Growth and Reconciliation | Day [Limbo 2-4]

What a torrent of change the last few days have brought to us all, here at Bitmaker Labs. It just goes to show that when pushed against a wall, a united group of individuals committed towards a single purpose can achieve great things. I have not been blogging actively for most of the week due to the sensitive nature of the issues that I was involved with; however, I believe now is an apt opportunity to unwind and share what I, and my fellow students, have experienced. On Monday it seemed like our hopes and aspirations would be dashed by bureaucratic red tape – three days later, we are more confident than ever in the road before us. How was this possible?

One crucial element to our collective success was the leadership taken by the various students – the instructors at Bitmaker Labs admitted to us that they would not have been nearly as successful if they also had to deal with angry and disheartened students. Fortunately, as I mentioned in my previous post, a group of students took care of damage control while another group went on the offensive. It was this unified front, on the part of the students, that allowed the Bitmaker Labs instructors to focus single-mindedly on spreading the word of what was going down. The amount of press coverage that they managed to generate was truly phenomenal.

Strategically, one must understand that the governmental body operates at a speed that will not allow it to deal with a high volume of press in a short period of time. A blitzkrieg of attention by significant publications was the only way that Bitmaker Labs could gather attention to its dilemma and rally support to its cause. It is important to note that this blitzkrieg could have been at conducted at a much greater intensity if the students, on the offensive, had launched their own media campaign. It would have been a localized grassroots campaign of student groups, non-profits, and tech companies that, when combined with the international press coverage, would have been a genuine avalanche – a flood, a hurricane, a volcanic eruption of discontent that no governmental body can truly fight against when they consider their dwindling domestic support and international scrutiny.

To truly understand one’s opponent, one must see the world through their eyes. What does a politician fear the most? A politician’s eyes are ever focused on the next election, where dwindling support means less votes. With this in mind, a campaign was designed that would have focused on a crucial campaign issue – economic growth and technological innovation as tied to job creation – and would have allowed the opposing party to jump on the bandwagon. Playing to the partisan element is crucial here – you need to strong-arm your opponent into a corner where they are left with very few options. Moreover, you need to understand how your opponent operates and the hierarchical structures that influence decisions. To see impact, you cannot target a governmental body, as a whole, but the figurehead of the organization, individually. You must direct your every effort to the one person who has the most to lose from the situation. In our case, it was none other than the minister himself so that is where we focused.

With our campaign on hold, the students on the offensive devoted most of Tuesday to calling and emailing the minister. As anticipated, we received no reply. Did we really expect a response? No, but we needed to have our due diligence done so that we’d be justified in launching our campaign should we have chosen to do so. We even wrote up a letter expressing our views, signed it, and had it delivered to the minister’s office. Let me recount the three-pronged strategy hitherto expanded upon: (1) the instructors have shared their story with various media outlets, (2) the students have gained local support from a variety of organizations, and (3) the students have directly contacted the minister through various mediums to express their concern. Meanwhile, another group of students are actively keeping the collective morale up by holding their own lectures and review sessions – in short, all fronts were covered and accounted for. Metaphorically, by having our army assembled, our allies ready, and our domestic front content, we were a nation ready for war – woe unto the fool who dares to cross us unprepared.

By virtue of doing all of the above, we forced the ministry into a corner and yet provided a way out. Rather than working against us, the ministry could use this as an opportunity to celebrate and support the tech community in Southern Ontario. I believe the ministry saw the opening that we provided and quickly acted upon it to save their public image. The minister called Bitmaker’s CEO on Wednesday afternoon and worked everything through. I will not go into the precise details, but I can say that we will be fully operational – as though nothing had ever happened – following Canada Day. It was extremely fortunate that events worked out the way they did as we were about to launch a petition that would have been shared by code.org on their mailing list of 17,000 subscribers. Truly, what an eventful three days!

With everything settled, we spent most of today in review mode. The pace of life has eased and the students are now back to their studies – life is slowly regaining the sweetness that we were swiftly deprived of not too long ago. With the success of Bitmaker Labs, I am emboldened in my resolve to re-engineer how education is conducted. Alternative forms of education merit their place alongside traditional institutions, in the overarching spectrum, and I will not cease until I have helped solidify this shift in any way that I can. We find ourselves amidst a revolution and I will gladly be a standard-bearer. Let Goliath, in whatever form he may display himself, fall to his knees. The slings of change demand a victim and we are now witnessing the foundations of traditional education being uprooted and torn asunder. I pity the day that I, too, will find myself a Goliath; however, today, we are Davids and let us commence the felling of giants. Institutions have grown fat, prideful, and outmoded and we stand here ready to slay them on their thrones – their days are numbered.

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