Social innovation isn’t a matter of choice for many people

It’s a matter of survival.

A major source of social innovation is rooted in the challenges of ordinary life. Our creativity when faced with a predicament, defines us as a species. It’s not a specialty reserved for a few.

People’s ingenuity and resilience enable them to survive, revive and thrive.

For example:

  • Indigenous people have endured numerous attempts at genocide
  • Folks with disabilities invent themselves out of challenges all the time
  • Voluntary associations have reclaimed rivers, ponds and streams to once again support life
  • Neighbours rally to take care of each other despite cutbacks, stereotypes and neglect
  • And so on…

While not all social inventions from natural sources become widespread, many do. And certainly more than from other sources.

Continuing to count on the human trait of social innovation means:

  • Respecting the natural ingenuity of people
  • Learning their methods and language
  • Paying close attention to solutions developed by those who live at the literal and figurative margins of society
  • Financing their work directly rather than through intermediaries.

Innovating out of life’s challenges should be honoured and nurtured. If our natural ingenuity weakens so will the life force that makes us human.


I’ve travelled enough to realize there are brilliant people in every community who know solutions. They don’t need saviors, they need allies.

Wab Kinew

Have a look and listen to Governor General award-winning Métis writer Katherena Vermette and her poem “Heart.” It’s about the stereotypes associated with her home in the North End of Winnipeg.


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