Art Hives : social inclusion through art

Art Hives are interactive community spaces that welcomes everyone as an artist, a “third space” focused on arts-based social inclusion. The model and practice of Art Hives have evolved through two decades of sustained practice research, continuous observation and adaptation, and experimentation with spaces and organizational structures led by Dr. Janis Timm-Bottos (Concordia University), who has developed and established six successful art hives in different locations across North America. In the last few years the Montreal-based art hives have garnered much attention and have been highly appreciated by the local community. Funding was acquired to seed a three-year initiative intended to facilitate learning and information-sharing on how both the model and practice of arts-based social inclusion can be replicated or adapted in other communities, both locally and across Canada.

The percolab team collaborated with the researcher team to explore, formalize and disseminate the Art Hive practice across Canada. This involved an integrated approach for a live event and online community support tools. Percolab co-organised a pan-canadian symposium of three days, with 50 participants ; a creative and participatory experience to support the diverse initiatives emerging across the country and the development of an Art Hive community. A stylish online space was developed to support the community in collaborating beyond the event – http://www.arthives.org/ –  it helps federate and inspire an open and self-organizing community. percolab also created an open-source branding for the emerging movement.

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The Art of (Inter)action – Art of Hosting Montreal

Art of Hosting is an international community of practitioners who engage teams and groups in action for the common good. It is about working better in complexity. Trainings in the Art of Hosting (AOH) have taken place on all continents in recent years.

percolab felt the potential and the importance of connecting Quebec with this practice and methodologies to develop new ways to collaborate, work and innovate.


We have supported four calls thus far. Each time a local collective is formed. For the first two training we were joined by three international friends from the AOH international community: Toke Moeller of Denmark who introduced  AOH to the European Commission, Chris Corrigan a seasoned practitioner in British Columbia and Tuesday Ryan-Hart who has vast experience in the application of AOH tools and methods in a large scale, in Columbus Ohio. Together we co-created a three-day training in January 2013 at Espace Lafontaine in the heart of Montreal and then a second one in October 2013 at the site of Expo ’66 and a third one Art of Commoning in November 2014 at the Montreal Planetarium in collaboration with Space for Life. The most recent training was in There is No Planet B in collaboration with the Biology Field Station of the University of Montreal.

Over 300 persons have participated in the trainings and practiced the art of group processes.


Here is what one organization has to say about the impact of the training:

This meeting has multiplied our capacity to enter into movement with practitioner-ing in line with the culture of openness, sharing, experimentation and learning emerging from our organization. It also helped to accelerate our collaborative practice internally and within our CA. AOH allows anchored authenticity.

Monique Chartrand, DG and Raquel Penalosa Board Member, Communautique

Read what others have written about their experience:

Also, we reflected on The Joy of a bilingual event that welcomes both languages ​​in Montreal and the benefits of staying in a role of learner in The Lost Practice of Apprenticeship.

For more information on upcoming AoH trainings in Montréal and activities of the community of practice, visit the web site:  Art of Hosting Montréal.

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Participatory architect website

Percolab role: Design and configuration, branding

Need: As a participatory architect, Colleen Lashuk needed a visual and bilingual website that worked across multiple devices and reflected her values of openness and participation and her designer sensitivity.

Our response: Creation and design of WordPress website with touch based navigation and scrolling based on the Touchfolio WordPress theme. Design focused on the work in process.

Impact: The public can now accompany the architect’s projects as they evolve and her public visibility has grown.

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Codesigning a 21st century Citizen Space

Client: Communautique

The Church of Saint-Marc is located in the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie neighbourhood of Montreal and like many aging Catholic churches in this city it is at a cross-roads as to its future.  Having been put up for sale by the parish, two community organisations (Communautique and Compagnons de Montréal) wanted to explore possibility of transforming the church site into a collectively-managed community space. A process of citizen co-design was organised to answer the question:

How could the Saint-Marc site be transformed into an inspiring, inclusive and thrivable space open to and for citizens, the neighbourhood and the city?

percolab’s team was invited to set up a residency in the church to explore these questions with citizens. We opened the site to the public for three intensive weeks over a period of a few months. We organized a series of participatory activities that invited and encouraged  citizens and project partners to explore the site, reflect together, and dream of the possibilities. The fledgling ideas were prototyped on site and the concrete challenges involved with repurposing a heritage site were workshopped by participants.

While the future of St-Marc is still uncertain (the parish put a moratorium on the sale of the church) a solid proposal for a social innovation project has emerged.

Le processus a abouti à une présentation publique d’une proposition ébauchant un projet innovant  dans lequel s’inscrit le moteur puissant du co-design citoyen. L’essentiel de la démarche a été capturé (textes et vidéos) sur le site web du projet : http://www.imaginonsstmarc.org [FR].

La résidence co-créative [FR] est une approche co-développée par le laboratoire vivant Mandalab (Communautique), percolab et Grisvert. Elle constitue un outil de vitalité qui permet aux organisations d’imaginer, de repenser et de concevoir leurs produits, leurs programmes et leurs services par le biais de l’immersion d’une équipe de résidents multidisciplinaires dans le milieu d’accueil pour accompagner et soutenir les usagers, parties prenantes à part entière, dans un processus de co-design.

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Youth Knowledge Ambassadors

Client: Institut de coopération pour l’éducation des adultes (ICÉA)

The Institute of Cooperation for Adult education’s initiative Youth Knowledge Ambassadors (“Jeunes ambassadeurs du savoir”) is a novel informal learning program and online space for youth (age 16 to 35) who have non-linear learning pathways. Participants develop their capacity to share their own stories and then connect with at-risk youth inspiring them forward.

The online network helps participants to persevere with their own learning pathways and the training component addresses skills such as public communication and developing as confident and critical digital citizens. percolab designed, developed and delivered parts of the training program related to digital competence – digital presence, sharing and reusing content, working efficiently and partaking in a community.

We installed, configured and developed training for the online blogging and social network system.


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OutilVif – Online space for immigrants

An online tool supporting immigrants to Quebec to integrate into Quebec society and work place and develop their French language skills based on their own interests and contexts. OutilVIF is a modular system combining social networks, eportfolio functions, knowledge base and online learning activities that can be used in multiple ways for workplace learning, education providers and by individuals.

The tool helps language teachers go beyond a homogenous teaching approach and tap into the context and interests of each learner. It give learners ownership of an online space that they can contribute to, consult and use any time and that will follow them through their pathway as as they integrate into Quebec society.

Noteworthy:

  • Next generation approach to learning as networked, personalised and self-regulating
  • Activity design help capture the vast and diverse experiences and learning (formal and informal) from the country of origin and of adoption so as to develop a sense of personal pride.
  • The development framework supporting the production of the interoperable learning objects;
  • Implementation of international open standards (microformats, OpenSocial) allowing objects to play in multiple types of online environments (WordPress, Moodle, Facebook).


Percolab’s role: Information system design, learning design of activities, development of production framework and activities, integration, quality assurance, graphic design, adoption support and training, promotion.

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