I’ve lived here a long time, long enough to call Ottawa home, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, have imported a beloved sister who kinda won’t forgive me and also like me won’t leave though we are of an age to speak wistfully of retirement. Me by a lake or perhaps an ocean in Nova Scotia and she in Toronto the vibrant city she left to come here for. I have no lost love for Toronto but have ached for a semblance of the community and culture I’ve found in Nova Scotia and Vermont. Places where I have encountered a like minded sensibility and co creative energy, where I have been befriended by virtue of my sensibilities and desire for social change. I realize I’m speaking more about Vermont as I write this and so much of it originates in yestermorrow design build school the not for profit experiential learning center on a mission to heal our world by inspiring and empowering one student at a time to dream and create it for us all. I love it all, the vision, the commitment to tangible hand built efforts, to co learning and creating to learning that focusses on the participants not the institution. For a world renowned design institution it has a most humble abode and emanating out from this geographic hub is an network of devoted, creative, hard working and capable community that is rebuilding our world greener, fairer and kinder.
The kind of world I think we all want to live in but keep getting seduced by the greed. Me too, it’s seductive, to just need this or that to fill a void that’s not at all about stuff. Since arriving home at Yestermorrow over a decade ago I have consistently tripped over new old friends from past lives there. I never like to impose my feeling about such things, a Christian friend once describe this feeling as our cosmic unconscious, this familiarity borne of something other than familiarity, a kindred nature, a soul’s whispers… but this and that meaning here and there is all and ever also about place. I can’t fully fathom it at all only to be humbled by geographic destiny. We are where we live.
Once again in Vermont at another visionary place which I believe like yestermorrow is born of the very old and wise, most gentle green mountains, they have called such loving soul’s home. At Shelburne Farms, which is a wonderful not for profit estate practicing eco stewardship and environmental learning with an Inn that is so elegant and wonderful where because it’s a not for profit it’s also feels like staying there is making a contribution. At Shelburne farms I came across a group of students, young like in grade three maybe with a wonderful naturalist educator who asked them to look at the rocks they held in their hands by the side of the great big lake. And said those rocks are ancient and have eroded a bit and put minerals in the soil and water and this grass that the cows graze on is nourished by them and then their milk is turned into cheese and we eat it and drink the milk and so we and the rock are of the same or are the same. I always get lost in this, it’s almost like there’s no making up for not being taken outside to learn about nature as a child. I can hardly grasp how we are all of the same stuff of a specific place and yet one. I can feel it though, it’s easy for me to feel it when I don’t run from it. How this rock is me, and these are such soft flat greyish rocks often with white viens their fine like an old persons finely wrinkled elephant skin and I love to gently move them across my cheeks. Sometimes I even want to eat them when I remember this story of place and substance that these educators shared with me and the kids on the lake shore. But I don’t, instead I eat the cheese and it tastes like rock.
So now we are home. This place Ottawa, that I, like most of us came to and never left. There’s something about this place, like a bremuda triangle but not as sexy, mostly we don’t leave here. This place that I have so much trouble forgiving for not having mountains, I know it’s childish and I wish I would grow up but am such a five year old and at 46 have been contemplating stepping up… Who am I rebelling against at this late stage in the game? It’s a mysterious saga and legacy too perhaps of a childhood not spent enough outdoors. This place where so many I love are, where I have built a business I love and a community around that which delights me, where I have a home. This city is beautiful, and I have so many very precious friends here and still a lingering lack and longing for community. It’s there I know it somehow but can’t find it easily, it’s like it’s laying dormant lurking. I try to create it and nourish it where I find it but feel there is sometimes something about working for the government that eventually is spirit breaking and hopefully just for a short time but something I’ve witnessed in friends and colleagues, even in myself. I too worked there for five long months. My sister started calling me Johnny Cash cause I wore black every single day. Anyone who knows me a little knows I never wear black unless I am at war blessedly so very rare as I grow older, or am in mourning which there is sadly an almost inverse proportion to. And mostly I think we bounce back from it but once the spirit is squashed it lingers a little. A dear friend (I met in Nova Scotia) shared with me a new interpretation of trauma identified as post traumatic stress growth and in all kinds of ways I have experienced this and believe it’s more true than the classically identifyed disorder. I feel this is in store for us as a community in Ottawa that we, our community our heart is emerging. There was a time when I would engage in social activism here and be told that our community is more comfortable with exploring options rather than taking actions, it made me crazy but it’s changing so much.
I blame the young people who are rallying and on a mission to quit dissing this fine metropolis by eradicating what we’ve been afflicted with real or imaginary. They’ve got a voice, many actually, but the one I am thinking of is apt 613. I feel this is a youth driven movement and it’s so weird to be of an age when “young people” is a turn of phrase I turn alot. It’s weird cause I barely feel beyond adolescence and gratefully so cause all those decades of soul searching and angst were invaluable. I think too that Ottawa’s just been a little kid and we don’t even know what kind of a crazy reckless and wild hopefully promiscuous teen ager she might be with a little encouragement and faith from us.
Ottawa has a Hub, I’m honored to be a host by helping with the visioning and design of the actual physical space, place, we are of and made from. I know so much of what I experience as home in Vermont is born of yestermorrow how a social enterprise incubates community and that’s what HUB is all about. Giving us a place to co create a kinder world. It’s so cool!! it’s makes Ottawa feel exciting and a little bit like how I imagine New york would feel, strutting. You gotta see the views from this loft that is home to our very own HUB. See there’s an energy here in Ottawa, every much as powerful as Vermont’s gently wise green mountains and the ocean that gave birth to Nova Scotia. We are where the three rivers meet and it’s powerful, I hear this place was sacred to native people there’s not missing it at Nepean’s point. Again it makes me crazy that we have this gorgeous water front that’s all covered up by tall buildings and one might never know it’s there but it is. We can feel it sometimes mostly when we connect cause that’s what water wants always and ever, to connect and we are all of this water and our water is powerful and full of beans. And this water is near our HUB though you wouldn’t know it cause it’s blocked by tall buildings parliament this time but you’ll feel it there I am sure, cause this place is all and ever like water about connection. And we’ve all been invited to co create it together and be a part of it forever. See you there! Here is some information from their web site and the invitation!
Part of Hub World – a global ecosystem of 5000+ social entrepreneurs and innovators in 28 cities, Hub Ottawa will be a new multi-disciplinary social innovation studio located in downtown Ottawa.
This is the amazing thing. We all have ideas for a better city and better world.
POP UP WEEKEND (NOV 25-27TH, 2011)
SAVE THE DATE – HUB OTTAWA POP UP WEEKEND – NOVEMBER 25-27, 2011
Our doors are finally open – for the weekend at least! Come help design and play in your future home away from home at71 Bank Street on the 6th Floor.
Here’s what you can expect throughout the weekend:
Friday Nov. 25
Our future members* will go wild with chalk, tape and paint to share with us their vision of the space.
Saturday & Sunday Nov. 26-27
Everyone is invited to drop in throughout the day to check out the buzz as Algonquin and Carleton’s best interior design and architecture students will be turning our future members’ ideas into reality during a Hub Ottawa design charrette.
We’ll also be officially signing up members for when we open our doors in February – there are tons of incentives for early adopters! Hub Pop Up Weekend is open to the public, so bring a friend!
*If you haven’t yet, let us know if you plan on becoming a Hub Ottawa member http://bit.ly/otthub once we open our doors in 2012.
Really well written post – growing up in Ottawa I think I see it differently than alot of people (don’t have many cities to compare it to) – there’s a definitely affection and pride there (love the size, love the character, love the vibe) but then I am drawn to the hidden talent yet to be discovered rather than the established tried and true…
I also am very excited that Ottawa has a HUB and can’t wait to see how their space is created! Sounds like a really collaborative process! Congrats!
hi Katherine this is so what I love to hear, it’s the young people who are reinventing this town and it’s exciting and inspiring! I hope I’ll meet you at the design charrette next weekend.