JULY 21, 2014 / Legacy Project / The answer to the following question is one of the most important you'll ever give: What's your dream for your life in our community? WS YOU 177 is a community-wide journey starting with dreams and dialogue. As all generations come together to share and discuss their hopes and aspirations, the ultimate goal is a new way of thinking and acting for a stronger community now and in the future. The Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library will be Dream Star Headquarters to collect the dreams of residents. The opening event for all ages is Thursday, July 31, 4:00 pm. WS Mayor Wayne Emmerson will share greetings from the Town. Paul Calandra (MP Oak Ridges-Markham) will bring greetings from the Government of Canada. Dr. Helena Jaczek (MPP Oak Ridges-Markham) will make a major community funding announcement from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. United Way York Region has already helped kick-start WS YOU 177 with a grant of $30,000.
"We're challenging Whitchurch-Stouffville to dream bigger. We want to listen to the dreams of every single child, youth, adult, and elder – all 45,000 of you!" says Susan Bosak, who heads the Legacy Project, a local research and education group that developed YOU 177. "Every dream will be read and recorded, and used to grow community action."
YOU 177 is a social innovation initiative that empowers YOU to make a difference in a big-picture context – 1 World with 7 Generations and 7 Billion People. Based on a decade of research, it's a community process that taps into what matters to transform everything we do, from the way we live with each other and our planet to how we learn, do business, grow up and grow older. Whitchurch-Stouffville will be a model for the rest of the country, and internationally.
The Legacy Project has joined with the WS Mayor's Office, WSP Library,
local media, service clubs, faith-based groups, schools and seniors groups.
Research shows that in the last few decades, people have not only become more disengaged from each other, but also from traditional political and social systems. As one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, WS has been prioritized by United Way York Region for support in building more social infrastructure for a stronger community. While we need more homes, roads, and schools, we also need the real connections between neighbours that help communities thrive.
A 2013 EKOS Research survey reports that we're becoming "a more individualistic society. We're actually falling apart, less connected to each other through our communities and families. That's not new, though it's accelerating."
For Bosak, one of the most disturbing statistics that emerged from the survey is that only 25% of older Canadians say they trust young people, and only 15% of youth say they trust elders.
"Generational connections are so vital to the big-picture, long-term perspective we need to solve the complex, interconnected issues we're facing as individuals and families, in communities and in the world," says Bosak. "That's why a big part of WS YOU 177 is encouraging dialogue across generations about hopes and dreams."
The WSP Library is leading a One Town, One Book program as part of WS YOU 177. It features the book Dream: A Tale of Wonder, Wisdom & Wishes written by Bosak and an international team of illustrators, educators, and social researchers. Dream is about hopes and dreams through life, in history, and into the future, and is a book for all ages, from children to elders.
Through One Town, One Book activities, young and old will explore dreams for ourselves, our community, and even the world. We'll get to know each other better, develop a shared vision for our future, and start collaborative action projects to address needs identified by the community in areas that might range from health and social supports to education and the environment.
As an independent, respected, multigenerational space open to all, the Library is
the ideal place to monitor the heartbeat of the community.
The Library is inviting residents of all ages to create a Dream Star with your first name, age, and community dream written on it. Drop your Dream Star off at the Library, and share a "selfie" photo with your Dream Star at www.wsyou177.org or via Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook using #WSDreams.
"Some people are shy about the selfies," says Bosak. "But these photos are important because we have to step out of the isolation of our homes and cars, and really start to see and know each other."
The Grand Opening of Dream Star Headquarters at the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library takes place Thursday, July 31, 2014, 4:00 pm. Bring your whole family to find out how to create your Dream Star. There will be free glitter face stars, star cookies, music, an inspirational reading of Dream and a chance to win autographed copies, and the big Dream Star Balloon Drop – dozens of balloons will come raining down in the Library!
Tell your friends, your neighbours, everyone you know to share their dream.
To register for the July 31 event and find out more, visit www.wsyou177.org, drop by the Whitchurch-Stouffville Public Library, or call the Legacy Project at (905) 640-8914.