Road Map Action 34

Create a “Design by Doing” social innovation lab to catalyze grassroots community-led projects as prototypes to end poverty.

Road Map Timeline: Year 1

EPE Strategy priority alignments: #28 - Launch a collaborative broad-based community engagement and education initiative to change people's attitudes about poverty.

There are two initiatives as part of this action:

Initiative Name:

Initiative Lead Organizations:


Design by Doing is a social innovation lab series focused on discovering new solutions within the EndPovertyEdmonton Game Changers. Social innovation labs allow people from all walks of life to come together to describe their experiences with the issue at hand and brainstorm new ways of solving problems. Each lab follows specific processes geared toward gathering input from all participants in comfortable and non-standard ways that enhance creativity. There are no limits placed on the types or number of ideas generated, but the goal is to design solutions that can be put into action and have been reviewed by those affected by the issue.

The labs are hosted at ActionLab and in community. Action Lab is a social enterprise of the Skills Society that has received international attention for the quality and depth of knowledge in stewarding social innovation labs over the last 10 years. Working with Manasc Isaac Architects, Skills Society has built a specific space for social innovation lab work to occur. The space can hold up to 60 people, and provides for full day workshops.  The Action Lab is both a collaborative space and process consultation expertise around how to build solutions with stakeholders around a complex social challenge. The Action Lab runs shorter labs and larger multi year labs such as the Edmonton Shift Lab with the Edmonton Community foundation.

Each Design by Doing lab identifies a specific issue or area of issue and assembles community member, service providers, members of different orders of government and most importantly those living the experience of the issue at hand. This group of people come together for one or two days - dependent on the needs of the specific community and/or the issue - to do the guided work of exploring the issue, generating ideas, and then reviewing them.

Design by Doing 1.0 was held in early 2017 and focused on poverty and making navigation of service systems for newcomers more accessible.  A portfolio of prototypes were developed by community this diverse gathering.


Read about the first design by doing lab:


Visit the ActionLab website.


Public and MEDIA INQUIRY CONTACT: Ben Weinlick – ben@skillssociety.ca 780-496-9686

Initiative Name:

Initiative Lead Organizations:


Design by Doing 2.0 is scheduled for August 20 & 21, 2018. It is an invitation-only event, so as to ensure a diverse working cross-section of members of the community and service providers can attend.

This iteration of Design by Doing is culturally adapting the social innovation lab processes and design to allow people from different cultural backgrounds and with varying levels of English language fluency to fully participate.

The two-day lab will address the barriers and needs of the Bhutanese community in seeking and securing employment. Three pathways to employment will be explored:

  1. A traditional pathway (i.e. resume, interview, on the job training);
  2. Self-employment or micro-enterprise (i.e. starting a small business or micro enterprise based on a personal skills such as gardening or crafting); and
  3. English Language Learning (i.e. gaining increased English language fluency as a stepping stone to employment).

A short documentary about the design by doing process is also being developed to help communicate what happens in social innovation labs.


Public and MEDIA INQUIRY CONTACT: info@endpovertyedmonton.ca Ben Weinlick – ben@skillssociety.ca 780-496-9686

Last Updated: August 8, 2018