Friday, March 22, 2013

CSI Catalyst Launch Party

I've been hearing a lot of buzz about the Centre for Social Innovation for a few years now but have never been to their Annex location in Toronto (I did attend an event at their Spadina location last year). When an opportunity presented itself to both check out the space and learn more about crowdfunding, I thought it was a great chance to kill two birds with one stone and signed up without hesitation.

First, the space: if you've never been to CSI Annex, I highly recommend a visit. The space is not only visually stunning, it is warm, inviting, and positively buzzes with collaboration and innovation. It was full of young socially responsible professionals working away at coffee tables and antique-looking couches and rather made me wish I worked there too! An onsite coffee shop, a communal kitchen, a random piano, and unisex washrooms only add to the charm and reinforce CSI's mission. I will definitely be grabbing my laptop and parking myself at one of those coffee tables next time I have some time to pop downtown to do a bit of work. A truly inspiring space.
Next, the presentation: CSI partnered with HiveWire to launch a crowdfunding platform for its members and the first few featured businesses were onsite to talk about their projects and answer any questions. All the key players were present and provided valuable insight into the nature (and future) of CSI and crowdfunding and it was very refreshing to see so many capable, dedicated individuals working together to make something good happen (especially when we are bombarded with bad news and dour projections every day by the mainstream media). It is equally inspiring to see how many young people are taking the risk to put themselves - and their dreams - out there instead of setting for soul-draining jobs that easily pay the bills. Check out my favourite two projects of the night: YCR and SociaLIGHT.

Finally, there was a networking portion after the presentation. I couldn't stay long because I was already late for class, but everyone else got chatting and exploring further and there was a real sense of community in the room. Many of those in attendance seemed to already know each other and were happy to reconnect. CSI generously provided affordable drinks (with the first one on the house) and complimentary nibbles, and there was not a disposable plastic cup, plate or fork in sight! Events that promote the social good and reflect this commitment in the way they run their events = awesome.

WHAT: CSI Catalyst Launch Party

WHERE: CSI Annex, 720 Bathurst St.

WHEN: March 20, 2013 - 5:30 pm

COST: Free

INSIDER TIPS: I had to run after the presentation portion because I have an evening class, so this wasn't an issue for me but generally, I would feel quite out of place when everyone else seems to know each other (yes, self-confidence can evaporate quite rapidly under the right circumstances!). If this is you as well, bring a friend for support and to help you keep the conversation going when you approach new people. Between the two of you, you'll be able to come up with good questions to ask and comments to make to make the best use of the opportunity to meet new people.

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