We’re continuing networking and speaking to others with similar interests as ours.

On December 3, we had a conference call with Gerry Kirk of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.


Gerry is an Agile Coach who works with teams and companies using a values-based and human dynamics approach. In 2008 he took part in an Open Space forum in Toronto and returned to his town wanting to introduce this new approach. He feels that we are entering the Age of Participation. We now need to work with tools to create engagement, to read and share. He believes in going with the energy and in quick wins to convince municipal authorities of the benefits of these approaches. They should see enough benefit to want to offer financing. He had a wonderful name for what he did: Community Gardening. At this time, municipalities are not equipped with the infrastructure needed to create community. Participatory methods such as OS, World Café and Change camp are tools that can pave the way to community.

His Strategy for Success: Experimentation

Since 2008 he has experimented with different versions of Open Space and has included Change Camp and World Café. He facilitated 1 day events under Change Camp banners, a World Café evening event resembling a speed dating event under the banner of Change Salon. He facilitated Innovation Games and Panel Discussions and on-line Ideas Forum and Portal. He also introduced events such as Ignite where interested participants had 5 minutes to talk about their subject. He hosted Pod Camps, an OS event with topics set in advance. He believes in being very creative and just being out there as much as possible in order to create as much momentum as possible. The results of all the events appear on-line where people can react or join with groups who are ready for action.

Some of the themes that emerged during his events include: how can we sustain change? What’s Important to you? How to build a vibrant community? Other themes have included: Rethinking how government and citizens engage each other. He kept most themes broad.

Next Step

What we found exciting is that Gerry has gotten the attention of the new Mayor. His next step is to demonstrate to councilors the benefits of creating a democratic infrastructure for their community. Before the end of March, he plans to prepare a project proposal for a Town Hall event in World Café style, financed by the city. This would give him the opportunity to show tangible results that would be enough to promote the idea of including these events on a regular basis by the municipality.

Other Contacts

He recommends that we contact Mark Kuznicki from Toronto who may be of help to us.

Gerry’s web site is: http://www.gerrykirk.net/

As we took part in the conference call, Maya was doodling as you can see here. And isn’t this the Community Garden that Gerry was speaking about earlier?

Maya Bobrowska, Joanne Mantha, Pamela Schreiner