Ottawa as a Participatory City

What can we do together to make Ottawa a more inclusive, healthier, and happier city?


17 March 2017

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“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” – Jane Jacobs


Cities are much more than the bridges, buildings, streets, or parks that make up its physical assets. A city is its people.

And how people use those physical spaces is what brings a city to life. Throughout history, people have created shared places that turn a space into a place – a community. A community where people have a greater capacity to self-organize, to have power to shape their own future, to make things, to learn, to protest, to make peace, to dream, to celebrate, and to provide for themselves and one another.

As the complexity, diversity, and physical size of cities has grown, it’s time to explore whether public spaces are serving the needs of the people. The public spaces, such as libraries, community centres, public squares, and parks, aren’t always serving today as they did in the past. It’s why we see the rise in shared workspaces, coffee house culture, tool libraries, and farmers’ markets.

Cities are organic systems that are in constant change and have layers upon layers of networks. Bringing together the different networks and working across existing real and imaginary frameworks is required for us to create new ways of creating outcomes that make our city better for everyone. When people with diverse perspectives bring together heterogeneous things and combine them in a new way – magic happens. There is a need to create new protocols, new policies, new procedures that enable people, communities, and therefore cities, to thrive.

We need a new conversation – where we explore how shared spaces offer opportunities for serendipitous encounters and interaction that amplifies and accelerates a sense of belonging, community cohesion, economic prosperity, artistic expression, and the ability to be inspired by others.

We’d love for you to join us on March 28th, to learn from leaders with international perspectives who are doing inspirational work in participatory citymaking.

It’s our collective intelligence that will allow us to transcend the complexity of issues we face.