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Lee Rose ( and Spencer Callahan (pHacktory). Photo by Mike Gifford.

Hub & Spoke: The next chapter turns the page on an era of Impact Hub’s co-working community in Ottawa

By Andrew Monro on May 16, 2017


Andrew Monro is Apt613’s correspondent at Impact Hub Ottawa, writing about the many innovators that call Hub home. Hub is a co-working space at 123 Slater Street for projects with a positive local and global impact.

As Impact Hub Ottawa prepared to move its new home across Centretown, they threw one more party to talk about where their coworking community came from and the possibilities for its future.

Hub & Spoke: The Next Chapter was both a farewell to their Bank Street home (they have now moved to 123 Slater Street), and a celebration of the opportunities of the future. Founders, social entrepreneurs, community leaders, and “Hubbers” (both new and old) came to the Hub on April 20 to share their stories and get inspired.

Michelle Thompson (Soup Ottawa). Photo by Mike Gifford.

Michelle Thompson (Soup Ottawa). Photo by Mike Gifford.

The evening was divided up into three parts: two panels, and a keynote address. The first panel was made up of Jay Garlough of Hidden Harvest, Bettina Vollmerhausen of Ottawa Tool Library, Dan Monafu and Michelle Thompson, both of Soup Ottawa, and the moderator was Jane Porter, one of the original co-founders of Impact Hub Ottawa.

“How has the social innovation ecosystem changed over the last four to five years?” Jane asked the panel. They each talked about how their organizations and their work with their respective organizations got started – Jay recalled the early days of the Hub, when only a small group of people were in the space, ringing a bell to get everyone’s attention and asking the room, “I need to do insurance/accounting/design and I don’t know how, can anyone help me?” As the community has grown, the practice disappeared, but willingness to help others remains. Dan noted that “social innovation terms are more widely recognized and understood now than 5 years ago; we no longer see social good as ‘out there’, but as a viable way to organize our societies around meaningful interventions.” Bettina agreed, “there is much more support now for social entrepreneurs and startups who care about their social impact as well as the bottom line. An environment like Impact Hub is a wonderful breeding ground for innovative ideas as well as the important support any startup needs”.

The second panel featured individuals who have shared history with the Hub and its members much more recently. The panel included Lee Rose of Community Knowledge Exchange, Maxine Patenaude of Creative Mornings Ottawa, Spencer Callahan of pHacktory, and moderated by the Hub’s own Community Lead, Vita Sgardello (formerly of Impact Hub Milan). Vita asked each person a different question, ranging from taking risks to build their organizations:“Don’t be afraid to ask audacious questions,” said Spencer. On how to communicate complexity in today’s social media-driven world, Lee said “I find that telling a good simple story really helps. It can help make a complex concept relatable and understandable – which is so important in the work of social change.” Maxine was asked how to keep the Creative Mornings community engaged and the programming fresh after five years: “… it means reaching outside of our normal circles and connecting with new people. Grabbing a coffee with someone you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. Seeing things from a different perspective. Looking at our city through other people’s eyes.”

Manuel Báez (Carleton University). Photo by Mike Gifford.

Manuel Báez (Carleton University). Photo by Mike Gifford.

Lastly was the keynote address by architect, teacher and artist, Manuel Báez. Professor Báez talked at length about the philosophy and purpose of his work, and how this related to the community elements prized by the communities like the Hub. In particular, Hub has been home to one of his art works, a ceiling installation called Resonant Currents: a woven structure of birch wood and rivets that draws inspiration from several cultures and art forms. It is this mosaic of cultures and influences that parallels the diverse professions and people that call the Hub home, and form the foundation of its community. He also showcased his new project, The Gather-Ring, which will be installed on the Portage Bridge in June. “The site,” Baez said, “reminds us of the broader landscape, history, interrelated connections and interdependence beyond its immediate past and location. The sculpture, selected as part of the Heritage Canada public art competition, Dream, offers a place for reflection through collective memory, for storytelling and discussions related to reconciliation of the land’s past and the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Visit Hub at their new location at 123 Slater Street or online