In 2010, I moved to Oshawa and Downtown became my immediate stomping grounds to “work-shop and play.”. I arrive after the GM crisis in 2008 that almost saw it closed; and GM being a big influence socially and economically to Oshawa. Because I lived in Ajax for 16 years than Whitby for 3, I could see contrast in cultures living in Oshawa. A few characteristics I felt we’re anxiety and art, gray infrastructure, a common bad language to describe itself as the “Dirty Shwa”, fragmented urban pathways, but underneath it all is an emerging creative impulsive, an entrepreneurial and cooperative spirit, that desires to break out of a ‘quiet desperation” with a new paradigm. I could feel something big was coming and I wanted to align myself with that opportunity and thirst to transform the pathways and cultural environment for urban development out of the suppressed dreams in the arts, culture and heritage sectors in the City of Oshawa.
I felt the call of a New Bohemia and Combine Generation. Although I didn’t know what to expect or whether that was realistic. I knew I love Oshawa and my purpose is to be involve and creating within a dynamic arts community. I thought that as long as I participate and contribute within the arts community – I would befriend a great group of friends to form an earthship taking our ideas and innovation to amazing places.
I wanted to choose a social business name that personified a co-operative marketplace for the arts and a community wealth incubator. At that time I began learning about the Rastafarian culture and it align with a lot of my spiritual perceptions about living heaven on earth; that is when I unearth the concept of Emporium of i and I (EOII). “Emporium” meaning a marketplace of ideas and specialized products, and “I and I” is remembering the blessings to yourself are the blessings to everyone else.
Finding The Foundation
Since I established EOII, I live with many influences that don’t fix into the cookie cutter business model. In hindsight, I wanted to be a part of a social business that emulates: a New Age of Enlightenment, Chivalry, New Bohemia and Combine Generation, and Heaven on Earth. I saw a Big Picture, but it seem to abstract and it remained close to my chest. For years I drafted numerous business plans. The vision, purpose and mission were revised a lot to try to be realistic about meeting the demands of accessible programs and platform to assist the arts community grow the creative economy and community wealth through the arts, culture, heritage sectors in Oshawa and Durham. I also wanted to incorporate the cooperative principles into EOII’s vision because of it being an important structure for advancing skills, tools and resources in solving social, political and economic challenges in the world. So although I was having a problem with narrowing my focus and crafting sharply define objectives — my values and interests still remained rooted in a cooperative culture and creative economy.
“Through their distinctive focus on values, cooperatives have proven themselves a resilient and viable business model that can prosper even during difficult times. This success has helped prevent many families and communities from sliding into poverty.” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
EOII has always been altruistic and pragmatic in nature, but there was structural conflict. I didn’t know how to narrow my focus, have measurable goals, fill in key roles to make up a board of directors, illustrating and define the work processes about how tasks are carried out to get to desired outcomes. I was reading a lot of books on being an entrepreneur, but I was thinking more about making EOII perfect without actually taking action. I still remain determine and knew when I’m ready, EOII would happen.
Sounding A Clear Note
Late September 2017, I read about “the visioning process” in the book Creating Life Together. this would be my a-ha moment to assist me in expressing the, vision, purpose, mission, values, goals, aspirations, expectations and strategies – to inspire co-founders and decision making members to join EOII and create great things. It was a holy moment as I remembered to “just ask” friends who I share common values and interests with – if they be interested in forming a social business, than discussing and allowing for the vision to unfold organically and evolving to include all desires from that strong and firm nucleus or master mind.
On Fertile Grounds
As of this moment, there are fertile grounds for exploring arts, culture, and heritage sectors in Oshawa. The City of Oshawa has created a Culture Counts Plan with collaboration by the Culture Counts Leadership to promote arts, culture and heritage in Oshawa; the Living Room Community Arts Studio continues to grow in influence, Core 21 and Spark Centre are incubating young entrepreneurs, RMG hosts First Fridays for culture gatherings that features art exhibits and local musicians, Oshawa Arts Association found a home at the Holiday Inn as Gallery 67, lively venues featuring music performance and events such as Tribute Communities Centre, Oshawa Music Hall, and The Moustache Club; The Paint Factory a place to do graffiti, creative businesses and pop-up shops downtown, home to three Universities, active community gardens like the Pepper Patch and Bounty Community Garden, great restaurants to dine out or cafes to hang out meeting the vibe of the street life, many festivals and events, the population is growing and diversifying, and the Charity Hub is a not for profit business networking centre in the downtown core. The cooperative culture is in bloom and EOII is a seed among many transforming Oshawa into a New Bohemia and Combine Generation..