Ideas, Brainstorming and Toby Barazzuol

by Groundswell participant Andrew

The floodgates opened and the ideas started to flow, we began last week brainstorming and throwing around our thoughts on the different project ideas we've been contemplating working through and what projects some people have already been working on.  It was refreshing being able to hear what other Groundswellers were thinking and it really sparked a sense of excitement in the air.

brainstormingUffe introduced us to a brainstorming exercise which required us to break off into groups to try and brainstorm on the "unused capacities" of the city.  It was a lot of fun, we came up with some great and wacky solutions on how to use different unused or underused spaces within the city.  The purpose of the exercise was to light the brainstorming fire and keep it going through to the end of this semester, into the next and beyond.

Over the past two months we have been working towards developing our projects through several different facets of knowledge.  As the end of the first semester quickly approaches, the cohesive glue of all the classes has begun to solidify and the tools in which we can use and apply to our projects are now stacking up - the personal, the community and the business parts.

In Reilly's class (Network technologies and your project) we were given a re-cap on the different topics that were covered throughout the semester, it was nice to return to certain topics and talk about where we would like to focus a little more on and what worked and what didn't.

We continued working on our consulting projects in Uffe's class (Community research tools), each group has now framed the challenge they're attempting to solve with the organization they're consulting for and have begun the expert interview process, this is an important phase within the ‘human centered design process’ we've been learning about.  There’s a lot of research to be done and each group is working hard towards the presentation deadline of December 18.

In Matt's class (Understanding contemporary capitalism) we gathered in our groups and spoke about Mondragon, the Bologna co-ops, the Recovered Factory (autonomista) movement in Argentina and the Solidarity Economy movement in Brazil.  For the next two weeks we will be researching and presenting our findings on these movements, diving into their histories, their strengths and weakness and what we could take from them and apply to the Groundswell community.

We continued on with our financial positions for our ‘Alternia’ businesses in Gerry's class (how money works), taking a sneak peak at a few actually existing companies financial positions and talking about the trends, patterns and reason why certain things were happening. It’s interesting being able to see and pinpoint the elements of a business where they were struggling and where changes in their process occurred, all within a spreadsheet of numbers.

During Gilad's class (Social innovation around the world) we looked at ‘ideas’ and what is a good idea. Gilad presented the class with several different innovative ideas, some of which sparked an interesting conversation over their relevance, though, through this process we saw that good ideas come in so many different forms.

The week was capped off with a very candid and interesting talk on Wednesday night by Toby Barazzuol the founder and owner of the Eclipse Awards and the chair of the Strathcona BIA (Business improvement association).  He spoke a little about his past and how he got to where he is, but his main topic was about his ethos around building a robust community through sustainable and healthy business practices.  His dedication and passion towards this topic was felt through his understanding and first hand application of successful sustainable projects throughout the DTES and Strathcona area.  It was a very insightful and inspiring talk.

Wednesday night ended with community time and the agenda was filled.  It started with a birthday surprise, Matt had organized a little celebration for Gilad's birthday, however, he realized that his actual birthday was on the following Monday, still, we celebrated 5 days early with Shiki and Brienne playing happy birthday on the violin.  Amanda followed up with feedback on next semesters schedule and Uffe finished the night by leading another brainstorming session.

The weeks are flying by.