• This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Fueling a movement

October 31, 2017

NOTE: This article was originally published here and has been cross-posted with the permission of the author.


Mozilla was born from the free and open source software movement. And, as a part of this larger movement, Mozilla helped make open mainstream. We toppled a monopoly, got the web back on an open track, and put open source software into the hands of hundreds of millions of people.

It’s time for us to do this again. Which brings me to this blog’s topic:
where should Mozilla Foundation focus its effort over the next five years?

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know
the answer we gave to this question back in June was ‘web literacy’. We dug deep into this thinking over the summer and early fall. As we did, we realized: we need to think more broadly. We need to champion web literacy, but we also need to champion privacy and tinkering and the health of the public internet. We need to fully embrace the movement of people who are trying to make open mainstream again, and add fuel to it. Building on a Mozilla strategy town hall talk I gave last week (see: video and slides), this post describes how we came to this conclusion and where we’re headed with our thinking.

Bundles of Hope

“The most valuable resources we found for our venture was making connections and talking to people who are already entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs can help you establish your support network, which is extremely valuable.” –Willis Tat, Co-Founder, Bundles of Hope

Stepping into the
University of Calgary‘s Entrepreneurship 317 class, three Haskayne Business students could not have predicted a class project would transform into a successful social venture creating change. The project tasked students Miranda Mantey, Willis Tat, and Justin Wood to address a world issue. The result was the creation of One World Blankets a social enterprise that sought to employ local weavers in India to make blankets that would be sold in North America. Proceeds would not only provide employment in India, they would be utilized for vaccinations in India.bundlesofhopeheadshots

Where are all the young Edisons of the 21st century?

I’ve got a question for you. Who’s more likely to change the world?

A bunch of billionaires and world leaders talking shop in the Swiss Alps? Or a teenager nobody’s heard of yet, working away in a dorm room on a crazy idea that’s going to be the Next Big Thing?

A hundred years ago the answer would have been clear. These days, it’s a toss-up.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a keynote in Davos this week, he spoke of the importance of innovation, of how he wants Canadians to be known not for their resources but for their ‘resourcefulness’. He also vowed that his government is willing to invest in the future.

How do we build community in our cities?


This article was originally posted on the Possible Canadas website and has been cross-posted here with permission. RECODE is pleased to be among the supporters of Possible Canadas—a partnership of diverse organizations that share the goal of supporting forward-looking conversations about the future of Canada.


Canadians today feel lonelier than ever. But one university town is bucking the trend and building bridges that connect unlikely communities. What do they have to teach the rest of us?


There has been a wave of research in recent years on what makes people happy. Time and again, social scientists come up with the same answer: strong relationships that make us feel connected to one another.

Yet many Canadians are feeling lonelier than ever. In 2014,
Maclean’s magazine reported over 30 per cent of Canadians feel disconnected from their neighbours. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians are seeing their friends less frequently. More of us are also living alone than ever before.

Even on university campuses, places designed to bring people together, students often feel disconnected and isolated. A 2012 report by the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services
found that nearly two-thirds of students reported feeling “very lonely” in the past 12 months.

How can we make bachelor’s degrees worth it for students?

This article was originally posted on the Possible Canadas website and has been cross-posted here with permission. RECODE is pleased to be among the supporters of Possible Canadas—a partnership of diverse organizations that share the goal of supporting forward-looking conversations about the future of Canada.


Denis Luchyshyn graduated from the University of Victoria in 2014 with high hopes and confidence in his newly-obtained business degree. “We had a lot of emphasis on hands-on work experience. We had co-op programs that I was a part of,” says Luchyshyn. “I did three semesters of work, so in terms of my education I felt a lot more prepared than my friends.”

Even after being readied for the work force, Luchyshyn saw his hopes dashed after a few months in the real world. He had started a job straight out of graduation, and while the pay was decent and there were prospects for growth, he just couldn’t see himself making a career of it. “I was selling online ads. We all know how much people love that.”

He and his friend Clinton Nellist noticed that a lot of their hard-working and educated friends were in a similar situation: either they couldn’t find a job in their field, or they couldn’t find work at all. That is what sparked the idea of
Road to Employment, a documentary film project created by Nellist and Luchyshyn to address the issue of unemployment amongst young Canadians. The two travelled across the country, talking with students, graduates, and employers to get an idea of what the situation looked like on a national scale, and find the solution to student employment woes.

SIX Global Council Ideas for the Future: A new mission for universities?

NOTE: This article was originally published on July 2, 2015 on the Social Innovation Exchange website, and has been cross-posted with permission.This article is part of the SIX Global Council series on Ideas for the Future.


Universities’ defined mission has in recent decades been founded on a combination of three intrinsic elements: teaching, research and what has loosely been called knowledge exchange, the process by which universities innovate and externalize the knowledge that they generate. This latter element traditionally involves a combination of various processes including intellectual property management, spin-off creation, licensing, access to funding, entrepreneurship and consultancy. It depends on a supply chain that ‘is multi‐dimensional, it has to be sustainable, and it has to have quality, strength and resilience. These attributes can only be secured through close collaboration, partnership and understanding between business and universities.’ (
Wilson Review “A Review of Business-University Collaboration” – 2012). But if this is how universities orthodoxly support innovation, how do we support social innovation? Can universities do more to support social innovators and is there a way of structuring this support to make it more effective? Universities have certainly begun to adopt the terminology and embed it within their teaching and research programmes but how much is social innovation considered part of the third mission of universities, or should there be a fourth mission defined at an institutional level?

Back in 2010 the study on Social Innovation prepared by SIX and the
Young Foundation for the Bureau of European Policy Advisors underlined the problem: “Civil society and the grant economy have long been rich sources of social innovation, but they are not well-placed to develop rigorous methods for innovation, lack R&D capacity, and find it hard to spread risk.” The report categorized four key barriers to social innovation: Access to finance; Scaling models; Skills and formation; Networks and intermediaries. Clearly, universities represent ideal partners to help break down or at least mitigate against many of these barriers. Most importantly, they can serve as intermediaries between the subversive nature of SI and its need for institutional and political recognition. They can provide appropriate R&D for robust, empirical evaluations of the effectiveness of SI, offering an understanding of what can accelerate and scale-up SI, beyond the anecdotal. Just as technical expertise in specialized areas can support commercial businesses and give them the means to help grow and expand, the same technical expertise can be offered to social innovators. But in addition to this, Universities are providers of a range of logistical support to their community that can provide real added value to SI: through the exploitation of their tacit and codified knowledge (including Open Access); through capacity building, mentoring and training; through the use of specialized equipment; through the provision of real and virtual spaces for networking, hot-desking or more formal incubation facilities; through selection and evaluation expertise; through lobbying. Just as social innovation has existed as an ill-defined, undervalued phenomenon for decades, universities have always supported civil society through a variety of activities without necessarily being able to categorize them under a unified terminology. However, I believe there are two interrelated, fundamental characteristics of university support for social innovation that need to change: i) social innovation support activities tend to be ad hoc and largely altruistic, universities have not recognized or systemized a process to measure the social return on investment; ii) as a result, while commercial innovation is recognized and institutionally supported by well-established knowledge transfer offices, there is no professional support function within universities for supporting social innovation.

Nesting Social Innovation

“What does social innovation mean?”
“Is my work called social innovation?”
“Is that social innovation?”

These types of questions are asked all the time, showing that definitions for promising ideas can be very useful, but also alienating. Too often, they come across as a value judgment, privileging some ideas and actions over others. But what if it’s not really a competition? More than any one individual piece of work, it might be even more important to consider the relationships between them. There is something about the interconnections between intention, involvement, invention and innovation that are central to social innovation.

I AM NOT A FOUNDER

Note: This piece was originally published on SoJo Stories. It has been posted here with permission from the author.


I am not a Founder. There I said it. If you’re so inclined you can stop reading now. Step away and click on the next story of budding genius and flashes of brilliance.


The Founder story is everywhere. Founders are mythologized and worshipped, even if all they do is start something. You might be thinking: “All they do is start something! Do you know how hard it is to start something?!!” Yes. Yes I do. And I have the utmost respect for it. But sometimes it seems like all we talk about is the glorious startup story, and not the perseverance and intelligence it takes to follow through to become successful. If we keep telling such one sided stories and we’re not careful, pretty soon we’ll find ourselves in a situation where nine out of every ten startups fail. Oh wait.

I am not a Founder, but I am the CEO of a startup. It wasn’t my idea. I could tell you a story of how the idea came to me, but I won’t because that would be lying. It’s a great idea, nonetheless, and one I found so compelling I was willing to quit my job – my big, well paying, government job – to work on it. More on that part in a minute.

I’m not much of a dreamer. I don’t like blank canvases. I was never the creative type who would paint vivid word pictures of grand dreams about the future. I’m not a fan of that kind of thinking — in fact, in my previous life as political advisor, a big part of my job was to protect my boss from getting swept up in that sort of thing. I’m the kind of person who would rather spend my time planning than dreaming. And while I’ve found some others like me, everyday I spend in startup world makes it clear that we’re the minority.

Or at least it feels that way. No one seems to be interested in what the second hire has to say. Or the third. Or the fourth. But everyone wants to hear from the Founder, hoping perhaps that if we hear enough founding stories, the genius will rub off on us.

What is the civic intelligence of your university or college?

A couple of years ago, Forbes Magazine and other news outlets reported on the “Smartest Colleges” in the United States. The brain training company Lumosity announced that MIT was smartest, followed by Harvard and Stanford, based on how well students had performed on a battery of online puzzles.

Many of my students (and I) suspected that this focus on “smartness” received more attention than it deserves. Although puzzle solving may be a reasonable indicator of success for certain occupations, such as computer programming, it’s not necessarily a good measure of whether a person will make a good citizen.

​The Future of City Building: Sharing the city-campus hub worldwide

Creating a classroom of the future — a sustainable future — was already a key area of focus for both Dr. Janet Moore and Duane Elverum, but it was in response to the City of Vancouver’s public consultation to become the greenest city in the world in 2010 that Moore and Elverum set out on a journey to change the landscape of undergraduate education in Vancouver.

In the six years since launching CityStudio, this model for city-campus hubs has received tremendous interest worldwide. It has been adopted in six cities across Canada and the United States and is being considered by a dozen more following two successful conferences to share the art of collaborative city-building.

Featured Posts

  1. Solving the problems of today and tomorrow with social infrastructure

    by Academica Group

  2. The LabWISE Program: A Small Contribution to the Field of Change Labs in Canada

    by Mark Cabaj

  3. Campus-Community Collaboration: What can we learn from global post-secondary institutions?

    by Jennifer Gammad Lockerby & Assiri Valdes

  4. RECODE’s Year in Review

    by Chad Lubelsky

  5. Co-operative Education to “Build a Better World”
  6. Building Reconciliation Forum 2017: 3 Lessons Learned

    by Jennifer Gammad Lockerby