Quick background: a lab is “a process, one that is intended to support multi stakeholder groups in addressing a complex social problem”. Complex problems cannot be solved by a single actor or solution.
Core characteristics of social labs include:
a) Drawing participants from a wide variety of backgrounds , sectors, and experiences
b) Experimenting with ideas through early prototyping, and being prepared to adapt and
change ideas (falling in love with the problem rather than your solution)
c) Developing deep understanding of the problem and ideas that address problems at
their root cause.
Parry Sound Food labs: The first lab focused on developing deep and empathetic understanding of the complexities and connections of the food system in the Parry Sound area. We also began to develop a range of ideas for intervention in the system and categorize them according to the area of intervention. The categories were condensed and modified slightly into the 5 working groups that we formed during the second lab day (Formal Education, Community Building & Education, Equal Access, Government Advocacy, Producer and Food Chain Supports).
The second lab day was a deep dive into choosing and testing several ideas in each working group, and developing an action plan for the implementation of at least one. Participants were challenged to evaluate the desirability, feasibility, viability, and impact of their ideas early on, weeding out interventions that seemed good but were missing one or more of those key elements. A theory of change was developed around the ideas, mapping the desired impact in the short, medium, and long terms. Finally, action plans were mapped out and missing resources were identified for implementation of each idea.
You can read the full report, prepared by Jess Nicksy, here.