Lately, I've been pulling quite a few late nights. I run a program that helps new businesses get started over three months in the summer and the grand finale is on Friday. July in particular has been a flurry while we help launch six businesses and prepare them to leave the nest. At the same time, I'm preparing a documentary short about the experience for the New Urbanism Film Festival, also due Friday.

My mind is so fried from all this work that I don't trust my own words to describe what is motivating me to keep chugging along. It's been an exhausting 3 months. So I'm going to lean on the words of others. Way back in May, I shared two videos with our program participants to set the tone for the summer ahead. I've found myself drawn back to them as I hit roadblocks this week. I hope they'll mean something to you as well.

The first reminds me that the only way to grow out of dissatisfaction with my own work is to do lots of it. Learning is uncomfortable.

The second reminds me that this kind of work - labour intensive, small scale investments in people and place - matters.

Next week, I'll surely have lots to share.


GRACEN JOHNSON works as an urban strategist and communications professional  in The Maritimes. Despite finishing her MPhil in Planning, Growth, and Regeneration in 2013, she has never stopped studying the city. Gracen thinks of her day-to-day as participatory action research, diving into the question of how Strong Citizenship can transform a city. She wears many hats exploring that herself, including as the creator and coordinator of an accelerator for small businesses that build community. She also freelances around the vision of "Projects for Places we Love" and has a video blog called Another Place for Me.

This year, Gracen is sharing field notes on her experiences with Strong Citizenship. In this regular column, you'll get snapshots of life as a friendly neighbour in a quintessential Little City that feels like a Big Town.