Idea festival brings array of citizens to TRU

Allison Declercq-Matthäs, Contributor Ω

The Irving K. Barber Learning Centre in TRU’s House of Learning played host to Kamloops’s first-ever idea festival Jan. 12.

Talk of transportation, education, housing, healthcare, addictions, energy, policy and the arts echoed throughout the Saturday afternoon session. People enthusiastically stepped up to a poster, squeezing forward to put their Post-It Note ideas among the many others.

Organized by Arjun Singh, a Kamloops city councillor, the event drew 151 registered participants ranging from children to the elderly. One seven-year-old stepped forward to suggest a spider exhibit to help people get over arachnophobia.

“Ideas are an important part of my work,” Singh said in his opening speech. The event was inspired by his interest and experience in public engagement. He wanted to get a diverse group of people together to share and inspire discussion.

“For democracy, we tap into people’s wisdom,” Singh said, “It’s pretty exciting to have this brain power.”

At least one participant came to the festival with an agenda.

One individual wandered from the standard stand-and-talk, giving a lively comedic promotion for hanging laundry.

“Dry your laundry the solar way,” Cheryl Kabloona said as she stood before her audience in a lab coat and flaunted air drying laundry with scientifically proven perks.

Speaking for the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Kabloona was met with chuckles as she finished with, “and get this, there is no city law against it. In fact they like it!”

Katie Hutfluss, TRUSU graduate students representative said participants should have been allowed to speak to presenters before moving onto the idea sharing and creation. Instead, the event hosted a performance by Sabrina Weeks and Mike Hilliard, followed by a short break and then broke into groups of five or less to discuss two big topics: what will Kamloops, at its best, look like in 2023 and what are the components of an amazing transportation network?

“My favourite one [idea] was more public produce,” Jovan Rodrigue said about the resulting discussions. He and Kristen Rodrigue loved the idea of public discourse suggesting it should be more commonplace. Kristen favoured discussing cultural inclusiveness, suggesting something like TRU International Days, but at a city-wide scale.

“Discussion took off more than I expected,” she said, adding it was more disorganized than she anticipated.

Kevin Skrepnek also suggested more facilitation for next time, but otherwise he enjoyed the talks.

“My passion is transit and it ties into a lot of things,” he said.

There was an absence of speakers on First Nations issues as well as participants in the discussion group. During the final 25 minutes of dialogue, the area allotted for First Nations issues remained empty.

In tapping public knowledge, the event found a number of backgrounds, supporters and inspirations for the days ahead.