February 2016 — Kind

February 2016 — Kind

JustChange is thrilled to announce our February 2016 grantee: Kind! Kind is a space for LGBTTQ+ communities in Ottawa. Offering a wide variety of services, from counselling to education programs to the Purrfect Café, Kind is an inclusive and welcoming space for people and communities of all kinds: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans., non-binary, Two Spirit, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, QTBIPoC, youth, adults, seniors, elders. Kind provides a diverse, protective and nonjudgmental environment for talking, learning, laughing, napping, petting cats, sharing food, hanging out, finding community and simply being.

Kind believes everyone on the human sexuality and gender spectrum should be celebrated and supported. Kind actively works to deconstruct oppressive structures, speaking up loudly and proudly. This means educating students, teachers and parents, talking to the media, and advising government how to ensure the rights of all people.

JustChange is proud to support Kind’s continued activities. This will include a spa day for trans folks involving haircuts, nails, and makeup in support of their mission of inclusion and self-love. The funds will also be used to further support the training and workshops that Kind already provides.



Join us in celebrating Kind and the important work they do in Ottawa’s community. JustDrinks will be held on February 9, 6PM at Share Freehouse, 327 Somerset St W.

Share Freehouse has graciously offered to donate a percentage of the nights sales directly to Kind. So come and drink lots —responsibly!!! Walk or take transit. RSVP today!

December 2015 — I Wear One

December 2015 — I Wear One

Around half of Canadian women will suffer from some form of an inability to control their bladder according to the Canadian Bladder Survey. We had no idea that these symptoms, called incontinence, affected so many Canadians. JustChange was happy to make Erin Engelhardt of I Wear One our latest grantee after hearing her great idea to tackle bladder control issues through reusable incontinence pads.

Erin was surprised by the number of women suffering from incontinence. She became aware of the issue while sewing reusable sanitary pads for her daughter, and was approached by her mother who asked her if she could do the same to help address her incontinence. After further research and talking to more women, including her own mother who had suffered for years from incontinence, Erin began to understand that the issue was widespread but generally unknown because of the shame people faced.

As a seamstress and researcher, Erin engineered a solution where she quickly ran into challenges. Unlike reusable sanitary pads, reusable incontinence pads require specific materials to keep the pee on the pad and specialized channels to keep the pee in the pad. The lack of reusable incontinence pads became apparent when Erin found out the FDA had no classification for her patent.

Traditional disposable incontinence pads work well, but are not environmentally friendly as the chemicals within slowly degrade within landfills. “There is no alternative to daily incontinence wear that is comfortable, beautiful, and functional”, says Erin.

The pads worked and proved themselves during the Launch Some Good event. One of the judges, Ottawa City Councillor Catherine McKenny, poured a glass of water on the I Wear One pad and turned it upside-down over her iPhone. Luckily for Erin, her ingenuity paid off, keeping Catherine’s phone dry and making her a winner of the Launch Some Good weekend.

I Wear One pads continue to improve with each version. Several prototypes later, Erin is getting close to producing them at scale. JustChange’s $1,000 grant will help to cover the first manufacturing run. I Wear One is pairing up with Eco Equitable, a previous JustChange grant winner, to work side-by-side on the first production run using materials manufactured in Montreal. Erin has also begun work on a male incontinence pad, so keep an eye on the iwearone.com website for these new products and the very first I Wear One pads!

We invite you to come celebrate this idea at JustDrink on Thursday December 17, 2015 from 5:00-7:00 pm at 3 Brewers (240 Sparks St.) Click here for more details. 

3 Brewers is an accessible location. If you have any specific questions please contact the venue.



connectAs you may know, today is #GivingTuesdayCA.
For those who don’t know, today is a day is where charities, companies and individuals join together to share commitments, rally for favourite causes and think about others (ww.givingtuesday.ca). Naturally then, there will be lots of discussion and celebration today about giving and volunteering. Stories will be shared, and suggestions will be brought forward about how you can share commitments, rally for causes, and think about others.

But I would like to illustrate why I think that JustChange is unlike any story of giving that you will hear today.

I’ll start with the obvious: Our giving consists of no tax credits, no qualified donees, no grant-making priorities, no invested assets, no operation or administrative or overhead expenses. There’s no reporting requirements, outcomes measurements, or shared value. What we do is take money out of our own pockets, and give it to a person or group of people who have a really great idea that we want to see happen in our community.

We don’t use crowdfunding platforms, other than physically getting together to decide on a winner and put money into a jar. We don’t hold fundraisers or campaigns other than to meet up for drinks (what we have dubbed ‘JustDrinks’) and celebrate that winner with anyone who would like to come and meet them.

The whole structure is remarkably simple, but the reasons behind it’s simplicity is perhaps less obvious. In true blogging form, I will focus on three reasons that I find particularly important.

The first reason
 is for filling a funding gap for non-profits and social entrepreneurs. A few people have lovingly called it the ‘pat on the back’ gap. Others call it seed-funding or spark-funding. What we do is help get ideas off the ground, give them a vote of confidence and access to community resources, such as the Hub, CISED, media attention (if desired), our own networks and skills (also only if desired). These are ideas that do not receive funding from traditional financing or funding, often because of significant risk (lack of structure, personal guarantees, etc). But for us, the idea is sound and important for the community, whether it is prototyping new business models with a social mission (CigBins, GottaGo campaign) or enabling innovation in non-profit organizations (Sisters Achieving Excellence, Sustainability Bike Tour, COMPASS), then we think it’s worth a shot.

This is important: lacking in Canada is an entrepreneurial spirit and disruptive will for innovation. As the ‘Baby Boomer retirement’ crisis hits the country in full force in this decade and continues into the 2030s, the need for entrepreneurship (to take over for retiring business owners) and innovation (to increase the productivity needed to sustain our country’s current income levels) will become increasingly apparent and alarming. Movements, like Startup Canada, have helped bring national attention to this issue, and have recently put a greater spotlight on social entrepreneurship.  At the very local community level of JustChange Ottawa, we hope to foster a greater appetite for this kind of drive.  We are doing what we can (and what our purses allow us) to help build this kind of positive and entrepreneurial spirit into the social, environmental, cultural, and development work of our community.

JustChangeThe second reason is for building roots and trust in our community. The lack of structure in JustChange provides us, the board members, with such a wonderful freedom to decide on what we want to see in our community, where our money goes, and how it will be used. There is an incredible sense of connection that results from being able to support community initiatives. Through JustChange, we are weaving into the social fabric of the city, and this remarkable effect both fine-tunes our ideas about what to support, and also builds a greater sense of trust between our applicants and us. We don’t use crowdfunding tools or seek out leveraging private or foundation dollars because for us at JustChange, it is less about the size of the Cheque, than it is actually handing it to the applicant.

So my third and final reason is also an announcement: for encouraging replication. Our model is simple, but effective. JustChange is less a structure than it is a way of engaging with a community, planting roots, and building a society through your own choices. Moreover, it is the grassroots connection with the community that makes the model so effective at supporting social entrepreneurial drive.

Today we launch our 19th Call for Great Ideas.  Individuals and organizations with a great idea for social and/or environmental change can submit an application for a $1000 microgrant to help accelerate their idea for social change.  Know of anyone who could benefit from this?Share this on Facebook, send out a tweet, or post it on LinkedIn.  We look forward to reading the amazing ideas that the people of Ottawa have to make our city the best community in Canada!  Apply here:  http://www.justchange.ca/apply-ottawa/

October 2015 – Gees Bees

October 2015 – Gees Bees

“If we can encourage a few new beekeepers, bring pollination back to communities, and give people the opportunity to enjoy their very own honey – well, that’s a great day!”
– Marianne Gee, Gees Bees

We at JustChange are abuzz over our latest grantees, Marianne and Matt Gee of Gees Bees Honey Company! Matt and Marianne will be partnering with the Ottawa Food Bank to set up a beehive next spring, which will increase pollination in the community and will produce honey for the benefit of the Food Bank.

Matt and Marianne became beekeepers by chance seven years ago, when they discovered a colony of bees living in their home. They knew nothing about bees at the time, but weren’t comfortable when it seemed like the only option external companies were offering was to kill the bees. Knowing that declining bee populations are a serious environmental concern (beekeepers in North America saw about a 40% decline in the bee population in the past two years), the Gees moved the bees themselves, and began caring for the colony on their property.

As they learned more about beekeeping and its environmental benefits, the Gees decided to reach out to others, offering bee removal services for homeowners looking for a sustainable option. In 2015 alone, Marianne and Matt were able to “rescue” about 15 bee colonies, bringing them to their rural property where they could continue to pollinate. They also offer a beehive rental service which gives businesses, restaurants, and homeowners the opportunity to have their very own local honey and help Ontario’s declining bee population, while the Gees take care of everything.

As their Host a Hive program grew, Matt and Marianne realized their environmentally-friendly work could also do social good in the Ottawa area. They reached out to the Ottawa Food Bank, which operates a community garden in Goulbourn, to see whether they’d be interested in hosting a hive. They see the partnership as having two major benefits to the community: the bees would increase pollination and all the honey harvested from the hive would benefit the Food Bank.
The $1,000 grant the Gees will receive from JustChange will cover the costs of installing and maintaining a beehive for the Ottawa Food Bank for the 2016 season.

To find out more, come celebrate our latest grantees at our October JustDrinks event! – October 15, 2015 at the Atomic Rooster (303 Bank St.). You can also connect with Gees Bees on Facebook and Twitter @GeesBeesHoney.

Heartwood House

Heartwood House

Have you ever noticed that concrete jungle in your neighbourhood? We all have them. We walk by them on the way to work and on the way to the grocery store. They’re ugly, generally feel unsafe and we naturally avoid them at all costs. More and more urban designers, working with community members, have been capitalizing on these spaces to turn them into social hubs. Effectively turning this…

New York City Alley

Into something like this…


Green space transforms urban community

JustChange’s August 2015 grantee, Heartwood House is trying to bring this trend to Ottawa.  Heartwood House owns a 26, 000 square foot facility in Ottawa’s east end that houses non-profit and charitable organizations.

It’s not surprising that an organization of community-minded people came up with the idea to turn their underutilized alleyway into a “green alley”. This will transform an asphalt-paved extension of the parking lot into a car-free, environmentally friendly fully accessible pathway and social place for their McArthur Avenue neighbourhood.  The plan calls for enhanced stormwater drainage features — through the inclusion of native plants, herb and flower gardens and permeable surfaces – and upgraded security lighting. By converting this alley into a green alley Heartwood House will create a safe, inviting and ecologically responsible community space.

The stormwater drainage features are particularly important in Ottawa because of our well-known problems with sewage and stormwater runoff that pollute our waterways. The Heartwood House project is a great example of how we can reduce the burden on our water infrastructure and ecosystems through the inclusion of permeable surfaces and greenspace while at the same time creating community assets.

JustChange would like to invite you to come learn more about this great idea and Heartwood House at JustDrinks on August 5th at Slice & Co. (399 Elgin Street) between 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.  – RSVP.