Cities are amazing organisms. They bring people together in the pursuit of jobs, education, community, and better lives for themselves and their families. The byproducts are amazing neighbourhoods, arts & culture, parks and infinite chance encounters.
Cities also have a unique set of challenges. In many ways, cities need to change -- and fast. As more people move into cities, residents face trials as we attempt to adapt our historic environment and entrenched systems for a modern life.
That includes transit, housing, policing, politics and more. On many of these fronts, change is needed very quickly to prevent collapse. In others, urgency is required to deliver a fair system for everyone that recognizes historical facts and modern day realities.
Canada is transforming into an increasingly urban nation. Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are now home to more than one-third of all Canadians. Inside the city, great inequality can exist: Toronto is home to the greatest rate of child poverty in all of Canada, for example.
I moved from a suburban upbringing and embraced life in the city during my early adulthood. In Ottawa, I skated home on the Rideau Canal in the winter and stopped to smell the tulips in the spring. In summer I could hear the jazz festival near city hall down the street -- no car needed for fun or groceries.
Now in Toronto, I love taking the frequent streetcars, cycling for errands, going to a unique brewery in The Annex and head to the waterfront when I need a break from it all.
However, one doesn’t need to travel far to feel the pressures of city living. Overcrowded streetcars and subway platforms, the rising cost of housing, a shelter system that leaves many residents outside during cold winters. Political leaders maintain a status quo that can’t accommodate the rate of change that is happening in our homes and streets. We need residents to be as informed and empowered as possible to assert our power at city hall and beyond.
Based on my experience organizing technology conferences like Dx3, Big Data Toronto and Beautiful Minds Canada, Central was created to educate residents through expert analysis of urban issues and create a better city for everyone.
I believe that educating people about the complex issues facing our city is the first step in making progress to solve them. Since our first event in July 2018, Central has embraced these values:
Central will attempt to bring the very best speakers to our events. That means people who have studied the issues or have lived experiences in dealing with them. While discussion is frequently encouraged, experts will be given time to explore their topics in-depth.
Central is meant for residents to attend. That means our audience is people who don’t necessarily work in the urban planning, architecture, non-profit, transportation and political industries. In a physical sense, that means we will locate our events at venues that are near public transit and are free of barriers for all kinds of people.
Central exists for the attendees to enjoy. That means sponsors (though very welcome) should not interfere with the quality of speakers or the overall experience of attendees. In July 2018, the Central Conference was entirely funded by the attendee ticket revenue.
Want to learn more about Central or its organizers? Contact us.