I’m cycling 660km and need your help!

This coming Sunday I will be leaving Toronto for the six day bike trip to Montreal, cycling 660km with over 200 riders raising awareness and funds for PWA Toronto. PWA is a community-based organization that supports men, women and children living with the health, social and economic effects of HIV/AIDS.

Learn more about the Bike Rally and PWA Toronto here.

I am asking for your support in my final push to meet my fundraising goals and hope that you share my interest in supporting people in our community living with the profound effects of this fatal disease.

You can leave your pledge here.

Put TORCAMP on the map AND win a 30GB iPod!

While Jay Goldman and Leila Boujane work on a very cool subway-map of Toronto’s tech community similar to the one in Montreal, Toronto’s tech community can put itself on the map in other ways too. The TorCamp community is “partnering” (in what must be a first for a non-organization that puts on unconferences) with the Toronto Board of Trade on getting the word out to the thousands of small and micro-businesses about their ICT survey.

I am encouraging anybody who sees themselves as part of the greater Toronto technology community to fill out the survey and put themselves on the map for policy-makers who are looking for new ways of supporting that community’s development in the global race for technology leadership. Plus a new iPod would be nice! (Mine has be acting up lately).

Please blog about it, Facebook it, pass it on to people you know in the Toronto region involved in technology, and put out to any email lists you may be on. Thanks!

Here are the details:

Simply visit http://www.whatsyouropinion.ca, enter “TORCAMPâ€? in the field marked Survey Code and follow the easy steps through a short questionnaire which should help us identify issues and opportunities within Toronto’s growing ICT community.

For providing us your feedback, we’ll send you the aggregate results and analysis, but you’ll also be eligible to win a video iPod or tickets to upcoming Technology Innovators Breakfasts at the Toronto Board of Trade.

Thank you in advance for participating in this survey and helping to champion a competitive and vibrant ICT community in Toronto.

Richard Florida is in ur Toronto, loving ur creatives

By now old news, but worth repeating: Richard Florida is coming to Toronto! A major coup for Roger Martin and Premier Dalton McGuinty, this is a huge development in the continuing story of Toronto’s efforts to become a world-leading creative city.

For some context, read this piece in the Globe and Mail. For a hilarious articulation of his theory, see his appearance on Monday’s Colbert Report. Introduced as Dr. Richard Florida, from University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, he did a great job keeping up with Colbert’s madness (video online until August 15th):

Stephen: So should I be following gay people around, to see where they’re living?
Rich: Absolutely!
Stephen: Ok good, because I do it already and now I have a reason.
Rich: Absolutely! Me too.
Stephen: You know what I think sir? I think that you are a gay bohemian artist that just wants to sell his house!
Rich: You know we just sold our house on Sunday, my wife and I, to move to Toronto!
Stephen: So you made a quick buck on this study!

What would draw the creative class guru to Toronto? Well sure, he loves the place. But a $120 million budget and a welcoming political leadership sure don’t hurt:

The Centre for Jurisdictional Advantage and Prosperity is a $120-million project, made possible by a $50-million donation to Rotman from the Province of Ontario. The federal government contributed an additional $10-million. The balance will be raised from the private sector.

I am looking forward to meeting Richard Florida again. My work is being drawn into the gravity well of this meteoric academic star. He comes to Toronto at a time when a critical mass of attention is being drawn to his ideas and those of like-minded leaders in creativity-driven community and economic development.

This is going to be fun!

From the wilderness…a post

I just realized it has been 3 weeks since my last blog post and I apologize, dear reader, for letting you down. I will endeavour to be more consistent in the future. I have also fallen WAY behind on my RSS feeds. I HAVE been busy. I rarely blog about work, so here’s a bit of an update:

  • I facilitated a net neutrality townhall conversation at nextMEDIA (video forthcoming, I hope)
  • I finished writing a report on technology impacts on the new media sector and their implications on cultural policy for Department of Canadian Heritage and Ministére de la Culture et des Communications du Québec
  • I helped organize a successful first Open Cities unconference, which has begun a whole series of new conversations and activity
  • I successfully reframed the Creative Convergence Centres Project into the Creative Convergence Project, which the steering committee approved; the project is moving forward with a compelling scope that will focus on creative places at the building, district and city-wide scales
  • I developed a new service offering for community cultural engagement at the municipal level, including a great deal of online community practices and tools taken from our experiences with BarCamps and, particularly, from Toronto Transit Camp.

New business continues to come my way and the consulting pipeline is pretty much full through the fall. This has started me thinking about where I want to take Remarkk Consulting as a business.

Smoky Mountain Road
Smoky Mountain Road by pfly

Until now, Remarkk Consulting has been an umbrella for my own consulting work and personal passion projects. The positive feedback I get from this work tells me first of all that the combination of work and personal passion is key. It also tells me that my chosen domains at the intersection of Technology, Culture, Public Policy and/or Strategy are under-served and in need of fresh ideas and new energy at a time of profound change. So I’m in the right place, in what appears to be the right time.

As indie consultants know, we have choices to make as we grow:

  1. We can stay independent, charge more, and move up the strategic food chain.
  2. We can partner with other indies and enter into joint projects on an ad-hoc basis.
  3. We can hire staff and start building a “Practice” and a “Firm”, leverage past work through reusable knowledge that can be transferred to junior consultants.

Management is not something I necessarily want to return to, although I enjoyed the mentoring aspects of management. I am drawn to loose and agile agglomerations of talented peers – Jevon’s Manifesto for an Emerging Consultant Counter Culture – rather than more formal large organizational structures. I am also not interested in becoming one of those consultants that is so caught up in the strategic stratosphere as to lose my connection to the tangible reality of grassroots communities.

These are some of the factors I’m looking at as I consider the future directions of Remarkk Consulting. If you’ve been there before, I’d love to hear about your experiences. How do you evolve your practice in sync with your passions in a way that gives meaning to both?