100in1Day London: An Example of Collaboration and Community Innovation

What if nonprofits considered partnerships and secondments to strengthen their people, organizations and community?

From January to June of 2017, Nicole St. John, Program and Event Manger with Pillar Nonprofit Network, will be fulfilling the role of Lead Organiser for an event powered by the Urban League of London. The Urban League is partnering with Evergreen CityWorks, the City of London, Pillar Nonprofit Network and other community partners to bring ‘100in1Day’ to London.

100in1Day is an innovative global festival of civic engagement which encourages hundreds of one-day community-based events in cities around the world. The event originated in 2012 in Bogotá, Colombia and has since spread to 31 cities across four continents. 100in1Day Canada has taken place in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Hamilton, Montreal, Halifax, and now – London.


On Saturday June 3, Londoners will come together to create 100 events of all sizes to celebrate their city in 1 day: pop-up art installations, micro parks, community gardens, street concerts, neighbourhood bike rides and hundreds of other creative ideas.  The Urban League has drawn inspiration for this event from the London Plan, a comprehensive plan that emerged with the input of thousands of Londoners about their hopes, dreams and aspirations for our city’s future. Events will celebrate neighbourhoods, cultural diversity, public spaces, green initiatives, creative expressions, and much more.

The secondment of Nicole to Urban League of London illustrates the value of collaboration between nonprofits, not only to strengthen the nonprofit sector but also to help build stronger and more inclusive communities.                                                                                       

The following questions were posed to Nicole St. John (Program and Event Manager for Pillar Nonprofit Network and Lead Organiser of 100in1Day London), Wes Kinghorn (President of the Urban League of London), and Michelle Baldwin (Executive Director of Pillar Nonprofit Network).

For Nicole: What do you hope to bring to and gain from the role of Lead Organiser for 100in1Day London? How can people get involved?

I’ve always been passionate about the work that I do at Pillar, the neighbourhood I live in, and the city I call home. When the opportunity to take on the Lead Organiser role for 100in1Day London through a secondment became available - it was a winning combination for me. I really appreciate my Executive Director, Michelle Baldwin, recognizing that I needed a bit of a shake up from the programs I’ve been working on over the years at Pillar and taking such an innovative approach to further my career experiences. I’m carrying over an extensive network and collection of great people, as well as my event planning wizardry as the foundation to start from.

My hope for myself is to build upon my strengths of orchestrating events, volunteer management, and to continue to grow my network of great people before returning back to the Pillar team. My hope for 100in1Day London is to empower Londoners from across the city to celebrate and host or participate in an event. I’ll be delivering workshops throughout the city to jump-start the creative process and get the ideas flowing. No idea is too big or too small and anyone can participate. Email me at Nicole@urbanleague.ca to set something up.

So...how do I feel about the next few months and 100in1Day London? Excited!                  

For Wes: Can you discuss further the process behind the secondment of Nicole?

The Urban League of London selected Nicole based on her own merit for this position above all else. During our selection process, we placed the prospect of secondment aside and considered her only as a unique candidate amongst all our (excellent) candidates. Clearly though, her time spent with Pillar had provided her with the impressive organisational and managerial experience that would be critical to our success, as well as a broad network that was a good fit for 100In1Day London. Once our selection committee had decided on Nicole, we began to look more closely at the advantages of this secondment.  The similar ‘umbrella’ nature of the two organisations meant that structurally, Nicole was ready to hit the ground running.

What is your biggest hope regarding this opportunity (for the Urban League of London, the community, and the event itself)? 

One of our greatest hopes for this project is that by the end of it, the Urban League will have made meaningful connections with communities and organisations that are outside of our traditional core. Although there was some overlap, the organisations and individuals that Nicole had connected with over her time at Pillar ‘dovetailed’ rather than duplicated those of our organisation and Board. This is a great strength of two non-profits coming together. The Urban League has been looking to ‘spread our own umbrella’, so this unique relationship began to show its strengths immediately in this regard. If successful, the Urban League will be able to provide support to even more Londoners, and the benefits to our city will last far beyond this event. First and foremost, though, the League wants 100In1Day London to be a roaring success, engaging many Londoners from diverse communities and organisations in our city. This budding relationship, through Nicole, is clearly poised to make that happen.                                                                                                                                                                                                              

For Michelle: What do you feel is the value of this collaboration?

Even before the exciting partnership of Nicole being seconded to Urban League of London, Pillar was a proud partner and supporter of 100in1Day because this initiative will add a spark of creativity, whimsy, and the unexpected to London. Then when the posting for the Lead Organiser position was shared, the skills and gifts that they were looking for aligned with Nicole. In government and business, a secondment is very common for staff to take on a short term or long term project and then come back to their role with new experience, skills, and energy. The nonprofit sector has an opportunity to embrace this approach.

At Pillar we are a small organization of less than 15 staff and so movement within the organization is limited. This type of partnership offers Nicole an opportunity to stretch, to try something new and to leverage the connections that Nicole has deepened in her role over the past 8 years at Pillar and Innovation Works and to make new connections. Nicole is vibrant, highly connected and dots the I's and crosses the T's when it comes to the details. 100in1Day is destined for success with the enthusiasm and energy from the board at Urban League, the diverse partnerships that are emerging, and Nicole's capacity for excellence!                                   

For more information and to get involved:

Visit www.100in1day.ca
Urban League of London Twitter (@ULldn); hashtag #100in1DayLdnOnt
Facebook (www.facebook.com/UrbanLeagueOfLondon)
Email Nicole at Nicole@urbanleague.ca

Olivia Gordon, Research and Administrative Assistant 


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