While the physical space has been there since the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union (MSCU) Centre for Peace Advancement was inaugurated a year ago, the Frank and Helen Epp Peace Incubator got its official opening on Sept. 22, 2015, at Conrad Grebel University College.
The space is made up of six desks equipped with computers, phones and other office accoutrements, but the groups that rent the space get much more. Key among those other perks is the cross-fertilization of ideas and excitement of their peers.
Currently, eight groups are utilizing space in the Peace Incubator. They include Theatre of the Beat, a socially conscious theatre troupe; Pastors in Exile, which is trying to bridge the gap between church and young adults; Food not Waste, which collects perishable food from grocery stores and restaurants, and provides it to shelters and homeless programs; and the Global Peace Centre Canada, which has Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala Yousafzai’s father, as its honorary chair. At the launch, the three latter organizations gave short outlines of what they are doing.
The other organizations are: Intercultural Dialogue Institute KW, which aims to contribute to improvement of diversity, pluralism and multiculturalism; Peaceworks Productions, an effort to inspire and equip young people with the tools and skills they need to make peace; Peace Camp, a Grebel initiative that facilitates hands-on peacebuilding training for youth; and UWaterloo Rotoract Club, which focuses on the development of young adults as leaders in their communities and workplaces.
Desks can to be rented on daily, weekly, monthly, semester or ongoing bases. Each level of renting brings additional resources to participants:
- Daily: Access to one of six lockable desks and to other shared spaces with wireless Internet capabilities.
- Weekly: Thursday coffee breaks with all peace centre participants, plus news and event updates.
- Monthly: Progress meetings with peace centre staff, plus free credits to book meeting rooms at Grebel.
- Semester: One training workshop, plus eligibility for funding or a “hot desk” subsidy through the MSCU Peace Advancement Challenge.
- Ongoing: Mentorship from within and beyond the peace centre, involvement in additional Epp Peace Incubator or peace centre community-building events, a profile on the peace centre website and social media channels, and use of the Grebel mailing address.
Peace centre director Paul Heidebrecht noted that the space is for “new and emerging” groups working at diverse and innovative peacemaking projects. The hope is that the presence of the Epp Peace Incubator at Grebel will not only benefit the participants, but all students and faculty, he said.
Howard Armitage, founder of the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, spoke at the launch.
Updated Nov. 2, 2015