Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to welcome everyone and keep things on track. To get things started, there’s a guest, or sometimes two, who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.
Social innovation strategies are increasingly being implemented in an ostensible drive to solve community challenges, but to what extent do these approaches spurn local knowledge? What is the process by which these vehicles attract the interest of funders who wield tremendous power but little local understanding? This public conversation considers the extent to which community organizing anchored in local contexts is being undermined by an institutional fixation on easy answers. How does this trend undermine local autonomy by prioritizing buzz words and abstractions above lived experiences? How does it divert funding away from real community needs or condition it on the acceptance of community-as-laboratory? To what extent is social innovation not only potentially ineffective but actually a threat to the sovereignty and the innovative spirit of our neighbourhoods?
Former CEO of the Chantier de l’économie sociale (1996-2015), Nancy Neamtan is presently a strategic advisor for the Chantier and for TIESS, a Quebec-wide centre for liaison and knowledge transfer in social innovation. Ms Neamtan has over thirty years experience in the field of the social economy, social finance and community economic development. She is recognised nationally and internationally for her experience in the field and is the recipient of two honorary doctorates as well as the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec.
Kody Crowell hails from Nova Scotia and is passionate about research and its role in, as, and with activism. His educational background is in epidemiology, public health, and health and social policy. He is interested in the ethical issues surrounding data and epistemic justice. In his free time, he enjoys writing and reading.
This conversation is co-organized with the CDC Solidarité St-Henri