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Talking Politics at Six Degrees

Ten years ago, CSI hosted a new event to help celebrate the opening of CSI New York called Six Degrees. It was created to highlight the connections within our community, showing how we are all really only six degrees of separation apart. After the last few years of isolation, we were eager to get back to networking, meeting new people, and engaging in fruitful conversations. With those desires in mind, CSI brought back this classic event with a bang! We hosted the first Six Degrees event in several years at CSI Annex, along with partners The Green Line and the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).

Six Degrees: Toronto Talks Election 2022 brought together more than 60 attendees, as well as local candidates, to discuss urban futures and the October Toronto municipal election. After an initial networking hour (complete with drinks and snacks, of course), participants came together to listen to Tonya Surman, CSI CEO, and Anita Li, Founder and Editor in Chief of The Green Line and RSA Fellow, speak on the next portion of the event. The Green Line organized a version of political speed dating through the My Country Talks app. Participants completed a short survey which ranked them on the political spectrum, and they were matched with their political opposites to discuss several questions. CityNews Toronto got some great coverage of our attendees and spoke to them about the experience! Afterwards, event attendees shared the solutions they had discussed on how to encourage youth turnout and participation in the civic engagement process. We heard some excellent ideas from all, including students, teachers, immigrants, and community activists. To read more about these solutions, check out this piece from The Green Line.

In typical CSI fashion, this event was only possible thanks to our community, where we developed amazing partnerships with the RSA and The Green Line. The RSA is a global community of more than 30,000 fellows (including notable fellows like Marie Curie, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and Charles Dickens) that has been at the forefront of social impact since its founding in 1754. The Green Line was founded by Anita (who just so happens to be an RSA Fellow and CSI member) in April 2022 to serve as a hyperlocal, community-driven news outlet for young and other underserved communities in Toronto. These two organizations formed an ideal partnership with CSI, working together on thought leadership and executing an innovative, local event.

Tonya connected with RSA Global Lead and Fellow, Nishan Chelvachandran, to bring together these two organizations over our shared values; marrying CSI’s community of doers with RSA’s policy and research to bring about intentionality, mutual support, and global reach. CSI Member The Green Line was simultaneously looking for a partner on an event to focus on urban futures and increasing youth voter turnout, and thus Six Degrees: Toronto Talks Election 2022 was born. This is the first of many CSI and RSA events as we continue to develop our ongoing partnership, so stay tuned for more!

P.S. RSA Canada is an emerging node of the RSA’s global network, and home to the largest contingent of global RSA fellows. RSA Canada will be an independent, interconnected space to inspire future community makers and leaders, and they’re looking for more partners as they develop. Interested? Reach out to Nishan at!

Thanks to Ward 11 University-Rosedale candidates Adam Golding, Axel Arvizu, and Pierre Therrien, as well as mayoral candidate, Darren Atkinson, for attending and speaking with participants!

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