Hack The City: Behind The Scenes on Why Hamilton is Home

📈 #HamOnt // hackthecity.ca


Hack the City is a multiday event featuring networking sessions, innovation workshops, case competitions, and curated talks from some of the most prominent leaders in the city – all in some of the most unique venues Hamilton has to offer. Designed to both excite and engage, Hack the City is a revolutionary step in the realm of community engagement targeted at inspiring youth to change the face of their city like never before.

My role is to help this youth demographic see how much is out there. Hamilton has so much to offer now, and there's so much that students and young professionals can actually do.

I've lived in Hamilton all my life. Born at McMaster Children's Hospital, raised in east Hamilton (Stoney Creek), then went back to Mac to complete my undergrad. Hamilton has always been my home, but I never really accepted how great it was until I left.

And by "until I left", I mean "until I started experiencing more of the world and who/what else is out there". (I still live in Hamilton).

A few snapshots from the few shoots so far:

Growing up as a Hamiltonian:

From around grade 2-8, I'd see my grandparents most days of the week. They'd take care of me and my siblings before my parents got home from work. But I specifically remember hating it when my lolo - Tagalog for grandpa - picked us up from school. Not because I was required to stay with my grandparents (I love them, and do miss seeing them weekly), but because of his dirty minivan.

It was greasy, didn't have air conditioning, smelled like a garage when it didn't smell like smoke, and always had a bunch of dirty tools hidden among the seats. And I associated that with Dofasco. He worked at Dofasco during the day, and Mountain View Elementary School taught me to hate pollution. That's how it was ingrained in me. Hamilton was a dirty and unattractive place to live because of all the factories. (What made up for the dirty-Dofasco-drive was getting out of the van, and walking into my lola's kitchen with fresh Valentino's bread and pasta from her earlier shift. Yum).

And to support this obviously illogical connection, my cousins from Guelph would always bash Hamilton for smelling "gross" and looking "disgusting" while crossing the Skyway Bridge. I admit, waste management can always be more efficient, but my adolescent mind wouldn't see Hamilton other than gross and disgusting.

"I heard there are three-eyed fish at Confederation Park " (my grade 2 classmate, circa 2000)

"How smoggy are your roads?" (my cousin's friend, circa 2003)

"There's nothing to do here" (all of Orchard Park Secondary School, circa 2007-2012)

"Mom, can we move to Guelph?" (me, all of elementary school)

Then I started getting more involved and seeing things for myself:

In the latter half of highschool, I was part of the junior, senior, and stage bands, as well as the hip hop dance team. This meant going out and performing. Some venues around Hamilton, some reaching the Niagara region, and then some performances up in Toronto. Travelling was always fun, but what I specifically remember was that the Hamilton locations were exactly the same amount of "fun" as anywhere else.

I learned it wasn't the place that made things fun.

But still, Hamilton had a nasty perception.

Last year, I went to Cuba with some friends and met some people from Mississauga, Montreal, and Toronto. They all called Hamilton the armpit of Ontario. We all laughed and my friends agreed. I only laughed.

Because by this time, after third year of undergrad, I saw more of the city.

First, second, and third year of Integrated Science at McMaster University showed me a lot! Not just about science by the books, but about the ecology, politics, and historical foundations of science in the Hamilton area. We had multiple invited speakers who showed astounding pride in working for our city, a number of field labs that boasted the nature of Hamiltonian land, and uncountable days of research about Hamilton in general.

On top of this academic awareness, I was freelancing around the city as well - helping a few businesses/people grow their outreach through video. Real estate agents, start-up small business owners, photographers, artists, musicians, award shows, and anything else that would make for good portfolio. But I wasn't just helping an audience watch these people, I was watching these people for myself. Hearing everything amazing they'd say about Hamilton.

I had no idea about the qualities and opportunities available in this city.

"Amazing youth"

"Hamilton creatives are growing"

"Not too big, but not too small"

"Beautiful urban centre, with beautiful waterfalls to match"

"Homes are increasing in value"

"Transportation will only get easier"

(+ much more)

I listened. I looked. Then I started to notice it all for myself.

It is cleaner. There are opportunities. There are things to do.

But also:

It will be cleaner. There will be more opportunities. And there will be more things to do.

With my opportunity as one of the media and marketing contributors for Hack The City, I can help show how amazing this city is, and how amazing it can be.

There are so many things on the rise, and that's why I can finally accept Hamilton as a home to live.



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