To Worldchanging on Transit Camp

I left a comment on the Worldchanging blog’s post about Transit Camp, Unconventions and the Toronto Transit Camp, by Alex Steffen. It quickly grew into a blog post, so I may as well republish it here. Full attribution for the “stone soup” reference goes to silo-busting City Councillor (and TTC Commissioner) Joe Mihevc. I met Joe Mihevc at today’s press conference announcing a Provincial funding contribution and an overall project go ahead for the remarkable Artscape Art Barns project at the former TTC Wychwood streetcar barns site. More on that later.

Alex, thank you for mentioning our little unconference on Toronto Transit. The response and interest has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re looking forward to a fantastic day where the unexpected will be commonplace.

The TorCamp Community is looking to this event as a pilot project for other similar events, including one we’re developing with some fellow city-building schemers and dreamers that we’re calling OpenCities.

Toronto Transit Camp is an experiment that brings together the BarCamp event format and community principles, the best “Web 2.0” social media and collaboration tools, and applies those methods and tools to a difficult (intractable, if you know TTC history) problem area outside tech.

Transit Camp is about creating space for play. It is about leaving our organizational roles and business cards at the door and entering an open space that has been carved out for play, interaction, meaning-making and collaboration. It is a new way of working, for social goals as well as for market activity. It is about creating abundance from scarcity. It is a stone soup.

BarCamp’s Chris Messina and Tara Hunt are our touchstones for cultivating and nurturing the open communities that support these events. The unconference format without a sustainable community to support and contribute to it is merely a format. The power comes from what I’m calling Open Creative Communities, which are the life-blood of transformative unconference events that link to ongoing work in those communities and ultimately to tangible results on the ground.

We will be documenting Toronto Transit Camp extensively on the open web and will be publishing a case study (Creative Commons licensed, of course) on the event as an example of the power of Open Creative Communities, how they emerge, how they organize themselves and solve problems and how community gardeners can create space for their emergence. We will also find a way to allow other cities to use the transitcamp.org domain to host and organize their own Transit Camps. May a thousand flowers bloom.

Please continue to follow the story as it unfolds (tag=transitcamp). We would love for Worldchanging folks to be involved in future work to develop the underlying concept further and share it with the world. Cory Doctorow is in Toronto for a reading on Thursday, so we’ll talk to him about this as well.

Many TorCampers are Worldchangers too, whether we know it or not. ๐Ÿ™‚ Please get to know one of Transit Camp’s key sponsors, Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation. It is ground zero for these kinds of ideas in the city, and I’m proud to say it is my future office space.

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