Building relationships: My first two weeks at CityLAB


After completing my first week of CityLAB, I would like to acknowledge a quote from a reading by Clapp and Dauvergne in their book Paths to a Green World. They alluded to the following, “a quick analyses to complex questions often raises contradictory answers. Each of these answers are persuasive. Each seem to be filled with their own logic.” (Dauvergne and Clapp, 2011). In essence, life is often complex. That’s the first thing I learned with my team at CityLAB.

The uniqueness of an idea-sharing environment like CityLAB can be further cemented by Bohm’s On Dialogue. By illustration, when Hamilton artist Hitoko Okada was at CityLAB, leading us in her lesson on community and collaboration through art, we were set up in a square formation in groups of four. According to Bohm in his book, this was the perfect modality for having dialogue. Each person was able to be equally respected, as there was no one in a center-point position. This shape allowed us to have meaningful conversations where we could let our ideas flow through each other. There was no sense of breakage, and no sense of what Bohm would call discussion, only dialogue. We all had our ideas suspended for the other to see, without any critical judgement. If an idea was not as good as another, we moved on to the next one. Always learning, always being inspired. There were no grudges if we did not utilize someone’s idea for our projects. It was nice to see the teams working efficiently and communicating effectively to get the job done. It felt like a nice community space. This was also emphasized by Shylo Elmayan (Senior Project Manager, Urban Indigenous Strategy) when she spoke with us about her time with Northern Ontario populations while working with Ontario Hydro. To build a strong community, you cannot just jump into it; it takes time to grow. You have to learn how to work around issues, and you have to build relationships.  

Corey Mckibbin, Third Year Honours Philosophy, McMaster University