8.5 Oh Canada!

Blooming heck this has been quite the week. That was the plan of course – #jukesiesjaunt is – by design – an ambitious civic tech / digital gov tour but it has surpassed even my high expectations.

It hasn’t been without its challenging moments – hotels particularly have been less than ideal. I only managed one night in my first one in Ottawa due to a combination of poor location and a slight feeling of being less than safe – weird as I suspect Ottawa features a list of worlds safest cities. I successfully moved to a much nicer place so that worked out OK. In Toronto my room has a view of a shopping centre escalator – so close that if the window opened I could hold the handrail! The room is actually fine if a bit tired and the location is perfect so I’ve made my peace with it. I’ve also had to make a change to my stay in Victoria as I had managed to miss a night in my mass booking. D’oh.

Anyway other than those hiccups it has been great. Flight was brilliant. Trains have been on time and comfortable. I’ve been leaning on Uber a bit unfortunately but needs must. Also my Canada/US sim has been really useful.

So I’m just going to do a little day by day summary.

Monday

Moved hotels. Felt much better immediately.

First meeting got cancelled. Worried it was all going to go pear-shaped.

Weather in Ottawa terrible – ended up working in my new hotel (after a brief explore and a SconeWitch.)

Went and met Ross at CDS and had a bit of a tour and a chat about what they are up to. Really interesting – it is all still in that early, anything can happen phase. Also interesting to see the mix of GDS and 18F DNA in the approach.

Amusingly met Steph Marsh for the first time in the CDS offices as she was also visiting. Also Keith Emmerson as he has recently moved from G to C DS…and Martha who has done the same.

We all went out for dinner and Liv Neal joined us as well (she also did me the HUGE favour of sorting a way for me to watch Game of Thrones!)

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 11.50.54

Tuesday

Managed to muddle calendars for my first meeting of the day – but did allow me to visit an amazing little cafe – Art House.

Rescheduled things and thus got to meet Mike Gifford – local open source and accessibility community leader and someone who once again demonstrated how small this network is as we name checked contacts we had in common! Great chat and really good to hear about his ideas about accessibility and building expectations and knowledge on the topic in to the procurement process in public service.

Visited Impact Hub Ottawa. Met Doug who managed the space and also is one of the organisers of the Ottawa Civic Tech meetup.

Which I spoke at. I gave my ‘Working in the Open’ talk – it felt a bit rushed and it was obviously far too UK centric for an international audience but it seemed to go down OK and folks liked the stickers! Also got to meet a couple of chaps from Statistics Canada which is always fun.

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 11.52.14

Things I discovered. Places in downtown Ottawa close early! Getting a meal after 8 was not easy!

Wednesday

Attended the OneTeamGov Ottawa Breakfast at the National Arts Centre (amazing venue.)

Had a really nice chat with a bunch of public servants and academics from across the city.

Learned about the Canadian Civil Service and their hiring practices. Still shuddering.

Train back to Toronto.

Seat dancing to Homecoming by Beyonce.

Dinner with Laura and Jamie from ONS who coincidently are in Toronto for a conference. Also weirdly they had been staying in the hotel I am now in (they had already moved to swankier accommodations!)

Thursday

Spent the morning at the Ontario Digital Service with Honey, Ebony, Kelsey and others talking about Service Standards, assessments, community building in Government, procurement and many more things. They are doing some inspiring stuff.

In the afternoon I visited Gabe at Code for Canada for a chat about – for want of a better term – the supplier ecosystem supporting digital transformation in Government. It is quite different from home at the moment – there is very little middle ground.

I also got to attend the one year anniversary celebrations of Civic Hall Toronto.

One of the lightning talks was about a new street art finder app and the social impact team behind it. Talk about on brand for me!

Had some nice chats (and one Brexit rant) and actually – for maybe the first time ever – handed out business cards.

Friday

Met Matt Thompson for a chat over a cuppa. Matt is someone I met briefly a couple of times through Mozilla but his writing on openness and generally his work with them had a big influence on my approach. It was a really great chat – his current consulting practice and the book he is working on about teams is incredibly aligned to a lot of my thinking and I’m really keen to find a way to bring the framework he is working on to our projects in the UK to try it out here. Also he gave me some great feedback on my own book idea and some advice on tackling it all.

The rest of today is likely to be look for street art and street food – I’m a little burned out so am not going to venture too far plus my flight to Victoria is a bit earlier than I remembered tomorrow and the airport isn’t close by.

Tune in next week for another exciting instalment of #jukesiesjaunt

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