Innovation Grounds 1.0

This mind map lays out a framework for thinking about “innovation grounds” — spaces where people can come together and generate ideas, solutions, knowledge, culture, and relationships.

The map emerged from perceiving coworking spaces are next-generation telecentres; seeing connections between telecentres, coworking spaces, hackerspaces, and libraries; and being somewhat exasperated at how libraries are often overlooked as key actors in community development — despite the fact that they’ve always been places where people convene, learn, and create. (More on this note: Wayan Vota, Chris Coward, Meaghan O’Connor, Patrick Tanguay, and Christine… I’m sure you could send us more examples!).

The map is supposed to articulate how public-access venues (libraries, telecentres, cybercafes) and co-location/working/production spaces are connected. We were trying to go beyond access to technology while acknowledging its role and ubiquitousness, and to highlight the importance of access to people in innovation and development.

We’re hoping that this framework can help us think about both the theoretical and practical aspects of innovation grounds (design, support, research, policy, etc.).

Development agencies and practitioners should take a closer look at innovation grounds. Figure out how you can make them work for you — and how you can build on existing efforts. Similarly, national and local governments should seek out and leverage innovation grounds: libraries, coworking spaces, hackerspaces, community wireless groups. They’re out there. Start connecting. (And remember there are resources out there. One example is the US IMPACT Study — based on their research they prepared a wonderful toolkit to help libraries document successes and build understanding and support.)

Tell us what you think. Does this framework spark anything for you?

— Christine Prefontaine & Silvia Caicedo

(Shout outs: The term innovation grounds was inspired by Karen Fisher’s concept of “information grounds“. The term “commonspace” comes from Mark Surman. And writing this included a mental walkthrough of the facilities and approach of Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation, Montreal’s Station C and Foulab, various libraries we love, and all of the wonderful people and places that we came into contact with while working at IDRC on