Social Change Institute to ‘Catapult’ Change-makers

Third annual event convenes more than 90 seasoned and emerging leaders to advance social change.
Monday May 28, 2012
Article by Camille Jensen, Axiom News

An upcoming Hollyhock conference aims to provide change-makers with the energy, resources and relationships to launch their work to a whole new level.

Called Social Change Institute (SCI), the third annual conference takes place June 6-10. SCI’s goal is to advance social change by gathering seasoned and emerging leaders from the social sector for five days of workshops, creative practices, dialogue and community building.

SCI co-producer and facilitator Stina Brown says she refers to SCI as a catapulting conference because of its ability to enable changemakers to gain the connections and skills needed to advance their work. Past participants include Lead Now, an online political advocacy community formed in 2010 that has skyrocketed to 150,000 members.

“We think as (people) get connected to each other they are better resourced, we heard that they are more inspired, and they have people that they can turn to for almost any area of advice that they might need professionally coming out of this conference,” says Stina.

This year’s SCI is the largest since its reinvention three years ago. More than 90 people are coming from across North America with backgrounds in areas like organizational development, economics, public policy, education, social justice and new media.

It’s the diverse people ranging from seasoned change veterans to young and innovative advocates that Stina and SCI co-producer Cara Pike say is most exciting about this year’s conference.

“It’s an amazing mix, and we’ve put more intention into building that,” says Cara, adding SCI provides scholarships to fresh thinkers who may not otherwise be able to attend.

“I absolutely think it’s what’s needed to come up with the breakthrough ideas that our times call for.”

SCI places emphasis on intergenerational dialogue and includes a session where the youngest and older particpant share their work, as well as a session hosted by Judy Rebick, political activist, author and founding publisher of, engaging different generations on social change leadership.

“Having the younger advocates coming in and sitting with someone like Judy Rebick and seeing the exchanges and how both learn from one another is just so powerful,” says Cara.

Other sessions are designed using innovative facilitation techniques like Appreciative Inquiry. Stina says participants will imagine and share their best possible year with others in small groups.

“You have a chance to say what happens,” explains Stina, who studies group dynamics as part of her work as a facilitator. “It’s really when we all kind of drop in to a more connected place.”

SCI will also offer skill-building workshops and one-to-one mentoring opportunities. Workshops range from leadership and team effectiveness to net-centric advocacy, as well as case studies where non-profit organizations share their challenge or opportunity with an expert panel and the audience, both of which provide feedback.

Twenty-eight advisors will be on-hand to provide expertise in different backgrounds.

Stina adds along with jam-packed sessions, SCI features nightly entertainment and artists, morning yoga sessions and free time to explore the natural beauty of Cortes Island, where Hollyhock is located.

“It’s different for everybody but my desired outcome is that everyone is totally present and they give themselves permission to take this time and let it be different than daily habits and daily ideas,” says Stina.

“It’s sort of an expansive opportunity for people.”

There are still some spots left for Social Change Institute. To learn more, click here
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