Christine Earnshaw

Reflections on 100in1Day 2018


11 June 2018

Posted In

On June 2nd, the 100in1Day festival took place in Ottawa for the second year in a row. 108 activities filled the streets, parks and other public spaces across the city – from Kanata to Orleans, Overbrook to Alta Vista, the Glebe to Sandy Hill, and from Westboro to Vanier.  Early in the morning, Synapcity staff and volunteers fanned out across the city to visit as many of the events as possible to share in the experience and connect with organizers and participants.

Dundonald Park.

While we continue to gather feedback from the intervention leaders, partners and participants to better understand the impact of the festival, here are a few of my reflections from this year’s experience:

Community Offering of Skills, Expertise & Experience
As this year’s diversity of events demonstrated, the festival provides an opportunity for residents to share their interests, expertise and skills with others in an informal and friendly way.

  • One resident set up a free bike repair station in a neighbourhood park and ended up tuning 13 bikes
  • Another citizen organized a bike scavenger hunt for cyclists to visit landmarks across the city
  • A representative of Community Mediation Ottawa set up two comfortable chairs in Dundonald Park and invited people to share their thoughts  while she listened
  • To open up people’s eyes to other realities, one woman volunteered to talk about her daily life using Para Transpo
  • A professional photographer took portraits of people for free, which they can download from his website
  • Finally, another man organized a free workshop for Black fathers to learn how to style their children’s hair

All of these intervention leaders dreamed up and organized these activities specifically for 100in1Day. They gave their time and energy to offer something to the community at large that is based on their personal interest and skill set.

Byron Pathway Pop-Up Bike Repair

Raising Awareness in Innovative & Creative Ways
100in1Day Is an opportunity for residents to make a statement or draw attention to important issues in new and creative ways. This year, two organizations, the Parkdale Food Centre and Somerset West Community Health Centre, collaborated to create a Rooming House Installation in a parking lot on Wellington St. W.. People “discovered” the installation as they walked by and in doing so learned about hidden poverty and the consequences of gentrification in the neighbourhood.

Smart City Playground @ Confederation Park

Another urban intervention invited the public to “experience Confederation Park in a way they had never experienced before”. This event was a community conversation and presentation to raise awareness about Smart Cities and what that means in real terms. These type of events show unique and innovative ways to get more citizens exploring and talking about critical issues in our city.

Platform For Community Engagement
More than anything, the festival is a platform to engage the community. One example of this is Wingd Inc., a digital agency that organized a series of activities for 100in1Day under the banner of Creatorland, which showcased local entrepreneurs and engaged the public through Q&As and panel discussions on the role that entrepreneurs play in our city. Several partners, including the Byward Market BIA, Ottawa Markets and local businesses supported this initiative recognizing the benefit of free, public events to foster a culture of appreciation for creators, entrepreneurs and makers in our city.

Transforming Public Space
Given that the festival takes place outdoors in public spaces, most of the 100in1day happenings temporarily transform the streets or parks, turning them into places for play, art and community dialogue. Some of this year’s events included:

  • An outdoor living room set up for community conversation
  • A friendly soccer match
  • The animation of Alexandra Bridge with music and prayer flags
  • A slide presentation on climate change

Prince of Wales Bridge Community Artstorm


Some of the 100in1Day activities went further though to physically change the landscape. This year there was:

  • A clean up at Mud Lake
  • The tossing of seed bombs in Hampton Park to support pollinators
  • The start of a community art project to beautify a local park and several community gardening planting initiatives
  • One group of neighbours chose to make a statement about a dangerous intersection by decorating a stop sign and drawing attention to the crosswalks with the goal of improving the intersection’s design

Digital Graffiti @ Main Farmer’s Market

All in all, 100in1Day represents what people have to offer and the willingness of others to engage. The festival brings together neighbours and citizens with like-minded interests and opens people up to new ideas. It is a community happening that inspires more people to be engaged and active in the community. As we continue to reflect on this year’s festival, I’m certain that 100in1Day is helping to build the culture of citizen activation in Ottawa.

Now, Synapcity is determined to harness this CityMaking energy, and continue the momentum. Who’s with us?!

And with very special thanks to 100in1Day sponsors for making it all possible: Councillors Tobi Nussbaum, Mathieu Fleury, Jeff Leiper, Scott Moffat, David Chernushenko, and to: ByWard Market BIA, Ottawa Markets, & Quartier Vanier BIA.