Love, Hope and Optimism – Dear Jack

In July 2012, The Broadbent Institute came to Peapod Studios and asked us to help create a website and brand that would allow people to continue sharing their messages of love, hope and optimism for Jack Layton.

Jack Layton in Toronto

Born from a concept originally conceived by Olivia Chow for a Facebook page to share their Love, Optimism and Hope a year after his passing, we quickly realized that the creation of DearJack would be more than just a simple social page, and we’d need to create a true living memorial wall.

The wall would allow people to pay tribute to a man that loved Canada, and was in turn loved by Canadians. Designing the website was an interesting challenge. We wanted each message to have it’s own personal space while at the same time combining all of the submissions into a whole unified message. When we looked through countless photographs from the original chalk messages spread across Nathan Phillips square in Toronto, it seemed obvious to us that each message was crafted with love and was able to stand on it’s own even in a sea of other messages. It was also very important to create a site that could be utilized across the many devices that Canadians use to browse the internet. With a responsive layout we were able to provide users with all of the same features and impact that could be found when viewing the website on a full screen.

With the website successfully running and receiving an enormous amount of support, the next step in sharing the message of love, hope and optimism was through a large rally honouring Jack Layton on the one year anniversary of his passing. The rally happened on August 22, 2012 at Nathan Phillips Square. Olivia Chow along with Jack’s Son and Daughter addressed the crowd with a heartfelt “Jack would have loved this!”. The event was bigger and brighter than anyone could have hoped in the beginning planning days. Musical guests such as Ron Sexsmith, Dallas Green and Raffi all took part in celebrating Jack’s life, man who devoted himself to social justice, fairness and equality.

Nathan Phillips Poster

The event didn’t just happen in Toronto. It was live streamed online, covered by news organizations across the country and other Dear Jack events took place in St John’s, Quebec City, Sudbury, Winnipeg, Regina and Vancouver just to name a few.

We at Peapod Studios were so humbled to have been apart of this project. Jack Layton was a man that left a tough legacy to live up too and yet looking back on the year after his death it is obvious that we as Canadians have stepped up and continued to live in Jack’s light of love, hope, and optimism.