The Impact of ChangeCamp

Cross-posted from

As one of the instigators of ChangeCamp at MaRS in Toronto on January 24th, I have spent much of the past 10 days trying to process all the content, ideas, outcomes and possibilities that it generated. It’s been a little overwhelming. Clearly we tapped a rich vein of attention.

Wordle (Merkley, transcribed) by Suzanne Long

So what did we do together? Let’s do a quick rundown of the numbers:

That’s a lot of heat from our ChangeCamp fire! But how much light was there? How much change was made? What was the quality of the products of our co-creation?

To my mind, the jury is still out on this question. A lot will happen not at ChangeCamp, but in the weeks and months to come because of ChangeCamp. We need to hear, share and tell those stories. We need your help:

  1. Please complete our Participant Survey
  2. Please leave your comments on this blog post. Don’t be shy, don’t be overly polite. We have thick skins.
  3. If you prefer to be discrete, send an email to
  4. Have more feedback? Write a post about what worked, what didn’t and ideas for the future, like this, this, this, this or this.

The organizers came to this event with modest goals: to ignite and accelerate a new conversation about the shifting ideas of government and citizenship in this “age of participation”, enabled by new tools and thanks to the web. Based on the buzz in online social media, traditional media and face-to-face conversations, I think we can safely say that we achieved that modest goal.

For people in other cities and countries that have been inspired by the ChangeCamp idea, it is important to understand all the preparatory ground work that made ChangeCamp a success in Toronto. An event of this kind is all about having the right mix of participants. Engaging that mix from government, technology, design, social innovation and media-making was key to our success.

Toronto is blessed by a dense cluster of some of the most talented designers, developers, creators and social innovators in the world. Toronto is also home to one of the most connected and innovative BarCamp and Twitter communities in the world, who have been using online tools together with face-to-face events to create change in areas of civic life outside the technology sector. We have leaders like Mark Surman of Mozilla Foundation who laid the groundwork within our City government, opening the door to open data. We had a recent “Web 2.0 Summit” event at City Hall where social media and open data in the context of government had centre stage in front of an influential audience both at the City and the Province. We have a Mayor who said:

When you open up the data, there’s no limit to what people can do. It engages the imagination of citizens in building the city.

What direction does ChangeCamp go next? That’s another post. We want to make sure that our emerging community has lots of opportunity to inform its future direction, to participate in it, to get involved in many new ways. We can’t do it all, we can’t do it alone, we can’t boil the ocean, but we can start with some small steps that in the long-run can enable major change.

Please read after the jump and give all the originators, organizers, contributors, sponsors and supporters some love. They deserve it. I’m sure I’ve missed a couple of people, so raise your hand at if I missed you!

ChangeCamp would not have been possible if not for the contributions of so many:

Origins: Mark Surman at Mozilla Foundation, Tonya Surman at Centre for Social Innovation, Mayor David Miller and the City of Toronto Web 2.0 Summit, David Crow and BarCamp Toronto, TransitCamp, OpenEverything, TVO’s AgendaCamp, #HoHoTO.

Organizers & Contributors: Mark Kuznicki, Daniel Rose, Meghan Warby, Lisa Torjman, Ryan Taylor, Matthew Milan, Sean Howard, Meghan Warby, Gerry Kirk, Rohan Jayasekera, David Eaves, Ryan Merkley, Darren Chartier, Suzanne Long, Will Pate, Jennifer Bell, Michael Cayley, Duarte Da Silva, Blair Francey, Martin Kuplens-Ewart, Alistair Morton, Mark McKay, Dan Hocking, Michele Perras, Heather Williams, Matt Nish-Lapidus, Justin Kozuch, Mark Bondyra, Sandy Kemsley

Sponsors: SiG@MaRS, MaRS Centre, City of Toronto, Churchill Society, MASS LBP, Torch Partnership, Samara, Remarkk!, Omakase Group, Peapod Studios, Apolitic, Unspace, BFDesign

Community Supporters & Donators: Sebastien Chorney, Kevin Lee, Wesley Hodgson, Aidan Nulman, Lee Dale, Peter Jones, Phil Nelson, Pamela Quiroga, Andrae Griffith, Marc-Antoine Parent, Kieran Huggins, Peter Smith, Keith Stephan-Giermek, Ellen Michelson, Miroslav Glavic, Gillian Kerr, Jennifer Bell, Zeena Abdulla, Alex Sirota, Andre Gaulin, Mario Bourque, Patrick Robinson, Matthew Milan, Geoff Whitlock, Patrick Dinnen, Andrew Lockhart, Elizabeth Littlejohn, Eric Squair, This Magazine (Graham F. Scott), Lucia Mancuso Mancuso, Sappho Mullins, Ryan Taylor, Meghan Warby, David Janes, Ryan Merkley, Stephen Chanasyk, Darren Chartier, Duarte Da Silva, Kurt Gooden, Rohan Jayasekera, Michael Jones

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