Collaborative community action on climate change in Nelson

We are a social innovation lab advancing solutions that benefit our community's economy, environment and social fabric.

How Nest Lab works
Convene Nelson community members
Throughout 2021, we have been convening a diverse group of Nelson community members to explore local issues and prioritized solutions through a series of dynamic and interactive workshops.
Tackle complex problems
The challenge of economic and community health and climate change is complex and dynamic. Together we apply systems thinking and practice working in complexity.
Design and test prototypes together
Together we have created and tested simple experimental models for local solutions. Teams are now refining their initiatives as they get fully designed and adopted.
Inspire community solutions and action
The impact of the lab goes beyond just those participating in the lab. We want other community members to be inspired and work together on local solutions.

Nest Lab Initiatives

22 community members are currently participating in Phase II of the Nest Lab. We’ve been working together to advance near-term implementable solutions around this question:

How might we harness Nelson’s collective resources and creativity to build our economic and community health through solutions to climate change?


With an understanding of climate change in the Nelson context, participants generated ideas for local action. After an initial brainstorm, participants evaluated the ideas based on impact (GHG reductions, adaptation, economic and health co-benefits) and feasibility (personal commitment level, resources and relationships needed, scalability).

From these sessions, a portfolio of five participant-led initiatives surfaced. Throughout the summer, teams rapidly tested their initiatives to learn, probe and test their concepts to better understand the complex system in which they are operating and/or trying to change, and tosee if the initiatives have the potential to take hold and be implemented.

Low Speed Electric Vehicles are a solution to the issue of transportation being the leading source of GHG emissions in Nelson – low speeds for most needs.

Read the Nelson Star’s article, “Nelson group planning for low-speed electric vehicles on city streets“.

As we transition away from GHG-emitting forms of energy, there is a need to increase our renewable energy supply. Small-scale, hydrokinetic turbines can deliver a local clean energy solution.

A positive space where our community will be able to share ideas, resources, and solutions to move forward local climate action.

Low impact transportation solutions exist in Nelson. The LIT Map will make it easier to access and plan low impact transportation options.

A program to equip local businesses and nonprofits with the knowledge and capacities they need to engage in climate learning and action.

While the weight of addressing climate change can feel overwhelming, the Nest Lab showed that by harnessing the knowledge, skillsets and passions of a diverse group of people, we can start to create real, tangible solutions that also strengthen connection and community.
- Michele Deluca, Lead Designer at 3West Building Energy Consultants and Nest Lab Participant
What is a Social Innovation Lab?

In short, a social innovation lab is a platform that allows people with a shared purpose to come together to develop ideas and projects, in particular those that they cannot do alone. They are often designed around a challenging issue that no single organization can address on their own and that requires a novel and coordinated approach between many organizations. Examples of these types of issues include poverty reduction, watershed management and, in the case of the Nest Lab, climate change.

A social innovation lab does not solely rely on experts to source ideas, but rather are rooted in the trust that community members can and will effectively engage on important complex issues to develop new solutions that align with their shared values and interests.
Learn more about social innovation labs by reading our one-page primer.

Nest Lab Phase II

22 community members have been participating in our second year of the Nest Lab. They are part of a supportive community of change makers developing skills to more effectively take collaborative action and work on participant-led initiatives. Read our invitation to Join Nest Lab.

Nest Lab Phase I

The spring of 2020 saw a cohort of 15 locals came together to explore local collaborative climate action. Read about Lessons Learned & Impacts from Phase I. 

Nest Lab Emerged from Collaboration

Nest Lab was created to bring together diverse Nelson stakeholders to collaborate on community climate action. The idea to develop a social innovation lab emerged from a series of cross-sectorial Climate Crisis Round Tables hosted by Nelson at its Best and the West Kootenay EcoSociety in 2019.

A first phase of the Nest Lab was convened by the City of Nelson, Nelson at its Best and Interior Health in the spring of 2020 with seed funding from the Vancouver Foundation. One of the lab’s goals in Phase I was to assist in the development of the City’s forthcoming Climate Action Plan by helping unearth a wide and diverse range of community perspectives and ideas for local climate action. The lab was a success both in terms of participant experience and helping create the City’s Climate Action Plan, Nelson Next.

For Phase II, we wanted to further support participants in the implementation of community-led actions that align with Nelson Next. Funding from the Trottier Family Foundation allowed us to deepen the lab experience and provide seed funding to all the priorities initiatives.

Nest Lab team
Our core team is made up of individuals from the City of Nelson, Nelson at its Best, Interior Health, and professional design and facilitators.
Kady Hunter

Community Health Facilitator,
Interior Health

George Chandler

Nelson at its Best

Natalie Douglas

Climate Change Planning Assistant,
City of Nelson

Lauren Rethoret

Coordinator and Researcher,
Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute

Pong Leung

Design Lead / Lead Facilitator,
Travesia Partners

Steven Cretney

Project Lead / Co-Facilitator,
The Forest Design + Engagement

Convening Partners
This sort of approach brings diverse people and perspectives together to creatively examine and work collaboratively to solve an important challenge.
- Gerald Cordeiro, Forest Development Manager at Kalesnikoff and Nest Lab Participant

Do you have questions? We’d love to hear from you.

If you have any thoughts, questions or suggestions about the Nest Lab, please send us an email.