Season 1: Episode 2 - The Social Impact Lab

The Social Impact Lab

In episode 2 of Pause, John Vardalos and Talia Bell reflected on their journey of creating The Social Impact Lab.

The Social Impact Lab was launched in February of 2018 as a partnership between the United Way of Calgary and Area and J5 Innovation. It is an example of a social innovation lab that brings together a diverse group of organizations and individuals, including people with lived experience, to address complex problems. Over the past year, much of the lab’s work has focused on mental health issues. The lab also offers a program to help nonprofit leaders learn and apply design thinking in their work.

As social innovation labs increase in popularity, we have an incredible opportunity to learn from the experiences and reflections of changemakers who are bringing this new way of working into their sectors and communities. In this episode, we speak with Talia Bell and John Vardalos about why they created the social impact lab, how the lab works, the tensions they face, and what they’ve learned over the past year and a half. 


Editing and production by Lisa Pruden. Music by the Fort McMurray youth of the SoundForce Collective.

Season 1: Episode 1 - The Edmonton Shift Lab

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In this pilot episode of Pause, Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse, Ben Weinlick, and Ashley Dryburgh of the Edmonton Shift Lab sat down to reflect on the social innovation tools they bring to their work, the tensions they face, and the changes they’ve experienced.

The Edmonton Shift Lab is a diverse collective of Edmontonians working together to develop potential service, policy, system, and community action solutions that will reduce racism as it contributes to poverty. Why? Poverty is a real issue in Edmonton. 12% of Edmontonians do not have the means to assure stable housing, adequate nutritious food, or the conditions that foster health, safety and basic quality of life. And poverty and racism are inter-connected; racism makes it hard for people to find good jobs, housing, and services and to feel a sense of belonging.

The shift lab is an example of social innovation. The team is braiding together systems thinking, design thinking, and Cree perspectives to help Edmontonians understand and address these complex, intersecting problems in new ways.


Recording and production by Lisa Pruden. Music by the Fort McMurray youth of the SoundForce Collective.