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Could we build a city saying Yes, and...? I bet your first response would be no. What about the noise from basketballs bouncing at 10pm at night? What about the property value of my house going down because of the safe injection site around the corner? What about the frustration of driving in the city because we gave up a lane of traffic for cyclists? What about the children? If you were a councillor could you say yes to saying yes, and?

An exchange I had on Twitter this past week asked for us to #FreeThePatios and to not overthink regulations and zoning in regard to patios.

The City Councillor’s response “Any patio? Anywhere? Any size? Any operating model? Any hours? Easy to say “Let’s not overthink.” Not easy in practice. Each of us has an idea about what the “right” answer is. Those answers differ. Circumstances differ. We need a way to sort opinion and circumstance.”

My response “Any patio? Yes, &... Anywhere? Yes, &... Any size? Yes, &... Any operating model? Yes, &... Any hours? Yes, &... In Toronto it is so hard for many of you to say Yes, and here’s how we can try to implement X, Y & Z.”

The rules and regulations that bind our city have been built on years, decades and a century of trial and error. Loads of errors, but we don’t much enjoy having trials to think out concepts. And if we do have trials, they get studied, and then they go to committee, and then they go to be studied some more; even though we have examples from around the world, in nearby cities or literally in the wards and communities beside us of working on X, Y & Z. Then of course comes an election and if you’re lucky/unlucky to keep your councillor, a new study will need to be brought forth because four years ago isn’t now, and I need to cover my ass.

If you have ever gone to a Second City show or heard of the concept of improv, you’ll understand that saying yes, and... to your partner or partners on stage allows for the scene or story to continue. Saying No ends the scene. Saying “Yes, but” is basically saying No. You invite ideas and collaboration. You invite the ability to listen when you embrace Yes, and...

Is my radical plan to course correct City Council, to follow in the footsteps of Viola Spolin and create improv based kids games to not only teach our local political leaders how to collaborate but to then have them create spaces for community engagement? “it’s very important, when you are improvising in a group, making something out of nothing you can’t start with no. And you can’t just start with yes. You have to say yes and. You have to affirm and contribute in order to explore,” Kelly Leonard

Yes, and... I have feeling it could work.