As I reflect on the positive energy at Ignite London last night I am left with a feeling of growth. Something is changing in me calling me to action, calling me to be an important part of my new city.
I have never been a part of a city, or church. Church taught me as a child that giving one man control over vulnerable children is a bad thing. I have shied away from church after that man exposed himself to me as a 9 year old child. Do I paint every church leader the same, no of course not, but I don’t trust in the church concept.
Local government – No family members, no friends, no one in my circle has ever been vocal or shown interest in local government. Almost everyone I knew couldn’t have told you the name of their local representative. Local voting was considered an afterthought. You made a selection based on who you supported at the provincial or national level.
Growing up in York Region, close to Toronto was always so busy with traffic, stealing hours from my day. For most of my adult life my office commute stole at least 2 hours every day. To even consider doing anything more than taking care of my children and home was ridiculous.
Moving to London Ontario was not a decision I took lightly. I was drawn to the slower pace of life, I was drawn to the sense of community I felt when I visited the London office. I was drawn to the Thames River as water calls to my soul and soothes me.
I didn;t know what to expect starting over in London July 2011 for my 15 year old daughter and I. Getting a puppy was a strategic decision to keep us feeling loved and happy (when he doesn’t drive us nuts!) How would I get to know people in London outside of the folks I work with? Everyone at work is great but they have their own lives with young children and established connections.
I have always been an avid user of social media. Facebook has been my prime tool, used Linked In extensively in my job search and the networking aspect needed for finding a new job. Twitter was a bit of a mystery to me. I liked it as a place to get news stories, to read celebrity gossip. I didn’t really see it as a day to day tool in my life. That changed when I moved to London.
Not really sure why I went to Twitter and starting looking for London Ontario tweets. I followed a few londoners and I noted that there was a hastag #ldnont. I started looking at users who utilized this hashtag and I am so glad I took that step. I have connected with the most incredible inspiring people in London. I discovered Ignite London thanks to Twitter and I took the risk in the fall to do a 5 minute presentation on fatty liver disease. This in itself was a huge step in making my presence known in London. The connections I have made due to that presentation are new friends that I am thankful for.
Arriving at Ignite London last night I was immediately recognized and felt a bit embarassed that I didn’t remember many faces that I saw last night! I felt a bit out of place and wished that my twitter friends all had nametags on to help me match names to the faces at the event. I took a few chances and said hello to people guessing if they were or were not my twitter friends and finding out i was wrong, I don’t mind taking the risks and it makes for a few laughs as well. I said hi to 2 ladies who were sitting behind me and was pleased to discover that they both were on my twitter. We chatted before the event and I shared my passion for raising awareness for health issues.
The first part of Ignite London is always a game and a way to share a few laughs in teams. Last nights challenge included duct tape and teams had to come up with fashion ideas and have one member model the creation in 30 minutes. The creations were so fun, a jet pack, a st patricks day leprechaun, fashion models, a traffic cone dress, a well endowed bra on a man strutting his stuff. Everyone had fun with it and it was a blast watching the fashion show!
The second part of Ignite London is inspiration! 5 minute presentations on topics that residents are passionate about and willing to get up and talk about in front of peers. Public Speaking is known as one of the things that scares most people so I have a ton of respect for those who are comfortable on the stage.
Sean Quigley spoke about how we are at the tipping point of coming together as a community to effect change, all we need to do is work together, pull causes together instead of working seperately, and make our voices create a wave of change!
Chantelle Diachina had so much positive energy exuding that she could have spoken about any topic and we all would have been engaged and attentive! She spoke about using the knowledge that we will all die to make us take action in our lives now. If you would die tomorrow, are the choices you are making today how you want to be remembered? Very inspiring also creating a wave of change in me.
Kresimer Jug- Kresimer is a strong healthy man who presented in November and is a man I respect and admire in London. He spoke about how being healthy is a choice. Most of us are born healthy and strong. Living is Easy…no seconds thoughts. Then we get older and we start to make our own choices in foods. We know we are young and strong and believe we are invincible and can eat or drink anything and have no impact on on bodies. In fact when we make these decisions we are moving into a phase of life Kresimer listed as Dis- ease. We start feeling tired, a few aches and pains that we blame on getting older…Take action now to avoid chronic illness…You do not want to get to that phase! This is a topic close to my heart as I am also an advocate for this. Of course its part of the wave of change I feel inside.
Naomi Sayers – was brave enough to speak about a topic that is taboo. A sector of society we tend to ignore. Sex Workers in 2010 were declared criminals. Naomi reminded us that this is a job. Women who are in this job quite often didn’t consider it a choice. Life conditions, a poor job market, a clear demand,. lack of education and the need for money can force them into a corner. Arresting them and giving them a permanent record means society is writing them off. This was an incredibly moving and eye opening presentation..I will look at Sex workers in a different light thanks to Naomi!
Zach Armstrong – What an awesome presentation he provided. I had no idea that so few people in Canada are involved in political parties. We need to start showing interest and getting involved. Nothing is saying that we have to become political pushers, but without our voices in the mix nothing will change. Thanks Zach, I will be in touch regarding getting involved.
Andrew Kaszowski – Why getting robbed was the greatest moment of his life. Andrew was living an organized life, moving forward with goals, involved in community and feeling like life was under control. Then he was robbed and all of a sudden he became keenly aware of paying attention to the important things in life. To stop wasting time on things that do not make a difference. Andrew inspired me to submit an idea for the July conference to speak about how losing my 100k job, marriage and starting over allowed me to appreciate the little things in life!
Martin Anderson- Clutz – Martin spoke about More, how our consumerism has made us all want more! the 75% off limited time offer, the king size meal, we are all attached to wanting bigger and more! He is trying to live his life not looking for more! He is trying to learn how to appreciate what he has and not constantly trying to keep up with the joneses. Martin also inspired my topic idea for July.
The energy at this event was palpable, I left on a high note and it took forever to fall asleep last night as ideas and the wave of change was going through my body.
Thank you London…I look forward to being a part of the winds of change!