Social Labs To Watch In 2017

Three Social Labs To Watch in 2017

There are endless thought pieces about how bad 2016 was. However, over at Social Labs, we’re ever hopeful that globally, we’re able to start tackling complex challenges with better approaches – from the biggest foundations, to those working at the grassroots of social change.

2016 brought some glimmers of hope with some exciting new labs launching, and some existing labs making further headway. Here’s three social labs to keep your eye on in 2017, as well as a bonus resource for people interested in social labs practice.


The Edmonton Shift Lab

The Edmonton Shift Lab - social lab on intersection of racism and poverty
image courtesy of Edmonton Shift Lab

The Edmonton Shift Lab launched in 2016, and we were privileged to have some of the team join us for our Vancouver Course to support them with the design stages, and to give them some tips on how to steer the ship over the coming months and years.

The lab is focused on the intersection of Racism and Poverty in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They’ve shaped a strong base with the local community to get early support, and their website has some great descriptions of the work they’re trying to do, and what they’re learning.

Check out The Edmonton Shift Lab here.


The Grove 3547

Grove 3547 - social lab focused on resilient livelihoods in Chicago
image courtesy of Grove 3547

The team at Grove 3547 have just completed their first 3 month ‘cycle’ with their lab teams working on a broad range of prototypes to create resilient livelihoods in Chicago’s south side.

We’re impressed with the use of video to tell the stories of the journey thus far, and we know there’s an exciting announcement in the pipeline from Grove 3547 soon as well.

Check out The Grove 3547 here.



Place - European Migrant social lab
image courtesy of Place

Place is an exciting new European initiative which is responding to a very hot topic, which has been a major factor in elections and the likes of Brexit. It’s starting in Paris in 2017, but there are also chapters brewing in Berlin, Greece and London.

Place takes a positive frame on migration (proven around the world in various studies) which seeks to support migrants to rapidly take part in creating their own livelihoods and support structures.

Learn more about Place here.


(Free) Bonus Resource

If you’re interested in the paradigm which underpins social labs – Prototyping, not Planning as a way of responding to complex challenges – then you should read this excellent article from Zaid Hassan, published in Social Kritik.
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