Scaling Deep in the Messy Middle

3 min readJun 9, 2021


Written by LOUISE ADONGO, Executive Director, Inspiring Communities

Louise Adongo

I have spent the last few months listening, learning, and reflecting on what it means to scale deeply. Scaling deep calls us to shift our deeply held values, beliefs, meaning-making and practices that form the quality of relationship that no longer serve us in systems in which there is transformation that we seek.

“Scaling deep” is a powerful framing that feels particularly important to me right now. From what I have heard about our experiences with WeavEast over the last three years, we have experienced how systems shift, and know the messy ambiguity of it to be true. I suspect this may resonate with you as well, as you might have experienced this too.

“Creating lasting solutions to systemic problems is an inherently messy process that requires both empathy and imagination. It also takes a commitment of time and patience to test new approaches and learn from them.” — Systems Change, McConnell Foundation

Figure from How Systems Shift — Collective Change Lab’s Theory of Change

As we finish our third and final year of WeavEast, we are committed to upholding our goals for this work and we are asking for your support to help make this happen. We also want to adhere to social innovation principles of showing our work and sharing our learning by speaking up about what worked well, and what may not have gone quite as intended.

We have shared this interim evaluation and report (see links below) with the network. We now need to hear from you.

We invite you to join us as we usher in the next iteration of an Atlantic Changemakers Network by contributing to this work of examining the messy middle and commenting on it through reflections or personal accounts of experience, in the manner, medium, language or channel that is most familiar, comfortable or rewarding to you.

An email has gone out to the WeavEast network with ways you might choose to share your thoughts. If you haven’t received it and would like to, please let us know:

Prompts for reflections:

  • What is your story of WeavEast?
  • How well have we supported the original vision of WeavEast (check out the survey for proposed ways WeavEast could have accomplished this).
  • What patterns have you witnessed?
  • What are your hopes, fears, dreams for an ecosystem for social innovation in Atlantic Canada?
  • How can our solutions for WeavEast avoid reproducing or generating the same problems we are trying to solve in community, changemaking, and social innovation?
  • How do we centre equity, diversity, and inclusion in this work?
  • Memories from WeavEast:,
Photo from Jaime Smith, Twitter
Photo from Julia Feltham, Twitter
WeavEast is a regional platform for connecting & serving people and organizations who are making positive social change.
  • Anything else you would like to tell us?

Reference Documents

  1. Systems Change from McConnell
  2. Network Weaver — Systems Change and Deep Equity
  3. On Human Enterprise — The Art and Strategy of Systems Change Part 1
  4. On Human Enterprise — The Art and Strategy of Systems Change Part 2
  5. The Messy Work of Changing the World — Niko Canner on LinkedIn
  6. Data is Messy — Bruce Ramshaw, MD
  7. The Role of Narrative Change in Collective Action — Collective Impact Forum
  8. How Systems Shift: Collective Change Lab Theory of Change
  9. Systems Change: Embracing Context, the ‘Thou Shalt nots’ of systems change (SSIR)




WeavEast is a regional platform for connecting and serving people and organizations who are making positive social change in Atlantic Canada.