by Razili Datta
Not long after I moved to Toronto, my new city was letting me down: I finished my remote work contract; most of my live conversations were with an adorable but often infuriating three year old; and I felt a little lost. I wasn’t alone – I had friends and the avid social life of the mom of a toddler – but I felt the absence of something bigger.
When I took on work locally with a small nonprofit at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), a co-working space and community for social entrepreneurs, I knew what had been missing. Working at CSI was like plugging into one of the city’s throbbing lifelines. For the first time, because the space was a landing and launching pad for people and movements, I felt woven into the city’s fabric.
Sure, now I had somewhere to charge my laptop and a regular routine, but more, it was about the people and the living, breathing hive they created. The unexpected conversations. Getting into a new headspace. Multiple layers of interactions and the buzz those interactions generated. It was about people coming together to do things, and in the process, feeding into a larger system of its own.
I wondered if I had simply not been seeing my whole life on a continuum; after all, I wasn’t isolated – my friends were great and I had an extensive online social network, but my lunches and shopping and playdates felt like isolated events, and my online social interactions seemed… not very interactive. “I went on a date!” “Bad day at the office :(.” “We’re engaged!” were the conversations that went in one direction and stayed there. I tried to engage – I “liked” and wrote “Awesome!” but such responses last only as long as the scroll of a thumb.
But now I could see what I’d been craving; I wanted to belong to something greater, a community that brought together people with a common interest with intimacy, specificity, and meaningful, purposeful exchanges. A campfire, a water cooler, a centre.
Flash forward a few years, and now I’m the Programming Director for The Community of One Lit Place. Naturally writers need community: the writing happens alone, but the balance of the process – from idea generation to development to research to shared experiences to feedback and editing – blooms in community. We need look no further than in the “Acknowledgements” of any book to see evidence of this.
As one who writes, and as one who is now aware of the power of being supported and stimulated by a community, I am delighted to be a part of this and help it grow.
The Writers Lounge at One Lit Place has limitless possibility for giving us space and support to grow in our writing and in ourselves as writers. It offers intimacy, privacy, and space, technology, and infrastructure for writers to have ongoing meaningful exchanges.
From the comfort of our desks, boat decks, and phones, we can be together, write together, develop relationships, get and give help, learn, access, and grow. This community is your community, and coming in and getting comfortable will help make the world feel like your home.
Hop into the topical, relevant discussions, network, post your work-in-progress to get some feedback, or simply share a good kitten video (even writers need kitten videos) and then, of course, talk shop.
After I was settling in to my new city, it dawned on me that there was no “city greeter,” or no official “New Hometown Manager” who would stamp my papers, hereby registering me as Established and ready to own and claim the place as mine. It was up to me to create the community that I wanted to see around me – to participate, to speak up. The steps I’ve taken to place myself in amongst others who care about what I do have made my life easier and better every day.
In this case, having arrived at the opportunity to connect with working writers at One Lit Place, I know it’s my place for the same reason I know it’s yours. Because it belongs to its writers. I’m seeing people take part in our courses and services and connect with us in our Writers Lounge from all over the world, all walks of writing, all different perspectives and styles, and I feel thrilled to be here to receive them – to receive you – and to hear you say that this is your community like it is mine.