The success of YIMBY 2015 gave the organizing team the opportunity to think about how to continue to foster citizen action across Toronto to build up a solid culture of Yes in My Backyard. Key issues identified from YIMBY were the need to build connections, share lessons and have more opportunities to meet face to face. It was decided that a follow up gathering should be held that would focus on building relationships and the sharing of citizen based, city-building narratives.
We worked with Shape My City and the STEPS Initiative to put together Citizen Action in the 6ix: An Unconference for City Builders– a day-long event to connect YIMBY 2015 participants with each other using an open-space, unconference format. Our model was simple – if different community groups could come together, share their stories and map out their needs and interests in an unstructured format, relationships could be built that would allow groups to support each other and achieve more collectively.
We gathered on April 17 2016 and began the day with story circles facilitated by David Buchbinder of Diasporic Genius. David helped the participants connect with each other on a human level by unleashing personal storytelling and performing mindfulness activities. His activity set the tone of the day away from traditional meetups where people would “elevator-pitch” their projects. We wanted everyone to feel that they belonged to a larger community and have the opportunity to hear stories from others. At the end of the morning we had a fabulous lunch from local caterer Ahmer Khan.
Participants enjoyed the day and commented on how much they learned, the connections they made and commended the organizing team for providing an open platform to share ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. We’ll definitely do this again and look forward to working with the Shape My City team to build out the next version!