Nuit Blanche=Christmas+Burning Man+Halloween

I am very excited for Nuit Blanche again this year. I am amazed that last year’s first attempt has quickly become a highly anticipated Toronto institution. I love it for the way it just transforms the city for a night as thousands of people take to the streets and wander from one captivating experience to another.

Nuit Blanche

For the inside scoop on what to see, check out Andrea Carson’s blog, View on Canadian Art (VoCA).

From “Smalltown Boy” to Pink Shirt Day!

Students at a small town Nova Scotia high school rallied to support the victim of bullies who was targeted because he wore a pink shirt, which (of course!) made him gay. (Thanks to Bike Rally buddy Owen for passing this on.)

Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies a message

The story has been picked up internationally, and now the school is being contacted by others who want to bring “Pink Shirt Day” to their schools. A powerful meme about tolerance is released, and a million pink shirts bloom.

My friend Owen does amazing work in the small Ontario town of Peterborough and the Kawartha Lakes region. Among other work for PARN, Owen works with student GLBTQ groups and helps students set up groups in their schools. He told me of a school near the cottage country town of Bobcaygeon (pop’n: 3,000) with a vibrant queer youth group that includes many straight participants. I was astounded. As a kid who grew up in Owen Sound (pop’n: 22,000) in the 80s, I just couldn’t imagine that level of awareness, openness and support in a tiny rural Ontario town.

Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy”, an anthem for kids growing up gay in the 80s, tells the story of a gay boy who has to leave his small town, soaked in the melancholy that implies. Of course, this is still an all too frequent story, but one that is becoming less and less common thanks to the work of students, community activists and the culture at large.

Bronski Beat – Smalltown Boy

As I reflect upon the change that has happened in our culture, it gives me hope in so many other aspects of life.

Now if we could only coax the hot gay nerds of TorCamp out of their geeky closets. Maybe a trail of iPhones might do the trick…

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Politics & Web 2.0 conference and call for papers

Thought this might be of interest to some:

Has there been a shift in political use of the Internet and digital new media – a new Web 2.0 politics based on participatory values? How do broader social, cultural, and economic shifts towards Web 2.0 impact, if at all, on the contexts, the organizational structures, and the communication of politics and policy? Does Web 2.0 hinder or help democratic citizenship? This conference provides an opportunity for researchers to share and debate perspectives.

This conference is being organized by the New Political Communication Unit in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Creative Convergence Research Study: Take the Survey!

Take the Survey!

Participate in a major collaborative research initiative that explores the unique characteristics of communities, neighbourhoods and districts in which talented artists, entrepreneurs, firms and organizations thrive. Help inform public policy makers on how to better protect and promote these critical local habitats of infrastructure and services that sustain Toronto’s cultural and creative sectors.

Ecology Image
The Creative Convergence Project is a major collaborative research project being undertaken by a consortium that includes: Artscape, MaRS, Evergreen, OCAD, Canadian Film Centre, Toronto International Film Festival Group and funded by partners OMDC, City of Toronto, TEDCO, Waterfront Toronto and with the participation of the University of Toronto Cultural Economy Lab and a long list of partner organizations. I’m the project manager for this, and it’s really fascinating work. I’m lucky to be involved and am enjoying working with the amazing people at Artscape: Tim Jones, Reid Henry and Lori Tesolin.

Join the Community!

We’ve started a Facebook group for the project. While Richard Florida may now call Toronto home and the “creative city” is on the lips of many among Toronto’s chattering classes, it is the many thousands of creative and passionate Toronto citizens that will cocreate a city where every individual’s creative passion is nurtured and developed for the benefit of our long-term sustainability and quality of life.

Make art. Build a building. Create software. Tell stories. Push the boundaries of perception and knowledge. Perform, dance and play. All this needs space, place, people and connectivity to make it come alive.

We hope you will join us in writing the story of a city embracing its future.

Mobile/Wireless Shakeup Set for 2008

The mobile and wireless services space is evolving rapidly. Just a few months ago, hundreds of bloggers and their commenters raged against the wireless data pricing situation in Canada. In July RIM joined the chorus publicly. Suddenly, there are signs of movement in the Canadian market, with Bell Mobility offering 1GB wireless data for $60/month or unlimited data for $75/month. Will Telus and Rogers/Fido follow suit?

Ipodtouchbrowser-1In the United States, Apple’s iPhone has become the latest in a long string of must-have devices from the company that reinvented how we buy and listen to music. The total impact of the iPhone remains to be seen, but there is no question that it’s shaking up the wireless device industry with typically obsessive attention to user experience and hardware/software/services integration.

There is still no word on when Rogers/Fido will bring our iPhones to Canada. Gadget afficionados outside the U.S. are getting iPhones through grey market and not-so-grey-market channels and are now able to easily unlock the iPhone for use on the GSM network of their choice. Apple’s new iPod Touch, which is basically an iPhone without the phone, features WiFi, the best mobile browser yet seen and a WiFi iTunes music store, may indicate the trojan horse strategy underneath the hood of iPhone.
Meanwhile, in the U.S. the FCC is setting the rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction to take place in January, 2008. This spectrum is being retired from the UHF broadcast television spectrum to be retired by 2009 as broadcast makes the final transition to digital and is ideal for wireless broadband services.

The emerging rules point towards some kind of open access provisions on a portion of that spectrum to allow any device or software on any network. Google caused a wave with a $4.6 billion commitment based on getting open access provisions into the auction rules. Now there are reports that Apple might join Google’s effort to pry open the U.S. wireless market, and we can also expect eBay (which owns Skype) to get into the action. The iPod Touch WiFi provides some hints about why Apple would want to enter this market despite the massive capital investment and the low-margin nature of the business.
In Canada, 2008 marks the Advanced Wireless Services (“AWS”) spectrum auction, with similar discussion about creating a more open and more competitive field for wireless service in Canada. This is not the same kind of spectrum as the 700 MHz auction in the U.S., which is still a couple of years off as Canada’s planned transition to digital television is mandated for August, 2011.

The 2008 Canadian AWS auction is for spectrum in the 2 GHz range for 3G cellular mobile networks and “other advanced technologies”. The two sides of the debate are represented by the incumbent members of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (“CWTA”) and the hopeful new market entrants of the Coalition for Wireless Competition (“3GCC”), led by Quebecor Media (Videotron) and MTS Allstream.

At the risk of oversimplifying, the 3GCC coalition is pushing for rules that give some kind of preference or encouragement to new market entrants including mechanisms for tower-sharing, while the CWTA is arguing that the “free market” should determine the outcome with an open auction and no such provisions. The rules haven’t yet been announced, but watch this space for updates.

I’m looking forward to covering the mobile/wireless space a lot more in 2008. As the network becomes increasingly ubiquitous and devices continue to shrink and improve in terms of user experience, amazing new possibilities for innovation will be presenting themselves. No doubt the battle for supremacy in the Telcos vs. New Entrants debates in the United States and Canada will be fascinating to watch. The implications are also huge for the development of a new and expanded ecosystem of technologies and content companies, which all makes for a very interesting historical moment for consumers, geeks and wonks everywhere.

Making Space for Culture in Ontario’s Cities

Yesterday, Ontario’s Minister of Culture Caroline Di Cocco came by the Centre for Social Innovation to give her thanks and congratulations for the work of the Municipal Cultural Planning Partnership commemorating an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant of $230,500.

BubblebattleMunicipal cultural planning is an emerging global practice designed to support the development of culturally vibrant cities, towns and villages: the arts, creative industries, cultural tourism, downtown revitalization, for social inclusion and engaging youth. In a province where for many citizens big-C “Culture” is seen as a big city frill, this shift is nothing less than a revolution. (Dare I call it a “renaissance”?)

The power of the tools and practices of cultural planning comes from their authentic, grassroots, community-driven approach.

The community defines what culture means to it. For citizens of the lovely Lake Huron town of Goderich, a walk down the beach and the unique octagonal town square are cultural experiences. For communities with strong connections to native roots, the preservation of oral traditions is more relevant and critical than the next performance of The Marriage of Figaro at the Canadian Opera Company’s fabulous new opera house in Toronto. In communities everywhere, providing young people with the tools of creativity and self-expression is critical for our long-term prosperity and social well-being.

I look forward to working with this group as we develop a community strategy for a province-wide community of practice as well as a communication strategy that makes good use of a new website currently in development to be hosted at

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