Bridging the Gap Through Dancing

Late in 2020, Peter Miller interviewed Sarah Robichaud for our Giveback Economy Podcast. Sarah is a dancer, choreographer, writer, tv star and founder of an organization called Dancing with Parkinson’s.

Dancing with Parkinson’s (DWP) gives seniors with Parkinson’s disease a fun, safe environment in which they can connect with others through dance. The experience reduces isolation in seniors by letting them be a part of an artistic community, and gives them a chance to both get some exercise and to enjoy the dancing experience. Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Sarah has shifted to offering sessions virtually, 7 days a week.

She has also spearheaded two Bridging Generations Through Dance Projects, where seniors involved with DWP and youth from the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre used dance and the choreographic process to connect with and learn from each other. Michael Krauss Productions caught moments from the latest Bridging Generations through Dance Project on film and created a short documentary out of the footage, available for viewing on the Michael Krauss website and on the DWP website.

Sarah was recently declared a Community Hero by the MLSE/LG #LifesGood initiative. See what she did when she found out!

To learn more about Sarah Robichaud and her work, listen to her full conversation with Peter Miller on the Giveback Economy Podcast. And check out the Dancing with Parkinson’s program! It is free of charge and runs 7 days a week –> 

Thank you, Sarah Robichaud, for your commitment to making your community a better place!

After the Unconference

We are still exchanging happy stories about our experience at last week’s Hopeful Economics Unconference – what a great time of sharing and learning and making new connections with others!

During an Unconference, the people attending decide what topics will be discussed. After the first day, which was a series of sessions that prepped participants for the types of discussions that were likely to arise during the Unconference, the format changed to panel discussions and interactive presentations with small group discussion and sharing interspersed. On the third day, a call went out to the attendees for people who would like to lead a session on a topic of interest to them, and the rest of the group was invited to attend the sessions that spoke the most to them at the moment.

An Exhibitor’s Hall of Virtual Booths provided opportunities for for attendees to find out about what different organizations from across Canada and the US are doing, and to connect with the people who run these organizations to discuss potential partnerships.

The Unconference was set up on the Whova platform. Whova’s communication capabilities make it very easy to find and contact other people attending an event, and is great about letting you know when sessions are starting and providing you with the links to access the content. For Unconference attendees, the content stays up for three months, so they can go back and review anything they want and investigate anything they may have missed.

It’s important to be able to revisit these sorts of discussions, because an Unconference like this is only the start of very important work. Gatherings like these are beginnings of real change in that they are places for people to get together and talk and share ideas and strategies and start to create partnerships and plans. But the work of developing and implementing these plans is still to come. I left the Unconference excited about I can do to make the world a more just and equitable place, as an individual and as part of the Community Innovation Hub, and I look forward to contributing to the work that needs to be done.

Thank you to EDGE and its partners for the hard work they put into making the Unconference happen, and congratulations on a fantastic job! – Sarah

Hopeful Economics UnConference Happening March 3-5

EDGE: A Network for Ministry Development, the social research and development arm of the United Church of Canada, invites people to gather virtually with partners from across the faith and social sectors during the first week in March to consider the question, “What is hopeful economics?”

The “Hopeful Economics unconference” runs on March 3, 4, and 5th. Hopeful economics is a way of looking at the world’s assets and abundance and determining how they can work for everyone.  During an Unconference, topics and discussions are informed by the people who show up! During this 3-day unConference we’ll talk about how to:

  • See abundance and hope.
  • Use active listening skills and translate what we hear and see.
  • Build collaboration through our commonalities.
  • Lean into the problem.
  • Connect with others across North America and in our neighbourhoods.

 On March 3, participate with fellow unconference attendees in information sessions about topics such as social enterprise, social justice, and their histories with each other and with the church.

The day will prepare you well for March 4’s morning fishbowl discussions and small group follow-up discussions on Communities of Faith and Social Purpose. During the afternoon on March 4, you’ll play “Mission Possible,” an interactive game where you will be put into teams to address a challenge that has been posed to you.

March 5 starts with an Open Space: LIVE session where you can join groups across the country to hear how they’re addressing systemic issues and talk about work that goes on in your community to address them. Lean into the issues that affect you most and take ideas for addressing them that come from brainstorming with your new connections into the afternoon session, where you’ll connect with local groups about what you’ve learned and how to action it.

The Unconference also features, discussion boards, gamifcation, and a virtual Exhibitor Section with booths. We guarantee that your participation in the unconference will result in new connections and new ideas or you’ll get your money back!

Cost: $20/person. Community Innovation Hub members can send as many people as they want for free and can also set up a virtual booth for no cost. Email for more information on becoming a member.

For more information on the Hopeful Economics Unconference, view the conference agenda. You can register here.

The Hopeful Economics Unconference is made possible by a donation from the Metcalfe Foundation.

Welcome 2021!

Happy New Year everyone! 2021 is here. We here at the Community Innovation Hub are hard at work putting our plans for the new year into action. New projects on the horizon include:

  • Our three-day virtual “Unconference” in March, designed for people interested in connecting and networking with others, leveraging our collective experience and ideas to bring about the economic and systemic change necessary to create just and equitable communities. You’ll finish the three days with new connections or new ideas, or you’ll get your money back. Community Innovation Hub membership includes 5 free passes – a $100 value!
  • Virtual social innovation challenges in eight Canadian locations: Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina ,Winnipeg, Kitchener, Toronto, Thunder Bay, and St. John’s .Dates and additional information to follow soon!

And, of course, we will continue to:

  • Increase membership and opportunities for peer support. We’ve already set the dates for monthly Gatherings and welcome your input on what would make them most useful for you. 
  • Work with  members to optimize RingCentral and assist them  to use it as effectively as possible. The kits that Sarah has edited are currently available for download for members; we will continue to post finished kits on the app. We hope that RingCentral will provide a way for members to easily connect and support each other.
  • Edit and format more of the Community Innovation Hub Kits to make available to the membership, partners, and to the UCRD for sale on its website.
  • Continue to record interviews for the “Giveback Economy” podcast and promote them as part of the social media strategy. You can always access the podcasts from our website.
  • Continue to develop and update the website, blog, and YouTube channel.

Check out our year-end report for 2020! Use the Download button under the image.

Email Sarah at to ask questions about our plans for the year. Onward and upward!

The Food Table – Getting People in Need Through 2020

2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, but especially difficult for those who’ve found themselves, for varying reasons, unable to consistently afford basics life like enough food to eat. David Beasley, the head of the United Nations food agency said back in April 2020 that the world was on the brink of a “hunger pandemic” that would only be exacerbated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, predicting that more people would die from the damage to the economy than the virus itself. With COVID-19 still in its second wave in most of the world, we can’t yet evaluate whether Beasley’s prediction holds. However, we do know that during the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity among Canadians increased by 39%, to the point where 1 in 7 Canadians is “unable to buy food or worried about running out without the means to buy more.”

Bill and Shirley Graham, recognizing that not everyone always has the availability or access to transportation required to access an open food bank, especially with the scaled-back hours that became common during the pandemic, wanted to help ensure that marginalized groups, homeless people, and veterans in the Mississauga area could get the food they needed. The 80-year-old husband-and-wife team started setting up a collapsible table in mid-March 2020 near Mississauga’s city centre, filling the table three times daily with food and bottles of water. They also provide information about food banks and other community services to those that need it. The need was so great that they set up another table at Dundas and Sheppard, and they’d like to set up more.

CBC Writer Ania Bessonov reported, “The couple…relied on their savings and whatever they had in their house to keep the table replenished, they said. Then, friends and strangers started to donate.” They also get support from informal partnerships with the Royal Canadian Legion, The Deacon’s Cupboard (operated by five churches in Mississauga) , and other community organizations. This community support has let them also offer winter clothing and protective masks at the tables to those in need.

Bill and Shirley talk to the people who use the tables, and are amazed at the stories. “Some of them are people who shouldn’t be on the street,” Bill told Peter Miller in a recent podcast interview. “For some reason they lose their home, their room, they lose their job, and it’s easy for that to happen, but it’s very hard for them to get back to where they were.”

“What we’re doing is Band-Aids,” he says later.

Very, very few people are on the streets because they choose to be. Bill and Shirley have heard stories about how their efforts have literally save lives. Thank you, Bill and Shirley, for all the good that you do for your community!

To hear more about Bill and Shirley’s story, listen to Peter Miller’s fascinating podcast interview with Bill. You can contact Bill about supporting their work or starting your own food table at

Carla Mumar, Climate Change, and Creating Solutions!

Peter Miller “met” Carla Mumar at SIX Wayfinder’s recent Ensembling event, part of their World 2020 series. We covered the World 2020 series in our last post!

Carla, who lives in the Phillipines, is the sole proprietor of Scale Solutions, a social enterprise that empowers underserved students and young professionals. She and her staff of interns and volunteers (no full-time staff – yet!) provide free skills workshops in:

  • GRIT – Getting Ready for Inclusion Today
  • Growth Mindset
  • Innovation. 

Scale Solutions funds its free workshops by offering companies the following services: 

  • Human Resources Consultancy
  • Innovation Strategy
  • Workshops/Talks: GRIT & Growth Mindset

Scale Solutions also receives funding from sponsorships and donations, both individual and corporate.

Climathon Project

In 2019, Scale Solutions aligned itself with Climate-KIC’s Climathon Project, hosting a pitch challenge for local solutions for the climate crisis. Winners of the pitch challenge, located in the city of Pasiq, got support to implement their solutions in Pasiq, and went went on to represent the Philipines at the Global Climathon Awards.

Climate-KIC lets citizens take climate action through ideathons and partnering with local government units. 

Scale Solutions will participate in Climathon again in 2020, with online events in three different cities:

All money raised helps fund the implementation of the winning solution for two both Pasig and Silang!

Thank you, Carla Mumbar, for your important work! 

Do you want to know what you can do to start a social enterprise that makes a difference in the world? Contact us at

In Community,

Carla, Peter, and Sarah

SIX Wayfinder – World 2020

Hey Everyone!

We just wanted to check in with some updates on what’s going on with us and some information about events that might interest you!

Peter participated in an event organized by SIX Wayfinder. In 2020, SIX Wayfinder is “tuning into the social innovation happening now” by “tuning in to how we are renewing our relationships with each other and the earth: in our lives, in work, in production, in our social contracts and safety nets, in governance and in the local and global spheres of thinking, behaving and relating.”

What an exciting journey! Please consider joining the other events that they have planned for their World 2020 visioning series. The next event is a discussion: How to Support Community Innovation Through Bridging Across Sectors on Oct 27, 10 am GMT (6 am EDT)

In this Open Duet, we are bringing together two global thinkers/doers from Malaysia and Greece — Amalia Zepou (Greece) and Hamdan Majeed (Malaysia), to reflect on community innovation through bridging across sectors.

From Six waywinders website

Upcoming SIX Wayfinder events include:

To learn more about SIX Wayfinder’s past projects, check out Wayfinder London 2017 and Wayfinder Istanbul 2018, and subscribe to the Wayfinder newsletter.

World 2020 is sponsored by McConnell Foundation, Saputo FoundationSuncor Energy Foundation, and Imece

We are not having a Gathering this month, but stayed tuned for news about next month’s Gathering. Hope to see everyone there!

In Community,

Carla, Peter, and Sarah

An Attitude of Gratitude!

Here in Ontario, Canada, where we at Community Innovation Hub live and work, Thanksgiving is this week-end.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes this a different sort of Thanksgiving for Canada. Health officials and both the federal and provincial governments advise Canadians to keep Thanksgivings gatherings small and limited to immediate family, using Zoom to connect with other loved ones. If possible, gatherings should be outdoors with precautions taken to protect people against the spread of infection. At least one medical expert suggests that college and university students studying on campus don’t come home for Thanksgiving. More details 

In times when change happens very quickly and affects even holidays that are important to us, sometimes it’s difficult to feel thankful. The benefits of striving to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” in your personal life are backed up by science and university research. Did you know that responding to your life and people in it with gratitude helps you in your professional life as well?

Here at the Community Innovation Hub, we focus on entrepreneurship that gives back to our communities and makes them better places for everyone to live, and an attitude of gratitude in business dealings (whether your community of faith is looking to become a hub, or to start a social enterprise, or to do a combination of both!) serves you well as you work to meet your business goals. Forbes’ article profiling 10 entrepreneurs who prioritize expressing gratitude in their business life (and how it changed them) shows the power of an attitude of gratitude in business:

  • Employees that give you their best work and that stay with you longer
  • A work experience that holds good memories for your staff
  • Lasting, productive professional relationships
  • More confident, efficient, employees that build better relationships with clients.
  • Higher emotional intelligence among team members
  • A staff that feels empowered to be leaders themselves.

Who knew that gratitude could be so powerful?

Your Grateful Life

This Thanksgiving, whatever your celebration looks like and whatever you do for a living, consider how you can harness the power of gratitude in your work on a daily basis. You might:

  • Set aside some time each day to write a note to an employee  or co-worker, letting them know how much you appreciate their work and thanking them for doing such a good job.
  • Express gratitude in some way (a shout-out on social media, a referral, a public acknowledgement, a phone call or email, etc.) to someone involved with your work who taught you something that will benefit many – someone who uses your services, a supplier, a contractor, your lawyer or accountant…
  • Take time for a face-to-face conversation with someone who uses your services. Really listen to what they have to say about what you do, and make sure that they feel heard and taken seriously.
  • Start staff meetings by asking people what they’re grateful for, or start a staff Gratitude Log and encourage people to contribute to it frequently.
  • Keep your own workplace Gratitude Journal – write three things for which you’re grateful every day before you start work, to get the day off to a good start! 

Pick one of these suggestions and implement them after  Thanksgiving…and let us know how it goes!

There will be no gathering for October, but we’re cooking up something for November…stay tuned!

We are thankful for all of you, and hope you have a joyous Thanksgiving!

In Community,

Carla, Peter, and Sarah

Make Better Use of Buildings!


The United Church of Canada is going through changes. On September 21, UCC launched the United Property Resource Corporation to assist churches who are considering closing or merging with other congregations and selling their buildings to repurpose those buildings for positive community development.

Community Innovation Hub encourages communities of faith to ask whether they’re making the best use of their buildings. After all, studies show, that communities of faith use only 20-30% of their physical space between 8:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Some communities of faith rent out underutilized spaced and become community hubs – places where people meet, access services, and where events and activities take place. Check out Creative Collisions to learn more about how communities of space can more effectively use their physical space in general.


Implementing more effective use of your community of faith’s building space, whether you decide to become a community hub or another social enterprise, has the practical benefit of bringing in money to meet operating costs. You (and the community) benefit in other ways, too.

Paul Latour has given this a lot of thought. His company, Herowork, does Radical Renovations on buildings and spaces that house charities, with the generosity, expertise and volunteer time of Victoria, BC residents. The benefits? People from all walks of life come together to give spaces a needed face-lift, making their utility for charities that serve the neighbourhood skyrocket. Building community on multiple levels!


Wouldn’t it be great if companies like Herowork could partner with organizations like Community Innovation Hub to bring exciting change to communities of faith that face the prospect of closing and selling their buildings?

Paul Latour talked with Peter Miller about Herowork for our Giveback Economy Podcast. Listen on the podcast websiteGoogle Podcasts, and Spotify


How about you?

The Community Innovation Hub offers a Starter Kit to our community of faith members instructing them on how to evaluate how they use their indoor and outdoor physical space and how to develop and implement plans to use space more efficiently. These plans benefit both the community of faith and the wider community.

Check out these examples!

Eglinton St. George’s United Church – This Toronto church used part of its surrounding land to build an agrihood space with raised-bed gardens so community members with no room for their own garden can grow their own produce. 

Kirk United Church Centre – Mindful of how it provided worship and community space for spiritual and secular organizations, this church continued its tradition of providing positive societal impact even after it dissolved, transforming into a community hub that still serves Edmonton, Alberta.

Sanctuary Coffee YYC – Calgary’s Knox United Church’s coffee shop in the church sanctuary demystifies sacred space by offering a space for community, connection, and beauty – in the center of a church building.

Shelburne Primrose Pastoral Charge – As part of its exploration into how to truly embrace the idea of being a community hub, Shelburne Primrose is increasing efforts to strengthen the connections between everyone involved with Trinity United Church: the ministry staff, the congregation, the community organizations the church houses, and the community itself. They are currently experimenting with an open-space minister’s office that gives community leaders a space to connect, learn from and challenge each other.

The Raw Carrot – A testament to the power of partnerships, The Raw Carrot uses physical spaces in communities of faith buildings to create healthy and delicious soups, which it then sells that in local businesses. The Raw Carrot provides employment to people whose disabilities make it difficult for them to find and keep work.

The Village Hive – Located in Markham, Ontario, in a former schoolhouse, this coworking space has no church affiliation. However, a quick look around their space shows that it does have, in abundance, the hospitality, organizational capacity and working space needed to run both an effective coworking space and a connected community of faith!  

White Rock United Methodist Church – This Dallas church opened The Mix, a coworking and creative space. The Mix has a makerspace for artists, with sewing and textile labs and painting spaces, as well as sound labs and a dance studio, all in the White Rock UMC church building.


How about right now?

Visit the Community Innovation Hub website to get more information about becoming a member and accessing our development kits and support. Membership is $100 per year for communities of faith.

Use these resources to learn more about repurposing buildings!

Adapting an Older Building for a New Use

Building Up – Toronto’s leading social contractor. A great social enterprise whose model could be replicated!

Girls Build – Girls Build teaches girls 8 – 14 years old the basics of carpentry, electrical, plumbing, roofing, painting, auto and bike mechanics, sheet metal and more.

Giving Old Buildings New Life Through Adaptive Reuse

Repurposing Old Buildings Gives Them New Life 

Contact us at Community Innovation Hub if you have any feedback or questions!

In Community,

Peter, Carla, and Sarah

Community Update! Our September Gathering

We were a small group for our September Gathering on September 24th! Everyone must be busy with the demands of the Fall season.

We persevered and went ahead with the Gathering as planned. Natasha Massey of Wild Rose United Church and Wellness Hub in Calgary, Alberta, spoke to us about how transition time for Wild Rose coupled with the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests in the US and Canada prompted her to take the hub’s Wonderful Wednesday Wellness programming in a new direction.

Natasha used a variety of educational videos to explore issues of systemic racism and the way Canada unknowingly perpetuates it, particularly in its relationship with its First Nations population. Natasha acknowledged that the material she covered in her course, which ran for 9 weeks, sometimes conflicted with the viewpoints of the community participants, and gives them credit for their willingness to show up and learn.

Natasha’s takeaways from her experience?

  • Don’t presume that you know your community’s state of mind on these issues.
  • Discourse about race and race relations needs to be blunt, to accurately represent the enormity of the challenges, but also must give hope that there’s a way forward. Natasha asks the church to consider in these discussion how it can “hold place for hope.”

Natasha’s reflections generated a lot of interesting questions and discussion. If you are a CIH member and weren’t able to make it to the Gathering, we hope you’re well and that we see you soon. Please consider watching Natasha’s talk on our YouTube channel.

If you’re not a Community Innovation Hub member and would like more information about our live monthly Gatherings over Zoom, please visit the Community Innovation Hub website or email


Natasha has generously provided the links to the videos that she used in her course.

Why Are We Saying Black Lives Matter?

Framing – Why Frames Matter

Media, Perception, and Implications

What Can We Do?

All of these videos are shareable. Natasha also used the 4-part “8th Fire” series, available through Coursera’s Aboriginal Worldviews and Education course.

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