Accelerating Community Innovation: The Role of the Field Catalyst

Posted on September 5, 2023
By Sylvia Cheuy

SIJ- Sylvia

Discover the unique but important role that Field Catalysts – like Tamarack – play in accelerating and amplifying community innovation. 

This blog accompanies a full article written by Tamarack’s Sylvia Cheuy for the Social Innovations Journal.  


The need for fresh perspectives

Fresh perspectives and new approaches are needed to generate results and effectively address the complexity and interconnectedness of the social and environmental issues confronting communities. It is imperative that we build our collective capacity in the practice of community innovation. It is a practice that is distinct from, as well as more ambitious and uncertain than, continuous improvement. Community innovation focuses on creating fundamentally new solutions that generate significant positive impact and fundamentally reimagine what is possible. 

Tamarack recognizes community innovation as one of five skillsets – along with collaboration, community engagement, collective leadership and evaluating impact that changemakers need in order to generate high-impact change at both the local and systems levels.  


 Successful community innovations are most often the result of processes that: 

  • Engage all stakeholders
  • Challenge our assumptions and preconceived ideas
  • Leverage the community’s collective creativity and capability to co-design new solutions

Effective community innovation requires an appreciation of the issue a community is wanting to address as well as a deep understanding of the place and the people where the innovation is implemented.  


Unleashing the magic of community innovation

There is no end to the creativity and ingenuity of communities. This magic gets unleashed by bringing diverse perspectives together and harnessing the shared passion of people for the place that they call home. 

The impact of community creativity and innovation is more likely to generate systems-level change with the help of a unique, and often invisible, player know as a Field Catalyst Intermediary. Tamarack is a Field Catalyst. We link communities, support them to accelerate and amplify the impact of their innovations, and weave together the best bottom-up and top-down solutions to create a coordinated effort for lasting social impact. 

To dive deeper into community innovation, see Sylvia's full article in the Social Innovations Journal below!

Read the Full Article

Community Innovation, Social Innovation, Homepage Blog

Sylvia Cheuy

By Sylvia Cheuy

Sylvia is a Consulting Director of the Tamarack Institute’s Collective Impact Idea Area and also supports Tamarack’s Community Engagement Idea Area. She is passionate about community change and what becomes possible when residents and various sector leaders share an aspirational vision for their future. Sylvia believes that when the assets of residents and community are recognized and connected they become powerful drivers of community change. Sylvia is an internationally recognized community-builder and trainer. Over the past five years, much of Sylvia’s work has focused on building awareness and capacity in the areas of Collective Impact and Community Engagement throughout North America.

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