Inaugural PIVOT Symposium to focus on finding solutions to community challenges

The event, happening on Nov. 17, 2022, at the Cotton Factory, will bring together changemakers to create community through technology and the arts.

As society slowly works its way out of the pandemic, there’s an opportunity to change how we look at rebuilding communities. On Nov. 17, the Cotton Factory will host the PIVOT Symposium — an event designed to allow people to explore how a community can be transformed by technology, the arts, and creativity.

“Creativity is the ability to make or otherwise bring into existence something new — whether a new solution to a problem, a new method or device, or a new artistic object or form,” explains Annette Paiement, curator of the Cotton Factory, Hamilton’s hub for creative industries. “PIVOT is a forum to investigate real-world problems. How can we infuse creativity and the use of technology and the arts to address complex challenges and build a better world?”

PIVOT is the brainchild of Rob Zeidler, Managing partner at the Dabbert Group, Richard Allen, a community engagement consultant at McMaster University, and Paiement.

The inaugural event is being supported by various partners, including McMaster University,  Mohawk College, McMaster Innovation Park, Innovation Factory, and the City of Hamilton. To develop the program, the trio reached out to community stakeholders through interviews, a survey, and roundtable.

“The roundtable engaged a cross section of people — artists, scholars, entrepreneurs, and grassroots changemakers. The goal was to listen to everyone’s voice,” Paiement says.

“Coming out of the pandemic, the participants coalesced around the idea of ‘rebuilding better’ — but what might that mean to the wider community?”

The results clearly showed there were three topics around which the Symposium could be built: Shelter, Mobility and Culture. And to ensure the event produces actionable results, the team has strategically engaged its presenters to get attendees in the right frame of mind.

“The program will start off with an exercise led by Professor Robert Fleisig from McMaster University on design thinking — a human-centred creative process,” Paiement adds. “If we get everyone in this mindset, the process can be applied throughout the day to address challenges in new ways.”

When developing PIVOT, Paiement explains, many people referenced the Bay Area Economic Summits of years past.

“People remember that time — Hamilton shifted, the creative community was celebrated as something that could define our future. The municipality got behind that notion, business got behind it, young professionals were encouraged to stay in the city,” recalls Paiement.

“People were empowered to help determine the city’s direction.” And while this is PIVOT’s first year, organizers hope it will become an annual event that will continue to drive the community forward.

Seating is limited and tickets are available for $75 per person, including refreshments and lunch. There’s also a limited selection of student tickets at a reduced rate.

“Anyone can come. You don’t have to be part of a particular community — what you’ll take away are tools and ideas that can be used in any town or city, anywhere,” says Paiement.

“We can’t say we’ll produce concrete solutions, but at the end of the day attendees will have a new lens to look through to build relationships, collaborate, and tackle big challenges.”

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.eventbrite.ca/e/pivot-symposium-creating-community-through-technology-and-the-arts-tickets-440666925637.

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