At co-working space Lift99, in a complex called the Telliskivi Creative City in Tallinn, Estonia, there is a quote from former U.S. President Barack Obama stencilled on the wall:
“I should have called the Estonians when we were setting up our health-care web site.”
Estonia has built a well-deserved reputation as being forward-thinking in its approach to building a technologically-savvy society, as reported in The New Yorker in February 2017 in an article entitled “Estonia, the Digital Republic.”
It is therefore fitting that the proposed new Estonian Centre will incorporate the latest technology into its design, and that the community is keen that this be given careful thought and consideration.
But this will entail more than ensuring that the centre is completely wi-fi accessible and that there is highly functional audio-visual equipment – though, of course, this will be the case.
Advancing activities that honour our heritage, promoting our language and culture to both to our community as well as the broader population, and building friendships and relationships is the core purpose of consolidating physical space into the proposed Estonian Centre.
We have the opportunity to think five, 10, even 50 years forward, and imagine how Estonians in southern Ontario will be engaging with their cultural community. For example, what a Saturday morning looks like with kindergarten children playing in highly functional, clean rooms; guides and scouts troops learning new skills; parents sharing conversations in the cafe; grandparents enjoying an art exhibition in the gallery halls. On some evenings, there are tapping feet of folk dancers in the gym and teachers leveraging technology to inform and involve their students. On Sunday, you and a few hundred friends arrive in the grand hall to enjoy a meal and watch a performance on the stage. This vision of space and function is being shaped by the needs of our organizations through a series of consultation meetings.