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.


Parkdale Garden Design Charrette

This past weekend Exhibit Change hosted the Parkdale Garden Design Charrette in partnership with the Parkdale Village Business Improvement Area and Parkdale Liberty Economic Development Corporation. Both organizations are dedicated to the beautification and development of the Parkdale neighbourhood.  I planned an activity filled afternoon of design-driven community engagement for the community members of Parkdale.  The event hosted a diverse group of community members – youth, BIA board members and staff, community garden workers, residents, and a politician.

The icebreaker activity began the discussion of “What is Design Thinking and Playful Curiosity?” Participants learned that they already know about design thinking and playful curiosity. Design thinking is a process that is engrained in each of us; we all have our individual methods. Playful curiosity is the opportunity to remember that there are unlimited potentials and that true discovery happens when we don’t put any boundaries on our imagination. The participants demonstrated design thinking and playful curiosity by eating Oreo cookies and sharing their processes with each other. It was entertaining to watch all the different cookie eating techniques, one bite stuffers, multi-bite nibblers or split & lickers.

I asked the group to think about “What is a garden?” and to create a collage of images and words to show the collective expression of feelings and all the potential a garden has.  I was especially impressed with the youth’s mango and banana trees that they wanted in the gardens.  It was inspiring to see all the great ideas and the fun continued. Then we moved to 3D garden creations. The youth kept their fruit theme up with very realistic replica playdoh banana, strawberry and tomato. The others talked about big sunflowers, keeping the existing trees and  putting benches back into Parkdale among other great ideas.

Finally, we did an Action Mind Map which allowed everyone to talk about what the garden needs to survive and thrive. It was very touching that everyone wanted to contribute their time and do what they can for the future of the gardens.

The charrette was a public design workshop, which was held on May 15th, 2010 at the Masaryk Cowan community center at 1pm to 4pm, 13 people attended. The 13 participants were a diverse section of the community and represented many generations, ethnicities, genders, professions, commitment to the community and multi-disciplinary perspectives.

Finally, the participants all gathered for a group discussion “What does a garden need to thrive?”  Each participant had a stack of post-it notes and they started putting their suggestions up on the way, creating a mind map of action items that needed to happen for the gardens to make it. This collective effort showed that the gardens need a healthy dose of time, energy, resources – both financial and plant materials, people, love, sunshine, volunteers, ideas, spread the word, respect, it was certainly a great start to the conversation. Then each participant made a commitment in “How do you Exhibit Change?” by taking at least one action item off the board. This is the start to the community input.

Overall, I was certainly pleased with the imagination, design thinking and playful curiosity and the hot pink pipe cleaners were an added bonus.