“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.”
-Nelson Mandela

I spent a week in Toronto teaching the fundamentals of Rails – routes, controllers and actions, views, models, and the drilling that you won’t find anywhere but in person. It was a stretch, both for myself and for my students, but it was a good time.

I taught mostly designers, the kinds of people who were used to being able to create what they wanted. But, on the web, they were stymied – there are too many barriers to entry, no explanation of foundation. Where do you even begin?

So we built a blog, going through the seven standard routes – index, show, new, edit, update, create, and destroy – over the course of a week. Ninety percent of interactions with any resource, whether it’s blog posts, users, flickr images, tags, etc., will be covered by these routes.

My goal was to teach them, but hanging out with the crew ended up changing my perspective. I had never been around so many creative people. During my short stay in Toronto, I visited a pop-up shop, saw a sketch comedy play, and met an up and coming jazz artist.

I’d never been exposed so rapid-fire, to artists with such a strong sense of purpose. And they were only a few degrees of separation from me. So, returning to Chicago was a bit of a downer. I miss the creative atmosphere and the people, especially the little group of rising web developers. I wanted to stick around, see what they learned, and learn with them.

But I did take away something invaluable – I am an artist, and I feel most alive when I am surrounded by other artists. Now that I’m back in Chicago, I need to connect to the creative communities around me (shout outs to the movement artists of Windy City Trickers!) or create the communities that I need.

To George, Alex, Ko, Teresa, Jason, Aaron, Zoro, and Wil – thanks for coming day after day and working so hard. I’m working to write down what we’ve gone over, so expect something soon. You guys are web developers now – keep learning, keep working together, and I’ll do the same. You guys are an inspiration.

George and Alex – thank you for being fantastic hosts and friends. We’re going to see each other a lot in the future.

Thank you, Toronto, for teaching me what was missing in my life.

Now to find it in Chicago.