Reflections from the Future City Builders Institute and Summit

Updated: Jun 26, 2019

Hi, this is Tua and Niklas your Toronto City Leads! In this first blog post, we’re going to reflect on three topics that stood out to us from last week’s conference. Our week at the Evergreen Brick Works was eventful, with programming running from early morning into the late afternoon. Our brains are buzzing with new ideas and new ways of thinking that we wanted to share with you. Enjoy! Alireza Anvari

The City Leads getting a tour of the Brickworks with Alireza Anvari

Youth vs Youthful

During our first session at the FCB Institution (our training 2 days prior to the summit), we dissected the difference between Youth and Youthful, and talked about the differences these words have. The term ‘Youth’ is often associated with negative ideas, such as lack of experience, lazy, associated with crime and deviance, and generally has a negative connotation to it. However, the term ‘Youthful’ is more often seen in a positive light, as something that has a lot of energy and ready to face challenges. Hearing the term youthful, you are likely to assume positive traits to whatever is being described as being youthful, whereas the term youth creates quite the opposite.

Having a conversation about these two terms had a big impact on us, as we have definitely felt the effects of being portrayed as ‘youth’. We try to grow up, and become adults so that we can be taken seriously in the fields we aspire to work in. Not having a lot of experience in what you aspire to do is often a big obstacle, and so we try to be anything but youth - yet all the while maintaining our youthful attributes. Everyone wants a city that has youthful characteristics, but often youth are not involved in the design process? It is a tough battle between the two concepts, and we hope to be able to change some of the negativities that people associate with the term ‘youth’.


As we live in the multicultural city that Toronto is, inclusion is such an important term for us. Being able to accommodate everyone in this city, giving everyone the space that they need and ensuring everyone’s voice can be heard, and creating an equitable environment are some things that should come naturally for us here in Toronto. However, as we can see with the lack of affordable housing and our incomplete transportation infrastructure, Toronto is not as inclusive as it should be. Our summit opened with Desmond Cole expressing that city planning in our city needs to be viewed as anti-black racism due to the extreme segregation in our city. This is due to the lack of lack of affordable housing and poor infrastructure, but also due to racist landlords and police violence. His speech was a reminder to all that much work still needs to be done and that Toronto cannot and should not accept this. Our summit closed with Tanya Talaga who showed us the absurdity that colonial figures/names have more recognition in our city than indigenous ones. She posed us with the question: what happens if someone cannot see themselves represented in their city? Cities are about inclusion. Finally, Senator Ratna Omidvar left us with a mandate “diversity is not inclusion.” Just by living in a diverse city/having diverse participation does not equal inclusion. You need to “be intentional, have a plan, and report out.”  Work needs to be put into working together, being vulnerable, sharing resources, and building equitable partnerships.


On that note, partnerships was another theme we experienced throughout the week. Through our institute, we got trained in how to pitch and establish relationships with partners (you probably received a business card from one of us at the summit). Due to limited resources, often it is beneficial/necessary to partner with organizations to support your mandate. This training felt empowering because as young people we are  often told not to ask for much, so learning how to ask felt liberating.

Later we both attended the breakout session “Doing More, Together.” This felt like an extremely beneficial session, because as CityLeads, our job is to recruit 30 other young people, find venues, and catering all under a very tight budget. To deliver a strong program, we’re going to need partners. At our session we heard from an amazing array of panellists who told us a few key points:

  • For strong partnerships to exist they need to be mutually beneficial to both parties

  • Partnerships should result in a 1+1=3 scenario where together you are more than the sum of your parts

  • Leave your negative preconceived notions behind you

  • Don’t be afraid to have an intentional end to your partnership - not all partnerships are supposed to last forever! A meaningful end is better than keeping the relationship for the sake of the relationship.

This advice was extremely useful and we can’t wait to start knocking on some doors to deliver an amazing program.

Overall our week was deeply enriching and left us ready to start working towards our 30Lab. Toronto we’ll see you in April 2019. Live in Hamilton or Halifax? Applications are open today!

Toronto leads: Niklas and Tua!



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