Institute Strategy Update – do you want to roll up your sleeves?

The Institute of Southern Georgian Bay > News/Newsletters > Newsletter > Institute Strategy Update – do you want to roll up your sleeves?

In this newsletter:

  • Institute Strategy Update – do you want to roll up your sleeves?
  • Social Finance – levers to advance social and economic prosperity
  • Lieutenant Governor’s Sustainability in Ontario 2021 conference highlights

Institute Strategy Update – do you want to roll up your sleeves?

This month, Institute board members and working group members gathered to discuss highlights from last fall’s strategy session and how we could build on our work from 2021 Events. It was a lively interchange of ideas and we are now developing our plans for 2022 and 2023. Some of the ideas include:

  • Supporting a “regular” forum for artists and arts organizations
  • Participating in a National Innovation Lab on affordable housing
  • Exploring the creation of a community investment fund to support the kind of housing that we need
  • Mapping social enterprises in our region and nurturing more
  • Exploring the feasibility of a Green Economy Hub for Southern Georgian Bay
  • Strengthening the Collingwood Carbon Footprint Challenge and expanding it across the region,
  • Engaging community to identify data indicators to measure progress towards sustainability

If you want to be involved, send us a note on our home page and let us know how you would like to contribute to strengthening the arts, the kind of housing we need in our communities, and business innovation towards local sustainable economies. We will get back to you in March to discuss your involvement.

Social Finance – levers to advance social and economic prosperity

By Jack Vanderkooy, Social Finance Learning Group, and Board Chair, Habitat for Humanity South Georgian Bay

“Engaging local talent and investment towards initiatives that benefit everyone in the community.”

It was a cold December day two years ago when I reconnected with Rosalyn Morrison, Institute of Southern Georgian Bay Board Chair, to get caught up on the Institute’s programming and each others’ lives.  Due to COVID lockdowns, this was a walking meeting with coffee in hand on the streets of Collingwood.  Roz mentioned that the Institute was focusing on what a sustainable recovery in the economy would look like post-pandemic through the “Mapping Our Road to Recovery” series.

One area being explored was how Social Finance can engage community to think about community wealth.  With my financial background and passion for a healthy community, I was in. I was invited to the first meeting of the Social Finance Learning Group, facilitated by Marilyn Struthers, a long-time resident of Grey & Bruce who works with emerging practises in the social sector. The meeting was attended by over 20 people across the region, from a variety of sectors with varied expertise.

What have I learned? Social Finance is not a well-understood concept, especially in smaller communities.  Starting with a Social Finance Primer, prepared by Marilyn Struthers, we started our year-long learning journey. There are many facets to Social Finance, but the goal is engaging local talent and investment towards initiatives that benefit everyone in the community.

Every dollar we spend, lend, or invest, has an impact on our communities.

Here is what I learned: 

  • Social enterprise is simply a business which operates for the good of the community, usually with a triple bottom-line focus – People, Planet, Profit.  Social entrepreneurs are passionate about their offering, be it food services, counselling, arts and crafts, or some new technology.  Many social enterprises are self-financed, while some larger initiatives attract funding from local investors who seek purpose for their investments for the greater good…

Read more about Social Procurement, Community Investment Co-ops, and Affordable Housing and Social Finance here.

Lieutenant Governor’s Sustainability in Ontario 2021 conference summary

One year ago, the Institute invited the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, to kick-off the 2021 online discussion series Our Sustainable Future. Following that, she went on to host an important summer conference with exceptional speakers to look at sustainability from a variety of perspectives. Conference topics included:

  • Science and Sustainability
  • Sustainability and the Arts
  • Grassroots-led Sustainability
  • Sustainable Cities and Institutions
  • Building Sustainable Businesses and Economies

Lt. Gov. Dowdeswell has brought her own passion to the shift towards sustainability. Her keynote address for the summer conference was inspiring. See the full recording of the conference at

At the outset of her mandate, she wanted to take time to listen to Ontarians and to learn about the things that they collectively consider to be of greatest importance to their communities.
What she learned is that, at our core, Ontarians are people who think sustainably:

  • We care about our neighbours and communities,
  • We want responsible environmental stewardship,
  • We strive for social cohesion in our communities, and
  • We expect inclusive economic prosperity.

Lt. Gov. Dowdeswell convened engineers, health practitioners, artists, mayors, and other leaders from Indigenous communities, innovation hubs, Ontario universities, next generation manufacturing, and grass-roots environmental organizations for a discussion about what each of our roles is in contributing to the well-being of society and a more resilient future.

Speakers such as Dr. James Orbinski, OC, Director of York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research; Edward Burtynsky, Visual Artist (recently highlighted in On the Bay Magazine); Sara Wolfe, RN, MBA, Director, Indigenous Innovation Initiative, Grand Challenges Canada; David Miller, North American Director, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; Mary Rowe, President & CEO, Canadian Urban Institute; and Jayson Myers, CEO, Next Generation Manufacturing Canada, all highlighted ways that, regardless of what sector we are in, we can all do things differently to ensure a sustainable and resilient future.

Read a summary of conference highlights here.