The Emergence Room is a collaborative environment for emergent initiatives that nurture deep, structural transition.

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Introducing the Emergence Room

“Ordinary life before the pandemic was already a catastrophe of desperation and exclusion for too many human beings, an environmental and climate catastrophe, an obscenity of inequality. It is too soon to know what will emerge from this emergency, but not too soon to start looking for chances to help decide it.”
-- Rebecca Solnit in The Guardian


Emergence: from the Latin emergere, which means “bring forth, bring to light”

In the midst of the uncertainty of the global pandemic, one undisputed truth has emerged: no one knows exactly the long-term implications and legacy of this moment.

What we do know is that a “return to normal” — that is, a return to pre-2020 governments, systems and economies — is not only increasingly unlikely, but also politically, environmentally, economically and socially negligent. Simply put, the “normal” ways of doing things precipitated this emergency.

In a context where risk is increasingly understood as global, and where our fates have never been more starkly interconnected, the current institutional infrastructure — of democracies and dictatorships, of impoverished and ultra-wealthy — is unsustainable and ill-equipped to deal with the cascading scale, scope and consequences of a post-Covid world.

We need new roadmaps.

The Emergence Room is here to help draw them.

Against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving pandemic, we have created the Emergence Room as a collaborative space and agile platform to make sense of and amplify emerging patterns for positive, systemic change. Initially we thought of it as an anti–War Room and now more so as a greenhouse, where participants are invited to incubate ideas and develop bold initiatives, experiments and policies in service of strengthening collective resilience and capabilities for an age of unknowable risk. Those requesting to take part include policymakers, educators, changemakers, artists, investors, philanthropists, business and civil society leaders. ERoom participants are committed to help catalyze global transition to a society and economy that recognize interdependence and value life, equity, and the wellbeing of the planet and all people on it — now and for future generations.

We are committed to:
Taking a long-term view of societal change while prioritizing the crucial transformation decade of 2020–2030.Reimagining relationships between people, nature, technology and the future.Recognizing five interrelated aspects of governance: transnational, Indigenous, federal, provincial/state, municipal.Revisiting Reconciliation and the new social contracts necessary to embed seven generation thinking into decision-making.Building hybrid institutional mechanisms across sectors that build legitimacy, trust, and resilience.
In partnership with a wide range of stakeholders — including foundations, Indigenous leaders, arts organizations, innovation agencies and investors — we are developing initiatives that contribute to societal missions of: Participatory Social Infrastructure, Community Wealth, 21st Century Learning and Climate Action. A central aim that unites all of these is to rebuild our Future Democracy and Economy.

We are also helping to think through and help build Transition Finance Infrastructure. A part of that is designing a Transition Innovation Foundation: a new generation of regionally distributed innovation foundations that build social legitimacy into structural transition for the present and coming age.

We are looking for a diverse range of aligned allies, in Canada and internationally. If you’d like to get involved, please get in touch with us.

Who we want to be...

Collectively we come together to help us all be bolder - and stretch further - in our work toward societal and economic transition. We are committed to a future that recognizes interdependence and values life, equity, and the wellbeing of the planet and all people on it - today, and for future generations.

A growing number of people are stepping into the Emergence Room. We’re excited to share more soon.

Note: The Emergence Room was originally conceived and set up by individuals based in the McConnell Foundation, Dark Matter Labs and MaRS Discovery District. While McConnell provided a seed grant, the ERoom operates at arm’s length from any organization and is being designed as a collaborative environment where individual innovators can come together to build audacious initiatives, commensurate with the societal challenges we face.

What we seek to do...

We want to create a nurturing environment for people to develop initiatives targeted at deep, structural transition.

In this environment people will find support to stretch beyond their constraints, deepen their clarity and focus, and tap into a global network of allies aligned around their journeys and aspirations.

We are currently designing a prototype, residency-style accelerator and we need your help. Reach out to help us understand your needs and challenges, and create the programming that will help us all go deeper, faster, together.

Perspectives we share...

We curate perspectives that describe a future we believe in and highlight potential pathways for getting there. Help us explore the collective narrative by sharing compelling perspectives with us.

The Emergence Room: Accountabilities needed for future-fit institutions.
by Jayne Engle, Indy Johar, and Alex Ryan
A Way Forward - Governing in an Age of Emergence
by Dark Matter Labs with UNDP

Emerging initiatives...

Societies and civilizations live or die by the infrastructure they build.

Many of societies’ current infrastructures are no longer fit for purpose, and in some cases they are on the brink of collapse.

What are the social, ecological, cultural, economic, physical and institutional infrastructures that we need to create and build for this new age?

And how can we collectively organize and act to drive transformative change that will lay the foundations for a better world over the next decade?

We believe that a plethora of extraordinary initiatives from people in every part of the world are needed, and they will be much more powerful to galvanize transition if they are connected to societal missions at a global scale.

Initiatives that encourage deep, structural transition come in many forms. Help us curate, connect, and support bold and inspiring action that our future needs.

So far, we are driving or aligning with initiatives that are part of these broader societal mission areas:

Future Democracy & Economy
Community Wealth
Participatory Social Infrastructure
21st Century Learning
Climate Action

We’d like to invite others in to learn, build and strengthen one another’s initiatives so that our collective actions will have far greater impact.

Upcoming engagements...

We'll post any upcoming events here, as they arise.

Past Engagements

MaRS Impact Week
December 2, 2pm
Financing the Transition

Future of Good - It's time to #BuildBackBetter
November 26, 2:10pm
Governing tomorrow together: social contracting for a new age