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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Wednesday 25 June 2014

#WeAreOpen to Collaboration: How Worlds Collide

You're not going to find a lot of Social Media coverage from yesterday evening's #WhereWorldsCollide mash-up event. 
That's my fault.  I had assumed people would come, chat a bit, take some pics and focus on engaging their impressions with the outside world, as tends to happen at events.
It was a Plato's Desktop moment for me, expecting people to behave in this format as they do in others.  If I'd thought a bit further ahead, I would have invited amazing digital whizzes like @CPantasis to come and focus strictly on live-tweet the event
What actually happened - the reason why people weren't madly tweeting away - is that they were, instead, doing exactly what I'd hoped they would do.
Instead of talk over each other, people were engaging, networking, exploring opportunity and ways to gain individually through working collaboratively.
It was a beautiful sight to see.
My friend @lobbychampion brought new friends of her own who found instant synergies with people like @MissYuliaK.  New connections were made while surprising ones were found; one of my favourite people in the world, @sylvkim the managing master at CSI Regent Park reconnected with an old friend, my new @WSIC_Canada partner-in-crime @AlisonUttley.
Toronto Mayoralty hopeful @MorganBaskinTO got to connect with potential employee @COTKeith, who was unquestionably the most sought-after connection in the room. I could go on, and will, but the main point of this piece isn't the individual connections made, as important as they are, but the big picture that I see emerging and am so excited to see coming to life.
I'm hoping my partner, the wickedly talented and amazing simplifier of CraigThink can turn this into an infographic of some kind.
Here it is, folks - this is where we're going.
ON THE HORIZON: @AmericasForum.  So much potential there, waiting to be sparked.
- Public Servants like @CreativeGov, @hizeena and the amazing @kentdaitken are committed to both opening up public data for public access and realizing the internal reforms necessary for the Public Service to maximize its potential and adapt to the needs of modern society.  These folk and so many others take every stereotype you know about bureaucracy and turn it on its head.
They are supported by online data platforms like @WebNotWar that are committed to building communities of engagement, empowering people individually and collectively to reach their and our maximum potential.  Strong individuals for a strong society.
We also have @MaRSInnovation and @MaRSDD committed to helping the next Google or Facebook or iPhone go big.  The folk at MaRS, including the amazing @vasta do a great job helping connect dedicated people with world-changing ideas to the resources and capital they need to explode on the world stage.
These folk have great tools, resources, drive, everything - but they do speak a very sophisticated language.  They can market 'til the cows come home, but are they connecting with the people at the other end of the spectrum?
Where MaRS is great at helping people who already have a plan take it further, @My_SoJo is a community-building platform that aims to help anyone with an idea transform it into action.  This is key; while MaRS is focused on the home-runs, which is great, we also need to be helping everyone get around the diamond. 
Economies aren't built on star players, nor do we want to put all our eggs in that basket.  We want to ensure the small businesses, the start-ups, the people who will be able to sustain themselves, maybe a small staff, but will give back to their communities, too.
SoJo is doing a beautiful thing with their platform; before I knew it existed, I had planned to build something similar but now that I know it exists I encourage everyone to check it out.
Additionally, there is @CSITo - the Centre of Social Innovation, a co-working space with a dream of building a better world.  CSI does more than just provide space; it builds community, offers expertise and value-add and facilitates partnerships in the interests of catalyzing great things.
What Make Web Not War does with government and the corporate sector is what SoJo and CSI do with social entrepreneurs and, increasingly, grassroots leaders and organizations.
With laissez-faire capitalism, we sometimes get the model backwards - the goal becomes pushing people to climb to the top rather than strengthening the foundation on which society is built.  We all live on common ground, and the only way we can grow a sustainable society is from the bottom up.  Otherwise, you end up with Jenga.
Fortunately for us, we have great leaders on the ground, setting the example of the sort of change and leadership we need to see.  Folks like @Imsoiccy23  have the right idea - hook people with what interests them and, through nurturing passion, start refining skill and commitment to bigger things.
Jabullah has a program that offers youth basketball training, but the program includes leadership training and community engagement as well.  Kids that go through his program walk away with a lot more than just the ability to dunk a ball - they pick up salesmanship, community engagement and the confidence to go out into the world and say, "I'm coming in and here's why you want me."
Also in Lawrence Heights are people like @JAYDAHMANN that aspire to build their own MaRSDD or CSI in their community, in partnership with @TOHousing, creating safe spaces for kids or anyone with entrepreneurial aspirations to have access to tools, training and mentorship in a stigma-free zone.
Lateral to all of this are firms like @Exhibit_Change and @SwerhunMeets that have the perfect process to help partners as diverse as all of these break down barrier of communication, identify where common ground lies and co-design shared solutions for our integrated world.
There are also organizations like @SamaraCDA and @WSIC_Canada committed to building knowledge and engagement in our democratic process, in an informed way, from the bottom up.
It just happens that there is an underutilized, beautiful building in Toronto's Little India that would make a great HQ for all these partners, with, naturally, the intent of being a hub only with staff proactively getting out into communities to engage directly with the people in person, as SoJo does so online.
Hopefully you can see where the connections lie.  All the stuff we're talking about, all the shared solutions and community building and empowering, it all exists right now - all we need to do is connect the dots.
That's the dream that's coming true.  Who wouldn't want to be part of that?

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