10C is Guelph’s community innovation hub, with 200+ members and thousands of citizens involved in socially engaged changemaking activities per year. As COVID-19 and its impact on Canada and Guelph went from 0-60, our placemaking project experienced contrasting realities. On Wednesday, March 11, 10C was a buzzing hub of activity, with upwards of 300 people on site throughout the day/evening, engaged in a variety of work and civic action. Values platforms were recognized and extended. Food was abundant and shared. Community knowledge lept from thoughtful speakers. There was a wealth of optimism and change in the air.
By Monday, March 15, this was gone. 10C, a place that has become the community home of such vibrant, passionate voices was eerily quiet. In the weeks that have followed, we have listened as our national leaders referenced Canada’s balance sheet as being strong enough to walk alongside Canadians, extending various social safety nets to help. We have looked at our own “balance sheets” to assess whether we might be able to weather a storm like this. The questions are real, immediate and personal: Will we be ok? Can we help? Will we fall through the cracks? What can we pivot? What really matters right now? What might matter later? Will we be left behind? These are all questions that I’ve considered and believe run through the collective minds of 10C’s community as these new health, social and economic realities become clear.
Placemaking for 10C is about building shared community value. People, place, actions and values are our core ingredients. 10C was built on two core values of “sharing and caring” and this is vividly demonstrated within the walls of 10C and in how our small NFP shares with our community and stewards this property at 42 Carden Street, a physical asset that we are very much leaning into the future with. Post-COVID-19, places for people will be important again. We will redesign and shift processes with physical health in mind. People will shift as well, and I see a future with even more extended focus to others.
In Guelph, what I see surfacing, very prominently, are Helpers – seeing and seeking needs, gaps in the system, and possible fixes that might support change. Across our community, we are engaging in action and collaboration like we’ve never seen before. Inextricable problems take many hands and require us to take risks. Right now in 2020 for a brief fleeting moment, we have MANY HANDS and a shared purpose of being ‘stronger together’. COVID-19 has given us one gift, a shared national narrative based on sacrificing for the good of others, protecting vulnerable populations and valuing each other.
Let’s value each other more. This COVID-19 phase will be over and we will forget much of the harm, but let’s keep this. Let’s keep the openness that collaboration requires. Let’s remember how it feels. Let’s amplify and bring it with us into the “New Better”. Let’s pivot our work towards a strong "CleanReset” to build a green economy. The planet absolutely needs this. And, let’s use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as our guiding lights – to “leave no one behind.” Let’s care about our neighbours.
Great places are the embodiment of the voices, ideas and collective action that are contained within. While I personally miss SO MUCH the human connection to the people within the walls at 10C, I know that in our work and the work of our members, we are building a strengthened, adaptive and sharing community - and that is placemaking.
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