Collaborative community action on climate change in Nelson

The Nest Lab is an award-winning social innovation lab that is currently on pause. We successfully convened two phases that inspired meaningful community solutions and action.

How Nest Lab works
Convene Nelson community members
We convene a diverse group of Nelson community members to explore local issues, overcome polarization, and motivate action through a series of interactive workshops.
Tackle complex problems
The challenge of climate change, economic wellbeing and community health is complex and dynamic. Together we apply systems thinking and practice working in complexity.
Design and test prototypes together
We collaboratively create, prioritize and test simple experimental models for local solutions. Teams then refined their initiatives as they get fully designed and adopted.
Inspire community solutions and action
The full impact of the Nest Lab has gone beyond just those participating in the lab. Increased community support, inspiration and action on local challenges have emerged.

Nest Lab Initiatives

Phase II: 22 community members collaborated on a portfolio of four participant-led initiatives in our second phase.

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Low Speed Electric Vehicles

Transportation is the leading source of GhG emissions in our community. Partnering with the Kootenay Carshare Co-op, we want to include a Low Speed Electric Vehicle in the Nelson fleet of shared vehicles


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Kootenay Hydrokinetic

Moving water is our regions strongest energy resource and it can be tapped directly, without dams. Small-scale, hydrokinetic turbines can deliver a safe, local clean energy solution.

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iCAN Business

I CAN make a difference as a business leader in Nelson. We are developing climate action training and support for Nelson area organizations. We want to make it easier for local businesses be greener, with employees that are actively engaged in climate solutions.

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Low Impact Transport Map

Low impact transportation solutions exist in Nelson and we want to encourage more locals to make an informed choice. We are exploring the development of an interactive map to help everyone in our community easily see and plan better ways of getting around our city and local area.

This portfolio of participant-led initiatives surfaced from sessions where ideas for local action were generated once a better understanding of climate change in the Nelson context was gained. After initial brainstorming took place, 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).

Throughout the summer and fall, 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 to see if the initiatives have the potential to take hold and be implemented.

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
Nest Lab Emerged from Collaboration
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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 Phase II

22 community members participated in our second year of the Nest Lab as part of a supportive community of change makers developing skills to more effectively take collaborative action and work on participant-led initiatives. Read our Phase II Output Report to learn more about the various workshops, process and participant feedback from Phase II.

Nest Lab Phase I

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

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 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.
Pong Leung

Design Lead / Lead Facilitator,
Travesia Partners

Steven Cretney

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

Kady Hunter

Community Health Facilitator,
Interior Health

Laura Nessman

Sustainability Coordinator,
Selkirk College

George Chandler

Nelson at its Best

Cecilia Jaques

Climate and Energy Advisor,
City of Nelson

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

Although on pause, we do still receive emails!

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