Tag Archives: social impact

14 Jun 2018

We’re a B Corp!

We’re proud to share that we have just received confirmation that Impact Hub Seattle has been re-certified as a B Corporation for the third time since our first certification in 2014!

What are B Corporations?

B Corp is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and over 130 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

Why is it important that Impact Hub is a B Corporation?

To put it simply, we believe that business can be used as a force for social good, and we want to practice what we preach! There are tons of other good reasons too: to be leaders in a movement, to differentiate ourselves, and to better align our purchasing power with our values. The questions themselves challenge you to think differently about how to organize your business.

What does it take to become a B Corporation?

Take the assessment and see how you compare to other companies! Even if pursuing full certification isn’t your ultimate goal, taking the assessment can give you ideas on what it might take to become a better business for your workers, community and the environment. For example, encouraging your employees to participate in the community through volunteering or serving on a Board of a non-profit organization can increase your score, while also giving your company increased visibility, develop leadership skills of your employees and advance your own career.

Curious about serving on a board or starting a volunteer program for your employees? Talk to Seattle Works, an Impact Hub-based organization that is dedicated to connecting volunteers with service opportunities!

Here’s a sample question that you can find on the assessment:

Evey question is scored and weighed to add up to a total, where a score of 80 is the minimum to qualify. After the assessment, the B corp team reviews your answers and verifies the most critical questions in an interview.

How did Impact Hub’s score change between 2016 and 2018?

Great question! It’s a little tricky to answer because the assessment has evolved since 2016. This is the 4th iteration of the B corp assessment, and every iteration, the bar is raised. In the latest reassessment, we have been able to maintain our B corp status and raise our overall score by three points.

As Impact Hub, we make thoughtful choices about vendors, purposefully build a community of people that makes the world a better place through their work, have local board members and suppliers, have some basic sustainability measures in place for the building, and share all company information (such as financials) among our staff.

Having said that, we’re not, as B corp calls it, one of the ‘best for the world’ in any of these categories. And as you can see, we have some work to do when it comes to the Workers category. As an example, while we do offer our employees health insurance (dental/vision included), we are not yet in a position to offer retirement plans – but we want to get there! And ideally, we would be creating more jobs by growing our business faster. Finally, the thought of an employee-owned (or community owned!) business is also enticing and a step forward.

What other companies are B Corporations?

The B Corp movement continues to gain momentum globally, with high-profile companies like Patagonia, Althleta, Seventh Generation, Warby Parker, Dr. Bronners and Allbirds having received certification. In Washington State, we are are proud to support our fellow B Corps such as Starvation Alley Cranberries, Aslan Brewing, Finn River Cider and Snoqualmie Ice Cream – and right here at onsite at Impact Hub Seattle, we are in good company with members and tenants like Yin Yang NaturalsMilepost Consulting, RALLY and Natural Investments. You can also check out the list of companies that have been named “Best for the World” or search for a specific company on the B Corp website.

So what’s next for Impact Hub Seattle?

Taking the full assessment and going through the re-certification process is no small feat, so we’re definitely in “self-congratulation” mode right now, but we’re eager to continue the conversation within our team and our greater community about what we can do to continue to improve our score before 2020, and we’d like to encourage others to think about what they can do be become B’s too.

If you have questions about our experience, reach out to Kristian Bolk, our Managing Director who led our re-certification process! If you are interested in seeing our full assessment, let us know. We’re happy to help you prepare for your own.

11 Jun 2018

Mapping Seattle’s Social Innovation Ecosystem

Announcing a new Impact Hub Seattle initiative – download our full plan

Since Impact Hub Seattle was founded over 5 years ago, we’ve learned that the gap between what is possible in terms of social innovation in Seattle and our day-to-day reality is baffling. The outcomes and innovation as a result of passion, money and effort being spent are underwhelming, as can be observed on a daily basis with people experiencing homelessness just outside our windows.

We believe that the answer to these challenges is a shift in mindset that leads to more collaboration and innovation across boundaries. We don’t need smarter individuals or new technological solutions, but a more effective way to coordinate our resources, efforts and financial meansImpact Hub is uniquely situated to take up the role of the convener and facilitator of this approach. Not only do we have a neutral space and credibility as part of a global network of change-makers, our network connects the worlds of community organizing, funding, government, entrepreneurship and foundations.

Impact Hub has partnered with Tina Maloney and Perennial Leadership to design and lead this effort. Over the next months, we are testing the waters to see what this approach could look like. We will explore Seattle’s social innovation ecosystem and how we can address our most complex social challenges, using the tools of design- and systems thinking.

In the first phase, we plan to host the following sessions:

  • 2-hour mapping sessions for points of view of the various stakeholder groups in our ecosystem. Join for one or more and contribute. Take the result home with you and learn the basics of system mapping. Tickets are $20 and 50% discounted for members. Join for one and get free entry to the final session to receive outcomes from all individual sessions. 
  • Weekly meetups on Wednesday afternoons for an informal discussion about systems mapping and design for social innovation. Stop by and join the conversation. Sign up here to let us know you’re coming.
  • Ask us for a deep dive in a focus area of your concern. These will priced at $2,000, including preparation and outcome summary. If you are willing to share the outcomes, a 50% discount applies.

All Impact Hub-sponsored system maps will be available under creative commons. We will be communicating in our regular channels (newsletter, website and in our space on 220 2nd Ave S). Find detailed information below and impacthubseattle.com/events.

We invite everybody to join the conversation – contact us: Tina Maloney (tina.perennial@gmail.com) and Kristian Bolk (kristian@impacthubseattle.com).

01 Jun 2018

What We Learned in our Communities for Change project

Impact Hub Seattle hosted an 8-week social innovation lab in January, February and March this year. See our invitation for this program here. Read on to learn why we did it and what we’ve learned along the way.

Impact Hub Seattle is both a physical space in Pioneer Square and an expansive network of roughly 700 people who use that space either as individuals or as members of larger enterprises.  We all belong to a global network encompassing 100 other hubs across 5 continents that collectively host 16,500 people attracted our emphasis on achieving a positive social impact through your work, investments, or volunteer time.  

We maintain the physical space and build this network to stimulate new ways of thinking and new approaches to solving the ecological, economic, and social crises that headline our daily newsfeeds.  As a general rule, our community shares the belief that technology and competitive markets, appropriately employed, are valuable tools for innovation.

Most important, however, we emphasize meaningful collaboration across diverse perspectives and two beliefs underpin this particular aspect of our work.  The first is that lasting solutions will emerge only when we are open to listening and learning from each other. The second is that bottom up prototyping of solutions is necessary to break through the paralysis gripping our body politic.  Quite simply, our public, philanthropic, and corporate institutions cannot solve these ecological, economic, and social crises by themselves.

It is in this context that Impact Hub Seattle joined five other Impact Hubs across our network — Boulder, Baltimore, Budapest, Harare, and Shanghai — in accepting an invitation from MIT’s Presencing Institute to learn about and deploy their social design methodology known as u.lab.  This opportunity was made possible by a grant from the BMW Foundation and the technical support provided by the Presencing Institute, which developed u.lab over two decades of research into how “individuals, teams, organizations, and large systems can build the essential leadership capacities needed to address the root causes of today’s social, environmental, and spiritual challenges.”  

As a unifying theme, each Impact Hub agreed to focus their u.lab experience on creating more inclusive cities (branded Communities for Change) and sharing learnings as we proceeded.  For our part, Seattle focused on “inclusive entrepreneurship.” Other cities chose themes such as affordable housing, the future of work, and global climate change.

We were motivated to participate in Communities for Change by our desire to develop our ability to convene a large group of people who represent a widely diverse experiences for the purpose of finding the common ground necessary to collaborate on effective problem solving.  This convening role is the most significant expression of the value Impact Hub Seattle can offer as a network dedicated to social innovation. The Presencing Institute offered us both the expert guidance and a tested methodology from which to learn. Equally important, we also wanted to expand the reach of our network to encompass entrepreneurs and communities of color more authentically.

The core presumption of u.lab is to recognize that problem solving requires deep trust, an acknowledgement that no one knows the whole truth, and a willingness to listen with an open heart to reach a common understanding of the complexity of the problems we face.   So it was with this on our minds and in our hearts, we began our journey.

Here are our core learnings:

  • There’s immense value in deeper conversations with people that are different than you and it takes time and patience to realize that value. During this program we spent time on listening skills and, in the process, realized how easy it is to go into debate rather than dialogue. The result of this focus was that participants reported the most powerful part of the u.lab program was the strong connections they created with each other.  It is what made people come back week after week. It made us think, how many of us are working on the same issue but do not truly know each other? What is it that makes us crave those meaningful connections, yet why do we need help to get there?
  • Our challenges are at times overwhelming. We spent time meeting with underrepresented communities, both entrepreneurs and the organizations dedicated to supporting them. Some of our participants (and incredible inspiring leaders: HackNation, the African Women Business Alliance, MercyCorps, El Centro de la Raza, and What’s Next Washington) organized and led us on field trips for that purpose. Our experience was humbling and revealing.  Our first impulse was to want to fix it — “I know, they should try this” — only to realize minutes later we realize that we barely know anything at all. At times that made us feel desperate. That feeling came back when it was time for coming together to work on solutions.  Where do you start when there’s so much to do? While this easily led to frustration – we also realized it is a frustration that reflects the tension of the real world.
  • We are stuck in our heads, most of the time. We spent a significant amount of time engaging different levels of listening and learning than we usually do. While this sounds esoteric, it actually means taking time in silence; that is, journaling, building three dimensional sculptures out of play doh, or performing a physical exercise called ‘stuck’. We were amazed by the profoundly meaningful personal reflection and life choices that resulted from a more heartfelt connection to ourselves. We were left wondering why we have so little time for something so important in these turbulent times? 
  • Outcomes. Unsurprisingly, the relationships that were forged were the most important results of this program. We all have a new respect for the value of meaningful conversations between people that care about a similar topic as well as what is required to get to that point. These relationships have already paid off in unexpected ways, among them new partnerships that are increasing real resources available to aspiring entrepreneurs of color.  We expect the relationships will continue to bear fruit for years to come.

 

As we look outside the windows of Impact Hub Seattle and pay daily witness to hundreds of people in the most destitute states of mental illness, addiction, and economic crisis, we wonder what we can do with this new body of knowledge and these new relationships.  What could we accomplish if as a community we started to listen and learn from the heart and collaborate to find lasting solutions? While that may seem crazy, for us is seems like the only way forward.

In the meantime we will continue to chip away at using the assets of Impact Hub Seattle as a catalyst for innovation on the difficult issues of our day.  We have the skills, the creative community, and the credibility to be an effective neutral convener breaking down the barriers between our existing public, private, and philanthropic sectors. As a start, we are mapping our network according to their interests according to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  What are your interests?  Join our network and let us help you create relevant connections on the topics that matter.

Our journey has just started.

20 May 2018

Constant Gardeners: how Impact Hub’s Host Team cultivates community

☑️Apply Now To Become A Host!

What Is An Impact Hub Host?

By Merilee Jones, Impact Hub Seattle’s Operations Manager

When I first stepped into my role as Operations Manager, my first task was to take the reins of the Host Program and get a new cohort off the ground. I felt ridiculous trying to ‘teach’ our newest hosts how to host seeing as I barely knew anything myself! With the grace and guidance of colleagues, veteran hosts, and members we made it through that phase together.

In getting to know the program and listening to hosts’ needs, I heard two common themes:

 

  1. figure out how to work better together as a team, and…
  2. have a greater impact on the Impact Hub community.

Those two threads can be followed through to today, in that our Host Program structure is based around input from the hosts themselves and what they have built to creatively and effectively solve problems. They are an incredibly emotionally intelligent, caring and competent group and they are always asking how they as a team can be of greater value to Impact Hub.

Something that is really special about the host program is the virtuous cycle of it. Hosts help support Impact Hub as a catalyst, an incubator, a haven, a campus, an inspiration. Hosts can leverage those opportunities and tools in exchange for their time and expertise. A virtuous cycle!

Over the past year we have seen Hosts make the most of their community participation to launch businesses, win awards, create programs and reach life milestones as well as make tangible impacts on the Impact Hub community. Some of those impacts are:

  • Offering programs related to the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Presenting Lunch + Learns
  • Organizing our coffee program
  • Using the Host Program as a platform for giving back to our community
  • Greeting and providing concierge services to all who enter our doors
  • Building a bridge of communication between staff and members
  • Identifying and creating procedures that help the daily operations run smoothly for all members
  • Making connections that bring countless new faces into our community
  • Coming up with the concept of ‘Hubos,’ our community version of a ‘Kudos,’ that we use to call out appreciation and give gratitude to one another

In so many ways Hosts are the constant gardeners of Impact Hub. Their consistent, joyful dedication to keeping the day to day growing and thriving is a ballast of our community.

Some hosts may laugh at my flowery language (and bad, bad puns :c), but we really couldn’t be the community we are without them. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with all our hosts and really can’t thank them enough for all they do.

Hubos to all our hosts, past and present, who keep this amazing space and community in motion every day!

Learn more about the Host Program and apply to join the team by visiting this link.

31 Aug 2017

“The One That’s Like a Social Justice League”

When Impact Hub Seattle first opened the doors to our proto-space – a single large room on the 4th floor of another historic Pioneer Square building, we were one of the only coworking spaces in town. Now, with a growing population of freelancers, entrepreneurs and startups – it is expected that nearly 14,000 spaces will be up in running by the end of 2018. With this in mind, The Stranger‘s (Seattle’s alternative weekly newspaper) staff writer Amber Cortes went out to visit five of the larger coworking spaces in the city – The Riveter, WeWork, Makers, Office Nomads – and Impact Hub. Here’s what she had to say – click here for the full article.

Source: The Stranger

While we’re sorry we didn’t offer a dish-free environment on the day of Amber’s visit, we appreciate the nod to some of the things that make Impact Hub unique: our commitment to serving fair trade, organic coffee from Equal Exchange in all the kitchens, the opportunity to visit other Impact Hubs across the globe, and the unique companies and organizations who have made Impact Hub the home for their business.

Whether you call it social impact or social justice, there is something for everyone at Impact Hub. Your first visit is free – come by and check us out!