So, Rob Ford is Mayor. I've been sitting on Facebook (my social media of choice) and watching the pain, fear and sadness descend on my friends and colleagues. There is shock that this happened. How could it? What does this mean? Who did this to us? But, they hate us gay, Chinese, cycling, latte drinking intelligentsia? Should I move?
Don't move! Create solutions!
Ever the optimist, I have been thinking about what this means for us. For democracy. For electoral politics. For the Centre for Social Innovation. For the citizens of Toronto.
As many of you know, I have a healthy disdain for both politics and (so-called) democracy... I think that they are both over-rated and we use them as an excuse for inaction. Somehow we think that this is all we have to do. I believe that the real solutions are amongst us -- among the citizens of this great city and our ability to work and co-create together. Yes, we need strong allies in government, but the creativity, energy, activism of Toronto hasn't gone anywhere. In fact, it is challenge and adversary that breeds innovation and action. Oh, I can feel the anger turning into action already.
A part of me is super excited about what we can do and create together now. Just think about how powerful Rob Ford is as a magnetic attractor -- think of the energy that he will galvanize. Think of the conversations and collaborations that we will be forced to have. And most importantly, think of the urgency that this deficit of progressive leadership will mean for new leadership to emerge. It will be up to us as citizens to create new solutions. It is up to us to engage and understand all perspectives. It is up to us to build solutions that transcend left-right politics.
Yes, we will have to find ways to interface with city government. But a good idea is a good idea... a solution which embraces those that voted for and against (and not at all) is a good solution. Perhaps our challenge is to start thinking differently about who we serve? Perhaps we need to reinvent the ‘bigger is better' paradigm or our fundamental understanding of the role of government. Certainly, we need to focus on systems change. To start, I personally want to know more about who voted for Rob Ford and why? Ultimately, our solutions have to serve everyone.
And I am feeling more ready than ever.
The Centre for Social Innovation is working on creating a City Innovation Lab of sorts. We are starting to cluster some amazing new and existing members on the 3rd floor of CSI Annex. We have been loosely moving forward with an "emergent" approach, not entirely clear what exactly will galvanize it. Perhaps we now have our answer.
Here are some of the design principles that we have been playing with:
- create a space for emergence
- make sure that it engages citizens
- co-creation is king
- convene, converse, collaborate
- more do, less talk... focus on prototyping...
- test global methodologies... experiment
- defy old style politics... rise above
- add value... always add value
- serve the commons... it is all about the space between
So, this morning, I wake up with great hope. What an awesome new energy is changing our landscape? What creativity will this brew? What anger will this trigger? What collaborations might emerge? What new brains might be engaged? What solutions will be created?
Perhaps the timing is perfect... CSI is finally ready to really serve the city. So, as shocked as I am, I am also incredibly excited. Just think of the fun we will have changing the city together.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about what we will need to do to keep our city great... and make it even greater... and please I beg you, let this be more about solutions than a fight. Fighting is what got us here. A solution is what will unite us.
Tonya Surman is a co-founder and director of the Centre For Social Innovation in Toronto. This article first appeared on their blog.
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