People ask how it is I do so many interesting things, and my answer is always the same: “That’s nothing. You should see what my friends are doing.” When you surround yourself with inspiring people, it is difficult not to be inspired yourself.
In the summer of 2016 I took part in the Cycling for Libraries bike tour in southern Ontario with an avid international group of librarians and book enthusiasts. That is where I met Janet Joy Wilson (@jsquaredink) also based here in Toronto. Getting to know her has been an adventure. She is a real ball of energy, a community builder with a big imagination, and an even bigger heart. She is larger than life, and sometimes even pops up on my tv!
Among many other things, she is co-founder and artistic director of The Reading Line, a small grassroots organization that puts on local bike rides in Toronto that she helps organize every summer. The event is a lot of fun, and highly participative: we jump on our bikes and ride between various public spaces as a group, where we stop to hear speakers and authors read. What a great way to get people together exploring our city and its storytellers, while also promoting independent booksellers in the city. And this books-and-bikes event is free for participants! Amazing.
Here is a great video about the 2018 ride. If you look closely you may even see me among the cyclists/audience.
Anyone who has met Janet Joy (our host of the event and narrator in the video) knows she has a wealth of ideas constantly bubbling up. How does she do it? She actively uses her imagination, fuelled by constant reading and talking with people from diverse backgrounds. She doesn’t just stick with her area of expertise, but branches out into all sorts of areas. I can relate! This is how we start to see connections between disparate things–like books and bikes!–and start to build new initiatives and knowledge where they did not previously exist. It is this imagination that helps drive innovation.
The Reading Line has made themselves available if other communities want to learn about creating this type of event. I encourage you–especially my public library friends–to check it out and reach out to them. And if you are in Toronto, I hope you’ll join me in riding at this year’s event!