Photo of participants at GC43 Community Innovation design jam
Joshua Fernandes with participants. Photo: The United Church of Canada

Collaboration and Abundance: Design Jam

Commissioners and guests joined Joshua Fernandes, EDGE Community and Event Manager, at the Festival of Faith for a community innovation design jam. Participants were guided through theological and lay texts to discern whether the United Church should be engaged in supporting social enterprise, and if so, why. What would doing so mean for not only United Church communities of faith but also cities, towns, and communities that are not affiliated with the church?

“We’re applying theological text for social innovation,” said Fernandes, “and creating a brave space for this innovation to take place.”

Participants and mentors explored the faith and theological underpinnings that would call us as a church to engage in social enterprise. Fernandes listed the “four P’s” of social innovation: people, planet, profit, and purpose. These are all aspects that the United Church and its communities have been discerning for some time now.

One example of a social enterprise is The Raw Carrot based in Paris, Ontario, which provides meaningful employment for people living on social assistance.

The Social Innovation Challenge creates a space for open dialogue for individuals of any race, age, and identity to pitch a social enterprise idea within one minute. Workshop participants were challenged to work together to answer the question of how social innovation is church and answer the call to transform the economy.

“These ideas began with ministers,” said Rob Dalgleish, Executive Director of EDGE, “and this is something that we need to continue to do together, including with our non-faith partners.”

Workshop participants were asked to develop a mission statement answering the question of whether the United Church be engaged in social transformation through social enterprise, and why, led by mentors:

  • Greg Powell from British Columbia, who discussed social innovation in small communities and rural areas
  • Rob Dalgleish, Executive Director of EDGE, who discussed social innovation through the inspiration of the apostle Paul
  • Marion Pardy from Newfoundland, who discussed social innovation through the lens of mending the world
  • Alana Martin, minister for the GO Project, who discussed social innovation through children and youth

As Dalgleish said, “This social innovation challenge provides abundant life for people to be creative in the image of the Creator.” A quote from Ralph Milton emerged that participants were fond of: “When people are willing to share, there’s enough for everyone,” and Fernandes emphasized that this provides tremendous opportunities for rural and isolated communities to create community wealth with individuals from all walks of life.

If you’re wondering about the mission statement that emerged from the design jam please watch for it on the Social Innovation Challenge website, or e-mail Joshua Fernandes via EDGE if you have any questions.