Finding Elvis

On 6 June 1992 the village of Miljevina, 64 km southeast of Sarajevo, was shelled and attacked by Serbian paramilitaries. Six year old Elvis, his sister Elvira, their parents and their grandmother had to flee their home. Another 22,500 Muslims, the majority of local population, also fled. The family made its way through the Bosnian mountains to Varazdin in Croatia over 18 days where they found shelter in an abandoned military base that had been turned into a refugee camp. They were to spend the next 3 years here, waiting for the conflict to finish. At this time, Björn Steinz was finishing his civil service, an alternative to military service, in Germany and felt compelled to contact ‘Christlicher Friedensdienst’ (Christian Peace Service) which sent volunteers to the Balkans. During the winter of 1992 he travelled to Varazdin where he met Elvis and the family for the first time.

I had the privilege to meet both of them there. This is the story photographed by Björn



Listening to social transformation in Montreal

Are you involved in participatory, ethnographic or narrative research on Montreal´s assets and challenges? Interested in listening in ways that enable wider and deeper understanding of each other and that advance collective action in our city?

DAY 1: Share and reflect on our listening processes and strategies for the social transformation of Montreal.
You are invited to a day to share observations and insights and pool our knowledge, expertise and experiences about listening strategies, participatory practices and research and Montreal narratives.

What are you working on now, and what do you dream of accomplishing?
Where are tensions points and power dynamics in existing narratives that carry the potential for transformation?
What are some possible synergies and existing networks?
What could help us improve our working methodologies and translate from listening to action?
What collective questions are emerging?
When: Friday, March 24th, from 9AM to 4PM (lunch included)
Where: Faculty Club, McGill University
Register by Friday, March 17th (limited space available)
At the end of day join us for a  Listening Platform activity during la Nuit des débats. Everyone is welcome. Bring a friend.Let’s learn from each other and strengthen our Montréal listening culture.

DAY 2: Co-create a platform for the synergy of listening and action in Montreal.
Listening processes and opportunities can be transformative for actions, projects and policies.

Are you called by the idea of a shared infrastructure that can amplify Montreal listening activities? Come give shape to a new social infrastructure for transformative listening in Montreal

How can we mutually strengthen our listening instruments and methods?
What are some key listening channels and opportunities?
How can a common infrastructure facilitate and strengthen our work and its impact?
How can the infrastructure be self-organising?
What type of governance is best adapted to this collective infrastructure?

When: Friday, March 31st, from 8.30 AM to 1 PM (working lunch included)
Where: Faculty Club, McGill University
Register by Friday, March 17th (limited space available)

Let’s co-create a platform for listening and social transformation in Montreal!

Register here.

Conversation in Ottawa

What makes a city truly particpatory? How can our neighbourhoods be shaped by everyone, so that it works for all of us? And what can we do together to make Ottawa a more inclusive, sustainable and happy city?
Impact Hub Ottawa invites you to join a conversation with Tessy Britton, Gorka Espiau and Jayne Engle, three participatory city-building leaders with international perspectives on how ordinary citizens are transforming their neighbourhoods and cities into extraordinary places where everyone is welcome.

Presentation of the Mondragon report


Founded in the Basque Country, the MONDRAGON Corporation has become a highly successful global business, owned and governed by its worker-members, with social benefit at its core.  This new research tells their story and explores how they have developed as a social innovation ecosystem. This has important implications for how businesses can both be competitive in the marketplace and generate social value.
The event will include a presentation of the research findings from both MONDRAGON representatives and the Young Foundation, and speakers including Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK. This will be followed by a discussion on the key learnings for UK and international policy and practice.

DATE: Wednesday 5th April 9: 30-11:30 am (Presentations at 10:00 am following breakfast)

VENUE: The Convocation Hall, Church House, Dean’s Yard, Great Smith St, London, SW1P 3NZ

Places are limited so please RSVP to Nilufa Jahan by Friday 31st March 2017 at

Hiri iraunkorren erronka XXI.mendean

Jardunaldia Euskal Kazetarien Elkarteak eta Kazetarien Euskal Elkargoak antolatu dute Eusko Jaurlaritzako Ingurumen, Lurralde Plangintza eta Etxebizitza Sailaren eta Bilboko Ganberaren laguntzaz

Otsailaren 9an, osteguna, Euskal Kazetarien Elkarteak eta Kazetarien Euskal Elkargoak, Eusko Jaurlaritzako Ingurumen, Lurralde Plangintza eta Etxebizitza Sailaren eta Bilboko Ganberaren laguntzaz, jardunaldi bat antolatu dute ‘Hiri iraunkorren erronka XX.mendean’ izenburupean.

Ekitaldia 11:00etatik 13:30etara izango da Bilboko Merkataritza Ganberako Consulado Aretoan – Alda. Recalde, 50 – 3.solairua. IMG_1427Jardunaldian kazetari espezializatuak egongo dira eta euren iritziak eta baloratzeak emango dituzte adituek esandakoaren inguruan.


Bilbo hiriaren garapen urbanístico eta ekonomikoa. Hizlaria: Ibon Areso. Bilboko alkate ohia eta arkitektoa.
Hiria genero ikuspegitik ilusita. Hizlaria: Isabela Velázquez. Arkitektoa. GEA 21 kontsultorea.
Gizarte kohesionatua. Giza-eskalazko hiria. Hizlaria: Gorka Espiau. The Young Foundation-eko Hirietarako Berrikuntza zuzendaria. Ikertzailea, Lehendakari Agirre Giza eta Politika Azterketen Zentrua.
Ingurumena eta aldaketa klimatikoa. Karbonoz libre dagoen hiri baterantz. Hizlaria: Julen Rekondo. Kimikaria eta ingurune-kontsultorea.
Gobernantza berri bat. Hizlaria: Ibon Zugasti. Prospektiker, S.A.ko zuzendari gerentea eta LKS-eko (Mondragón Taldea) Nazioarteko Proiektuen zuzendaria.
Birsorkuntza hiritarra eta giza-jasangarritasuna. Hizlaria: Pedro Javier Jáuregui Fernández. Eusko Jaurlaritzako Lurralde Plangintza eta Etxebizitza Saileko
Joan nahi baduzu, idatziguzu edo helbideetara.

Capturing the Narratives and Stories of Innovation

This the syllabus of a course that the School of Urban Planning & the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Montreal (CIRM) are offering this semester at McGill University in Montreal. Please share with those who might be interested.

URBP 542 : Capturing the Narratives and Stories of Innovation (CRN 17857)

Instructor: Gorka Espiau, J.W. McConnell Family Foundation Professor of Practice (2016-2017). Email:

Schedule: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – January 25-26 and February 1-2, 2017

In this one-credit course, students will focus on how systemic innovation takes place at the community level and learn to challenge traditional approaches to innovation, which often rely on the myth of the “solo entrepreneur”. More specifically, they will concentrate, in four classes, each related to a distinct topic, on different ways by which community narratives are produced and captured in order to co-create initiatives and interventions likely to generate broad and inclusive benefits.

By the end of this program, students should have improved their ability to deconstruct pervasive narrative (by which ordinary citizens are often not perceived to be “change makers” or “innovators”) and explored various theories of change and innovative practices.

Course Schedule

  1. Wednesday, January 25 – How innovation takes place at the community level.
  2. Thursday, January 26 – How normative mechanisms influence innovation dynamics.
  3. Wednesday, February 1 – Using ethnographic techniques to capture urban narratives.
  4. Thursday, February 2 – Future avenues: movement building applied to city transformation.

Assignments and Evaluation

  • Written assignment (70%): Students will be expected to write a short paper (8-12 pages, depending on their subject, Times New Roman 12, double spaced) related to one of the course’s themes or topics. This evaluation will be flexible and adapted to students’ research interests and preferred methodology (for example: mapping social innovation projects in Montreal, discussing a particular theory of innovation, assessing the impact of a particular project, etc.).
  • In-class participation (30%): Students will be expected to read course materials and participate during seminars.


  • Course materials: two relevant scientific papers (30-40 pages), to be circulated in advance via MyCourses, per class.

Submission of Work

In Accordance with McGill University’s Charter of Students’ Rights, students in this course have the right to submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded. If you plan on submitting your paper in a language other than English please send us an email stating so.

Academic Integrity

McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offences under the code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures (see for more information).


If you have a disability please contact the instructor to arrange a time to discuss your situation. It would be helpful if you contact the Office for Students with Disabilities at 398-6009 (online at before you do this.