Shaping our City: Brainstorming Session at Civic Space Tomorrow!

BCL Workshop

Friday, January 3rd, 2013 at 7pm – CIVIC Space (411 Pelissier Street, Windsor, Ontario)

As static as Windsor might seem at times, it is definitely going through some changes. Our downtown is a lot brighter because of the large screens on the Windsor Star building, the University of Windsor’s downtown campus opens next year, the aquatic centre is opening this year, we have a new bridge that may be completed in 2020, the new Penalty Box location is reviving a historical building on University Avenue West, and the old Grace Hospital has been torn down.

In the vein of our previous project, City Counseling (Session #1), we’ll be talking through new ideas and changes happening in the city, as a group. The goal of this brainstorm session is to bring people together, learn something new about Windsor, and contribute creative perspectives for shaping this city. I hope you can make it down to Civic Space tomorrow at 7 pm (January 3rd) to contribute to these conversations.

This event is a collaboration with Life In a Border Town.

Last Week & Tonight: All Tomorrow’s Problems

Last Monday night,  a small group of us gathered around the table to talk about All Tomorrow’s Problems. This is an open event that invites anyone to attend and think of this as a very loosely organized group to discuss and exercise your ideas on a specific topic. We may not actually make anything, but we will aim to creatively respond to the issue at hand. It picks up again tonight, Monday, October 15 at 7pm!

Huge thanks to Sam Lefort, Eric Boucher and Dan McCafferty for joining me and Danielle. The goal of this biweekly design night is to articulate and imagine the problems and solutions facing the city in a longer horizon, and which have already begun to reveal themselves.

The topic of the first-week: youth retention. It’s not a secret that this has been an area of ongoing concern for me, personally, and so it was great to talk through ideas of how we could address this problem, without them being tethered to the all-too-familiar limits and and realities regularly articulated in the community.

Some of the notes from the evening … I particularly liked the idea of making it easier for people to find their place in the community here, rather than assuming their place is waiting for them somewhere else. The big question framing the entire discussion — what are the barriers in place that prevent recent graduates from staying here?

Also discussed — more focus on mentorship, a guerilla marketing campaign for parents to “talk to their kids about Windsor,” a head-hunter for every single graduate, an effort to more coherently articulate the local, and a completely revamped set of bylaws to jumpstart entrepreneurship here that doesn’t look like entrepreneurship in other cities and places.

All Tomorrow’s Problems isn’t aiming to necessarily solve the problems we discuss, but instead, open up an imaginative dialogue around these issues. Solving problems is over-rated anyways, asking the right questions is so much more important. Around the table on the first night, we had artists, designers, filmmakers, teachers, and a soon-to-be lawyer. In my mind, that’s a dangerously good combination of people asking a variety of questions. But, I’m also pretty sure that having you around the table would make it even better.

We’re not dismissing or avoiding actionable ideas, we just don’t want to get caught up in the limits of logistics and pragmatism — the city already seems to do that really well. See you tonight at 7pm.

Imagining Borders in Other Places

Friday night meetings have been hard to pull together over the last little while. Managing to fit together six different schedules can seem next to impossible sometimes, so it’s all the more fun when we can actually pull it off and all be in the same room at the same time.

We caught up on the recently launched Storefront Residencies for Social Innovation, the upcoming Save the City event, and some ideas for the proposal we’re hoping to put together for CAFKA.

Josh and Rosina had been working on some ideas for our proposal, the idea of looking at the border-zone, so to speak, between Kitchener and Waterloo. They had been looking up the role of embassies.

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Micro-Residency #1:


CreateHere works with one guiding principle in mind: we love our city for what it is, has been and could become.”

The non-profit organization started in 2007 and does things like provide over $300,000 in artists grants to area creatives, connecting talented artists to homes in Chattanooga, and asking everyone in their city what they want for their city.

They also work closely with small businesses in the city on a variety of initiatives, including providing 8-week business planning courses, access to expert advice, and offering peer roundtable discussions once a month. And they do things like the 48Hour Launch (48HL), which unites creative individuals to launch start-up businesses in two days.

They do this based on the responses they get from handing out 25,000 surveys to the community.

They were also recently included in The GOOD 100.

And a few of the Fellows from CreateHere are coming to Windsor (via Detroit) for one day this week (Tuesday, November 10th) to share, brainstorm, discuss, and in all likelihood, inspire (us).

This is going to be our first Micro-Residency and we’re not exactly sure yet what we’ll do for the day, but surely we’ll be touring the city, making many introductions, and figuring out how exactly they’ve been able to do what they have in just two years, and how a similar model of activity might work in Windsor. It’s going to be incredible, stay tuned.

New Project Mondays: Week 1

Broken City Lab: new project Mondays

Monday night we spent a couple hours working over some new ideas with some new friends. Mostly, these ideas have been in the “meaning to do that” category, mostly opening up new collaborations in which new projects will unfold.

Two main project frameworks came out of our brainstorm session—a floating sculpture project with the Green Corridor and a documentary video project with a local filmmaker. Both are ambitious in their own right, but thankfully operate at completely different timescales, allowing us a lot more time where we need it.

On top of being really productive and inspiring, we got to use a rainbow of sharpies to take notes—how much better can creative collaborative work get???

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