by Amy Richardson, CFICE Communications RA
We do that in different ways – from sporting the maple leaf, to eating a Beavertail, watching fireworks or sharing a story around a campfire. Together, we unite for one day of continuous pride for the country we all call home.
But of course, despite the pride, we all have an idea for how Canada could be even better: Roughly 35 million Canadians means roughly 35 million visions for the country.
That’s a lot of visions.
How can people share their story on what they want their Canada to look like?
How do we collect those visions and see what people really care about?
Leanne Clare has the answer.
Clare created the Campfire Project, a platform where Canadians can share their stories about their vision for Canada and actually be heard.
“I really like the idea of storytelling to really get at what people value,” Clare says.
“As a former journalist, I know that stories contain what people really care about, what they value and they also have the ability to inspire other people.”
Clare says the idea came to her in the shower four years ago when there was a lot of frustration among Canadians because there was no vision for the country coming from Parliament Hill.
Clare recalls her eureka moment.
“I thought: We don’t need a bunch of politicians to tell us what the country could be. We could crowd source this by using stories to try and figure out what people want for the future of the country, and we could create a big, national vision out of that.”
Clare left her job at the David Suzuki Foundation to pursue Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Carleton University. She joined the Carleton Centre for Community Innovation where she is currently working on the Campfire Project as a Research Associate.
The project will use Canada’s milestone 150th birthday to frame communication and encourage Canadians to share their vision.
Clare is hoping the platform, called Campfire 150, will spark deeper civic engagement across the country, turning the online action into offline action.
“I want us to be able to learn from those digital stories and figure out how to actually translate that into meaningful engagement.”
Clare sees the project as a true collective impact project and wants to engage as many partners and perspectives as possible.
“I want to gather people around the modern campfire, a digital campfire known as the Internet,” she says.
“It’s an idealistic project in some way, but it is really trying to fight against the negativity that is online and show that it can be used positively and that people are hearing each other.”
Clare says the Campfire platform will have the ability to be translated to other organizational contexts to ask “what should we do about X?” and get answers from the community about what people really think and want.
Clare plans to build and launch the platform by the end of the year to gain momentum before Canada’s 150th birthday. At that time, she will start to collect stories for the national vision and will release Canada’s collective thoughts in the fall of 2017.
Clare hopes to have community dialogue around the visions that could lead to a new road map for change in Canada.
“It’s the beginning of something,” Clare says.
“I don’t really know where it’s going to go, but I’m excited about where it might take me.”