“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

Arundhati Roy

Groundswell is a generative design firm that believes we are all relations so we focus on work that promotes dignity and longevity for all beings. As thinking partners, we help our clients empathize with the people they serve, understand the new complexities of the 21C context and create responsive services, cultures and communications expressive of their values. We recognize we are in the midst of a massive opportunity to embrace the work of reconciliation with Indigenous people and dismantling systems of oppression. We find answers to the questions you don’t yet have the words for. We live in the place that’s just around the corner.

Projects

These projects tell stories of how generative research, creative community engagement and strategic thinking practices help our clients ask hard questions, connect disparate ideas and imagine the way to better futures.

Climate change education
Social & environmental cooperation
Culture change
Community food resilience
Compassionate health care
Facing death

Clients

If our clients have one thing in common, it’s that they challenge the status quo in pursuit of meaningful change and community building. We guide them to live up to their values by embracing the full picture. Sometimes that means facing things we haven’t addressed before, which can be super hard. Together, we find our way with belonging and non-judgement. Over the past 10 years, these are the organizations we’ve been working with: 

Climate adaptation & mitigation

  • Carshare Vermont
  • City of Toronto 
  • Commission for Environmental Cooperation
  • Let’s Talk Science

Transforming education

  • Actua 
  • Centennial College 
  • Neuberger Holocaust Education Centre
  • Royal Ontario Museum 
  • Ryerson University

Equity & Wellbeing

  • Aboriginal Legal Services 
  • Foundation for Jewish Camp 
  • McConnell Foundation 
  • Ministry of Education 
  • Ontario Council of Universities  
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation

Participatory community building

  • Autoshare 
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • The Bentway
  • FoodShare  
  • North York Harvest Food Bank 
  • Toronto District School Board 
  • Waterfront Toronto

Future scenarios

  • Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship 
  • Casey House 
  • Scotiabank - Digital Factory 
  • United Church of Canada
  • University of Toronto Student Union

Team

We are curious, open-minded and humble learners.
We are focused on how we can give over what we can take.
We are committed to making the invisible visible, the unsaid heard.
We ask hard questions, listen with two ears and go where others don’t.
We vision systems that promote justice, equity and longevity.
We bring our whole selves to these pursuits and welcome the whole selves of others.

Ruth Silver, Founder & Partner

Ruth is a listener, connector and pattern finder with a knack for making sense of where we’re at collectively and revealing opportunities for reciprocity and sustainability. Before founding Groundswell, Ruth worked with Annie Liebovitz & Bruce Mau. She holds a BA in Fine Art & Indigenous Studies and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has held teaching positions at the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo, OCADU and Harvard. 

Olga Semenovych, Partner

Olga is a systems thinker who propels projects forward by working creatively with diverse frameworks and methods, and by building collaborative and inclusive environments. Her profound passion for community-led change has taken her to Jamaica, Philippines, Ethiopia, Ukraine and throughout Toronto to support creative consultation, economic development, resilience and innovation. Prior to joining Groundswell, Olga worked at the Canadian Urban Institute, the Parkdale Village BIA and in the academic research community. Olga holds a Master in Design Studies from Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a Masters in Planning from the University of Waterloo, and a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management from Carleton University. She has taught courses on public engagement and negotiation at the University of Waterloo School of Planning. 

Credo

If nothing else, let us have interesting and meaningful problems.
Let their solutions demand all of our creative reserves.
Let the destination be ambitious and the route unfamiliar.
Let our travelling companions be curious and courageous.
Let us be truly changed by the time we reach the place we’re headed to.

Contact

214 Brock Avenue,
M6K 2L9 Toronto ON

letstalk@groundswellprojects.org