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'Impact: Six patterns to spread your social innovation' with Al Etmanski

'Rallying the lovesick'

Social Innovation is something you can surf, touching people’s hearts and opening their minds.  Social innovation is using the language of beauty to rally the lovesick, those who love their community.  Beautiful words set a tone for a meaningful discussion about social innovation with Al Etmanski over breakfast on May 18 at Surrey City Hall.

Al’s journey to social innovation

Al is a Surrey resident, social innovation practitioner, and best-selling author.  He is a founding partner of Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and BC Partners for Social Impact. As co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) he proposed and led the campaign to establish the world's only disability savings plan - the RDSP.

Al’s own journey into social innovation was sparked by remarkable success in the disability field – and the realization that ‘the dial hadn’t moved’. Many of us will recognize this feeling. We are passionate about creating positive change in our communities. But are we actually creating the impact that we want? Al shared wisdom from his own explorations of how to create long-term impact.

How do we increase social innovation in Surrey?

Al shared some thoughts in response to questions from audience members – but reminded us that these are potent areas of discussion for us as a community:

  • Scaling up: When asked how we could learn how to scale things better, and how we can build a more enabling environment for social innovation, he reminded us that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’, and that we must imbed social innovation in our culture.
  • Connect orphan innovations: Al reminded us that Surrey has a tremendous history of innovation, and thought it would be wise to connect orphan innovations -- doing an inventory and linking them up.  There is strength in numbers and working together towards common goals.
  • Beyond the usual suspects: How can we create space for social innovation when we spend a lot of time competing for resources? Al suggested that we move beyond collaboration and partnership with our ‘usual suspect’. To let go of ego and territoriality. To engage the ‘passionate amateurs’ amongst us.
  • Hubs of belonging: Al challenged us to recognize that ‘business are hubs of belonging’ in our communities. We have to think differently about relating with business; don’t ask what can business do for us, but how can we help to strengthen our business community?

We left the room feeling inspired, and challenged – and with a few new ‘juicy questions’ to explore more deeply together.

Join us for the Social Innovation Breakfast Series!