8.6 Oh Canada…week two

#jukesiesjaunt continues but I am currently a bit broken – a combination of booze, eating the wrong things, timezone related tiredness and if I’m honest running on fumes as far as being in Jukesie(tm) mode has shattered me – I am totally failing to make the most of Vancouver but have decided I really need to recharge and recover properly as I have a week and a bit left and I really want to enjoy Oakland.

So what has been happening?

Well I caught a plane across continental Canada and ended up on Vancouver Island. Funnily enough was on the same plane as Emma-Rose who is one of the OTG team over here and she interviewed me for the blogpost about us sponsoring.

I ended up getting a little drunk in Sidney (the little town that Victoria Airport is actually in) as my hotel room wasn’t ready and there wasn’t a whole bunch else to do.

Sunday I changed hotels (planned this time) to the spectacularly hipster Hotel Zed. VW Campers, Vespas, water slides, yo-yos, typewriters, rotary dial phones….this place was a kitsch wonderland. The staff were also really nice and it was actually pretty quiet and comfortable all things considered. Big thumbs up from the Bristol contingent.

I was lucky enough to get a bit of a tour of the area from Scott Leslie – a local I know a bit from my ‘open ed’ days with Jisc (but mainly from Twitter of course). He turned out to be a great guide and we also had a good chat about the challenges of sticking to your principles in this world of work.

Monday I found myself slightly trapped in my hotel as the Victoria Day parade literally was staging outside the hotel! It was fun to watch though – the bigger challenge was the atrocious weather – it poured down. All day.

I popped in to ‘help’ with the OTG set-up but was less than useless and so I just set up my table (I really did bring sooooooooo many stickers) and got the lay of the land before the big day Tuesday.

Tuesday was great – really well organised throughout and the emotional greeting from some indigenous locals was a brilliant way to kick things off. It is always heartwarming to see so many people come together and just demonstrate a real passion for improving public service.

I mainly stayed to the edges and ‘corridor camped’ as is my tradition but a couple of observations were –

  • It wasn’t really ‘Global’. There were 3 of us from the UK and a couple of folks from the US. What it was though was a truly Canada wide event.
  • The scale of Canada and some of the complexities with their Government structures mean different places are in very different stages on the internet-era journey. Some of the conversations seemed pretty early on and a little naive to these cynical old ears. Elsewhere the conversations were right up to date and pushing ahead.
  • It didn’t feel like the movement had really extended yet to people outside of public service but who care deeply about it – there is a passionate civic tech community in Canada and hopefully Gabe from Code for Canada and others can find a way to sync up with OTG
  • It was slightly weird being the only commercial sponsor – especially given we sell zero services in Canada
  • People love stickers 🙂 ..but not talking to people sat on stands!

I had dozens of great conversations but was pretty exhausted by the end of the day so only lasted for two beers at the after party.

I want to thank all the organisers and volunteers for the amazing job they did. You should all be very proud. Also thanks to everybody who did come and chat to me – I met so many wonderful people and learned a great deal.

Wednesday I got the Sea Plane to Vancouver which was very exciting and a little scary. I’m still not great at flying but crave these little adventures on these trips – they are the things I remember after.

My hotel here is fantastic (thanks for the recommendation Kylie) but it is dangerously close to a lot of bars and the weather is also (finally) lovely. I ended up going off the rails a bit Wednesday – too much beer, bad food (including sugar) and generally wrecked myself. Thursday was HARD. I had to cancel a meeting, leave my diner breakfast unfinished, cut short my visit to the Pacific Innovation Fair (but I did chat to some of the Stats Canada people and meet the Domain 7 team who are a Notbinary-esque company over here…2 minutes in and we were comparing procurement systems!) and generally just retreat to my hotels outdoor space to chill out (and write much of this amongst other things).

Got to do a solid amount of graffiti/street art spotting Friday before the rains came and also caught up with Warren Anthony – a Brit ex-pat service designer doing gov stuff at EY here in Vancouver (and further afield). Really interesting conversation about his time over here and he confirmed some of my impressions to date.

Tomorrow morning I fly to San Francisco and then somehow get to Oakland for four days of rest and relaxation before back at it with the Code for America Summit and at least some of the International Design in Government Day.

One response to “8.6 Oh Canada…week two”

  1. This all sounds amazing. I’m deeply jealous. Really glad to see you’re taking care of yourself too 🙂

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