Spring is a great time for reflecting, evaluating and growth. This month I’ve been very lucky to have the opportunity to attend two two-day conferences in connection with my work at The Lion and The Mouse and am excited for what these deep conversations will bring.
For the Social Enterprise Toronto Conference (SETC), I hopped on the train mid-week to meet other social enterprises and their supporters. While the climate and culture in the Social Enterprise Sector, as they call it in Ontario, is quite different from ours at home in Quebec, it was inspiring to see the ways in which some of the non-profits were using technology and business acumen to leverage their resources and increase their impact. I was particularly inspired by Furniture Bank, one of the five stops on our bus tour, where we got a behind the scenes look at how they combine streamlined operations, analytics and a sky’s-the-limit culture to help their organization do more with less (and even more with more!).
This past weekend, Megan and I both had the privilege of connecting with other members of the Social Economy, as we say here in Quebec, at Transform(er) Montreal. While in many ways it felt like a homecoming (Megan and I met studying Community Economic Development in Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs), I am sure it went deeper than roaming our old classrooms. With the conference’s focus on the Social Economy’s potential to democratize the world around us, we had the chance to revisit many of the conversations that led us to start The Lion and The Mouse and to reflect on how the structures that govern our daily lives can be adapted and put to the service of an inclusive and empowered community.
I was particularly touched by the key note given by Brianna Wettlaufer, founder and CEO of Stocksy United, who spoke openly about the difficulties (and importance) of creating inclusive and democratic social enterprises and the difference that makes in the every day lives of Stocky’s photographers. You can see the beautiful notes from her presentation taken by Paul of Percolab in the photos below.
All in all, it’s been a busy few weeks that have left me feeling highly motivated to take the successes that we have seen at The Lion and The Mouse and build on them even further. It is nice to be reminded from time to time that, as a social enterprise, it is not just what we do but HOW we do it that has an impact. We are governed by our members and the board they elect and that matters. We strive for transparency and consensus building amongst our staff and that matters too. While we spend most of our time thinking about the world of early childhood, it’s important to remember that in our every day activities and lives we are also building a world for these children to grow into.