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Inaugural Laurier Summit inspires community change

Local NewsInaugural Laurier Summit inspires community change

The Laurier Hub for Community Solutions hosted its inaugural Summit for Creative Community Solutions event on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

The six-hour long event was hosted in partnership with the City of Brantford, Laurier’s Sustainability Office, Belonging Brant, the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant and Enterprise Brant, and was created as a way to highlight a variety of innovative projects in the City of Brantford and surrounding area.

Earlier this year, both Laurier students and community members were invited to submit ideas, projects or stories that revolved around the event’s three themes of innovation, sustainability and inclusion.

Ellie Joseph and Jay Bailey, founders of Two Row on the Grand, speak about creating a community along the Grand River during Laurier Hub’s inaugural Summit for Creative Community Solutions event on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Kicking off with a free breakfast, followed by opening remarks from various Laurier staff, keynote speakers, Ellie Joseph and Jay Bailey, founders of Two Row on the Grand, took to the podium for their talk titled ‘Creating community along the Grand River.’

Throughout the rest of the day, guests had the opportunity to listen to two other keynote speakers including: Christian Clauwers, a photographer and EU Climate Pact Ambassador, for his talk ‘Using image to bridge the gap between science, education and policy,’ and Robert McLeman, professor for the department of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, with his talk, ‘What you and I can do to create sustainability in a rapidly changing world.’

Dr. Maurira Harris, Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at Wilfrid Laurier University, speaks about designing community-based research during Laurier Hub’s inaugural Summit for Creative Community Solutions event on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

In-between the keynote presentations, guests had 10 different panel discussions to choose from and attend, as well as a “time traveling” workshop with Peter Muir, a campus tour with the Laurier Sustainability office and a chance to check out the four community exhibitions that were submitted earlier this year.

The various panel discussions covered a range of topics such as “What’s Next for the Indigenous Creative Sector?” “Aging with Innovation: Community and Technology as Catalysts for Change,” “Artful Ways to De-isolate,” “Museums and Sustainability,” and more.

Cynthia Lickers-Sage, Naomi Johnson and Gary Joseph discuss the future of Indigenous arts and collaboration during Laurier Hub’s inaugural Summit for Creative Community Solutions event on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Christina Han, Director of the Laurier Hub, said that when it came to creating and shaping the inaugural summit, she had been dreaming of putting together an event where she could help highlight various community members and their work in Brantford and the surrounding area.

“The Hub Community Solutions was created in 2022 with three goals; to connect our community and university partners, to support our university and community partners on collaborative projects, and to create exciting new initiatives that will foster community solutions,” said Han. “In this role, I came to really learn that there are so many smart, creative, courageous, and dedicated people who have developed amazing solutions to the challenges that our local and global communities are facing. Those who know me know that I’m a dreamer. I dreamed a dream to create an event where we can come together and learn from and inspire each other.”

Peter Muir has attendees recreating the waves of the Grand River during Laurier Hub’s inaugural Summit for Creative Community Solutions event on Thursday, May 16, 2024.

Han said that as the event began to take shape, she discovered that the goal of the summit was to celebrate creative solutions for the community, create an opportunity for learning and networking, to spark innovation, and to honour community leaders and changemakers.  

“When I started sharing this idea with people around me, I learned that all of you have been dreaming my same dream,” she said. “That’s why you’re here today as presenters, as moderators, as performers, and as attendees. We all dream that despite all challenges, our communities, the world, and this environment, still have hope. We are more than dreamers, we are all doers.”

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