Season 1: Episode 4 - Jasper Place Wellness Centre

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In episode four of Pause, Henry Motta and Murray Soroka reflect on the many ways they are addressing the root causes of systemic issues. 

What happens when a wellness centre starts asking how to address the root causes of systemic issues? A junk removal company may not be your first guess, but that’s exactly what Jasper Place Wellness Centre in west-central Edmonton created as its first social enterprise in 2011. This agile and collaborative organization takes seriously its mission to continuously explore and provide innovative and accessible health and community-based solutions. It owns and operates five businesses that provide employment opportunities for vulnerable community members, putting over 1 million dollars of payroll back into the community each year. It also runs a community health clinic, provides wellness education programs, and is a core partner in collaborative efforts to end homelessness and improve food security in Edmonton. 

In today’s episode of Pause, we welcome two of the brains behind Jasper Place Wellness Centre, Henry Motta and Murray Soroka. We hear their reflections on Jasper Place Wellness Centre’s evolution, including:

  • The benefits and tensions of running businesses that employ vulnerable populations

  • What it takes to be adaptive and truly learn from failure

  • What systemic barriers and gaps are currently standing in the way of meaningful change, and what’s needed to create systems change


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Recording by Lisa Pruden of the Edmonton Community Foundation. Production by Elise Martinoski of ABSI Connect with support from Lisa Pruden. Music by the Fort McMurray youth of the SoundForce Collective.

Season 1: Episode 3 - Vivo for Healthier Generations

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In episode 3 of Pause, we sat down with Kris and Cynthia from Vivo, an organization on a mission: to raise healthier generations in Calgary and beyond.

They are a recreation centre, and much more. Vivo’s team works on “upstream” or preventative solutions to improve the health of children, youth, and families in north-Central Calgary. They describe their work as a “living lab” because of how intentionally they bring research and development, or R&D, practices into everything they do. Other changemakers we’ve spoken with have mentioned that they look to Vivo as an example of how curiosity, evidence, and strong community connections can spark innovation and create impact. 

In this episode, ABSI Connect’s Elise Martinoski sits down with Cynthia Watson and Kris Kelly-Frere to learn more about what Vivo’s work looks like, what tensions they face as they seek to do this work well, and what they’ve learned through their changemaking journeys. 


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Recording by Elise Martinoski of ABSI Connect. Production by Elise Martinoski of ABSI Connect and Lisa Pruden of the Edmonton Community Foundation. Music by the Fort McMurray youth of the SoundForce Collective.

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. 


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Recording by Elise Martinoski of ABSI Connect. Production by Lisa Pruden of the Edmonton Community Foundation. 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.


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