The Social Innovator’s Journey

BC Ideas Guest Blogger, Al Etmanski, is an author, blogger ( and social entrepreneur specializing in innovative, multi-sector solutions to complex societal challenges. Al is also Director of  SiG@PLAN. BC Ideas launched today and this blog is reposted with their permission.

Photo Credit: robin_24

Then, when he had flown a while longer,

Something brightened toward the north,

It caught his eye, they say.

And then he flew right up against it.

He pushed his mind through

And pulled his body after.

These words by Skaay, an oral poet from Haida Gwaii whom many consider British Columbia’s Shakespeare, describe the start of the social innovator’s journey.

Something’s not right. Injustice burns bright. An idea catches your eye. Your imagination takes hold. You push through prevailing wisdom and “the way it’s supposed to be.” With few resources, and no one listening you persist. You answer “yes!” to the disinterested, the doubters, and disbelievers. You innovate.

You create a solution to a challenge faced by a friend, family member, or neighbour. You invent a successful response to a community problem. You improve how we work together. You see a way for your province, your country and your world to be a better place.

You are, in today’s parlance, a social innovator.

The social innovator’s journey begins with a new mindset. A way of thinking that questions the way things are. That asks difficult questions. That has the confidence to make mistakes. That gives the mind as long as possible to come up with something original. That makes links and connections no one thought possible. That breaks an existing logjam or spots a new one.

British Columbia, like every jurisdiction in the world, is faced with its fair share of “logjams.” We also benefit from more than our fair share of natural resources. What we often ignore is our natural creativity – creativity that could be harnessed to address what some commentators call our “wicked problems.”

To address this oversight, a group of BC activists, including business, government, foundations, universities, and community agencies have created BC Ideas. It is a web-based platform designed to attract innovative ideas that improve the quality of our lives, reduce vulnerability, and increase the resilience of our citizens, families, communities, and environment. BC Ideas is really a call to passion, imagination, and creativity.

We know new ideas are being proposed and explored in our kitchens, coffee shops, classrooms, and boardrooms. We know important solutions already exist that could benefit many more. We know great ideas from other parts of the world could be adapted and implemented here.

BC Ideas wants to create opportunities for everyone, young and old, near and far, every organization, every business, and every public servant to contribute.

In return you will:

  • Join a community of passionate changemakers
  • Profile your ideas and solutions to collaborators, mentors, investors, and funders.

And perhaps most important, have the satisfaction of brightening the future well-being of this corner of the Pacific Northwest.

Visit the BC Ideas website for more details about how to enter.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Bookmark and Share
About Al Etmanski

Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur and author. He is an Ashoka fellow and a faculty member of John McKnight’s Asset-Based Community Development Institute. He is founding partner of Social Innovation Generation (SiG) and BC Partners for Social Impact and co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN). He blogs at His new book, Impact-Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation is already a Canadian best seller.


  1. Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life articles and blogs

  2. This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

  3. I don’t know about you people but I infatuated with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don’t know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff

Speak Your Mind