S2, Ep. 1 - Welcome Back!

March 20, 2024

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Welcome to the season opener of ResponsibleDisruption. I'm one of your hosts, Monique Blough, Project Director at theSocial Impact Lab, Alberta. I'm back in studio with co-host James Gamage, Directorof Innovation at the Social Impact Lab and United Way in Calgary area, andSydney Johnson, Head of Design at J5. Hi!




Hello! They're having us back for season two.

00:36 SYDNEY: Who would have thought? Herewe are.

00:42 MONIQUE: Well, that's it. Perfect. Weare kicking off season two with a roundup of some of the topics we're going tobe covering this season. We're going to address a number of things, a topic ongrief and mental health through innovation and design. We'll be talking aboutdisrupting traditional models and housing justice and education. I'm superexcited about that one, and we'll also have a series called Design 101. SoJames, Sydney, when we look over the topics of some of the episodes we haveplanned for this season, does anything spark for you?

01:18 JAMES: Sure. So sort of revealing alittle bit behind the curtain. We've already actually recorded or Syd alreadyrecorded a couple of episodes. This is the season opener, but the first one andit comes with a bit of a content warning. The first one is about design andgrief. And do you want to tell the listeners a little bit about that, Syd?

01:37 SYDNEY: Yeah. So with that contentwarning. There's an episode about the connection between grief and design, andit deals with child loss, so if that is something that might be triggering foryou, we encourage you to take care when listening to this description. But wehave on one of my fellow designers at J5 Riley Oller where he talks about theloss of his son Colin. But I think the really fascinating thing about thisepisode is that he talks about how his family designed their grief process, andit makes me think a lot about how we all have these universal experiences.Grief being one of them. And how design is actually present in all of thosespaces too, whether we recognize it or not, I don't think that's a connectionthat I would have made before meeting and getting to know Riley. But now thatthat I do, it's very, very clear to me. And so that episode holds a specialplace in my heart, as I'm sure it will with all of us who are touched by it.

02:49 JAMES: Yeah, I mean we had a sneakpreview of the recording andit was incredibly powerful, but also veryinsightful about how Riley and his family navigated that really difficult time.

03:02 SYDNEY: And also the need to talkabout these sorts of things too. Whether it's grief or other experiences thatare on this podcast, I think there's another episode coming up later in theseason about failure and innovation failure and  very different topic. Very different. Yeah,very different approach. But I think that is also something that we don't talkabout enough is failure and innovation and creating a space for that to happen.

03:34 MONIQUE: You know both of thosetopics and not that they're both so distinct, but both of them require courageto talk about.

03:41 SYDNEY: Yes. Yeah, that's a greatobservation.

03:42 MONIQUE: And so you know in thepodcast that you had with Riley. He exhibits so much courage in the journeythat he shares. And then when we talk about failures in our work and what weneed to take away, there's a lot of courage that come from that as well.

04:02 JAMES: Yeah, I mean that's anincredibly important attribute when you're innovating that we're also planninga podcast later in the series about social entrepreneurship in the agencysector, and I think what I see in the sector is the need to sometimes think differentlyabout the way that we approach some of our work and the way that we actuallyfund some of our work.And that means taking the risks sometimes. And so I'mreally excited by that episode to really delve into the experience and theprocess that organizations have to go through in the agency sector to create asocial impact organization.

04:48 SYDNEY: If you had to guess aboutsomething that is tying some of these different topics that we have plannedtogether, besides the obvious, social innovation and design, what might you sayit is? What are your hunches? I'm going to get it on record before we go out. Thatquestion might be too hard.

05:10 MONIQUE: I have one. Well, no, I'mcurious. I think something that sparks for me is that in all of these thejourney through, I guess the human experience was trying to find solutions tothat. So whether it's solutions to our grief process, solutions to how the heckdo we establish social entrepreneurship. solutions to research and impact.solutions to innovating around fashion, it feels like there's a theme therearound finding meaningful solutions to what we do?

05:45 SYDNEY: Yeah. Driving to impact maybeI think you know that's something we had a couple of episodes from that in thelast podcast. That's actually something that comes up in the episode on the NowInnovating podcast with Juliet MacGregor, and her entire podcast is aboutimpact from academia and research that's happening in innovation, and how thatgets translated into real world impact. They definitely see something there aswell, as is a continuation of that thing from season one.

06:21 MONIQUE: What do you think, Syd? Youthink there's a theme?

06:22 SYDNEY: Yeah, I mean, I did askbecause I had a thought. And then if I can remember that thought is anotherstory. But I think that maybe something in just a few words that you said iswe're really holding up a lens in this season. We're really looking with acritical eye of our processes and how we engage in these places and how weengage with these systems and what does it mean to be what is designed, whatare the edges of that in this example about grief. What is it practically inthe example of about design one-on-one and then what does it mean to not dothat properly. Or to do that better or to do that with different communities ordifferent cultures. And I feel like we had that in season one, but I think inseason 2, it's even more prominent.

07:10 JAMES: Yeah. I mean, one of thethings in season one that I had a couple of episodes on which surprisingly,really dragged me in and interested me was about evaluation and the use of dataand we're expecting to record an episode about that use of data to drive socialchange so particularly in the context of children and youth mental health. Sogetting under the skin of what we do in design and actually really focusing inon how we can use data both for evaluation purposes but also to identify thesolutions is I think going to be a really interesting episode that I'm lookingforward to.

07:53 MONIQUE: I have another thought, it'sthis notion of curiosity. I think that a lot of the guests that we're going tohave this season will help us uncover new things, but we've taken those onbecause we're curious. But what it is that they're doing and how is it shapingand changing the way we work and the way we think and the way we Co create orcollaborate. So I'm really, I'm actually really excited about that and many ofthe episodes that we have, I think I'm also just curious about how someone canbe so resilient to work through some the daunting, challenging topics that wehave, so not only data for driving social change, but also dealing with some ofthe housing crisis and social innovation. So there's quite a few things there.

08:50 SYDNEY: Yeah. It makes me think ifyou were ever feeling like you were having difficulty gaining traction at workor in something that you care about. There's probably a solution, and one ofthese podcasts. I mean, we have, we're talking to people who are workinggovernment context. We're talking to people who are working in business contextswe're talking to people who are in schools and again in those agencies and alltalking about what I think can be universal experiences of work as well of whatthey're experiencing and how they overcame those pieces as well.

09:30 MONIQUE: I agree with that. I thinkit's going to be a very exciting season and we invite all of our listeners tojoin us for every episode that will be coming out during season 2. Well, Jamesand Sydney, it's always a pleasure to have the opportunity to connect with youand we are very excited to be kicking off season two and we hope you enjoyedthis conversation and we encourage you to listen to our next episode available.Now the connection between design and grief. Until next time, here's to a seasonbrimming with insights, creativity and responsible disruption.

[Outro music]

That's all for today's episode of ResponsibleDisruption. Thank you for tuning in and we hope you found the conversationvaluable. If you did, don't forget to follow, rate, and share wherever you getyour podcasts. To stay up to date on future episodes and show notes, visit ourwebsite at thesocialimpactlab.com or follow us on social and until next time,keep on designing a better world.