I came here years ago as a software developer – then I left. I came back years later after living in legendary great communities: Toronto -Annex, Guelph, and Elora. So what brought a person deeply interested in innovation, technology and the arts back to this region?
The tech has been here for a long time. The institutionalisation of tech is a result of having the culmination of intelligences that build these things. Research In Motion (now Black Berry) was one piece of the puzzle. Add to it several interesting acquisitions by international tech firms and then we saw Microsoft, Oracle, Agfa and others… and then OpenText and more recently, Google and then other home-grown businesses and we became this.
I came back during a quiet time in tech development. And the thing that harnessed my imagination enough to move back was CAFKA Haptic in 2007.
I remember wandering through the city, knowing I needed a change and knowing that I could move anywhere in Ontario. The stunning public art – the stumbled upon feeling of discovering a great secret that was in plain sight had me excited with the possibility of what could be experienced here, which led me to the excitement of what could be built here.
CAFKA embraces that special essence of the city – that from scratch, barn raising, and marvel creating sense of innovation. The practice of enticing people into thought is the first step into enticing them into action – what will you build?
In this sense, this display of excellent public art was a game changer for a downtown recovering from economic downturns. People who would not normally come downtown had to motivate themselves into this space to see this work. You cannot buy a CAFKA experience at a big box, mall type suburb. You have to stand up and be counted. You have to take action.
I suppose the real encouragement for me is seeing businesses recognise the importance of this event. CAFKA is in the middle of its Indiegogo fundraising campaign right now. I can spot several places of business that I will now consider supporting more, because they support such a wonderful community through public art. These businesses are game-changers. They recognise the importance of a downtown and the beautiful measures taken by a small organisation to to make it better.
I also see thought leaders, tech leaders, academics, young professionals all leading a charge to support art in Waterloo Region. I would love to see more. I mean, if we ever had a chance to show our commitment to greatness, here it is.