Ten ideas pollinating (Part 2: Ongoing projects)

Three ongoing projects that glue the youth sector together

In Part 1 of our Spring update, we told you about the renewed purpose and outcomes that YSI is bringing into the Spring. In today’s Part 2, we’d like to share the projects that are carrying this work forward. Part 3 covers our strategy for carrying these intentions forward.


5. The Algoma team is flocking on its own after a winter of hard work. 

The Algoma team is not a fledgling team under YSI’s wing. This winter, they began taking flight all their own. 

The Algoma Nest has become a self-organized flock of initiatives that are circling Sault Ste. Marie and its surroundings with care. Among them, Thinking Rock Community Arts has led training sessions for youth organizers on the Art of Collaboration, Artful Equity and Cultural Competency. Meanwhile, the Soo York City Urban Arts Collective is doing solid work in organizing spoken word and album launch events, building leadership, strengthening networks in the Soo's hip hop community, and a learning exchange with YSI friends RISE Edutainment in Scarborough.

We certainly can't take 'credit' for their efforts, but what an honour it is to be in community with the inspiring people who are leading the way! YSI’s role as a provincial network will be to continue to support their work when called upon as friends and allies. We also aim to holistically tell the story of how the Nest was formed as we explore what it means to support the formation of similar groups. (More to come next week!)


6. Our Young Spirit Circles are igniting cross-cultural social change.

We believe that young people know how to light the fire for change. Recently, we initiated the Young Spirit Circles to explore what beyond us keeps the fire burning.

The project got underway in earnest late March, when our four incredible hosts gathered for the first time to begin designing our local gatherings. The session was co-led by Elder Gerard and our friends Karen, Alix and Phyllis from SKETCH and Children’s Peace Theatre. By the end, our Spirit hosts had taken the reigns to begin designing the format the project would take.

Since then, we began a Tumblr page to share our process as it unfolds. Please follow and share!


7. Learning through change is like keeping healthy teeth: regular care with occasional deep cleans. 

Throughout 2014, we learned about Developmental Evaluation (DE), a mindset and practices for enabling data-driven learning in fast-moving, innovative environments. 

As part of our process, we did lots of quick data-gathering that we needed to make sense of in the moment, as things happened. Now, we are taking the opportunity to more holistically reflect and report on what we have learned. 

This work has been kick-started thanks to a gift from our consultant-turned-friend Marc Langlois, who submitted a pro bono evaluation assessment of our time together. His assessment began as follows:

The recent Spirit Circles and the longer running Nest building work in Algoma are gaining ground while at the same time feeling the pressure of figuring out sustainability. Yet wherever these prototypes go, YSI has clearly engaged and deepened relationships between new partners, has successfully engaged youth organizers in co-design, and has created interventions that disrupted the status quo.

In the coming months, we will be reporting and acting on his recommendations around clarifying our “theory of change,” while drawing from business practices that can define our “resource engine” and communicate our value as a coherent story. Thanks, Marc!


Still to come...

In the final Spring update, we will share three more big ideas about the work groups that will help us transition from these short-term projects towards our long-term mission.