What’s the point anyway? We’re all going to doomed!” You probably came across this sentence, or variations of it, countless time in the past years. “Why would I try anything if anyway the economy is doomed/ the government is corrupted/people are selfish/ the planet is dying”. You might even have echoed some of this cynicism and sense of powerlessness yourself at times.
And really who could blame you when the headlines of newspapers and news broadcast consist of a list of depressing events? As people invested in social innovations and human creativity, however, you probably moved passed those moments or even got inspired from them in order to create and to act. What was my reaction? I set out on a quest to change the story.
In the past year, I have been trying to reconcile two visions of the world in my mind. On the one hand, every time I opened a newspaper in the morning I was reminded of the inevitability of climate change, the threat of wars, the injustices surrounding us, the suffering of refugees and the worst sides of human nature, and most of all my total lack of power over any of these. On the other hand, I have been following the ideas shared by the RSA and watching documentaries about the innovative solutions born around the globe. I was torn between enthusiasm powerlessness. That’s when I started thinking about changing the social narrative. What if I were to introduce news about the creative ideas people are experimenting with in the mainstream discourse? What about the creative solutions that some groups have come up with to address a local issue? Would it help inspire people to address some of the problems facing them or their own communities? What if once in a while, amidst all the announcement of the Armageddon, we were to read in newspapers or on our Facebook feed about everyday people being creative and having power over their environment? Would it make us pause and think about our own power?
With these questions in mind, I have started to travel across Canada to meet with people involved in projects that propose innovative and creative solutions or alternative to a situation that troubled them. As a Canadian myself, I wanted to learn about my country’s fears and aspirations and I remembered that the closer people geographically are from events, the more they care about them. In other words, to reach the people around me, I had better start from home. Canada is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, and what better time to look at the challenges and possibilities in front of us than this? I am right now in the process of setting up a blog and contacting small newspapers about publishing articles on the projects I have discovered so far. My objective is to reach a range of people as wide as possible and hopefully inspire action, small or big.
I have been gone over a month and a half now in eastern Canada and I have met or spoken with people involved in the local or sharing economy movement in Québec, the education system in New Brunswick, in diverse renewable energy and green technology initiatives in Nova Scotia and new ideas in the field of agriculture in PEI, to list a few. I am now heading west toward Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia and I would love any tips that you could provide. I invite you to think about the issues faced by people in Canada, in your province or in your community, and about the solutions they have devised to address them.
Have you heard about any idea that struck you as innovative path for the future? Do you know about an initiative that could be an inspiration for other people in Canada facing similar challenges? Or simply, have you come across anything that made you think ‘Huh? That’s interesting!’ I would welcome any tips or advice you could provide. I tend to focus on sustainability, education, native initiatives and food security, but I am open to anything that inspires you and the people around you.
I trust that with the combined knowledge of all the RSA fellows in Canada we can come up with an exhaustive list of ideas worth spreading.
For more information, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Trottier-Le Bossé is a McGill graduate in political science and psychology. She has worked as a research assistant with the LAPDA, a psychology laboratory at Laval University focusing on empowerment of people and communities, and with the ARDIS, an NGO working on social innovations and empowerment. She has also been associated with the Center for Oral History in Montreal and with PAGE-Rwanda.