A visit to Algoma's still-shining fire, Pt. 2

This post is the second part of a blog post written by Chris "The Other Chris" Connolly, YSI's communications coordinator. You can read the first part here. Reach him at connolly@youthsi.org or @connollychris. 


I woke up at dawn to rain at the window, in the spare room generously offered by Jess. The gathering is behind me, and refreshing thoughts drip-drip-drip back to me in the half-light:

A stirring from within that moves nervous hands to flutter
A crock pot everywhere you look,
A piping stew to thaw any introvert's heart, whose speckled hues conspire with the craft paper, full
And a rock whose animated heaviness calms, unknots and brims

A circle of pillars stabilizing world-scattered excitement
A treaty of sorts, pastels spiraling forwards from the history that should have been
A deep, self-assured voice with the strength to wear its cracks
And then a breath -- now two, now three -- silently immersing hidden-swirling the sing-song ambiance below

A cerebral flood from an idea eight years in the making
A growing, wayward energy that sprouts from an emotional centre to gleaming possibilities ahead
A gravitational pull to that wordless place that matters most: to home, or right here
And a circle that overlaps as wide and far as the sun: again, and again
And again


Thinking back to the opening, it's the attention to relationships that is sticking most with me. Good food, a patient circle, and the space to re-explore their "treaty of sorts" about how to be in right relations together. It took time. The first half of the gathering, at least. Because, well, this takes time.

The words that were shared overflowed with a wisdom that you had to take the time and attention to peel back yourself -- the kind of gift I can only reflect back in poetry. So, on the mood and opening, I'll say no more.


From there we came the world premiere of the video from the first gathering, created by two local videographers: Brendan Garlick from Absolute Complete Entertainment and Jason Lloyd from the 360 Sault Media Arts Collective. Though I wasn't at the gathering, judging from the gasps that danced in the room (and the chills the video still gives me), I'd say they captured the mood perfectly. 

With that grounding, we set out to focus and direct the energy and passion that was named in the circle. In groups of four, we broke apart to ask each other: What are you working on that YSI Algoma can support you with?

Here you can see a full range of the ideas that were generated during the break-out groups. (Click each image to see in full screen.)

Some of the ideas and ongoing efforts that bubbled up during the report-back (which can be seen as-written above) included:

  • A hip hop electric pow wow
  • Support for youth social entrepreneurship
  • Asset mapping
  • Medicine Factory Bushplane - employing people facing barriers
  • Media development and events incubator
  • A youth portal website for the Soo to bring together various resources
  • Cinema Politica - a discussion group that screens alternative and independent films
  • A place to take care of oneself, to heal, to remember why we're inspired
  • Local YSI newsletter to help promote projects
  • Ongoing networking and connection

After late-night conversations that continued past midnight, I settled down for the night. The next morning, I was picked up by Robin and Liz to host a table at the Soo's first ever Pride Fest. It was here I saw how this YSI community sustains itself. Many people from the night before stopped by to lend a hand and greet friends from across the wider community. Even Shane, who couldn't make the event, wrote and designed a hand-out in the late-night after the gathering, so that they would have outreach materials to offer.

And then, a few breaths later, it seemed, I was back in a cab, back in a plane, gravitationally pulled -- again, again -- back to my own home, right here, to the gleaming possibilities ahead. 

Thank you, miigwetch!