Creating the Future in Southern Ontario

Word Cloud - All Reflections Combined from the TourTo watch / participate in the debrief of this tour, skip to the bottom of this post.

What is possible when a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals decide they want their communities to thrive?  

Margaret Mead’s quote repeatedly ran through our heads this month, as Creating the Future was hosted in communities throughout Southern Ontario on our first-ever regional tour.

During one short week, we facilitated 5 community conversations, hosted 2 changemaker meet-ups, met with community leaders and toured some amazing co-working spaces.  The results were profound in many ways – which will be the topic of our debrief meeting on August 7th at 1pm ET  (that meeting will occur at the bottom of this blog post).

Four of Creating the Future’s fellows live and work in southern Ontario – Gayle Valeriote and Anne MacKay in Guelph, Jane Garthson in Toronto and Karen Smith in Hamilton.   With this small yet critical mass, they realized that they could create a wave of change together that none of them could build on their own.Guelph/Wellington Reflections

And so they worked with their communities to find a way for this tour to happen, building upon the abundance of assets that every community has, but that are often hiding in plain sight.  

People donated meeting facilities and equipment. They donated airline miles and spare bedrooms. They promoted events via their mailing lists and social media.  

And to cover cash expenses, leaders of small community groups gave what they could, all put into one pot with no thought to whose community got what in return – they were all contributing to the greater goal of strengthening the whole region. (We’ll be blogging more about this Stone Soup approach later, as it was a powerful thing to be part of and watch happen.)

Hamilton - Reflections (word cloud)The Questions
In each community, the participants discussed the same questions:
• What would your community look like if your efforts were 100% successful?
• What cause-and-effect path would lead to those results?
• What will it take to create that path? What actions can we take right now?

In each community, the sessions began by asking people to share the stories of their own lives – the meandering path that had led them to care so deeply about their communities. And in each community, the sessions ended by asking people to share what stood out for them in those conversations.

Time to discuss and explore these questions (plus about 30 minutes of ground-laying by Hildy) ranged from 90 minutes in London to 4 hours in Hamilton.

The Results
What did this tour make possible, and for whom? That will be the starting point for our debrief meeting on August 7th at 1pm ET (below).London reflections Word Cloud

There are impacts that will be felt in communities, as individuals meet again to make things happen. We are particularly watching Hamilton for that result, where 3 small agencies gathered 50 people to talk about “building a community where all children are thriving.” At the end of the afternoon, the group vowed to meet again, this time bringing someone unrelated to those 3 groups – the “unlikely suspects” that will begin connecting community members to each other and to their potential.

There are impacts that will ripple into the lives of our Creating the Future fellows, who built closer ties with their communities and with each other.

There were impacts for accomplishing Creating the Future’s mission – to embed the factors that have historically led to human progress into the day-to-day practices of everyone, from every walk of life.  

And there were immensely meaningful immediate impacts on Dimitri and Hildy, who witnessed in every session the same energy that arises when barriers fall by the wayside (What will it take?) and all that remains is what is possible.

Reflections - MaRS word cloudAnd then there were the impacts on the individual participants. The word clouds you see in this post were generated from the reflections shared by attendees at each of the sessions, in answer to the question, “Looking back over the notes you took during this session, what stood out for you / surprised you? What aha’s did you have?”  (If you’re curious about the actual sentiments, you can read them all here – a document filled with insight, inspiration, and above all, practical possibility).

What’s Next?
Our team will be debriefing from this tour on August 7th at 1pm ET right here (the video will pop up below).  If you participated in any of these sessions, or if you just want to experience a bit of what we all explored – and continue to explore – together, we hope you will join in to help us fully flesh out the picture and determine next steps.  To do so, you can watch the meeting right here, and participate by tweeting to the hashtag #CTFuture.

Tweetstream from this discussion
(scroll to the bottom to begin)

In the meantime, we hope you will share any aha’s that have occurred to you since we all met together!

The word clouds in order:
All locations combined, Guelph/Wellington, Hamilton, London, MaRS Toronto. Dimitri used
Tagul to produce the clouds. To enlarge the clouds and read all the words, right click (PC) and click on View Image. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “Creating the Future in Southern Ontario”

  1. Great job sharing the amazing gatherings that took place here in southern Ontario, Hildy! It was a remarkable 10 days, and I'm delighted that I was able to be part of it. 

    Really looking forward to the debrief on August 7th, and hoping many of the participants from our community sessions will join in along with others who are interested. I think the conversation about "what's next?" is important not only for keeping momentum going forward, but also for revealing some of the thoughts that materialized only after digesting and mulling over the community conversations that took place. Reflecting back on the session here in Hamilton, I'm struck by the group's desire to convene again even though we didn't identify WHY that would happen…no specific task, no agenda…and the desire to widen the circle and engage others. That's not been typical of community planning for me, and I think the debrief will be a great opportunity to hear more about the potential in this open approach (for individuals as well as for community).

    Thank you for all that you and Dimitri did to make the tour such a success, and for what you added to our community building efforts. See you on August 7th!


  2. greetings!!

    I'm waiting to watch the debrief but nothing is popping up…..  sorry, I don't know how tweet…  anyone know how to access the debrief??  thanks!!


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