WiToPoli Workshop

A small selection of the post-its from the workshop.

Sometimes the challenges we face in creating a better city can seem very big and overwhelming. Some might even say impossible… So what better place to meet on a Sunday morning with a group of incredible, interesting women, than the Academy of the Impossible. Coming from diverse backgrounds like planning, community engagement,  engineering and entrepreneurship, everyone there had in common the belief that women have an important role to play in city building.

Women in Toronto politics had conceived of this workshop as a way to get women together to brainstorm around ideas and issues to be put forward as a deputation for city council, in advance of the next budget. Facilitated by Exhibit Change, the day was high energy, with inspiring conversations from the get go. The world cafe format started the day off, allowing us to identify which conversations were already in the room.

The first question, where is your heart in Toronto, led to impassioned conversations about home, family, neighbourhoods, which touched on topics like development and opportunity. Following this, the groups dispersed and reformed, to think about the question “what does the city of Toronto give you?” The host at each table facilitated, building on the previous themes. Topics of opportunity, way finding, community and a sense of home expressed the appreciation and conversely some of the frustrations that people experienced in Toronto. Finally, the question “what does the city of Toronto need from its citizens?” sparked conversation on engagement, action and mobilization around some of the challenges the city faces. All the participants were then asked to note down challenges on post its for harvesting the rich conversations.

Delicious lunch gave time for mingling and personal connections, while the. WiToPoli team worked to link and connect the post it’s into themes.These themes informed the after lunch session, but not before a fun “idea speed dating session” to get the neurons firing in novel ways. Participants broke out into themed tables and got down to the nitty gritty details of coming up with practical solutions to some of the issues identified, to be presented as a deputation.

The next two hours was a flurry of intense discussion, debate, and proposal making. Note takers kept careful track of the core of the proposals, to be given to the WiToPoli team to create deputations from. At the end of the workshop, everyone offered their reflections on the day. Inspired, connected, and engaged seemed to be shared feelings, with comments in how heartening it was to be among a group of people who don’t think “you care too much”.

Lastly, the participants wrote their pledge as to how they would Exhibit Change going forward. WiToPoli are working on the deputation, so watch this space!

Participants in full swing with intense discussion at the World Cafe

“Women Are City-Builders” co-hosted with Women In Toronto Politics

On September 23rd, we gathered with 30 brilliant minds in a co-hosted workshop with Women in Toronto Politics at the Academy of the Impossible.

We were primed for a day of  discussion, multiple view points and a lot of work. I had the utmost pleasure of getting to facilitate the day and it was made so much easier by the sheer brilliance of the participants. We hosted a group of women (& a few men) who’s backgrounds came from politics, law, non-profit, education, community-based organizations, you name it. Very interestingly, the majority of the participants were not born and raised in Toronto, with only 6, the others landed in Toronto at different times varying from the last few months to 10+ years ago.

This really shone a light on the fact that citizen engagement is not necessarily about your geographic roots. The diversity didn’t stop there either, we had folks coming from all parts of the city which was highlighted in discussions about how Toronto is a city made up of smaller “cities” with overlapping issues.

From a process side, I am always delighted when people really give in and let go of their stranger shields early. We were asking people big questions early on and after a bit of hesitation the conversations never stopped. In fact, I always feel a little bad when I have to be the one to move to the next question or agenda item. I am sorry, I promise I do it for a reason!

It was nice to be reminded that our style of facilitation is unique and lent itself well to this conversation. We were able to map out the themes in the room over our morning discussions and then emerge to do the work in the afternoon. The energy and momentum from the day are indescribable, what comes next, only time will tell. WiTOpoli fueled the fire, now we have fanned it a bit more, so the next piece is to set this place a blaze 🙂

Inspire Yourself!


p.s. THANKS SOOO much to my beautiful team – Linn, Alex and Terrence, you are rockstars!

Women are City-Builders

Do you feel that women’s lived experience deserves greater inclusion in the grand project of making Toronto a vibrant and livable city? Join us on September 23rd for the Women Are City-Builders workshop at Academy of the Impossible, co-hosted by Women in Toronto Politics and Exhibit Change!

The one-day workshop will support 30 diverse Toronto women in generating ideas to help Toronto manage its growth, meet the needs of its citizens, and improve its infrastructure and natural environment. The workshop cost is $20, with 5 subsidized and 5 free seats available.

The end result? Specific recommendations to be refined into a WiTOpoli presentation to City Council during budget deliberations.

Apply to participate on the Academy of the Impossible website by Friday, September 14.