Written by Elena Yunusov
Katie Gilfillan, co-director, Toronto Chapter, DemocracyKit
What is DemocracyKit about? How and why did you get involved?
DemocracyKit is a not-for-profit working to open the democratic process by publishing a shared campaign resource package for councillor and trustee races.
I’ve always been interested in politics. But it wasn’t until I moved to Toronto and started using transit and accessing city issues that I started to grasp the importance of municipal politics. There’s a direct correlation between what happens in government and in people’s daily lives, and there’s lots of opportunity to open up that process to people who want to volunteer on campaigns and get more involved in their communities.
What kind of response have you seen from people?
Many people who are coming to our weekly meetings have a full-time job and other commitments, and they still find the time to get involved, because they’re so motivated about making the positive changes they want to see. Everyone finds a way to help each other out, and we’re all working to make Toronto a better place.
What’s your favourite part about working in the civic tech ecosystem?
It’s such an exciting place to be. People not only have a vision, they’re taking action, and willing to collaborate with others along the way. It’s people from different industries and backgrounds, who are all motivated to make their city and their communities a better place. We often hear about the things that are wrong with the city, all the things that need to be fixed. Civic tech community and especially the Civic Tech TO meetup every Tuesday is an inspiring place to be where that change happens.
What can Torontonians expect from your org in the future?
We have ambitious plans for the next year. Within Ontario, we’ll be announcing a summit — a first for Canada. We’ll also run a campaign school, a great learning opportunity for campaign teams. We’re looking forward to an exciting year and building out our resources and partnerships.
What would you say is the most underrated thing about Toronto, and why?
I’m going to say, Toronto’s parks and green spaces. They don’t always get as much credit as other parts of the city. We have a great system of parks here, and some of my favourite parts of the summer is just taking a book to the park or going on a bike ride and exploring.
If you had to describe Toronto as a food, what would it be?
When I think about Toronto, and changes I want to see, I think about civic tech and pizza — every Tuesday I’m having pizza at the civic tech meet up. It’s my favourite day of the week now.