Innovate Cochrane continues to build momentum leading up to the opening of The Station later this year.

Recently, the budding organization launched a pop-up space in the SLS Family Sports Centre rec centre as its first physical space.

"The experiment and community engagement and insight that comes from this space will inform whether we keep this space or continue to be in dialogue with the recreation centre and/or set up additional programming," says Nathan Klassen, one of its founders.

Its opening coincided with the Cochrane Chamber Trade Show. One of their first initiatives is capturing the stories of the people of Cochrane in five to 10-minute sound bits that they will be sharing with the community.

Klassen interviewed fellow Innovative Cochrane board member Mark Eaton in the first of those stories.

"Mark's a father, a husband, he works, he volunteers, but he's a business owner and he had to come through COVID as a business owner and as a person. So really, just humanizing that story and learning from people from their perspective what we need more of and what we need less of as a community."

He says they will be posting the stories online and might inspire others in joining them in capturing these stories.

Eaton says he spoke of some of the challenges of the pandemic upon individuals, businesses, and the community.

"We also talked about some of the things that we do in innovation and in the community, and some things that we could do better."

That includes getting back to rebuilding that strong sense of community and our many great events.

"They have an impact. They're some of the reasons why people move to this great town. This is really an opportunity to interact with the community and gathered those stories but also those challenges."

Klassen says innovation is not restricted to any particular field or component of the community; it's everywhere. He says a key element of the organization is to bring people and organizations together.

"I think there are a lot more layers of connection that we have in our community than people know about," says Klassen.

He says it could be as simple as bringing together two groups to help each other.

"By just putting those two organizations in touch, they can literally meet each other needs without adding any more resources to our community. Those are innovative ways for us to take what we already have and who we already are as a community and make those connections. Making those connections are the catalysts to seeing improvement or to seeing positive change in the quality of life here."

There will be four or five members on the founding board.

"From there, we'll see what the mandate of Innovate Cochrane is and needs to be. That will drive then what programs we develop or programs we can align with that we can funnel into the community. They'll be a discovery process."

Sophia Klassen recorded the May 7 interview for her father. The grade 9 student is enrolled in the Creative Studio program, an innovation in itself, at Cochrane High. She saw it as an opportunity to continue to develop her skills. Previously, she recorded a talk given by her father on Innovate Cochrane and hopes to have the opportunity to record more.

The Pop Up is located in the Celebration Station under the big staircase near the aquatic centre.

Innovate Cochrane interviewSophia Klassen recorded the interview being conducted by her father Nathan, left, with Mark Eaton.