In Autumn of 2018, the Trico Changemakers Studio held their official grand opening of the marvelous co-working space that nurtures learning and innovation. Its very existence was the result of a diverse coming together of government (federal and the province of Alberta), a post-secondary institution (Mount Royal University [MRU]), a private company (Trico Homes) and a Foundation (Trico Charitable Foundation).
The Trico Changemakers Studio is an independent social enterprise housed on the MRU campus and in service to changemaking in our community. Lena Soots, Studio Director, explains:
“Our operating funds come from revenue generated in the form of co-working studio membership fees, social impact consulting and facilitation services, as well as donations and grants for special projects.”
The Trico Changemakers Studio is home to a diverse group of businesses, organizations, agencies and individuals working on changemaking in various forms. Over the past 2 years, they have been home to 20 organizations from different sectors, including these social enterprises:
- Universal Access https://www.universalaccess.me/
- Generous Solutions https://www.generoussolutions.com/
- Worthington PR & Story and the Noble Arrow Project https://worthingtonpr.com/noble-arrow/
- Human Elements https://www.humanelements.ca/
- bassa Social Innovations https://www.bassasocialinnovations.com/
Universal Access was the recipient of one of four $25,000 What’s Next YYC awards from the Trico Charitable Foundation in 2019 and has gone on to grow their business providing consulting, assessment and certification for barrier free environments.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lena explains that like most organizations, they had to temporarily close the Studio in mid-March to ensure the health and safety of their community members, staff, students and faculty:
“Our team quickly adapted to working remotely and we have been able to continue to engage our community members virtually. Changemaking is at the heart of who we are and we have embraced this time as an exciting opportunity to work in new and exciting ways. For our co-working community, we have transitioned to virtual engagement, support, and have developed online opportunities for connection and learning with our member organizations. We have seen tremendous engagement from our members who have expressed the value and importance of being part of a values-based community of businesses and organizations, especially at this time.”
The Trico Changemakers Studio’s social impact facilitation and consulting work has continued with a shift from in-person workshops to online facilitation. They are embracing new virtual tools to continue this work with their clients. Lena explains that they have seen an increased interest in accessing their social innovation expertise as many individuals, organizations and businesses are rethinking their models, approaches and larger purpose in light of the pandemic. Lena says:
“We look forward to re-opening the physical studio space when the time is right and when all health and safety measures can be effectively implemented.”
Looking to the future, the Trico Changemakers Studio feels its work will be more relevant than ever. Lena explains:
“Social innovation, systems thinking, deep collaboration and co-creation are needed now more than ever as the world responds to and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Events of recent months have shone a light on the cracks, inadequacies and injustices within our current systems. More than ever the world needs changemakers from all disciplines, backgrounds and sectors to step into a common space and co-create the change we need.”