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CityMakers: A new way of engaging your city—deadline to apply to City Lab 02.05.20

By Geneviève Gazaille on January 7, 2020

Geneviève Gazaille is Apt613’s correspondent at Synapcity, Ottawa non-profit for civic engagement, connecting people across diverse communities to share perspectives and create positive change.

Are you looking to get involved in Ottawa but don’t know how to go about it? Synapcity may have just what you’re looking for! This February, the non-profit will be inaugurating a new pilot called City Lab, inspired by its beloved Civics Boot Camp program.

I spoke with Synapcity’s masterminds Laurel Mackenzie, Executive Director, and Stephane L. Pressault, Program Director, to find out more about the program.

Apt613: What is City Lab?

Stephane L. Pressault: City Lab is an experiential learning program bringing together Ottawa residents from all walks of life. Participants learn how to become more effective citymakers and to collaborate with others to make a difference in our city.

Participants learn how to become more effective citymakers and to collaborate with others to make a difference in our city.

For those who are familiar with Civics Boot Camp, how does it differ?

S.P.: The format of City Lab is similar in the sense that a group of 30-40 people will meet weekly (Tuesday evenings) for six weeks and that they will be divided into smaller groups to work on real-life issues facing our city.

This time around though, there will be a real focus on those case studies, which will act as practise-runs for participants. People can expect to spend more time developing their project and their strategy rather than learn the ropes about how the City works and listening to expert-panelists.

The other difference is that for this program, Synapcity is entering in a partnership with Saint Paul University. Beyond the fact that the program will take place on location, students of the School of Social Innovation will formally take part in City Lab, following a 6-week in-class experience, which will certainly bring the program to a whole new level.

Photo provided by Synapcity

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Can former Civics Boot Camp participants re-apply?

Laurel Mackenzie: Yes, absolutely! City Lab is as much for novices as for community champions. We want City Lab to pull folks from all around Ottawa and to showcase a diversity of voices and perspectives. Synapcity is not there to set the agenda but to support individuals and organizations in realizing their vision of what can make a truly awesome city.

City Lab is as much for novices as for community champions. We want City Lab to pull folks from all around Ottawa and to showcase a diversity of voices and perspectives. 

Why should people embark on the City Lab adventure?

LM: There are a lot of people in Ottawa who have brilliant ideas but just don’t know how to push them forward nor do they have a support system in place. Rather than a plain civic literacy program, Synapcity is offering these people the tools and the connections to help them bring their idea to life.

We truly believe that Ottawa is a great city and that it can become even greater and more representative and inclusive of its people through honest conversations between residents, organizations, institutions and elected officials.

How can people participate in City Lab?

SP: The program runs every Tuesday night from February 25th to March 31st from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. People needing a childcare or transportation stipend may request so.


Ottawa residents wanting to apply are asked to fill out a questionnaire at synapcity.ca no later than February 5th, 2020. City Lab will take place Tuesdays from February 25 to March 31, 5:30-8:30pm at Saint Paul University, 95 Clegg Street.