In unemployment, we count dead-ends, rather than carving out achievements.

So how do we move away from failures and shortcomings, and toward achievements and assets?

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Welcome to

This is the story of a six-month-long project about getting to know people on the margins of the economy, in Peterborough, Ontario. We asked them to help us design better approaches for services, programs, and networks in which people can flourish.

Unemployment is a journey with no real milestones

…And only one target, one metric: getting a job (even a crappy one).

Isn’t it time we started redefining what it means to be unemployed, and embraced a model of carving out success rather than setting up for failure?

Resumes distributed


Job offers

What will I find here?

  • True stories of people feeling stuck without work, or in crappy, precarious jobs, as well as those finding a way forward.
  • A bottom-side-up approach to program development that starts with people and aims to change policy.
  • A call to action! To join us in a second phase of generating research + development capacity across our sector.

Read Stories

About loneliness, frustration, and resourcefulness, both in and out of work.


Our methods for finding and co-designing with the people experiencing the worst outcomes.


Ideas for how people can flourish, regardless of employment status.

John's headshot: looking upward and laughing, wearing his spectacles.

Meet John

Since re-entering the workforce after leaving four years ago to care for his ailing mother, John hasn’t had much luck finding work, and has lost his confidence.
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Steph's headshot: smiing woman with long dark hair under a woolen hat, wearing a rain coat.

Meet Steph

Steph has overcome addiction while raising four high-needs children in housing. She misses being employed and desperately wants to rejoin the workforce.
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Zack's headshot: man with short dark hair in collared shirt, facing away from the camera.

Meet Zack

Zack is a young man who feels rejected by the mainstream economy. He aspires to spend his time volunteering and developing his artistic passions.
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Holly's headshot: Red-hair pulledback, grinning in a black, round-necked top.

Meet Holly

Holly’s the perfect candidate: she has a Master’s degree, training, and recent experience. But she still found herself unemployed, isolated, and discouraged.
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Thomas' headshot: chin up, sun glasses on head, hair pulled back in pony tail.

Meet Thomas

Thomas has always been employed – just not legally. We followed his transition to the confusing world of “straight” employment.
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Sean's headshot: smiling with front teeth showing, short hair styled on top, stubble, and light blue ribbed shirt.

Meet Sean

Coping with depression and anxiety, Sean lives with his fiancee, and has given up entirely on trying to find employment.
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Naveha's headshot: blonde hair in a messy bun, wearing a hoody, facing away from the camera.

Meet Naveha

Naveha’s ODSP is up for review soon, and she is facing an intimidating transition back to the workforce after eight years away.
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Bronwyn's headshot: smiling woman in a sun dress, holding a mandolin.

Meet Bronwyn

Bronwyn wants a whole, authentic life – one where opting out of the rat race doesn’t mean opting out of satisfying work. But she feels she lacks the skills to make it happen.
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Cheryl's headshot: very long hair and spectacles with a round face, wearing a fur-lined hooded coat.

Meet Cheryl

Cheryl raised three kids on her own, with no paid work in over eleven years. In today’s economy, she feels out-dated, under-qualified, and unable to find her place.
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Terri's headshot: blonde, shoulder-length hair, wearing knit cap and brown hoodie.

Meet Terri

Terri lives in housing with her son, and is currently tackling her depression and anxiety head-on as she works toward her G.E.D.
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Nick and Alex's headshots: Nick, a big guy smiling in plaid lumber jacket, leaning over Alex with her long hair in a ponytail and wearing glasses.

Meet Nick & Alex

Nick landed a job with a fantastic employer. Alex returned to school to become a CGA. Together, they’re navigating away from social assistance.
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