Ignite: Three ingredients for a successful community

By the measure of an applause-o-meter iPhone app, the winner of the Ignite speed-presentations was Jester Creative partner Susan Murphy with her presentation on the three essential elements of a great community.


Murphy grew up in Haida Gwaii, a cluster of islands off the British Columbia coast with a population of around 5000.

“We did everything together,” she said.

The community laughed together when the indigenous Haida tried to teach everyone to dance, when clear-cutting of the forests began and banded together for a telethon that raised a surprising amount of money given the small population.

This was the soul of the community.


Murphy would later move to Ottawa and end up working at a low budget cable television station.

While the station had on-air stars, Murphy looks to the people in the trenches, spending 18 hours on production as the superstars.

“They made the community what it was,” she said.


A few weeks ago, Murphy and a friend were lamenting how difficult it was to easily find information on arts events in Ottawa.

This led to a discussion about what a space for such information could look like. Following conversations with musicians, actors and other creative people, OttawaTonite was born, a space for the local arts community.

Key Ingredients

This led to the summary of the three key ingredients for community success.

Soul – the passion in the community

Superstars – should be everyone in the community

Spaces – A place for the community to gather and grow

“If you have all these together, you’re going to thrive,” said Murphy, who added that they need to be balanced. Too much of any one can be a bad thing.

“Find passion, raise people up and give the community space to thrive,” she concluded.