In 2014-2015, three key milestones signaled a growing social innovation movement in Alberta:
In response to the above milestones and a growing interest in “community builder fellowships,” ABSI Connect was created in 2015. It was an experimental collaborative project, supported by Trico Charitable Foundation, Suncor Energy Foundation, Mount Royal University, Social Innovation Generation (SiG), and seven host organizations in Edmonton and Calgary.
The question driving ABSI Connect’s work has been: “How can we get better at solving complex social and environmental problems in Alberta?” As it engages with this question, ABSI Connect has evolved through three phases:
Phase 1 (2015 – 2016): Three fellows, supported by an Ontario-based facilitator from SiG and a diverse group of Albertan advisors, conducted 70 in-depth interviews and 40 informal conversations with social innovators, thought leaders, and connectors across Alberta. They published their findings (highlighting patterns and proposed pathways for Alberta’s social innovation ecosystem) in a final report.
Phase 2 (2016 – 2017): Building on the momentum and connections from Phase 1, several ABSI fellows, based in Calgary, Edmonton, and Wood Buffalo, worked as connectors, conveners, and community-builders in their sectors and communities for 6-12 month terms. They learned together through reflective practices, were supported by an Ontario-based facilitator and several Albertan advisors, and documented what they were learning in blog posts and published articles. This phase ended with a workshop (Nov 2017) in which key stakeholders came together to discuss ABSI Connect’s future.
Phase 3 (Summer 2018 + ): We hired our first full time, Alberta-based ABSI Connect facilitator, created a small advisory team, and partnered with Social Innovation Canada. We are working to connect, align, celebrate, enhance, and learn from Albertan changemakers who are finding innovative ways to address the complex problems their communities face.