Lava flows are dangerous things: a seemingly calm and cool crust hides the roiling fire and energy beneath. Right now, Waterloo Region feels very much the same…
On the surface our community is easy to describe, and appears to be almost subdued: yes we have an exciting high tech scene, but that’s old news to people. In many people’s eyes, we seem to be relegated to a position of a community working to overcome unemployment issues and weakening (loss?) of a strong industrial sector.
However, there are a lot of things bubbling under the surface that have me both relieved and energized! Here is a quick intro into some of the rumours/ideas/initiatives that I’ve come across in the last few days:
- New Cultural Initiatives: there are new projects afoot from individuals looking to further unite our cultural organizations, and there are exciting new initiatives being planned by the KWAG and others in the community. What’s really exciting about these initiatives though, is that they all include practical ways to better bring the arts out to new demographic groups
- Cross-Sector Shared Space Projects: there are already several shared space projects underway, but most of them are shared between same-sector organizations. There seems to be an unspoken desire among many groups to launch cross-sector projects to share space. This has me pumped as it speaks to many of the ideas in the Under Constructon report.
- New Incubator Ideas: I’ve had conversations with people about no less than 3 new incubator projects – this has me pumped, as these will fuel further creative and entrepreneurial projects in the region
- Information Sharing: There are many organizations locally that market our region: CTT, Chambers of Commerce, Communitech, Travel & Tourism, the cultural centres, businesses, staffing firms and more. I’ve found a sense of frustration with the duplication of information that exists: everyone is tracking their statistics and information separately, and this is resulting in mixed messages. This frustration now seemsstrong enough to bring groups together to create one effective shared resource, which means we’ll all be saying the same thing, and hopefully be reducing some costs at the same time.
Most importantly though, over the last year we had a few great strategic initiatives take place (the Creative Community Forum, ROW Forward, and the CTT Strategic Planning) and now it seems that people want take the energy from those strategies, and make something happen. This sentiment, however, is happening in side-conversations, board rooms and coffee-shop meetings. I see a lot of resentment in the edtorials to the paper that the public isn’t being engaged, but the time for that public engagement is coming soon…soon new projects are going to be launched and unveiled, and they are going to need public participation to make them work. It’s going to be an exciting next few years!