Category: Events

Stone Soup Toronto Edition

On Wednesday I attended Toronto’s first edition of Stone Soup organized by my good friends Stuart Candy and Ceda Verbakel. It was a combination dinner party and storytelling. When the invitation landed in my inbox mentioning sharing a story, food in the form of a potluck and the company of 15 hand picked friends and strangers I rsvped with a hell yes!

For those unfamiliar with the Stone Soup story, the story goes like this: a traveler arrives in a village with nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon her arrival, she asks for assistance from the villagers for dinner and shelter for the night. The villagers are unwilling to part with any food or provide assistance as times are hard. The traveler having a cooking pot goes to a stream and fills it with water and puts it above a fire. She then drops a large stone in the cooking pot. A first villager walks by and asks her what she is doing to which she responds “making stone soup” which tastes wonderful however it needs a bit of additional flavouring which she is missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help out. So that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot as well, and the traveler mentions that the stone soup in the making still needs more garnishes to reach its full potential. This villager hands her a bit of seasoning to add to the soup. And slowly as villagers walk by and inquire as to what’s cooking and each part with a little something that can be added to the soup, the village ends up with a stone soup that is delicious and feeds everyone.

The Stone Soup version I am familiar with is la soupe au caillou by Father Phillipe Barbe (1771). I always loved the original ending.


Growing up I was a big fan of fables. Bonjour Jean de La Fontaine! Anyone remember La cigale et la fourmi? The entire collection of Barbe contes et fables philosophiques is accessible online and it is a wonderful read (albeit you will need to speak French!).

I am sure there are many many variations of the Stone Soup story and a version to suit pretty much any country or culture. It is such an adaptable story with a beautiful ending.

Last night’s first edition of Stone Soup in Toronto was in theory a pretty simple event: get a few people together for dinner, ask everyone to bring a dish since dinner was potluck style and pick a theme for the evening. Yesterday’s theme was “first”.

The evening started in the garden with drinks and nibbles. It was a wonderful evening under the Toronto spring skies.

InthegardenAt some point in time, Stuart ask everyone to proceed to the living room, much to my dismay, I mean it is spring in Toronto, why would anyone spend time indoors when they can be outside? 🙂

StoneSoupTorontoThe potluck spread was impressive! We started the dinner portion of the evening and by the time I sat down at the table you could hardly hear yourself think: everyone was engrossed in conversations – pretty much like any dinner party you would be invited to!



Stuart called everyone’s attention to the beginning of the story sharing part of the evening. Sharing a story required one to stand at the head of the table . Standing at the head of the table was a bit un-nerving for some participants but it was a good idea as it changed the dynamics of the room: suddenly you became the story teller and everyone around you the audience. It was interesting to hear the participants stories throughout the evening and see the room get transformed by the story teller one story at a time. The most amazing thing for me to watch and notice was how everyone paid attention to the story teller. The audience’s attention was focused on the storyteller and the story. Very similar to a stage performance – much more informal of course – with a dynamic of engagement with the audience: people nodding, approving, laughing but ultimately completely focused on the story teller.

Seeing the event unfold reminded me that events that seem to flow really well, be unformal and facilitate an intimacy, honesty and generosity that you rarely see are really orchestrated events. The Stone Soup evening was informal but Stuart and Ceda provided an invisible structure that made for an evening that everyone loved. Each of the rituals of the evening helped shape the evening’s experience:

  • (volunteer) storytellers were asked to stand at the head of the table to tell their story. This changed the dynamics of the group and the relationship with everyone. Suddenly you were speaking and everyone was paying attention. The additional “rule” was that anyone can tell a story but no one has to.
  • the invited participants were a mixture of friends and strangers. This was a group that was easy to get along with. Some of the people knew each other and facilitated introductions and inclusion in conversations. There was no ice to break!
  • There was a theme: “first” which could really be interpreted any way one wished, but it guided the story lines of all participants. The theme was provided in advance (in the invitation email) which gives everyone the possibility to prepare a story. I think the theme does a bit more than guide the evening’s stories: it also gives everyone a chance to reflect in advance of the evening and perhaps arrive at the event prepared to be immersed in the theme.
  • There was great food prepared by everyone and ready to share.
  • The first speakers were selected by Stuart. They had volunteered to tell a story ahead of the evening and I believe they did set the tone for the evening. Correction: Stuart simply asked people as they arrived if they had a story to tell, for the ones who did, he asked them if they would be ok with going 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc. A lot more fluid than a direct selection!
  • Dogs were welcome (and spoiled with treats!)

ZazieThe evening’s storytellers came alive while telling their stories and the room shared their excitement. I am looking forward to the next installment as it was a bit of a magical evening where the currency exchanged was attention: undivided attention paid to the story teller. I think I have made new friends. Congrats Ceda and Stuart for bringing Stone Soup to Toronto.

A la prochaine.

IxDA Toronto Presentation

So I Married a Designer… Relationship Advice for Designers and Non-Designers Alike. This IxDA presentation could end up being pretty hilarious. Ah I am totally familiar with the push and pull between designers and developers (in a tech startup). So I am curious to hear what Casey McKinnon has learned! I have war stories to share!
Event date:  April 20, 2010 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Registration and additional details here. And IxDA has a its own Toronto website now. Get involved!

What’s wrong with this picture?

Speakers for Cyberposium.

Cyberposium is the premier MBA technology conference in the world. Held annually at Harvard Business School, Cyberposium facilitates an interactive network of current and future business leaders to engage in a provocative dialog about technology and its impact on business and society.

The conference is organized entirely by current MBA students at the Harvard Business School and is the primary campus event of the school’s TechMedia Club.

hmm… I guess current and future business leaders don’t include women? OK there are 4. That’s it? 4?

Picture 73

Go and get your ticket today. Participate in the townhall. is Partnering with for a very special event. Held during Net Change Week in Toronto, and will present Toronto’s Open Internet Town Hall, which will be filmed by


Live from the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, 1214 Queen St. West


Monday June 8, 2009 at 7pm

Featured speakers for the Town Hall include:

Mark Surman (Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation)

Rocky Gaudrault (CEO of Teksavvy Solutions Inc.)

Steve Anderson (Co-founder of

Derek Blackadder (National Representative with CUPE)

Until now, Canada’s Internet has been an open network and a level playing field for free speech, innovation, and consumer choice. All that is now under threat.

Being held during Net Change Week in Toronto, Toronto’s Open Internet Town Hall is designed to give local citizens the chance to shape Canada’s broadband future. As Canada falls behind other OECD countries on Internet speed, cost, and openness, will host a lively discussion guided by panelists representing web innovators, social change leaders, and public policy gurus.

Toronto events calendar

The Say Yeah team has done it: their Toronto calendar – which I hope is going to continue being updated was launched last week (well I am late to the game!) and it looks smashing. This calendar groups most of Toronto’s events and allows you to subscribe to the feed of interest (entrepreneurs, developers, designers and UIX). The calendar is also open to anyone for editing – which is cool since it will keep our community engaged and the data is accessible to all. Great job Team Yeah!

DemoCamp Toronto 20

May is DemoCamp month in Toronto. This will be our 20th edition. This is truly exciting. I still remember the first DemoCamp! Our little community is growing and getting stronger.

DemoCamp is a show and tell for Toronto’s entrepreneurs so mark your calendar and participate!

Important Details


There will be 3 types of presentations.

  1. Demos – limited to 5 minutes and limited to 2 slides
  2. Pitches – 15-20 slides limited to 5 minutes must cover 15 slides in Pitch Coach
  3. Ignite – structured slide format, 20 slides by 15 seconds/slide = 5 minutes

Pitches is a new addition to DemoCamp. Pitches allow local startups to get feedback about their idea and company. Pitches follow a structured format: 5 minutes and 15 slides. Feedback will be provided by a set of Toronto luminaries, followed by questions from the audience.

Looking forward to seeing you all there. And as always: DemoCamp is made possible by the awesome sponsors who have continusouly supported our efforts. Become a sponsor and support DemoCamp Toronto Edition 20. This is an anniversary!

SciBarCamp Toronto

I attended part of the first SciBarCamp Toronto last year. I had a great time and met some amazing people. What I really enjoyed was the ability to meet scientists, artists and technologists all in a single space. What’s awesome about that? Well a lot really: I spend my days in the software world, but I am passionate about science, design, architecture and art. These very different discipline all come together at SciBarCamp because every participant has interests that are as focused and varied as mine with an underlying passion for science. So I am glad to see the SciBar team (Eva Amzen, Christine Buske, Jen Dodd, Jamie McQuay and Sunny Tsang) back at it for the second round.

Register now. SciBarCamp Toronto is happening Friday May 8th and Saturday May 9th.

The Future of Bikes

I am missing all the Mesh Conference fun but that’s just because I am insanely busy, it never really stops in the ideeplex. On the other hand I know that all work and no play will make for a dull Leila so this evening

I am going to the Future of Bikes event. I am dreaming of getting my bike out on the road again. It has been years that Maxx (my bike) has been languishing in the basement and with the Hell of the North race this weekend I am really thinking about it. I will pop by the race this weekend to take some photographs and do a long run in Northern conditions! Very much looking forward to it.

The Future of Bikes

Date: April 8, 2009 – May 5, 2009
Time: Opening Wednesday April 8th, 6-11pm with the show continuing until May 5th.
Place: Steam Whistle Gallery
Ticket: Open free to the public.
Hell of the North
Hell of the North will be held Sunday, April 12.
Starting / ending at Cedar Beach Resort, on the shores of Musselmans Lake.
The epic 80km course will test your early season fitness. The route will include rail trails, dirt roads and some of the area’s nicest climbs. Entry fee is $50 before April 1st and $60 afterwards. Entry fee includes a fully catered lunch. 200 rider limit. Register here.

Passion at work

From Mavericks at work

“.. in business, as in basket ball, the smart take from the strong – that the best way to outperform the competition is to outthink the competition.. ” and it’s the “..mavericks do the work that matters most – the work of originality, creativity, and experimentation..” totally driven by passion!

Which makes me really excited about the sold out Refesh event on Monday: where passion meets ignite presentations!

We will start the evening with a passion presentation by Peter Flaschner followed by 6 Ignite presentations and since I am the last one that evening (and it is Monday too!), I will make my TinEye Ignite presentation extra tasty!

StayFresh: 7 PM – 10 PM, Centre for Social Innovation @ 215 Spadina Avenue, Suite 120 (Map)

Ignite Speakers:

Photograph (c) marfis75