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

Arundhati Roy

Groundswell designs for life; we believe we are all relations, our 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 that have led to extractive relationships between people and nature. Futurist Duane Elgin writes "This is a pivot point in human history—a time that will forever be remembered as we either rise in our maturity as a viable species-civilization, aware of our responsibilities and profound interdependence, or fall back into ruin."


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


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 
  • Hamilton Wentworth District School Board
  • 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 
  • Ministry of Government & Consumer Services
  • Nuclear Waste Management Organization
  • Scotiabank - Digital Factory 
  • United Church of Canada
  • University of Toronto Student Union


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

Ruth has spent 20 years using design as a creative lens through which to engage in deep listening with diverse communities. In 2014 she founded Groundswell, a boutique design and strategy firm for mavericks and innovators challenging the status quo in pursuit of meaningful change. We work across sectors on long-term systems change projects that deconstruct structural and institutional barriers and fundamentally shift the way people believe what’s possible. By using participatory design processes, Ruth help's her clients empathize with the people they serve, understand the complexities of the 21C context, challenge power structures and create responsive services, cultures, products and communication.

Before founding Groundswell, Ruth worked with Annie Liebovitz & Bruce Mau. She holds a BA in Fine Art & Indigenous Studies from McMaster and a Master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has held teaching positions at the Universities of Toronto and Waterloo, the Chang School, OCADU and Harvard. Ruth recently became a Girl Guide Volunteer, Forest Therapy Guide and Climate Reality Leader.



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.


214 Brock Avenue,
M6K 2L9 Toronto ON