Wayside Learning Community

Wayside came to Inspiring Communities as a legacy from community leader and well known mediation practitioner Michael Chender. His untimely passing left Wayside in limbo.

Inspiring Communities hope that Wayside would serve the WeavEast network, being an online space designed for changemakers. It seemed to respond to two challenges: COVID as well as the geographic distance between centres that already made meeting in person challenging.

After 2020’s soft launch with two courses (Collaboration and Hosts’ Table), Wayside formally launched in February 2021 with Alan Sloan’s Foundational Course in Mindfulness. We also had video assets for a course on systems thinking, which required some redevelopment to be offered as an open course; and we had plans to re-run The Art of Collaboration. 

We bolstered Wayside with updated social functionality and a more user-friendly ‘groups’ feature. Through partnerships, examined other ways the platform could contribute to the innovation ecosystem: we hosted a public speaking course intended to build confidence in the African Canadian Community (with the East Preston Empowerment Academy), discussions for The Big Meet Up (with Engage NS) and a capacity-building course series with the Community Sector Council of NS. The Developmental Evaluation course we planned was created, but then delivered via Kumospace, as the leadership and board of Inspiring Communities paused Wayside work in order to establish its viability. Inspiring Communities undertook a review of its strategic directions over the summer of 2021 and in the fall, the Inspiring Communities board made the hard decision to wind down Wayside.

Wayside did not end up serving the needs of the social innovation network. We learned that “yet another social platform”, even one decidedly “less evil” was not the key to connecting a network. Technology was a tool to help, but it was not the heart; in fact, it often created a further barrier to genuine connection.