Are you a young person already interested in the future of your city, urban spaces or the inclusion of the most marginalized in your community? Have you been working in this space and wondering if there were others imagining how future cities should look? Do you often think about the roles you and technology can play in shaping future cities and co-creating more inclusive living spaces?
The CityInclusive team spent the last six months thinking about these and similar questions. This thinking inspired us to organize a meeting at our homebase in Montréal to think through these questions with others. On May 22nd we brought together 40+ young civic shapers from Montréal for a “Future Cities are Our Cities: Youth Stakeholder Meeting.” The goal of the meeting was to connect like-minded peers and to generate ideas on how to build more inclusive future cities.
The meeting served as a continuation of our work with cities across Canada participating in the Smart Cities Challenge, and our facilitation of interactive future-cities-visioning workshops with youth across the country.
The event was imagined as an interactive space for learning and co-creation. It consisted of three complementary sessions: a panel of experts, a tailored stepping stone group activity, and a final 5à7 networking reception.
Speakers on the panel included Dr. Shauna Janssen, Director of the Institute of Urban Futures, Rym Baouendi, Founder & Managing Director of Medina Works, Jorge Garza from McConnell Foundation (Future Cities Canada), Samantha Reusch from Apathy is Boring, and a short intervention from Charles Beaudry, Salon1861 Montreal Impact Hub about the upcoming 100in1 Day activities.
The panelists walked us through their work in Canada and abroad, while engaging the audience with insights about urban planning for future cities, the role of art in urban change and community building, the necessity of cross-sectoral collaboration to tackle rising inequality, intergenerational learning and the potential to prototype ideas around the world, and also the responsibility of youth to engage in their communities.
Baouendi reminded us all that “youth engagement in Canada is not a luxury, but a responsibility.” She drew on her work and experience in Tunisia where young people brought about change at the onset of the Arab Spring.
Reusch agreed and also emphasized that spaces must be created to “listen” to youth so that “meaningful consultations” could occur.
A core part of the event was the tailored “stepping stone” activity, which consisted of facilitated group work among participants. Each group discussion was stimulated by questions about the participants’ current role in the city’s social ecosystem, their vision of more inclusive future cities, and strategic planning for engagement strategies and next steps. After engaged group discussions, all groups were invited to present their work back to an energy-filled room.
After the working sessions, the high-energy vibe of the day was transferred to an informal 5à7 networking, where everyone got a chance to continue conversations, follow up on highlights from the day and exchange contacts.