ChangeX 2017 – A transforming year for our communities.

At ChangeX, our mission is to enable every community to thrive. 

It takes many hearts and minds coming together to create sustainable, healthy, resilient, happy communities; it takes grassroots action, people-power, hard work, dedication, and importantly, great ideas and the support needed to get them up and running.

At ChangeX, what keeps us motivated every day is both the challenge and the huge potential of building one technology platform that brings all these things together in the most impactful way.

We’re proud that we can look back at a year where, for the first time, we really started to connect the three key elements needed to build a movement of sustainable community-led change: 

Social innovators with ideas that work, passionate local changemakers with diverse skills, and funders – whether individual philanthropists, foundations or big companies – who want to turn their money into real impact for local communities.

We’re delighted to share some of our 2017 highlights with you and thanks to each and every one of you who helped make all of this happen!


Every time someone starts a new idea in their local community, it brings us one step closer to creating healthy, connected communities and ultimately a better world for all of us.

Street Feast, this year on June 12th, was once again bigger than ever with 1,971 Feasts happening across Ireland, 638 new GIY (Grow It Yourself) initiatives were kick-started and ReCreate added 101 new members to help kids get creative through reuse.
Here are just some of the stories from our community of 2017 starters that filled us with joy.

Minnesotans welcomed migrants to their homes with Welcome Dinner

“After the new legislation of the US administration came into effect in early 2017, not to allow people from 6 different Muslim countries to enter the US anymore, I was really glad that we could provide a positive antidote to the negative climate that decision enforced and give people something really practical to do about it


– Jen Aspengren, ChangeX Lead in Minnesota

Marina Alexeio’s Welcome Dinner

The interest of Minnesotans in ideas that build a welcoming culture in their communities grew very quickly at the beginning of 2017. We saw massive interest in ideas such as Welcome Dinners, free English classes for migrants, or Welcoming America, a programme that connects communities of different backgrounds in several ways.

One big driver of the “Minnesota Welcomes” movement was Marina Aleixo.

“We want to create deep meaningful relationships that make people feel like they belong here and that we want them to be here.”

Marina hosted her first Welcome Dinner for a Congolese family in March this year and this was the first of many shared meals and other activities the families could share. Marina supported many more people to get their own Welcome Dinners going as she believed that the one-on-one dinners would have a really positive impact.

Read more about Marina’s Welcome Dinner

Jim found an unusual community space for his Repair Café 

Repair Café, an idea originating in the Netherlands, was one of the most popular ideas on ChangeX this year. Overcoming an early insurance hurdle, the first Repair Cafés started in Ireland, in Bray, Dublin 8, Ennistymon and we think 2018 will be an even bigger year for Repair Cafés in Ireland as many more get off the ground.


Read Jim’s story about starting a Repair Café

Megan went from a home cooked Welcome Dinner to setting up a collaborative community project with people living in Direct Provision 

Exactly a year ago, Megan Vine and her partner Avi applied through ChangeX to host a Welcome Dinner in their home in Galway. It was the first time they got to meet people living in Direct Provision in Ireland. Both felt like they needed to find a better way to make sure people got a chance to spend a night out of their hotel rooms and meet with the local community.

“People living in Direct Provision in Ireland are so isolated from local communities. But, you can find so many commonalities around food.”

Read an interview with Megan about Direct Provision and the Melting Potluck in Galway. 

Throughout the year, we were lucky enough to work with an incredible group of social innovators and to get to know lots of new innovators from Ireland, the US, the UK, and beyond. They showed us new ways of building healthier, more connected and more sustainable communities. We’re grateful that they’ve entrusted us to find great leaders to spread their ideas and grow their impact in Ireland and the US. A big shout out to all the ideas that joined the ChangeX network in 2017::

parkrun – Green Home – The Food Waste Challenge – Trade School – Community Fridge – Poetry in the Park – TechSpace – Open Orchard – Reimagine Nation – Pop Up Museum – Walking School Bus – Outdoor Club – Dabbledoo Music – Cycling Without Age – Local Explorers

To all 60 ideas now on the platform – thanks for trusting us to be another ambassador for your mission!

The first 7 Men’s Sheds opened in the US

In Ireland, Men’s Sheds have become an integral part of the social fabric of our local communities, like the post office or the school. When we introduced the idea to the US in partnership with Men’s Shed International, we weren’t surprised to see that the concept behind Men’s Sheds resonated just as much as it does here in Ireland.


Phil from Minnesota has just celebrated the first anniversary of Minnesota’s first Men’s Shed and there are now 7 active sheds across the US with many more in the process of opening their doors. 

Read Phil’s story about starting the Men’s Shed in Hopkins, Minneapolis

Poetry in the Park began to spread in Ireland and the US

Matt has been writing poetry since the age of 10. When he came across Poetry in the Park on ChangeX, an idea that originates in Athlone, he didn’t have to think twice and he started a group in Killarney. Many others joined Mike in hosting poetry readings in the outdoors – Emer in Drogheda,  Mike in Listowel and Kimberly in Minnesota. Introduced in March 2017, there are already five active groups up and running in Ireland and two in Minnesota, with many more planning to start in spring of 2018.

Read Matt’s story about starting Poetry in the Park in Killarney



As we, funders and grant-makers, look for ways to build stronger, more vibrant communities here in the U.S., we should explore what other countries are doing well. Platforms like ChangeX are a great place to start. – Karabi Acharya, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the US was the first foundation we partnered with around delivering units of impact in one geographic location. Our goal with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was to find and support 100 replications of ideas to cultivate healthy communities across the State of Minnesota. The team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation could then follow the progress on their own live Impact Tracker on ChangeX – they could see who was applying to start ideas, why they were starting and how they were progressing.

We call this new model Impact as a Service. 

A new dawn for Playworks in Kerry

Another example of this model playing out is our partnership with the Community Foundation for Ireland in County Kerry. We’ve committed to helping get 25 replications of two ideas – Playworks and parkrun – up and running to help communities across Kerry become healthier and more active. Funding from the Community Foundation is split between ChangeX, the local starters and the social innovator behind the idea.

Since September 2017,under the leadership of Paul Knox, 24 schools and over 70 teachers have engaged in Playworks training across Kerry. This training allows primary school teachers to learn how to implement Playworks in their school, to make break-time a more inclusive and active experience for everyone and to help children solve conflict in the yard and ensure that nobody feels excluded during break-time.

“Many teachers commented on how some ideas were so simple yet so practical such as using high fives as praise and encouraging the children to use rock paper scissors to solve play based conflict.”, tells Paul after the trainings. 

In 2018, the 24 Playworks schools will continue to attend training and roll out the Playworks programme across their schools, a process that Paul went through a few years ago at Castaheany Educate Together in Dublin.

What to expect in 2018?

In 2018, we’ll continue to work with local changemakers, social innovators and funders to create engaged and connected communities. Here are our big goals for the year ahead:
  1. Channel more funding into local communities, putting the necessary resources to create connected communities into the hands of people who have the passion and knowledge to make it happen.
  2. Creating a better support system for starting and maintaining ideas in communities though guides, mentorship programmes, practical resources and meet-ups.
  3. Make the platform you turn to, to share, follow and celebrate the impact you’re having together with other changemakers around the world.

What are your wishes for 2018? 

Before the year ends, we’d love to hear more about your plans and wishes for your community in 2018. Please take part in our 2-question survey for communities and let us know: What’s your wish for your community in 2018.

Wishing you a peaceful and happy festive season and all the best for 2018. 🎄

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