Transit Camp Goes Global

Charlie on the MBTA wants to bring the Transit Camp event format to Boston: An open invitation to Dan Grabauskas. Will was saying that Vancouver’s interested as well. Toronto Transit Camp is designed to propagate just as BarCamp did. We’re here to help.

In the beginning, there was BarCamp, and there was much rejoicing; and the Messina looked down and said that it was good.

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Toronto Transit Camp: One Week Later

Accordion Guy @ Toronto Transit Camp, originally uploaded by Will Pate.

Did the earth move? Did Toronto change overnight? Was there a sense of WOW in our now? Maybe…

We certainly had our fair share of attention, from the TTC staff to the politicians to the media locally and around the world. See the latest media pieces in the Toronto Star and NOW Magazine.

Why? Because individual passion, open creative communities, culture and creativity are desperately needed to solve our real-world problems. There is a hunger for the things that Transit Camp represents in the world, and this is just the beginning.

This new baby community hopes to continue to feed that hunger with more Toronto Transit Camp conversations and projects, and some of us are looking to extend the idea more broadly in the Open Cities unconference being planned for June.

Join the open creative communities movement and put the people back into city-building.

I’m Going to LIFT in Geneva!

Picture 8-1
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.

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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It’s Alive!: Toronto Transit Camp for pre-Superbowl geekery

Wow…this is going to be huge fun. Toronto Transit Camp:

An ad-hoc gathering at the Gladstone Hotel of designers, transit geeks, bloggers, visual artists, tech geeks and cultural creators passionate about transit in Toronto and the TTC. It is a platform for Toronto’s talented design community and enthusiastic transit users and fans to demonstrate their creativity and contribute to a better way for Toronto’s transit system. The content and ideas generated in this open unconference will be delivered to the TTC for their consideration in their work.

Toronto Transit Camp

I have been working like a mad man to get this going with my fellow community tricksters: Jay Goldman, David Crow, Bryce Johnson, Eli Singer, Julia Breckenreid, Rannie Turingan, Joey DeVilla, Misha Glouberman, Patrick Dinnen, Madhava Enros, Mark Surman, Michael Glenn, Amber MacArthur. Special mention to the TorCamp Skype chat swarm for being the collective sounding board and reality check.

Read about the history and origins of the event. I found myself in the middle of a storm of multi-threaded, massively parallel organization and collaboration in the past week (you read right, it took 1 week to pull together from our first planning meeting last Sunday at the Gladstone to being open for registration with all the major pieces in place) and now I have a moment to reflect back on what it means.

Reflecting now on TransitCamp’s origins and how quickly and powerfully things came together, even I am shocked at how the social media and online collaborative tools have made this possible. This is truly a new paradigm of collaborative peer production. Something new, fundamentally important and very powerful. This is Wikinomics meets city-building. BarCamp meets the real world.
Think about it:

From web critique and user feedback to design solutions and cultural transformation in 35 days, volunteer time and a tiny budget…

I didn’t do this. There is no organization that did this. No organization can own it. No one will profit directly from it. It emerged from the community, from the community’s collective dream-space and to the community it owes its life.

This is distributed community-based creative production. The event itself will offer more of the same, and I am so excited to discover how the participants will populate the space for play that we’ve carved out in a small corner of Toronto.

If it isn’t fun, it will fail. If people don’t buy into and live the principles, it will fail. Those principles are borrowed from its mother-ship, BarCamp:

  1. We are all equal individuals in open community.
  2. Leadership can emerge from anywhere.
  3. We are all participants.

Register now.

My interest in Transit Camp is in feeding my research on social media, peer production and the open meme. I am looking at TransitCamp as a pilot project of a much bigger and more audacious proposition called OpenCities.

Update: Nobody does an event announcement quite like Accordion Guy, Joey DeVilla – The Prince of TorCamp.

Toronto Transit Camp is a TorCamp Community Project (cm).

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