A New Online Platform for Quebec's Social Economy

Rethinking the flow of ideas between practitioners

Why It Matters

Social impact practitioners have long known that collaboration and peer learning are vital to their work. Persistent challenges have been accessible technology, intentional community curation, and a compelling invitation. A new platform in Quebec looks to blend these three ingredients, transforming how practitioners work.

Everywhere, from rural villages to urban centres, inspiring actions are multiplying around food security, climate change, community services, and civic sense.

These social innovations, anchored in a local context, bode well for the future of positive transformation in communities.

That being said, most of these initiatives are not widely known or happen in isolation, meaning the necessary synergies needed to transfer these models to other cities, sectors, or territories, often don’t come to pass.

Knowledge moves glacially and expertise becomes lost when ever-present silos persist. These conditions stunt collaboration, scaling, and social impact growth.

A new social impact network from Quebec called Passerelles, looks to ameliorate these challenges through the development of constellation of communities of practice in the social innovation sphere.

The online platform allows the user to set up alerts by territory or theme and opens up private online communities for meaningful exchanges, and co-learning around a concept or common issue.

Joel Nadeau and other members of TIESS

Moreover, the site allows for outreach between these various communities, hence the name “Passerelles” — translating as “bridges” or “gateways” in English.

Taking up the mantle is Territoires innovants en économie sociale et solidaire (TIESS), which has a knowledge transfer mandate for the Quebec social economy. The organization quickly realized that in addition to an exchange mechanism, that communities of practice also need support.

A team was established to support the creation and development of these communities of practice.

Since the September 2018 launch, Passerelles has brought together more than one thousand practitioners. These are professionals working in community development within civic organizations and health networks, among others. There are also volunteers that want to amp up their efforts within the organizations they are serving.

Clear wins are already happening. We’ve already seen a better understanding of territorial dynamics, and witnessed networks developing between people in the same communities of practice who did not know one another before the introduction of the gateway. There have been exchanges of strategic information and collaborations focused on development projects.

These exchanges will only intensify over the coming months given that more than hundred online sub-communities have been formed or are in the process of developing. At the same time, TIESS is working on site edits for the 2.0 version of the platform, expected in 2022.

A multitude of scenarios are on the drawing board for this second phase, including the idea to expand the database of practitioners from Quebec to reach all across Canada.

Any takers?