We’re still not sure where the first three months of 2018 went, but we are excited for the opportunities we have this year to achieve even greater impact. While we continue to attract individuals and organizations who are driven by passion and purpose to our collaborative coworking and event space, our team remains committed to serving our broader community with relevant programming that connects, inspires, and enables creative and entrepreneurial changemakers to do good better.

2017 was momentous year for us. We added a wealth of talent to our team and Board, moved to a new and expanded location to accommodate our growing community, and celebrated our 5-year anniversary by releasing a How-to Guide to Do Good Better — all while continuing to offer programs and events throughout the year for social entrepreneurs and changemakers.

Introducing the Sustainable Development Goals

We are excited to announce that we are joining a growing movement of organizations across Canada and the world who are dedicated to advancing the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), these “17 goals to transform our world” are a powerful call to action that aims to unify and mobilize people, organizations, and nations to “end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all”.

Our close partner and neighbours at the Community Foundations of Canada have answered this call, as have our global Impact Hub family – a network of over 100 Impact Hubs around the world whose members, just like ours here in Ottawa, come from different sectors and contribute different perspectives and approaches to doing good. As leaders in Ottawa’s social innovation ecosystem, we have a responsibility and opportunity to drive social impact more directly by harnessing and directing our energies towards moving the needle on the SDGs.

Making Cities More Inclusive, Safe, Resilient, and Sustainable

Although our work (and that of our members and partners) touch upon many of the SDGs, we have made a commitment to focus our 2018 programming on SDG #11: helping to make our cities more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. Over 80% of Canadians live in urban areas, and the issues we face are shared by cities around the world, from rising inequality to the accelerating pace of climate change.

With municipalities across Canada currently competing in the federal government’s Smart Cities Challenge, the proliferation of civic innovation labs, offices, and strategies in recent years, a growing network of grassroots civic tech groups, and both provincial and municipal elections taking place later this year, our cities (and the collective challenges and innovative solutions they represent) will be at the centre of increased attention and focus in the foreseeable future. There is no better time to contribute to the important dialogue around the kind of cities we want to shape, and to develop the next generation of civic leaders.

We at Impact Hub Ottawa are therefore committing to help raise awareness, build leadership capacity, and foster collaborative and entrepreneurial action through four major programs:

Ottawa Social Impact Awards

In January 2018, we launched the second edition of the Ottawa Social Impact Awards in partnership with the City of Ottawa and the IgniteAC Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Algonquin College to recognize and celebrate community leaders and organizations who are contributing to a more inclusive and sustainable city. After receiving 42 nominations and 22,000 votes from the public, the winners for each category (social enterprise, community initiative, and future leaders) were announced by Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor at a celebration co-hosted with the United Way’s GenNext community. Congratulations to Hidden Harvest Ottawa, Ausome Ottawa, and the Algonquin College Public Relations Agency!

Read more on our blog post: “2018 Ottawa Social Impact Awards: Congratulations to our Recipients!

Future Cities Forum

To ensure we are prepared for ‘smart cities’ that will be increasingly powered, influenced, or controlled by technology, data, and decision-making algorithms, Impact Hub Ottawa partnered with Artengine to host the Future Cities Forum on February 23rd-24th, 2018, bringing together hundreds of engaged citizens and 60 youth leaders, students, and young professionals from the technology, social impact, and cultural/creative sectors to explore and examine possible futures for our cities.

We designed the Forum to be an opportunity to provoke critical inquiry about these possible futures amongst this cohort – talented individuals who represent the next generation of our civic leadership – so they can better understand the social and cultural implications of smart cities and their inevitable disruptions to the way we live, work, and play. Their perspectives, aspirations, and nuanced appreciation for the power and impacts of technology in our cities will be important voices in the conversation as Ottawa and other municipalities across Canada compete with each other to become ‘smart cities’.

Read more on our blog post: “What do we mean when we talk about smart cities?

Civic Leadership Program

We are working with community partners and engaged citizens to design, develop, and pilot a new kind of civic leadership development program that combines a deep dive into a particular social issue (in this case, housing and homelessness), a hands-on experiential component through curated conversations in places unknown to many of us (for instance, shelters or supervised injection sites), and an introduction to social innovation principles and practices (such as collective impact, design thinking, or impact investing). Our belief is that smart cities are nothing without smart leaders, and this program represents another way we are investing in our civic leadership and developing their knowledge, networks, and collective capacity to create more inclusive and sustainable communities where no one is left behind.

Read more on our blog post: “Linking Leaders to prevent and end homelessness in Ottawa

Impact Hub Global Gathering

Impact Hub Ottawa is a registered non-profit organization governed by an independent Board of Directors, but we are also part of a global network of over 100 Impact Hubs on five continents who share our vision, values, and purpose-driven work to connect, inspire, and enable social change in a local and global context. Once a year, the entire network gathers for a weeklong combination of family reunion, knowledge exchange, and strategy retreat, from which all of us emerge renewed and reinvigorated about the important and meaningful work that we have committed to carrying out in our respective countries and communities.

In what is an historic first for our network, we are proud to partner with our kindred spirits at Impact Hub Montréal to jointly host the 2018 Global Gathering in our two cities. This will be an unprecedented opportunity to showcase the strength and diversity of what is one of the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs and changemakers. With our on-the-ground presence ranging from global metropolises like Tokyo and Mexico City, to developing urban centres in Kigali and Yangon, to international capitals of creativity and innovation like Berlin and San Francisco, the Impact Hub network is a tangible manifestation of the old adage “think global, act local” and uniquely positioned to advance the Sustainable Development Goals through collaborative and entrepreneurial action.

The 2018 Global Gathering will take place in Montréal from June 24-26, before moving to Ottawa from June 26-29. If you represent an organization who is aligned with our goals, values, and vision for a better world, we would love to partner with you. Get in touch with our Managing Director, Katie Miller, to learn more!

James Chan