Last weekend, I took a drive out to Corner Brook to be a part of CU Expo 2013, to discuss "the power of community-university partnerships as a vehicle for social change."
The city is on the opposite side of the island to St. John's, and has very different municipal issues to deal with from us, but I learned something pretty important about why I'm running for Councillor at Large here at home.
I was part of a team that gave a talk on how we can "Move beyond 'Join the Conversation'" in social media. I spoke about the ways in which Happy City, an organization I helped create 3 years ago, was using new technology to make real change happen in St. John's.
On my team was a great guy named Tom Cochrane, editor of the very active Corner Brook blog, CornerBrooker.com.
Tom spoke about a recent by-election in his city, and how he and his friends at the blog noticed a lack of interest or awareness in the campaign. In fact, not many people were running.
His team took it upon themselves to promote the issues, encourage people to run, and even hold their own web-cast candidates' forum. Tom's not sure if it was due to these efforts, but voter turn-out was great - particularly amongst young people.
Inspiring as that was, it wasn't until after our talks were finished and we were mingling with attendees that the real take-away occurred for me.
Tom showed me a button he was wearing. He had made it himself after he watched a Happy City web-cast event called "I Heart NL". The speaker at that even, Katherine Loflin, made a comment that resonated with Tom: "Loved Cities Do Better".
Here we were, meeting face-to-face to talk about how to interact online, and a connection was made: we both love our home towns, and we believe that "love of place" has the power to improve the lives of its citizens (and the economy, to boot).
This is why Tom spends hours of his free time promoting and connecting his city. And it's the same reason I'm running for council in mine.
Loved Cities Do Better. Do you agree?
p.s. You can follow Tom here: @tomcochrane