By Mark Holmgren, Executive Director of Edmonton CDC
When it became clear that COVID-19 required self-isolation and social distancing, the Edmonton CDC immediately turned its attention to how to adapt to the new normal.
We closed our offices and instituted restrictions on staff and operations. We immediately got to work on moving the Social Enterprise Bootcamp to an online format (deciding to use Zoom after researching a number of platforms). That move was successful, and we learned that online learning deserved being an ongoing consideration post-COVID-19, not just a pandemic response.
We have also learned that video conferencing offers significant efficiencies when it comes to internal and external meetings. While it will not replace face-to-face meetings, a good number of our future meetings will be held online to reduce travel time, vehicle expenses, and carbon consumption.
COVID-19’s disruptive nature prompted us to seek new or adapted ways to continue with our work. For example, for our Fraser project, we began working with Chandos and others to explore how to bring an Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process from its face-to-face “Big Room” meeting space to an online format. We will be testing the online adaptation soon and, if successful, this approach will allow us to continue our Fraser development process without having to significantly adjust our timelines.
We have begun to consider how we might transform our website from a conventional, information-focused site to one that fosters community engagement and co-creation with neighbourhoods. Again, face-to-face community work will still be necessary once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, but we will soon be testing how to use an online engagement platform to expand, improve, and support our mission work.
The resilience of any organization—particularly when faced with a major, society-wide crisis—depends on an mindset that looks for opportunities, is open to risking innovation, and is committed to learning how interim measures could be transformed into ongoing operations. Part of that risk is not knowing if our explorations will pan out. But resiliency is not about acting with certainty of results; it is about seeking results amidst uncertainty.