The city of Nelson is located in the southeastern part of British Columbia nestled in the Selkirk Mountains. It is known for its beautiful natural landscape and has an active community of just over 10,000 citizens.

Recognizing the complex challenges that climate change poses to Nelson, a group of dedicated leaders began to explore how a “social innovation lab” approach could be used to meet these challenges. This approach is based on convening people with diverse perspectives and skills sets to work together on a common problem, and then supporting new ideas that emerge. Out of this exploration the NEST Lab was born, focused on supporting collaborative community-based climate change solutions and coinciding with the development of a community-level climate change action plan spearheaded by the local municipal government.

Then the COVID pandemic happened.

Originally a series of in-person workshops, Travesia Partners, working with local communications firm, The Forest, helped to pivot the lab to a virtual approach that consisted of creative online engagement, dialogue interviews, as well as real world participant-led learning journeys.

The results were increased knowledge and connection amongst the participants, shifts to practices in public institutions, shifts to policy direction for Nelson’s climate change action plan, a small portfolio of citizen-led initiatives to help Nelson prepare for the climate challenge and securing support for a Phase II continuation of the lab.

“Working with Pong (Travesia Partners) and Steven (The Forest) on Nelson’s social innovation lab/NEST Lab was one of the best consultant/client experiences I’ve ever had. They both showed a great amount of dedication to the project and its impact, and an unbelievable amount of skill and flexibility when it came time to deliver the sessions and measure outcomes.

Pong is a masterful process designer and facilitator, but most importantly he is a genuine and patient collaborator and teacher. I am extremely grateful to Travesia and The Forest for the progress they helped us achieve – during a time when progress didn’t seem possible – and the adaptable, kind and creative way they managed the project, inspired and supported our participants and helped build a foundation for increased community climate action in Nelson.”

Kate Letizia, Climate Change Lead, City of Nelson, City of Nelson