I’m Going to LIFT in Geneva!

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Thanks to Tom, Michele, Francesca and Joshua’s awesomeness and gentle but insistent prodding, I decided at the last minute to get on a plane to Geneva for LIFT ’07, which runs Wednesday through Friday.

Tom raved about LIFT ’06 (see his Flickr photos) and has been insisting that I simply must go. With Toronto Transit Camp out of the way (fly my pretties!), exciting new things taking off, a major year-long project starting soon physically anchored in Toronto, I figured that I had a small window of now or never to take advantage of the opportunity. Even more amazing conversations with incredibly smart people. Heaven on earth for a Citizen Wonk like me.

If you’re attending Lift, I’d love to get in touch on topics of mutual interest. See my LIFT profile page:

I’m interested in conversations with people on the emerging peer production paradigm enabled by social media and the power of open creative communities.

Big thanks to Passports Canada!! Yes, that’s right. Yours truly pulled a classic me and let my passport expire. But I will have it by noon today, same-day emergency service (extra charge, of course). Tom and the TorCamp Skype chat swarm gave me great tips and insight from having done it before, and gave the needed boot to the butt to say it is possible. I did my part and Michelle N (hi Michelle!) at Passports Canada made it a very straight-forward process. Here are my tips:

  • Show up VERY early. The Victoria Street office opens at 8:00am. Show up by 6:30 to be reasonably front of line right now (new US requirements have swamped the Passport offices)
  • Have EVERYTHING super documented: you will need your guarantor and references, proof of citizenship as usual. Your guarantor and references must be available to verify your references by telephone.
  • NEW RULE: (effective this week) emergency requests must have documentation of the rationale for the emergency. Mine was based on potential negative impacts to my business and earnings, as well as prospective business currently in development

I’ll blog what I can, but expect to continue my pattern of insufficient sleep and daily brain explosions. Life is good.

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Toronto Transit Camp: “Trojan Pony”

(“Trojan Pony” reference courtesy Will “Community Guy” Pate)

Toronto Transit Camp went off even better than our wildest imaginings. We even got great press in the “traditional media”, with more to come. Here’s the CityTV coverage [YouTube]:

We had an amazing group of creative problem solvers who braved the bitter cold and an early morning start (Superbowl Sunday, no less!) to take on difficult design challenges while advancing the work of the TTC, developing their own skills, learning, getting to know some new people and having a great time doing it. It was a new community emerging from the nursery. Jay and I are proud new dads looking forward to baby’s first steps.

In addition to press we also had the attention and participation of the TTC from the staff to executive to the political levels. They were wonderful, really open, helping clarify facts of reality while holding back the hard reality enough that creativity could emerge. Eli Singer, Jay Goldman and I briefed the TTC prior to the event. I think they benefited from a clear understanding of the event structure, the nature of the TorCamp community and the rules of engagement. They appeared very happy with the results.

This was an experiment in bringing BarCamp event practices, social media and online collaboration tools and community stewardship practices to the rest of the world – the real world. Web 2.0 obsessed technologists (this means you DemoCamp) often forget that technology is a means, not an end. Transit Campers were challenged to become city-builders and at the end of the day an amazing new community was born armed with tools and practices to start making an ongoing difference in the shape of our city. That’s a good thing.

It needs nurturing, but there seems to be a great pool of people to look to within the Transit Camp community for stewardship. The TorCamp community’s role is to help the Transit Camp community solidify, continue the conversations and start some specific projects.

This is part of an emerging new paradigm of civic participation and peer production that we’re calling Open Creative Communities, which are part of OpenCities. Expect to see much more on this file in the weeks and months to come.

So many people to thank. Big thanks to all our amazing organizers, participants and supporters, and especially our sponsors. Thanks to Robert Oullette of ReadingToronto for starting this crazy thing. Buy A.M.’s cool ambient electronic CD inspired by subway sounds, “Underground“. Hire Misha for your next Open Space event and then book the Gladstone. Get your bags and t-shirts at Stitchy Lizard. Signup for ZipCar or Autoshare to haul your stuff around. House your social enterprise startup or social mission organization at the The Centre for Social Innovation. Be nice to Radiant Core, Navantis, Cundari SFP, Tucows and ONESTOP Media Group. And definitely get all your GPS bus tracking systems from Grey Island Systems.

Admit it, you know you want one.