This blog is to help frame the upcoming #dezTO Hackathon and let you know where we are coming from. It has been nearly 8 months in the making and we are seeing this Hackathon as an opportunity to take a pivot.
We have been and continue to be in love with the notion of getting involved and supporting others be a part of shaping the cities we live in. We are especially enamoured with projects that are driven to connect ideas to action and facilitate new conversations about what it means to be an active and engaged citizen. We see ourselves as part of a larger system of people and citizens working together to make the cities we live in places we can be proud of. While we may not always agree on how that is exactly going to happen, we do think we can all help each other out in some way or another.
Last year we took on a R&D project to be a part of the emerging collaboration of Designing Toronto. With a focus on connecting citizens to the planning system and growing the network of people taking action on the streets of Toronto. We were particularly excited by the idea of bringing design thinking and community engagement principles into Designing Toronto. Following a few quieter advisory meetings in the Summer of 2013, the project began to pick up steam in the Fall including a tweet of support from Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and a momentum for a course focused on educating people on urban planning and unplanning.
Until we realized that we have been here before and we have seen many others come here before too. As we were talking to more people about Designing Toronto and telling the story of why we got involved, we began to shift our view of what the value of Designing Toronto is. Designing Toronto is not the first and certainly not the last project that has tried to enter this arena before.
So, we asked ourselves “Who else has been here and what can we learn from them?”
The #dezTO Hackathon came together as a means to ask the following questions:
- What is the future of Designing Toronto?
- What are the overarching drivers and challenges facing citizen-led projects in Toronto? and,
- What can we do to help?
We are extremely passionate about city-building projects and through the Blank Space Labs, we have incubated and launched a few of our own outrageous projects to prototype different ways of having conversations about engaging people in taking action on the streets. Both Through My Lens and the Ball Pit Project were initiatives that we executed in the past few years, as our way to play with the idea of getting people to be a part of the civic engagement conversation in their own way.
As part of the Blank Space Labs, Exhibit Change is focused on capturing the meta-conversation of what is happening within past, present and future citizen-led projects through a Creative Brief – best described once by Bryan Boyer of the Helsinki Design Lab, as a sharp and brittle report of findings that is meant to have a strong Point-of-View and at the same time meant to be shattered.
This is a city FULL of super cool citizen-led projects and there is no end to brilliant ideas, yet there is something sticky that always seems to get projects stuck. Not always at the same time, but somewhere along the line and we are curious to know if we can uncover it.
There are still a few spots left. Come be a part of the first #dezTO Hackathon!