expertise, reach new networks, and broach challenging topics.

Working in Circle

A substantial amount of literature has been written by leading practitioners about the power of circles. Circles  – simply meeting in chairs formed in a circle, with limited or no furniture in the middle – offer the chance for everyone to be seen and heard. It creates a level field where each individual is as important as every other. It removes a common, often unconscious, tendency to hide ourselves from behind our desks, our podiums, our walls.

Circles offer the invitation for complete and transparent participation, setting the stage for vulnerability and deeper human-to-human emotional connection.

Every single Fellowship session starts in circle, and in most cases is completed entirely in circle. This simple commitment for enacting a form that represents the community we seek to create is a key ingredient in building the community in cohort that is foundational to the impact of the Fellowship.

Sharing joy, pain, and everything in between

Fellows are continually invited to share. They share their recent successes, their challenges, their needs, and any other updates. We invite people to check in from where they’re at. Sometimes this means we can celebrate together; yet other times we mourn, we mobilize, or we offer our input.

The role of normalizing vulnerable sharing begins with the facilitator, and emerges as a collective responsibility as we all hold the space together for various highs and lows. This allows us to step fully into empathetically listening, authentically communicating, and doing our utmost to help one another succeed.

Ultimately, sharing is about trust. We build community in cohort by building trust and accountability to support one another in the difficult work of being a chnagemaker.  

By incorporating these and many other design elements, the RADIUS Fellowship successfully hosts the space for incredible and talented ‘radical doers’ to show up fully, push themselves, and support one another in the challenging adventure of fostering positive societal change.

The RADIUS Fellowship in Radical Doing is open for applications between Nov. 1 and Nov. 26, 2016. The 2017 Fellowship will run from February to June. Sign up to our newsletter to receive updates. 

Read more about our first two cohorts of Fellows here, as well as the outcomes report from the inaugural (2015) cohort.apply-now-button-big