My apartment in downtown Toronto is in the midst of dense commercial buildings and I never imagined it’d be a suitable place to do any gardening. My only outdoor space is a small landing, about 20 square feet, that is only meant to be used as a fire escape leading out the back door. For a long time it was left grungy and unappealing – but this summer my girlfriend and I turned the situation around.

I bought some green turf from Canadian Tire that gave the appearance of grass and cut it to fit the landing area, covering up the rusted metal slats. We cleaned the area and placed some planters along railings and in a window sill that hosts a healthy herb garden. There are potted flowering vines on the landing and window sill that are slowly making their way up twine guides and covering the brick and metal with bright green leaves. Now it’s a pleasure to stand out there and barbeque, plus harvest fresh herbs for cooking and to give away to friends and family.

With the help of nature, we turned a formerly dead space into a livable space that’s full of life. That’s what innovation can do for an economy – it transforms the useless into the useful, it reinvigorates market activity where stagnation once took hold. It’s a creative idea, even esoteric, and it’s one Cindy Gordon will be exploring tomorrow at the first event in AcceleratorU’s summer speaker series.

Join us: What does innovation and a healthy garden have in common?

Use code “soi13” for 50% off!

A part of the Summer of Innovation, the speaker series will be moderated by myself on behalf of IT World Canada. Kicking off as the featured speaker of tomorrow’s event, Gordon is the CEO and founder of Helix Commerce International Inc. and involved in a number of entrepreneur activities. She’s the co-founder of AccerleratorU, a co-founder at a crowdfunding software platform that’s just been adopted by the City of Waterloo, and has a long history of driving organizational transformation at enterprises like CIBC and Research in Motion.

Please join us tomorrow at noon at the IBM Innovation Center in Markham, Ont. Here are some of the questions Cindy will be exploring:

1. What does innovation have to do with nature?

2. What are the seeds that are needed to nurture innovation?

3. Why does innovative grow on the edges of nature vs the center of nature?

4. What do social networks have to do with root systems?

5. What are the weeds that impact innovation?

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