Maker Expo gives a leaping high-five to The University of Waterloo and its Velocity entrepreneurship program for supporting us in delivering this event for Waterloo Region. While the Expo is free to attend, stuff does cost money, so we are only able to put together this gig for you with funding from sponsors like UW. The whole thing also hinges on keen makers who must prep their gear, roll out, engage visitors, and then pack up the show again. We’re extremely fortunate to have a whack of motivated makers from Velocity coming to the Expo to share their products, companies and enthusiasm they’re cooking up on Charles Street, just a block away from Kitchener City Hall. They helped me out with a bit of ME promo in the video above, and you should come out and meet them in person on Saturday September 19. You’ll see the future.
There’s a bit of an interesting only-in-Waterloo-Region story to share below on the ME+UW connection, but while I still have most of you, let me say that this engagement is a great example of UW’s commitment to our community. Just this morning at UW’s President’s Breakfast, Feridun Hamdullahpur, President and Vice-Chancellor of the university talked about the interdependence of the school and our community in our future collective prosperity. So good.
Gotta thank Velocity Director Mike Kirkup, Associate Director at the Foundry Peter Heuss, and PR Manager Victoria Berry for believing in our mission and hooking it up. Now, where it all started was when I met UW’s Senior Director of Community Relations & Events, Kelly McManus at an art show at the Accelerator Centre back in April…
I saw a lot of friends there at my pal Jacqui Murphy’s show, and when they asked what I was up to, of course I told them about Maker Expo. That led to a Williams coffee chat with Kelly, which led to some sponsorship (thank you Kelly!) and us trying to figure out how best to work together.
It turns out that the Velocity Foundry hardware incubator is only a short block away from Kitchener City Hall which is our venue for the Expo. So I reached out to my fellow ex-BlackBerry friend Mike Kirkup who runs Velocity. My co-organizer Ravi and I got together with Mike and Peter Heuss for lunch and right out of the gate Mike was keen to connect Velocity makers with the Expo.
Well, a few more emails, hallway chats at the Communitech Hub, a coffee meetup, and one very fun video shoot and here we are connected with UW and only a week away from Maker Expo.
I don’t know how this would work in other communities. Here in Waterloo Region, it just seemed completely possible right from the outset. I am immensely grateful for our community’s let’s-just-figure-it-out approach to new endeavours.
That’s not quite the end of the story, because this morning…
I trucked on down to the Regional Museum (a beautiful space) to join the UW President’s Breakfast (thanks again to Kelly). There is a pretty amazing UW+community integration effort well underway.
UW Vice President of University Relations, Sandra Banks did a great job of an overview of the work. She just moved to the Region back in June so it’s great to have that fresh perspective.
There’s a lot there, but it all resonates with me as stories. Real stories.
The same as I pitch to my clients. It is delightful and reaffirming to see other groups using the power of stories to make change.
If I may offer a starting point to explore this work: go check out UW’s Waterloo Stories site.
Very interesting for me to briefly come up out of the low-level details of Maker Expo execution to see…
the perspective of other players, all working with the same passion and good intentions that I have. UW President Feridun Hamdullahpur (above), noted that he had just welcomed 9000(!) students back to the Region. 88% of them are new to our community. It is in everyone’s best interests and the interest of our future prosperity to come together. To overlap our social spheres. To start weaving university graduates into our community on their first day as newcomers. And to support each other, just as UW has done with Maker Expo.
We are all makers. This is Waterloo Region.