CollabCamp 2014 Building Together

Dear YSI,

You’ve blown my mind & nurtured my heart. In your embrace I found my spirit and my voice.
You’ve started a fire in my soul, and I’m so happy with these friends, it will grow.
— CollabCamp Participant

What a rush!  It's been a few weeks since YSI's inaugural CollabCamp and we're beginning to catch our breath after a gathering unlike any we've held before. 60 people joined us from all corners of Ontario to recharge, get inspired, and keep building a community of changemakers across the province.

               Photo Credit: Fonna-Tasha Seidu

               Photo Credit: Fonna-Tasha Seidu

Our intention as a hosting team was to create an experience where people could connect deeply with each other, reflect on how they show up as individuals when collaborating with others, and leave with new insights about how they might be able to increase the impact of their work.

How do we do that?  There's no perfect answer, but we are learning there are a few important ingredients:

1. Engaging conversations about topics that matter to you. We believe conversations can change the world. When we ask a question like, 'What's the passion that brings you here?' we don't see it as an idle fantasy. 

Whether you are engaged in providing the only shelter in Windsor for youth facing homelessness, to re-imagining the education system nation-wide, the chance to share our stories can open us up to different perspectives and spark new insights for us to act on.  

2. Artful engagement.  There are many different ways to enter into a conversation. We keep learning that tapping into our creative sides helps us to make sense of our experiences and push us to learn more, while offering an avenue into tough conversations.

The act of making art together - throw in a dash of spoken word poetry, break-dancing, music and who knows what else! - can literally give us new ways of seeing the world. 

3. Weaving differences together to find new ways forward togetherThere is strength and beauty in our diversity.  As a hosting team, we learned that collaboration is not about having everything go smoothly all the time.

But taking the time to ground in our relationships, understand where we're coming from, and committing to building a future together, can help us weather the challenges that differences often yield.

4. Being intentional about learning.  One of the most important questions we hold at YSI is 'What are we learning?' From 'harvesting' in the moment, to evaluating the gathering, stopping to reflect is a critical activity of ours. Of course, it only raises some more questions, including, 'What will we do next, based on our learnings?'

5. Having Fun! The subtitle of Paul Born's book Deepening Community, says it all: Finding joy together in chaotic times.

What's next?

In the new year, we'll be hearing from participants about what they learned at CollabCamp and how they are bringing the YSI spirit into their work.  In the meantime, thank you for co-creating this amazing experience!

Photo Credits: Fonna-Tasha Seidu