Strong Towns: Do Season – The Story of an Entrepreneurship Program

Two years ago, I was asked to design an entrepreneurship accelerator that was different from the rest. That challenge led me to investigate deeply the role that entrepreneurship can play in a community and the ways we could make that role more positive. The resulting program (The Summer Institute) is more of a decelerator, coaching entrepreneurs to slow down and design businesses that do good. For two summers now, I’ve had my camera on our participants, as a communications mentor helping them develop their own multimedia. However, reflecting on the ripple effect these businesses were having on our community, I felt compelled to do something more with that footage.

To me, the most important thing about what we’re doing is that it’s here. Fredericton doesn’t live in the realities of big or iconic cities. It’s largely off the radar culturally and contends with the perennial rural challenges of brain drain and economic stagnation. We don’t pretend to have solved either, we’re just taking slow and difficult steps in the right direction. I have to believe that more often than not, this is the work that matters in cities like ours – the cities of the rest of us.

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Gracen Johnson

Gracen Johnson calls her work, “Projects for Places we Love.” She mostly helps individuals and organizations with strategy, research, communications, and outreach in the field of urban development. Gracen completed her MPhil in Urban Planning, Growth, and Regeneration in 2013 at Cambridge University, but she has never stopped studying the city. She thinks of her day-to-day as action research, diving into the question of how good neighbours can transform a place. She often documents her experiences on a video blog, narrating what she’s learned but Do Season is Gracen’s first attempt at an official documentary short. She refers to her self-taught, one-person film crew as the Ministry of Makeshift.