Inspiring and Building Community
We really love building cultures, especially around ideas we are deeply passionate about. Ideas such as food as it relates to building communities and being the key to sustainability. Or the makers movement’s exciting renewal of traditional arts and their role in the recovery of local economies as well as the redevelopment of the practical arts for young people.
For years we’ve realized that what we truly do well as Insite is build cultures around ideas for clients and their brands and places, so a few years ago we started creating events and situations that could be the start of something for the community and culture it was meant to reveal and serve.
These collaborations take many forms. Sometime we assist someone passionate to get their project going by way of thinking and brand support, and other times we chase our own crazy dreams of what if and then rally great people to assist us. Here are some of these projects:
We started the Centro Farm Market in Downtown Burlington in 2012 with hopes to connect people with local farmers and their food, while creating open and stress free spaces for the downtown and surrounding community to visit, relax and enjoy the intersection of healthy food, people, and community. Centro Garden, the phenom home and lifestyle store stepped up to host the market in their parking during off peak times as a gesture and shared belief in building and supporting community.
Now entering its 4th season, the market has evolved into a staple routine for many as well as simply a wonderful enriching corner of the downtown lifestyle. With the friendship and passion of the farmers and producers along with the rolled up sleeves of Centro staff, lovely market volunteers and Insite, we’ve been able to run the market without formal costs to vendors, the organizers or the guests.
We have the opportunity to get to know a lot of great chefs. Not only has cooking been a personal passion for Leslie and I, gastronomy is central to so much of what we do in our profession. However to most people the effort of the chef is hidden from view. Sure, we all get to see a chef chopping or flipping veg in an open kitchen from time to time, but the intense food lifestyle and critical integration into the local food ecosystem just isn’t something you get a glimpse of on a Friday night.
So we created the Chef Street Fight, a local celeb chef competition hosted at the Centro Market. The idea is simple. Bring 2 locally recognized star chef teams and their gear to the open farm market. In full elbow to elbow view give them 45 mins to setup, scope the market offering and create a menu. Then shop the market and prep and cook a 2 to 3 course meal in under an hour.
The incredible dishes are then judged by a panel of food passionate types and market guests. The winner gets their name on the trophy and a head full of local pride to take home.
Watching the intense interest of the audience during this event is in itself intoxicating. Especially amazing are the kids as this is easily the first time that they have seen a professional chef this close, in the real, showing them how the profession works as well as the high respectful level of skill these folks work at.
Now entering it’s 3rd year, the event is growing in attention and with the little help of our friends could just turn into a series. : )
For a few years we’ve dreamed of creating a market for area makers. In fact, when Centro Garden was created and Insite assisted in the development and curation of goods it was our goal to source locally made artisan goods. But alas it was very difficult to find makers let alone people who had figured out how to produce at a level suitable for wholesale and retail.
In 2014, Insite decided that a makers market could be a great way to both showcase the areas rich design and maker talent while also stimulating the connection between making and the marketplace — to hopefully encourage makers to see how relevant their product was but that with a little attention to costs, volume, display, package and self representation that they could make inroads into the retail world, giving wider access to their local goods.
MKRS MRKT was born. In roughly 60 days we organized 30 makers from all corners of the artisan spectrum including furniture, leather, pottery, canning, brewing, paper, distilling, cooking, textile, winemaking, food and more. All were local area and every one bringing a level of a game that changed audiences’ perspectives on what local made really meant.
What’s next? MKRS MRKT will return in summer 2015 with hopefully all of the previous year’s makers, plus a few more missing specialties if we can find the space. Most of all, we hope to welcome back the makers and hear stories of how they’ve managed to ramp up their passions into local businesses and find the fit into the direct to home or retail channels, a step toward reestablishing a growing local entrepreneurial economy.
It’s one thing to throw a fun party or event to huck your brand, it’s another to host a series of events that aim to support and add value to a community. This is the goal of the Dillon’s Cocktail Cup. An invitational barkeep competition series created by Dillon’s that aims to expose incredible area talent while building esteem and interest around craft bartending and cocktails in general.
Over 50 professional barkeeps were invited to attend an audition competition to test their skill and character. 10 finalists were chosen and bracketed to compete 1 on 1 through a year long series hosted at pinnacle cocktail establishments throughout Toronto. All events are ticketed to allow cocktail passionate audiences to attend to watch the action and trial the bartender’s competition drinks.
A passion project for Insite, we are assisting on thinking through brand development, creative and communication. Check it out: http://cocktailcup.ca