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February events galore, past and future

Second month into the year, and you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that it’s winter with all the events I’ve been out to these past two weeks! People are definitely movin’ and a-shakin’ here in our fair city to get things rolling for now and further out.

Last week, I attended four meetings:

I was doing this to get some good feedback and support for Busker Idol, which I felt pretty good about.

This week, I continued with:

  • Screenwriting workshop with Jana Williams
  • A Free Geek Vancouver monthly meeting
  • ChangeCamp organizing meeting (the meeting notes are, um, in Microsoft Word format at the Google Group. I will put those on Google Docs for an HTML version when I am on a computer that is mine for a bit more browser-friendlines…)

There were some interesting things that surfaced for me at the ChangeCamp meeting. I’m interested in exploring the idea that whatever happened in Toronto need not necessarily be prescriptive of what happens here in Vancouver for a ChangeCamp to happen. I’ve heard some arguments to the contrary – that, in fact, we should be dissecting the Toronto experience much closer, to see how the steps built upon each other to lead to a successful event. I agree to an extent. I think it’s important to reflect on the fact that in some was, Toronto is still becoming aware of exactly what’s they’ve done. Connecting the seeds sewn with what’s happened is something that can only happen on a group level on some ways, even though every individual can likely easily name when or how they heard about a camp, and how they came to the position of wanting to go to one.

I was also very interested in the perspectives of people who had attended the oganizer meeting purely based on the CBC Spark interview with Mark Kuznicki and had no connection with other camp communities in the city. Their perspective is helpful, but it brings home the fact that the nebulousness of ChangeCamp presents both a challenge and an opportunity. It is a challenge, in that we may find very few things in common or little to connect with these seemingly random interested people that have been drawn to the idea of ChangeCamp based on the artifacts around it, be it thorugh a website, knowing someone who attended it, or an interview (or all of the day’s bounty). The opportunities are a bit harder to define, and has its roots in serendipity – the fact that, in my opinion anyhow, if you impose a singular vision too strongly around the ownership and use too heavy a hand in defining expectations around the event, it can result in an alienation that can dampen enthusiasm and stop the thing from making use of the passion, emotion, excitement and willingness to participate that make events like BarCamps so interesting. It’s the tension between the “thing we want to do” and the awesomeness of that serendipity that is the cause of the fretting. Too much concentration, and it almost doesn’t seem to be that devoted to learning or sharing. Too much serendipity, and there’s nothing tangible at the end of the day. (This is probably, in my perception, one of the primary weakness of Vancouver Transit Camp, even though I really had no goals in mind except for it to be Generally Awesome. People have been encouraging me to aim higher.)

Next week will be craziness:

  • I was invited to attend Ukelele Night at Our Town Cafe (at Main and Kingway) on Tuesday. Starts 7:30. Ukes all the way!
  • Northern Voice is happening on Friday and Saturday. For my picks on sessions, see my post on Northern Voice at Social Signal.
  • After MooseCamp Day, I’ll be catching the 44 Downtown to watch Us Now, a film about government in the age of collaboration from Mass LBP. Register for the Vancouver screening at their Eventbrite site. Bonus: Alexandra Samuel will be on a panel after the film.
  • After the Saturday conference day at Northern Voice, Richard and I will be heading downtown for illuminate yaletown, described as Vancouver’s first “light-as-art” show.

…and, very shortly after that, Richard and I will be heading down to Portland, Oregon, for a few days! We have some ideas of what we want to do there (Powell’s, the gondola, the farmer’s market, the Free Geek) – but if you were in Portland for 4 days, what would you absolutely positively no-questions-asked have to do while you’re down there? We’d love to hear it!


  1. Thanks for sharing some reflections on the ChangeCamp meme from your well-placed perspective. The idea of ChangeCamp is very open to interpretation – that is its strength and its potential weakness. How that ambiguity results in different interpretations in different communities is something I'm very interested in following and learning from.

    In Toronto, we're focusing on making things much more concrete and action-oriented for the next event – with a particular focus on the City of Toronto's open data as a pilot project.

    This pilot is actually about something much larger and potentially more powerful: creating, assembling and sharing methods, processes and tools for self-organizing teams of change-makers to make change in their communities in partnership with Government and other civil society and private sector institutions.

    ChangeCampers across Canada are welcome to follow the unfolding story online.

    Posted February 14, 2009 at 9:48 pm | Permalink
  2. Greg

    Portland: I would go thrifting and vintage shopping on Hawthrone!

    Posted February 19, 2009 at 7:22 am | Permalink

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