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Enterprising Social Innovation at Evergreen Brick Works

Published on March 13, 2011

Dinner attendees deep in discussion (Photo: Wendy Rowland)Dinner attendees deep in discussion (Photo: Wendy Rowland)

What happens when you put a group of entrepreneurs who are interested in social issues together over local food and wine? A rich discussion about social innovation facilitated by Seana Irvine, Chief Operating Officer of Evergreen and Allyson Hewitt of Social Innovation Generation at MaRS.

A key group of social entrepreneurs and enablers in Toronto gathered at Evergreen Brick Works recently to talk about their observations and the lessons learned in their field. As Evergreen builds its own social enterprise, we wanted to hear their stories and share in the wisdom they have acquired through their experiences.

Toronto is a hotbed of social innovation as demonstrated by the success of such ventures as Eva’s Phoenix, The Centre for Social Innovation, The Stop Community Food Centre and enablers like Social Innovation Generation, Social Capital Partners and Toronto Enterprise Fund. It is a field the attendees at the dinner are fervently devoted to, and, like any entrepreneur, they have experienced their fair share of challenges. Fundraising, building a profitable business and helping others through social entrepreneurship is an emerging field with lots of opportunity for growth and one that Evergreen is keen to take part in.

One key item that all attendees took away was a desire to open-source their learning and establish a community of practice so that others can follow their model to deliver social services within their own communities. Through this dinner conversation, we are one small step towards achieving that goal. Much more remains to be done and to be seen, especially from these progressive organizations as they move forward.

Our guests’ anecdotes and observations were recorded over the course of the dinner and will be an important resource to us going forward. And stay tuned for a series of videos sharing the lessons we have learned in building Evergreen Brick Works.