CSI Starrett-Lehigh: Why New York? Why Now?
It’s true. CSI is, indeed, opening our 4th location in NYC this winter. We are excited, humbled and focused. I believe this is a tremendous opportunity for CSI and our community, but I’m sure many of you would like to know why New York and why now?
CSI has been invited to open locations in cities around the world, and although tempting, we have been more interested in deepening our impact and extending our practice. While other initiatives have been franchising and going global, we have questioned this bigger is better thinking. We haven’t been in a rush to replicate. We have been carefully honing our craft, deepening our collaborations and evolving new methods and models for social innovation.
The invitation from RXR and the fabulous team there was humbling. CSI’s global reputation caught the attention of one of their team. After the first meeting between CSI and RXR, we all felt this amazing and magical alignment…the foundations for a profound partnership. The conditions for expansion were ideal.
But we still needed to ask ourselves what the heck is a small group of social entrepreneurs from Toronto doing sticking their neck out in The Big Apple? It is terrifying… but it is also exhilarating. We are entering a market where they don’t know us very well (we have never entered a market before), in a space with dozens of co-working spaces and incubators (the competition is stiff), in the biggest city in the world (okay, maybe not quite, but kinda).
So why do it?
Because of our profound belief in growing and accelerating a community of people, ideas and solutions that will usher in a more sustainable, just and healthy society.
Our community—the hundreds of social entrepreneurs, policy advocates, community builders, artists, nonprofits and more—continues to astound and impress us with what is possible in the world.
We believe so deeply in you.
Whether it is Hala building a vertical window compost system, Olivier creating a gorgeous iPad app to promote under-recognized artists, Asier and Christopher dreaming up a new crowdfunding platform, or Nicole transforming public engagement in the city. Whether it is Project Wildfire, Project Canoe, Creative Trust, EcoSchools, My City Lives, Social Asset Measurement, Ventue Deli… boy, the list just goes on, doesn’t it?
We are hundreds of organizations strong, all bringing our unique and complimentary perspective to the creation of a better world. Some of us are start-ups seeking scale while some of us will always be small and impactful. Some of us are nonprofits, some social ventures. Each of us is unique, and collectively we are the most important social innovation ever: we are the rabble-rousers disrupting the old systems and creating the new ways of living, working, playing and evolving. We are creating the solutions for a better world.
Now what would happen if we were to expand this community, and reach out to our New York neighbours and share some of the magic? What if we were able to build a bridge between the talent, resources, ideas and solutions that are emanating on both sides of the border? Might a larger platform better serve our community and our mission?
CSI has been, once again, seduced by the potential for impact.
Our mission is to catalyze, inspire and support social innovation. We build platforms to accelerate the success of our members. We are about community. We are about collaboration. We are about you. Your ideas. Your drive. Your passion and your commitment to our shared values. We are about what you are capable of… individually and collectively.
CSI is taking this crazy ambitious step because we believe that the world is changing and that social innovators are the beacons of hope, the drivers of a new economy, the people re-crafting and replacing the systems which are broken.
CSI is taking this risk because we believe in you—our dynamic and amazing community. We believe that, together, we really can change the world, and that CSI is where change is catalyzed.