TWIG: An Alternative Pathway to Innovation

Patrick Christie

The Wood Innovation Group (TWIG), like many other variants across the world, emerged as a response to the global pandemic. A way to stay connected and stay engaged in topics and ideas that were meaningful in your life and work. You would have gained this value through day-to-day interactions, exhibits, conventions, kids’ soccer practices; you name it. In previous circumstances, our lives were full of physical interactions on a macro and micro level, and we had to navigate from home to work, meeting to meeting, site to site – repeat. For a year and a half, we have been asked to do business differently, create the necessary space, and adjust procedures in our day-to-day workflow. We had to adopt new ways of working to stay connected with the people we rely on to produce products that add value to our organization and the natural resources. 

The TWIG concept had its origins dating back to November 2012 in an East Vancouver bar. A group of twenty-five individuals met for the first time around the common question of how we can be doing things differently in BC concerning our valued-added and post-primary industries. We met under the name “Outside the Box Meetup Group” and did so 50+ times until March 2020. This initiative was founded by Ian MacDonald (Tall Wood Institute), who was working at CAWP, along with Jason Chui (CAWP), and Barbara Bell (formerly FPInnovations). Later, the group would be joined by Neil Godin (NG International) and me, Patrick Christie (Daly Co). This little idea was supported with assistance from the Wood First Program through Forestry Innovation Investment.

“Outside the Box is a forum for industrial and interior designers, artisans, furniture makers, manufacturers, builders, architects, and anyone interested in or involved in the wood products industry (broadly defined) to meet, share ideas, and identify gaps in the market and possibilities for new product development and innovation.”

The core intention behind this group was to use CAWP as a conduit to connect their specialists and equipment capacity to the industrial designers, artists, and architects to produce prototypes of new designs and concepts. As a recent graduate of the Industrial Design program at Emily Carr, this was ideal for me to begin my career pathway. Because of this, I’ve developed a business, found mentorship, sourced materials, spoken about my work, and tackled some highly technical design projects and art installations due to the network of support I had available to me.

From Outside the Box and now TWIG, I have multiple sources of revenue that support me as an Independent wood-based entrepreneur, with my role as organizer of TWIG being one of these. Within this role, I intend to use the experience my efforts and privilege have afforded me to inspire the next generation of wood-based entrepreneurs. We have to cultivate contexts for fresh ideas and create space for them to be nurtured, refined, and then exhibited in the public realm for feedback and response. This is what I am here for, and I hope to inspire and help others do so too. 

This article is the first in a five-part series exploring how TWIG offers an alternative pathway to innovation that values humans, resources, and the economy.

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