Urban issues are typically the realm of professionals: urban planners, transit administrators, real estate professionals and (recently) technology execs and data analysts. In my experience, universities and professional associations dominate the public conversation about housing, transit and policing in the public realm. As a result, those closest to these organizations are best equipped to take action on the issues presented.
For instance, the University of Toronto launched its School of Cities on Tuesday May 15 with a series of speakers and panels at its Chestnut Residence & Conference Centre. Today, Tuesday May 22, the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) and the Ryerson Centre for Urban Research and Land Development presented a report about the need for more housing in the GTHA.
Consider that they were both held on a weekday. Who is able to attend these events? What actions from residents outside of urban issues professionals will come from them?
(I was able to attend the School of Cities event, but I wasn't aware of the OREA event until tweets came through my feed.)
Central is designed to be different. The event is meant to bring this same level of expert analysis of urban issues to the rest of us: concerned citizens, transit users, parents, millennials and professionals working in unrelated fields. (Plus, it’s held on a Saturday).
Central advisors, many of them professionals in planning and related fields, share the goal of bringing better information and analysis to city residents. However, in conversations and emails, they told me that bringing information to people wasn’t enough -- we need to go a step further and show the avenues for taking action.
So I’m happy to announce that Central is partnering with some of Toronto’s most forward-thinking community organizations to help attendees take action during and after the event.
During the event, organizations like The Laneway Project and Our Greenway will have the opportunity to talk about how their projects are advancing urban issues in Toronto and how attendees can get involved.
Residents outside the professional realm may not have the time to investigate and engage with these groups on their own, so we're making it easy.
We’re calling these Take Action Pitches. It’s a quick way to learn about community organizations and make the connections for creating change in Toronto. There’s a limited number of pitches during the day, but there’s still time to get involved. We also purposely putting these pitches before lunch and the end of the day so that attendees can ask questions and take the next steps right away in a one-to-one setting.
Contact us to make your pitch or otherwise get involved in Central on July 21.