Old Town Ramble & Ride

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The 8th Old Town Ramble & Ride festival ran for 3 full days in Yellowknife North West Territories of Canada.  It is an eco-friendly festival put on by the businesses, artists and musicians of Old Town, one of Canada’s most unique neighbourhoods, to celebrate Old Town’s remarkable character and culture. The festival has elements of a traditional community art and music festival as well as encouraging the public to ramble (walk) and ride (cycle) through their community similar to open streets/ cyclovia. It is now one of the largest summer festivals in the city of Yellowknife in the North West Territories of Canada. ( Photo by Jack Danylchuk)

Nico Koenig did a wonderful job of coordinating the Ramble and Ride Festival in our community ”

– Mark Heyck, Mayor of Yellowknife since 2012

There were over 50 events organized during the festival which included craft workshops, live music, food and art market, boat rentals, pallet painting, art shows, houseboats visits, story telling and kids activities. In the spirit of Old Town, there was a large 100 person bike rally on Friday evening as well as numerous walking tours held across Old Town for the public.

Position: Coordinator

Results

  • The first Old Town Art Show hosted 100 pieces of art inspired by Old Town by 20 artists
  • The Mayor of Yellowknife led a walk from Pilot’s Monument to open a renovated Government Dock
  • 18 musical acts played throughout town finishing with the Old town Jamboree organized by Indio
  • 24 Food and Art Vendors were organized along a pedestrian-only McDonald Dr and Government Dock
  • 5 walking tours including the Bird Walk, Garden Walk, Architecture and History tour
  • 1000+ visitors to our festival during the weekend with more than 600 attending each day

Press and Research:

Website and Social Media:

Old Town Ramble & Ride Website

Twitter @OldTownYK

Facebook Old Town Ramble & Ride

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 Photo by Jack DanylchukIMG_20140803_153000~2

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Vote Tag: Federal Election Facebook Voting App

votetag-final Vote Tag was a Facebook application that helped users remind their Facebook friends about the 2011 Canadian Federal Election and receive voting and political party information. Launched as an experiment in April 2011. Position: Team Leader Results: 

  • 3000 Facebook users used Vote Tag in three days

Partners and Friends: Senning Luk Danielle Olsen Leadnow

Jane’s Walk

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Jane’s Walks are free, locally organized walking tours, in which people get together to explore, talk about and celebrate their neighbourhoods. Since 2007, this homegrown phenomenon has expanded, now reaching 44 cities in Canada and 100 more cities around the world. In 2014, 157 free walks were organized in during the first weekend of May in Toronto alone with topics ranging from understanding the refugee experience to exploring urban history and architecture.

 

With Jane’s Walk, I was asked to create and facilitate a train-the-trainer program called Neighbourhood Choreographers. Participants from suburban neighbourhoods would be trained to encourage, support and “choreograph” their local community in the process of leading their first Jane’s Walk. The following year, I worked with the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, to develop the capacity of neighbourhood organizers in Halton Municipality to use public walking conversations as a way to engage with the Greenbelt and other issues related local sustainable development.

Position: Program Manager, Jane’s Walk (International Headquarters in Toronto)

Results:

  • Choreographer program guide and training curriculum developed with best practices and activities
  • 30 Neighbourhood Choreographers trained across suburban Toronto, Halton and Hamilton Municipalities in Ontario, who initiated 35 community Jane’s Walk activities
  • Initiated and coordinated partnerships and trainings with community-based agencies and funders including Action For Neighbourhood Change offices, Toronto Public Libraries, Toronto Community Housing Corporation, Community Health Centres, the City of Toronto and Community Development Halton.

Impact on Walk Festival

  • 300% increase in number of walks in the Etobicoke Lakeshore region due to the Choreographers
  • 25 total suburban walks inspired by the Choreographer program
  • 9 new community agencies recruited to organize their first Jane’s Walk
  • 75% retention of returning community agencies previously involved in Community Walks program

Website and Social Media:

Jane’s Walk Jane’s Walk: Neighbourhood Choreographer Program
Jane’s Walk: Highlighted Choreographer-led Walks
Choregrapher: Amitis Nouroozi

Press:

Spacing Magazine  How Jane’s Walk is engaging with suburban community “choreographers” (Summer 2014)

Partners and Friends: Tides Canada Toronto Community Foundation East Scarborough Storefront Bathurst – Finch Action for Neighbourhood Change Office LAMP Community Health Centre

Elysse Choreographer Still 8

 

Choreographer Certificates

Generation Squeeze

Generation Squeeze - 10

The Generation Squeeze campaign brings together Canadians of all ages because gens X, Y & Millennials deserve a chance to deal with these problems without compromising the families they have or the families they want.

Co-organized the Generation Squeeze Toronto Launch Party in partnership with Generation Squeeze to bring its founder Dr. Paul Kershaw, to talk about the growing squeeze on time, income and services facing Canadians under 45. This event also featured an exciting lineup of speakers including Sarah Blackstock: Director of Advocacy & Communications, YWCA Toronto; Zahra Ebrahim: Principal, archiTEXT; Peter MacLeod: Principal, MASS LBP; Chair, Wagemark Foundation and Lekan Olawoye: Executive Director, For Youth Initiative; Chair of Premier’s Council on Youth Opportunities. (Photo by Karim Rizkallah)

Position: Community Organizer

Results:

  • Co-organized the Generation Squeeze Toronto Launch Party in partnership with Generation Squeeze to bring its founder Dr. Paul Kershaw, to talk about the growing squeeze on time, income and services facing Canadians under 45.
  • 150+ attended National Launch launch event
  • Organized Generation Squeeze Talks: Younger Canadians and Precarious Employment. Featured presentation from United Way, Atkinson Foundation, Workers Action Centre and Youth & Work.

Website and Social Media:

Generation Squeeze

Inspiration:

I had been discussing generation equity for the past year with friends and was introduced to Dr. Paul Kershaw through the video below.  After meeting him in person, Brendon Goodmurphy, Ashleigh Dalton, Gabe Sawhney and myself formed SqueezeTO to help launch Generation Squeeze across Canada – starting with Toronto.

Partners and Friends:
Brendon Goodmurphy
Ashleigh Dalton
Gabe Sawhney
Echo Blog
Youth and Work

Generation Squeeze - 51

Photo by Karim Rizkallah
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Photo by Karim RizkallahGeneration Squeeze - 18Photo by Karim Rizkallah

Skillshop: Learn Local

Skillshop organises events where businesses and local spaces provide lessons to the wider community. Skillshop has created a full day of free micro-lessons hosted by various local businesses through partnerships with Business Improvement Associations in Toronto.

Position: Founder

Results:

  • 60 lessons taught by 45 neighbourhood store owners
  • 500+ students attended lessons
  • Partnerships with Bloorcourt Business Improvement Association and Junction Business Improvement Association

Website and Social Media:

Skillshop.ca
@Skillshopca

Inspiration:
While organizing Trade School Toronto, it was difficult to find class space that was storefront, accessible and near transit for free or barter. Fortunately our organizers managed to work with cafes, art galleries, and universities.

Around the winter of 2013, I started thinking about my neighbourhood called Bloorcourt and how my deli butcher knew so much about meat and the florist told me everything about flower arrangement. It seemed like was also plenty of unused spaces in my neighbourhood when the businesses were closed at night or on weekends. I sent a quick message to my local BIA (Business Improvement Area) about the idea of hosting Trade School in businesses. A couple months later in March, the BIA coordinator asked to meet. They explained that their summer festival was going to be cancelled because of on-going construction and wondered if this “street learning fair” that was I was talking about could be an alternative for them.

I went forward with the idea from here because I wanted to offer a quick alternative to the summer street festival. I love the local, unique shops of my neighbourhood and I wanted to create way to support them all.

It also had the potential to be an experiment that would prove a couple ideas that kept me up at night:

1) Given the right opportunity, everyone can be teacher and everyone can learn anything from anyone at anytime
2) The social exchange of learning builds relationships and increases social capital between those involved in the exchange. Lessons in this way have the potential to increase the long-term profits of local business because of the increase in social capital between customers and business owners as well as the marketing of the business classes to those within and outside of the neighbourhood.

Press:

Partners and Friends:

Bloorcourt Business Improvement Area (BIA)
Junction Business Improvement Association
Helen Kontozopoulos
 

Skillshop helped The Junction BIA create “Santa in the Junction”

cocktail

Carrotmob Toronto

Carrotmob group

Carrotmob is a consumer-led “buycott.” In a buycott, consumers spending money to support a business, and in return the business makes an improvement that people care about. In April 2010, local grocery stores competed against each other to host Toronto’s first Carrotmob. The winning store pledged to spend 100% of their revenues from one day on energy efficient renovations to the store and to start stocking their shelves with products from 15 local and sustainable-certified producers and farmers.

Position: Co-founder and Organizer

Results:

  • $10, 000 raised for energy efficient renovations for local grocery story
  • Renewable energy and local food consultation from Windfall Ecology Centre and Local Food Plus

Press and Research:

Inspiration: 

While studying a Master’s degree in Adult Education and Community Development, I learned about food systems, local food, sustainable development and community organizing. My colleague Kevin Kester introduced me to a short youtube video that showed the first “Carrotmob” organized in San Francisco in 2008 where small grocery stores competed for a flash mob of customers by pledging to increase their energy efficiency. I noticed that in Toronto there were many grocery stores, but rarely was any local food sold. With support and energy from fellow graduate students and volunteers, we made it our mission to try to organize the first one in Toronto, pairing our interest to advocate for local food with the Carrotmob method of community organizing.

Website and Social Media:
Carrotmob – Vote with your money
Carrotmob Toronto

Partners and Friends:
Windfall Ecology Centre
Local Food Plus
Transformative Learning Centre
Sarah Power
Kevin Kester
Rebecca Melville

Carrotmob Collage

Trade School Toronto


Trade School Toronto is an alternative learning project that runs on a barter system. Students pay for classes with a barter items (like food, supplies or help) that the teacher requests.

Position: Co-founder and Organizer

Results:

  • 75 classes coordinated and paid for exclusively by barter
  • +600 Students have registered for classes
  • Support in the creation of Trade School Vancouver and Trade School Ottawa
  • Collaborations with University of Toronto, Ontario College of Art and Design University, Toronto Design Offsite Festival

Press:

Website and Social Media:

Trade School Toronto

Inspiration:
In 2005, I studied at the University of Otago in Dunedin New Zealand. At the campus recreation centre, I was amazed by all the courses that were available (wine tasting, thai cooking), who was teaching them (local experts, some non-professionals), and how cheap the courses were ($15 at the time). I realised that I had knowledge to share too and soon created my own break dancing lessons.

During my graduate in Adult Education and Community Development, I studied Folk High Schools and also learned about other alternative schools and retreat centres such as Tatamagouche Free School, Fall River Centre, and the Highlander Research and Education Center. I was fascinated about any schools that shared knowledge with peers and focused on building community through learning.

In July of 2012, I heard about Trade Schools that were emerging in 10 different cities across the world at the time:

It all started in late 2009 because three of the five co-founders of OurGoods (Louise Ma, Rich Watts, Caroline Woolard) were given an opportunity to work with GrandOpening, and we had a wild brainstorm session about many possible barter storefronts. We decided that “barter for instruction” had a lot of potential. Trade School Headquarters  http://tradeschool.coop

My interest in creative learning spaces paired well with the passion for promoting alternative economies from friend and fellow community organizer Elizabeth Frasier and That’s Women’s Work Art Collective. Together, we organized the first Trade School in Canada in September of 2012. Since then Trade School has emerged in Vancouver and Ottawa and 50 other cities across the world.

Partners and Friends:

  • That’s Women’s Work Art Collective
  • Harvest Noon
  • Communication Art Gallery
  • Toronto Design Offsite Festival
  • Hart House – University of Toronto
  • OCAD U Student Gallery
  • Centre for Social Innovation
  • Annares Health
  • Wise Daughters

Trade School Bike

Trade School hands

Training & Consultation

  • Developed curriculum to train 35 local community organizers in the methods of Jane’s Walk, a global platform for free locally led walking tours
  • Designed and facilitated courses and workshops for more than 400 front line staff, managers, and peer workers in Toronto’s community services sector
  • Co-facilitated and coordinated a 12-week Participant Engagement course developed for Drop-in workers alongside City of Toronto award-winning advocate Anna Willats, with the goal of increasing the capacity of homeless services agencies as community spaces for engagement and advocacy.
  • Instructed and facilitated a curriculum based on exploring issues surrounding poverty, social inequities, social action and leadership for selected youth aged 14-18 from across the USA in Chicago and New York City with Civic Education Project
  • Coordinated Community Development and Volunteer Support workshops for more than 60 international volunteers from 11 countries with Sport Coaches Outreach (SCORE) for two years in South Africa and Zambia.
  • Designed, developed and presented training courses focused on youth leadership, sport management and HIV/AIDS education for more than 150 youth and school teachers in 4 Zambian Provinces with Score Zambia and the Zambian Interfaith Network Group on HIV/AIDS
  • My full resume of my skills and experience is available here. 

Workshop Expertise

  • Participant Engagement
  • Public Pedagogy
  • Community Engagement
  • Introduction to Facilitation Methods
  • Participatory Workshop Design
  • Sport for Development
  • Teambuilding and Energizers for Groups
  • HIV/AIDS education through Sport & Play
  • Information and Referral for Homeless Services
  • Civic Education for Youth
  • International Volunteer Orientation/ Mid Term Retreats/ End of Service

Community Partners and Employers

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Speaking Engagements

I enjoy the art of making a fine presentation. My favourite topics are future oriented, highlight connections between the past and current innovations and are meant to invoke action in every day life. My strengths are presenting initiatives and ideas through the use of stories and graphics.

Topics that I offer:

  • Community-based learning models
  • Skillshop: Small Businesses as Public Classrooms
  • Future Learning Directions
  • Spectrum of Community Engagement
  • Participant Engagement in the Service Delivery System
  • Buycott Method of Community Organizing
  • Alternative Education Models
  • Sport for Development

Speaking Engagements 2009-2014

Community Engagement: What does community participation and control look like? – July 2014 
The Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Yellowknife, North-West Territories, Canada
U Can…Live Without (much) Money – May 2014
U Can – Bloor Gladstone Library, Toronto, Canada
21st Century Learning: Social Enterprise  – April 2014
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada
Gen Squeeze Presents: Younger Canada and Precarious EmploymentMarch 24
GenSqueeze.ca, Toronto, Canada
Generation Squeeze National Launch Party  – November 2013
GenSqueeze.ca, Toronto, Canada
Doing something for nothing: Bartering and Trade School – November 2013
The Association for Fundraising Professionals Congress, Toronto, Canada
Barter Schools as Partnerships – March 2013
Deans Conference, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada
Design your own Learning…or How not to be a ZombieNovember 2012
Pecha Kucha, Toronto, Canada
Mobilizing Action – March 2012
Daily Bread Food Bank Member Conference, Toronto, Canada
Scandinavian Folk High Schools: an Interactive Live Video Stream – Oct 2010
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Canada                                 
Grassroots activism and food: Carrotmob and Food Justice – April 2010
Encuento: A Popular Education Encounter, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
Canadian Youth Delegate – January 2012
NMC 1st World Youth Meeting, Bari, Italy
International Development Through Sport – March 2009
School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada
Community Action – August 2009
Youth Engagement Strategy Camp, Halifax Regional Municipality, Halifax, Canada

nico pecha kucha