31 Oct The Honour of Supporting and Celebrating More Changemakers from Ontario
The second edition of the Ontario Community Changemakers program included changemakers from Ajax, Brampton, Chatham-Kent, Goderich, Kemptville, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Mississauga, Peterborough, Sudbury, Toronto, Whitby, and Windsor kicked off this past summer with a three-day Studio.
Our changemakers spread across Ontario are focusing on various community projects that range from active transportation to free little pantries to transit advocacy to public art and community dance, to name a few. We have Armi who is working on centring race, gender and disability in active transportation in Ajax, and Jasmeen who is creating a series of multigenerational workshops to equip the Brampton South Asian community with the knowledge to integrate cultural practices into a healthy lifestyle.
Katie from Chatham-Kent is working to give youth the tools to create more programming for them. Raghad in London is holding space for conversations and healing sessions in the wake of the London tragedy. Elisa from Peterborough is working to create a welcome guide for loved ones of people who have come out as 2SLGBTQIA+ while Mariah from Azilda, Sudbury is creating an outdoor mural along with the community.
Speaking of public art, Mehedi with his organization Muslims in Public Space is working towards breaking barriers by creating Islamic art in public spaces. These are some of the many unique projects our changemakers are working on. You can read more about the changemakers and their projects here.
The three-day studio included two virtual sessions and a one-day in-person retreat at Artscape Gibraltar Point in Toronto Islands. Day 1 was an online orientation for the changemakers on the program. On this day, OCC alumni Jessica Macasaet-Bondy and Nithursan Elamuhilan joined to share their experience of being Ontario Community Changemakers and working on their respective projects. The changemakers also received a set of technical modules prepared by the 8 80 Cities team. This included modules on ‘How to Plan and Budget Your Project’, ‘Team Building and Management’, ‘Engaging & Co-Creating with the Community” and ‘Communications & Storytelling: Tools for Impact’. The Changemakers got a week to review these materials and discuss their questions with the 8 80 team on these topics.
The changemakers met each other for the first time on Day 2 at the in-person retreat in Toronto Islands. The day kicked off with intros and presentations on their projects and a bunch of interactive sessions and team-building activities followed. It was a day filled with positive energy and enthusiasm, one to remember for the months to come. They came as strangers but left as friends. The last day was held, again, virtually and on this day, we had Gil Penalosa, world-renowned urbanist and Founder of 8 80 Cities who hosted an inspiring and interactive keynote session with the changemakers.
Since summer, the changemakers have met twice at the monthly meetups organized by 8 80 Cities. Steve Anderson, Deputy Mayor of the Town of Shelburne, spoke at the first meetup about his experience as a community leader and hosted an engaging discussion with the changemakers. We have planned more meetups, and we look forward to supporting this cohort of brilliant leaders throughout this year and beyond.
The Ontario Community Changemakers is a leadership development and micro-grant program created for Ontario residents aged 19-35 with innovative ideas that activate public space, enhance civic engagement and/or foster social inclusion. Participants receive $5000 in seed funding to implement one community project in one year. 8 80 Cities run the program with funding and support from Balsam Foundation.