Conference Cultivates Social Change Leaders

Social Change Institute convenes more than 80 people for skill-building, collaboration to advance social change.
Sunday June 10, 2012
Article by Camille Jensen, Axiom News

MANSONS LANDING, B.C. –  Twenty-nine-year-old Julia Pope is developing a network where thought leaders in health-care convene to explore next steps to enhance patient safety.

The first-time Social Change Institute (SCI) attendee has a personal mission to make health-care safer, and attended the five-day conference to connect with others vying to make large-scale social change.

“A big part of the reason I am here is to network with people who are used to thinking about transformation and evolution of institutions,” says Julia, who is also a graduate of the youth leadership program Next Up.

“It’s amazing to be in an environment where innovation, boldness, courage, creativity and optimism are the norms.”

SCI has been running in its current form for three years, gathering seasoned and emerging leaders in the social sector for skill-building, personal growth and collaborative workshops. More than 80 people from across North America convened at Hollyhock, Canada’s lifelong learning centre, representing environmental and political advocacy groups like and Lead Now, to social entrepreneurs, filmmakers and farmers.

Seth Klein, director of the B.C. office for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, is a long-time SCI participant and says the conference’s value is its focus on leadership training for people working in the nonprofit sector.

“This is really kind of a precious training opportunity for NGO (non-governmental organization) leaders, there is very little out there for us,” says Seth.

He commends the case study sessions, which see an nonprofit organization present their work and challenge or opportunity, and receive feedback from an expert panel and the audience.

“I think anyone that’s done a case study here would tell you that it’s had a real impact in their plans,” says Seth, adding he and Next Up co-founder Kevin Millsip were a case study two years ago when looking to expand their leadership training academy to new provinces and cities.

“That was hugely valuable. You get a lot of good wisdom and advice.”

SCI also asks people to dig deeper into their own passion and calling. Interaction Institute for Social Change senior associate Gibrán Rivera travelled from Boston to provide his service, which is coaching and facilitation to those who are committed to social transformation.

He says brilliant strategy for social change doesn’t work when people don’t pay attention to their souls, and walked participants through questions delving into love, passion and desire.

“We can’t work for freedom without having a sense of what it tastes like,” says Gibrán.

“Part of what I am trying to do is create conditions that make it more likely we can get a taste of what freedom is like (and) connect with each other in ways that make us more powerful together.”

Today is the last day of SCI (June 10), which in addition to group sessions offered one-on-one advisory sessions and social activities to take social change to a whole new level.

Axiom News provides Stakeholder News to Hollyhock, Canada's lifelong learning centre. Click here to view this article's original post at