Communitech welcomes more than 12,000 visitors to our region each year. I’m lucky to be a host for many of the tours, which lets me talk about the history of industry and tech here in Kitchener and Waterloo, and what our companies are building to extend that those legacies.

I’m always amazed that most visitors zero in on one thing that makes this region unique compared to others — and that’s our sense of community. We’re a community of builders who work to help each other succeed. This sense of community isn’t just part of the tech scene — it’s evident in almost every part of town.

Waterloo is home to the first craft brewery in Ontario, Brick Brewing, now Waterloo Brewing Company. Today breweries including Innocente, Block 3, Grand River Brewing, and Descendants call Waterloo Region home.

Last month, TWB Cooperative Brewing opened its doors at 300 Mill St. in Kitchener. A first for the region, TWB is a member-owned cooperative brewer.

“It’s been great since that unassuming mid-February Wednesday morning that we opened,” said Alex Szaflarska, worker/owner at TWB. “So many people come through the doors who have been following us since we began this journey.”

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There’s been great community support for TWB since the company began planning in 2014. TWB capped the year off with a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 for the People’s Fermenter. It got the money in just ten days.

Tour groups have come from Mississauga and as far away as Ottawa, along with brewers and staff from other local breweries. Word of mouth and strong social media support has also been important for the nascent brewery.

“We’re a small startup co-op, little budget for marketing – social media lets us get the word out and create a conversation,” Szaflarska said. TWB will be hosting a grand opening later in the spring, but you can visit the brewery’s tasting room today.

While it’s easy to see how people can be brought together by a great craft beer, it might surprise you to know that a strong community also exists within our photography scene.

January’s FLASH Showcase attracted 200 people to celebrate the power of photography as revealed in more than 200 photographers. This week, eight of Waterloo Region’s best photographers are in Las Vegas for the 2016 Wedding & Portrait Photography Conference & Expo.

Taylor Jackson, Timothy Muza, Jeff Shuh, Leslie Kay, Lindsay Coulter, Nova Markina, Joschka Sawatzky and Katie Kirk compete for some of the same jobs, but they also make up a strong support community.

“We’re just a team that helps each other out —Jack’s-of-all-trades helping out, depending on what the shoot is,” Jackson said. “Without each other’s support, we wouldn’t be able to produce the work we do.”

Jackson has also recently launched A Photographer In, a 15-episode travel series that he’s producing himself.

“There’s a lot of little small travel shows on YouTube, plus the high budget ones on TV, but I wanted to do one that is travelling with a purpose,” Jackson said.

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He has spent his life savings producing the show, visiting the Bahamas, Iceland, Las Vegas, Chernobyl, Israel, Los Angeles, Japan, Hong Kong and Macau, Istanbul, New York, Whistler, and Hawaii. The first episode premiered last Tuesday, with Taylor, Coulter and Kay swimming with pigs in the Bahamas.

“I wanted to create something that I love and could share. I’m excited to see the feedback, and then pick a direction from there.”

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For those of us not travelling the globe, I see and hear that . . . PluginKW is having its inaugural event, As If!, on Thursday, March 10 at 6 p.m. at The Apollo Cinema (14 Ontario Street N., Kitchener). The entire evening will be filled with themed cocktails, phat snacks and —duh —all things Clueless! . . . Today (March 9) you can combine your love of colouring and beer at THE MUSEUM (10 King St. W., Kitchener) for the next edition of their Beer + Series. Colouring in the lines is not a requirement . . . If you’re looking forward to getting your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations started, why not join Chef Brian McCourt at The Bauer Kitchen (187 King Street S., #102, Waterloo) for Straight Outta Dublin. During this carefully crafted five-course dinner, Chef McCourt will guide you through the history and culture of true Irish cuisine. This is the one of the many events happening during the Irish Real Life Festival.

About The Author

Alex Kinsella
Digital Community Manager

Alex Kinsella is Communitech's Digital Community Manager. Part of the tech scene in Waterloo Region since 2004, Alex has worked at GBG, BlackBerry, and Thalmic Labs.