Saturday March 29th was the day of the "Tech & the City" Walkshop, for which we gathered a varied and impressive group of local Toronto leaders in the area of digital co-creation and urban spaces. Each of our presenters brought their own unique perspective on how technology influences the way we engage and interact with, play with and change our city.
Bianca Wylie (@biancawylie | Swerhun | Canadian Open Data Institute ) explained that more freely available data enables community organisations to make better decisions based on real evidence. She noted however, that "opening" or making available data upon request was not enough; we need to work towards useful data sets being made available by default, and made available in machine-readable, technology-friendly format, for easy use by anyone looking to leverage data on what their community wants and needs in order to make a favourable change.
Elena Yunusov (@communicable | Communicable | Toronto Mini Maker Faire) told us about the Toronto Mini Maker Faire, aka "the world's largest DIY festival", which brings together Toronto makers using any material, from food to wood to LED lights and digital media, with those who would learn to create and would be entertained. She also told us about some of the spaces in Toronto where anyone can come together to create, using tools from lasers to soldering irons to 3D printing.
Anisa Mirza (@Giveffect | Giveffect) demonstrated how giveffect uses a social media mechanism to reach out to and continuously engage so-called "millennial" donors. Giveffect brings people together through shared charitable projects, and the platform has served several functions, from a social media-connected place to amass donations for your favourite cause instead of birthday presents, to a platform for one-upmanship between university professors trying to raise more money to avoid a pie in the face.
Sagan Yee (@HandEyeSociety | Hand Eye Society) presented two initiatives, both geared towards community engagement. Game Curious brings together video gamers, hard-core and simply-curious, to play together and to discuss games, including the large number of games that we learned are made in Toronto. To The Streets is about bringing games into unique public spaces like projections on buildings, to engage onlookers on the street into interacting with the projection and trying out the game.
Cherie Daly (@100in1DayTO | 100in1day Toronto) 100in1Day is a citizen-driven festival of action that unites people city-wide by engaging them in 1-day community projects, known as urban interventions. Cherie's suggestion of questions to ask yourself as a potential urban intervention creator inspired us as well for potential walk leaders. She asked: "What is your dream? What do you wish for your community to be like? What actions will improve the quality of life in your community, street and block?" Cherie talked about connecting neighbours through interventions which, while they are often whimsical and funny on first glance, make a real comment on the state of our city and its individual neighbourhoods. Examples from previous events have included a dance party with people each wearing their own headphones and dancing to their own music, and a mini-park created for the day in a parking spot.
A great big thank you to our presenters and to our attendees for talking tech opportunities and applications in Toronto.
Find out more about the & the City WalkShop Series and attend a free upcoming WalkShop!
Cover photo: Jane's Walk 2013: Toronto, Ontario, Canada | "NOT the history of Liberty Village" | Guided by Lori & Rodney Hoinkes | Photo by Jeremy Kai