EMBERS Eastside Works

In late February 2017 EMBERS was confirmed as the successful new tenant of a City-owned commercial property at 57 East Hastings Street. The site was identified by the City of Vancouver last fall as a place that could be used for a collaborative low barrier income generating hub. Later named Eastside Works, the hub’s mandate is to meet people where they are at without judgement and/or pressure to leave income assistance, but also to provide individuals an opportunity to move along the income generation continuum if they so choose. The approach is innovative in its use of multiple partners working in true collaboration using existing programs and expertise to meet the needs of the community.

Project Coordinator Austin Lui worked on service and information design projects that would enable new forms of collaboration at Eastside Works. He helped create a user journey map and a service design framework for anyone entering the space in search of work opportunities. Austin also helped design a database that captures user information as they interact with the space or different programming. This data is key, as Eastside Works is hoping to influence future policy by using a development evaluation framework. They are also using the data in partnership with UBC researchers who are studying how personal circumstances affect the ways DTES residents access employment opportunities, resources, and supports. Austin was able to draw on his graphic design skills to assist in designing communication materials and branding for Eastside Works.

Through Austin’s work, 51 organizations, social enterprises, and businesses were engaged for programming at Eastside Works. A design jam event as well as 10 drop-in consultation sessions were held for community members to learn about and provide input on the design and use of the space. Austin also supported the development of new programming for Eastside Works based on his own research and feedback from community members. In total, 86 community members and organizations were engaged, 10 new program ideas were generated through insights from consultations, and 20 new program partnerships were formed.

With the support of staff, community members, and organizations, Eastside Works opened its doors on April 4, 2018. Two weeks later, an opening and celebration event was held that was attended by over 200 community members, organizations, and City of Vancouver staff. City staff presented a proclamation on behalf of the City to Eastside Works declaring April 19th as Vancouver’s Day Celebrating an Inclusive Economy for All. Austin Lui has accepted a full-time role with Eastside Works as Outreach and Operations Coordinator.