Social Change Institute is a five-day experiential convening designed for high impact and emerging leaders from nonprofits, government and mission-based enterprises who are seeking practical skills and networking opportunities to take their work to the next level.
Junxion: What is the value for the social (change) sector in coming together in events like SCI?
Cara Pike: A lot of social change leaders are busy, bombarded by daily tasks, and it’s hard to find time to take a step back and think about the change you’re trying to accomplish. Hollyhock’s setting and the style of workshops at SCI allow for a lot of reflection on an organisational as well as a personal level. That’s really key, because you’re most effective as a change leader when you’re feeling your focused intention as an individual leader.
The other big piece SCI addresses is the need for connectivity. We can accomplish a lot more by working together across organisations and sectors. That’s what SCI really allows for—it’s bringing together nonprofit, government, and business leaders who have a social purpose.
Junxion: Looking at the line-up of speakers, case studies and topics at this year’s SCI, what are some of the themes you see emerging?
Cara Pike: Because we have a great mix of people coming this year from the US and Canada, we’ll be able to talk about what’s happening in the context of both countries, and see where there are opportunities to learn from one another and collaborate. I expect there’ll be lots of political discussion happening, particularly with a focus on energy issues that are important in both countries, such as Keystone XL and tar sands expansions.
There’ll also be a lot of discussion about digital and network-based efforts for social change—not just how you talk to your members, but about how your organisation is evolving and structured overall, to the larger strategic impact and opportunities.
Subject matter-wise, SCI balances external hard skills (marketing, organizing, fundraising, branding, etc) with personal development. Gibrán Rivera will be doing a lot of work around the art of leadership and personal development, and that’ll be a nice thread throughout. There are also some workshops focused on diversity that I’m excited about. I think there’ll be a lot of opportunities for a lot of different voices to be part of the conversation and the content throughout.
Junxion: What excites you about this year’s gathering?
Cara Pike: Personally, I’m interested in the chance to learn from some of the political leaders who’ll be joining us. It’s not often you get a chance to hear directly from someone like Nathan Cullen (Member of the Canadian Parliament and Official Opposition House Leader) or David Eby (recently elected to the BC Legislative Assembly by defeating the current Premier in her riding)—so that’ll be particularly exciting.
I’m also excited about leading a session with James Glave from Tides Canada on how to shift the public discourse from tar sands to what is available to us as an (alternative to) development. We’ll delve into some of the big challenges people are facing, and we’ll also talk about hope—where do people find their personal motivation— and how we can support leaders around that.
Junxion: How do you see the investments that SCI is making transforming the social change movement?
Cara Pike: After several years of doing this, we’re starting to see the cumulative effect of people collaborating together in pretty deep ways, often through meeting and working together at SCI. In particular, it’s exciting to see the development and impact of organiszations like Leadnow and Next Up—these were some of the first case studies when we re-launched SCI four years ago—now very much coming into their own and thriving.
In many ways, the investment will start to be further leveraged particularly in British Columbia, because we’re at a crossroads with the emerging innovation economy competing with the old boom and bust style. SCI and other leadership events have a chance to grow the innovation sectors, and as much as that can be a model for the larger change in Canada (and where relevant in the U.S. as well), that is a goal—there’s an opportunity because of the foundation of leaders that Hollyhock has helped to cultivate.
Junxion: How can the wider community of change agents help support conferences like this if they are not able to be there in person this year?
Cara Pike: For starters, Hollyhock (the organisation that produces SCI and other social innovation conferences) relies on donations to bring in speakers and help support the scholarship fund, so people can help with leadership development work by donating.
Also, people can help get the word out by sharing content from the conference picked up from the Hollyhock Life blog (http://www.hollyhocklife.org/) and pushing it out through social media channels.
Finally, they can let Hollyhock know the types of programs and events that would bring them back next year and make Hollyhock a regular part of their annual schedule.
For more information about Social Change Institute, taking place June 5-9, 2013 at Hollyhock, see hollyhocklife.org