Ever heard of a stone soup?
Travellers emerge in a village, and are immediately faced with a group of villagers who are not willing to prepare them any food. The travellers come bearing a pot, so they fill it with water from the river nearby, set it over a fire and place a few larger stones at the bottom. A passerby villager becomes curious and asks what they are making, to which the travellers answer ‘stone soup’, a fantastic soup that is just missing a bit of garnish to improve the flavour. The villager immediately hands over some celery which gets added to the soup. Another interested villager walks by and this one ends up parting with some garlic. This continues to happen, with each villager adding another ingredient, until what is left is a delicious and nourishing pot of soup that was made and enjoyed by everyone.
I tell you this story because at Lighthouse Labs, we consider ourselves the travellers and The HTML500 is the pot, the stone and the water. Our method in all our education is to take the contributions of a community and bring it together to make something more than just a great soup. It is a collection of great ideas and fantastic contributions from a group of people that are passionate, intelligent, and dedicated, and it serves as both food for the community and a reflection of its own culture. Depending on where a stone soup is made, the ingredients will be reflective of the ways of the villagers.
It is a statement about collaboration, community, generosity, dedication and impact, but without ever asking anyone to make a statement themselves. It’s how 2000 people learned to code across Canada, in the same way but with their own communities’ distinctive flavour. More importantly, it’s how hundreds of thousands heard about how easy it is to learn.
The stone soup is why every HTML500 had a true community feeling, even though a bunch of travellers were the ones to put it together. Each city’s great community builders added their own particular flavours to The HTML500 that made it great, and powerful and useful to their constituents. It’s what made our event feel fun and relaxed and social, and yet big and impressive. Each person who was there was told by someone else in their community to attend, and that invitation is so much more powerful than anything we could have done ourselves. In a way, the greatest way we can control the way the event feels, is to let go of some of that control. If you ask Topaz, our awesome 22 year old event organizer how that feels, the word she would most likely use is nerve racking.
The HTML500 was not just to teach people to code. It was to teach people that learning to code is easy and important. That code is a tool to be used by every person, every gender, every race and every culture to better their own lives and communicate their own passions. If the day was for the 500 people in that room, the gathering of the 500 people was for the rest of the country. To start the discussion and change the discussion. It is meant to be a movement, one that we helped organize but just like any good movement, one that is really a sum of a multitude of different ideas and beliefs and goals.
So thank you for your garnishes Canada. Thank you for your particular ingredients that made each event special and the whole tour eye opening and impactful. Your contributions have sparked a national conversation, one we hope to be a part of and help shape but never takeover. We expect to always be a group of travellers with a pot, some water and a stone, looking to produce a soup filled with the ingredients of our community.