SFU Change Lab: A Community of Students Committed to Creating Sustainable Change

By Change Lab student Amar Badh

Change is inevitable. Whether good or bad, our lives and the world around us is constantly changing. In fact, you are a different person now than you were when you began reading this sentence. This blog is about change, and in particular how a team of students at SFU are in the midst of making a positive change that has the potential to alter Vancouver’s landscape on a local and global scale! That’s what the Change Lab is all about. So what exactly is Change Lab? And how has the experience been? Since I’m all about making connections, I will gladly answer these two questions so that you can feel connected to some of the changes that are occurring in Vancouver.
What is Change Lab?
Change Lab is an innovative course offered at SFU where students from different faculties join forces to tackle some of the toughest problems facing our city. Taught by Shawn Smith and Heather O’Hara, the Change Lab is about experimentation and engaging our curiosity to try to solve problems in a sustainable and agile way. This semester we are working with the City of Vancouver, the Greenest City Action Plan team, the Vancouver Economic Commission, City Studio and the False Creek Planning Committee to help make the False Creek Flats the, “[G]reenest place to work in the world.”
Change Lab Retreat: Camp Alexandra, Crescent Beach, Surrey
With a warm Tim’s steep tea in my hands, excitement fuelling my steps and curiosity accompanying my thoughts I enter the open grass courtyard of Camp Alexandra. The objective of this retreat was to better understand ourselves and our peers. One only needs to hear a few of the words that people used to describe their weekend to grasp the effectiveness and impact this weekend had on us as a team. Words like, “friendship,” “explorationIMG_20150912_210751,” “self-expression,” “self-discovery,” “team” and “community” were just a few of the common words used to describe this weekend. Kudos to Shawn, Dan and Heather for finding the right balance between organized workshops meant to help us dig deep within ourselves, and freedom to interact with each other, whether this was by playing charades and soccer, or by chilling together on the beach under a silent black sky painted in stars. I feel as though I am a part of a community of friends, and there is something special to be taken from that. Who knew a weekend could transform a group of strangers into a group of friends all determined in creating a single positive change.

Alone we are raindrops evaporating in the sun’s rays.
Together we are a robust river turning mountains into valleys.           

A bike tour of the False Creek Flats: A ride meant to get our creativity and understanding circulating
IMG_20150916_135226The bike tour kept the momentum from the weekend rolling. A bunch of us rented bikes and rode to Granville Island, which was an amazing excuse to get to know some teammates better. The actual tour of the False Creek Flats was really beneficial, as it allowed us to see the space we were working with and its unique characteristics. This tour validated the importance of really experiencing the problem, versus just reading about it.
My Change Lab team: EZ Transportation Inc.
Our team can be captured by our name. What is EZ Transportation? It’s Environmentally Zealous Transportation, Ethically Zealous Transportation, Economically Zealous Transportation and plain and simple, it’s easy transportation. Our team not only bears a deeper meaning than just four students working together; it signifies the creative potency that we possess in articulating a meaningful and versatile solution. Shawn’s famous question is “What keeps you up at night?” For me, it’s the potential our team has to create meaningful change. The words of Erasmus encapsulate our team and the other Changemakers:

“There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face reality; and then there are those who turn one into the other”
– Desiderius Erasmus

IMG_0565Amar Badh is currently completing a joint major in Molecular Biology/ Biochemistry with Business Administration at SFU, as well as SFU’s new Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Prior to SFU, Amar completed an Associates in Arts: English Literature degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Amar is often considered “a charismatic chameleon” amongst friends and family, due to his comfort adapting to his environment and his ability to adjust his demeanour to make the person he is talking to feel comfortable. Amar’s academic endeavours provide insight to what he is really passionate about, making connections: connecting people to their own personal goals and abilities, to other people or to the world around us. Amar sees the world as a vast network where everyone and everything is connected; his challenge is connecting the dots.