Innovating through this crisis and beyond!

The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay > News/Newsletters > Newsletter > Innovating through this crisis and beyond!

As frontline services pivot, businesses retool, new roles for philanthropy emerge, and parts of the planet seem to be healing, let’s take this time to learn, think, and recalibrate together!
During this extremely challenging time, we are sharing important information and opportunities to get involved:

    • Our new virtual events begin on Wednesday, May 6, 4:30-5:30pm
    • Release of our Social Innovation Report
    • Partners you can consider supporting
    • Health & Wellbeing blog (
    • Design Team for our online convening events
    • New Institute Board Members
    • Public Health Agency of Canada’s Strategy for COVID-19 best case scenario – includes projected timelines

Social Innovation Workshop Participants, November 23, 2019
PHOTO: WIN Thinking Productions @ WINTHINKING.ORG

May 6, 2020: Using Social Innovation to Inspire Regional Resilience: Mapping the road to recovery

The next 100 days can be focussed on bringing people together for strategic conversations about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and to generate ideas for how we can take a new approach for shaping our future. The Institute and collaborative partners are using innovation to discuss how we can accelerate our recovery, set a 21st century resilient and sustainable course, and embrace new economies towards 2030.

We’re launching a series of online convenings beginning on Wednesday, May 6, 4:30-5:30pm, and we will use a multi-sector approach to harness the talent, knowledge, and care across this region to help with:

  • Planning for the recovery of traditional businesses and not-for-profits/charities,
  • Nurturing the collaboration of municipal governments across the region, and
  • Seeding the growth of emerging economies, including Social Enterprise through Social Innovation.

Please mark your calendars!

Speakers representing business, not-for-profit, government, and philanthropic sectors will talk about the state of these sectors in our region pre-crisis, the challenges being faced now, and what we need to be thinking about for our future. This crisis has underscored the reality that our major sectors are interconnected and our economy and wellbeing depend on all the sectors working together. An integrated approach to recovery will provide the most sustainable results.

All participants will discuss ideas for actions to achieve health, wellbeing, and resilience across the sectors.

Our next newsletter will have registration details. Please share this current newsletter with all your networks and ask them to subscribe to the Institute’s newsletter at so that everyone is connected and can participate in these important virtual events.

These online gatherings will be a catalyst for some of the most important decisions being made in the region over the next few months.

The audience for these discussions includes concerned citizens, leaders from all sectors, and the members of Recovery Task Forces currently being set up across the region.

Social Innovation in Southern Georgian Bay: What is it and why now?

Read the full event report, with links to presentation decks and photos here –

Last November, the Institute of Southern Georgian Bay hosted an event as part of its collaborative Speaker Series. The Institute’s work focuses on harnessing the power of people and places in Southern Georgian Bay to grow social and economic prosperity and be the smartest, greenest, healthiest and most caring region in Ontario. Over 50 people gathered in the Simcoe Street Theatre in Collingwood to hear from leaders on a panel moderated by Gillian Fairley (Centre For Business and Economic Development), which highlighted the benefits and challenges of the growing movement of Social Innovation. 25 of the participants workshopped ideas and potential next steps for our region.

We acknowledge with gratitude, lead partner Greenland Group of Companies; Community Partners Community Connection, New Path Foundation, and United Way Simcoe Muskoka; and Municipal Partners South Georgian Bay Business Development Centre, Meaford, The Blue Mountains, and Clearview.

Here’s one of the 8 big ideas discussed at this event: Social Innovation is a movement that is building the next economy, one that puts people and planet first. This is the Big Dream; scaling social innovation beyond what is good for community to what serves the world. Canada is a unique place to aspire to this; we put caring first, have one of the largest per capita social sectors in the world, and we were recently named the best country in the world to be an entrepreneur.

Keynote speaker Tonya Surman is founding Executive Director and CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), which creates shared space for social innovators with four locations engaging more than 1,000 organizations. She is also Chair of Social Innovation Canada, designed to connect social innovators and the CEO of the Social Innovation Institute, which is building the capacity of the sector.

Presenting panelists included:

Mark Palmer, President & CEO of Greenland Group of Companies  and  Hume Innovation Hub.
His companies work on a range of projects related to municipal infrastructure, water resources and sustainable urban development within a conservationist ethic.

Elly Green, Program Manager,  Social Enterprise Network of Central Ontario (SENCO) at the Centre for Changemaking & Social InnovationGeorgian College, spoke about students at Georgian, Canada’s first Ashoka Changemaker College, having the opportunity to combine their studies with project-based learning and connections to community through the Centre for Changemaking and Innovation. With a philosophy of solving with rather than for those affected by a problem, the Centre has a strong bent toward inclusion.

James Thomson, President & CEO New Path Foundation and the Common Roof located in Barrie, shared the story of New Path and the journey towards creating a collaborative working space and the resulting benefits.

Pam Hillier, Executive Director, Community Connection (211)Rotary Club of Collingwood and the Campbell Street Development, made two strong points about community: we already know what the top issues are, and charities and nonprofits are the hidden assets in the search for solutions. More than 50% of the households in Collingwood that called 211 asked about housing and shelter, transportation, utilities, food and need for basic goods.

What can we do right now?

We’re all feeling the strangeness of these times, and some of us are struggling more than others. Each municipality’s website in Southern Georgian Bay has information about what we need to know and how COVID-19 is impacting our towns. As we all think about what to do next, please consider supporting the work of some of our remarkable partners:

We welcome new Institute Board members


  • Dale Biddell, CEO, United Way Simcoe Muskoka – Social Justice Lead
  • Susan Cook, Manager, Blue Mountain Foundation of the Arts – Arts & Culture Lead
  • Nancy Griffin, Founder, Women Worth and Wellness and Regional Chapter Chair, TEC – Business & Innovation Lead

Our thanks to the Design Team

The Institute’s Design Team members are leading our pivot from convening people in-person to online. We want to continue to do what we do best – bring people together to discuss issues of importance in our region. Our thanks goes to:
Susan Cook, Nancy Griffin, Yvonne Hamlin, Rosalyn Morrison – (Institute Board members) – and

  • Andrew Palmer, Project Manager, Greenland International Consulting Ltd.
  • June Porter, Chair, Joint Municipal Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee, Southern Georgian Bay. Please read June’s blog here.
  • Liz Rykert is a systems change facilitator working on complex problems.
  • Jeff Shearer, Publisher, On the Bay Magazine and GM, The New Classical 102.9FM
  • Marilyn Struthers is a long-time resident of Grey & Bruce who works with emerging practices in the social sector as a facilitator, researcher, funder, and organizational development coach. She wrote our Social Innovation Report.

Strategy for Canada to get out of the epidemic in the shortest time possible with the fewest number of deaths.

Here is a link to a Technical Briefing for Canadians published April 9, 2020 by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It provides a comprehensive outline with projected timelines.