[Featured Image: Comox Valley community session at North Island College (Courtenay, BC). From Right: Sandra Hamilton, Sharon Marshall, Catherine Temple, Jessica Hawkins & Naomi Tabata.]

Part of engaging a project that spans not just multiple municipalities, but multiple cities and regions is understanding the landscapes and generating lines of communication. That’s a challenge that we at VISIZ face daily in our upwards grind to grow – how do we connect regionally while tying all those lines of contact in to the larger picture?

To tackle this issue of engagement, VISIZ’ community consultant Paul Corns and communications coordinator Faaris Kathrada took to the highways across the island for a series of small community sessions, aimed at compiling the thoughts of the various segregated social ecosystems throughout Greater Victoria, the Comox region, the Cowichan region and the Nanaimo area. We had a wealth of knowledge coming from a cozy group of amazing community members who shared their thoughts on the social enterprise ecosystem of the lower and mid-island, and how the Vancouver Island Social Innovation Zone can works towards developing that further. Speaking of knowledge, that was one of our touchpoints along with resources! After racking brains for advice and feedback on how to use knowledge and implement resources to successfully connect post secondary’s (both students and departments) through social innovation and social enterprise, some incredible gems came through. Those gems can be found in our summarized notes (linked to the bottom of this post!), and speak volumes on the collective capacity of currently segregated organizations and community-based initiatives.

Paul and Faaris connected with the larger island business community at the VIEA (Vancouver Island Economic Alliance) Summit from October 28th-29th, hosting a VISIZ table and engaging the concept of social innovation with attendees. As an intrinsic part of business and the 3P’s (People, Planet, Profit) “social” as an impact definition is loosely understood, but our objective came in presenting an extrinsic approach to social business – where impact encompasses the business model.

One may wonder how the above integrates with post-secondary interests – and more specifically, students. The answer is simple; millennial interests are increasingly shifting towards the “people and planet” aspect of the triple bottom line, adding bias to post-secondary career and education choices. As more social enterprises and innovations develop, more active co-op and internship students find placements that help propel the exposure of those businesses in the local economy.

VIEA exposed VISIZ to a larger network and created an opportunity for purposeful growth – receiving and using feedback as adaptable points in the strategic planning process. As we tied the event into our community engagements, recurring themes around available resources, lack of collective knowledge and gaps in cross-region economy started appearing, and acted as target points for the project management team to solidify the overarching goal of the Vancouver Island Social Innovation Zone.

While we took the first step towards a connected landscape, the battle is far from over. Constant contact holds key when developing collaborations and networks – a long, driven process that will continue to be nurtured as we grow.

 

(Speaking of contact, follow us on Facebook & Twitter, and keep in touch with us through email as we build towards a connect social & sustainable island)

 

View the VISIZ Community feedback summary here.

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