About the Author
Brenda Herchmer is the owner of Grassroots Enterprises, a community development consulting company and an emerging tech start up called Campus for Communities. Brenda Herchmer has a diverse background gained in a variety of government, business, and voluntary sector settings. Her primary work has involved community building and comprehensive community transformation and the change process and leadership it requires. Technology has always played a significant role in her endeavours. She specializes in community development,strategic planning, and community leadership, recently serving as the Director of Alberta Recreation and Parks Association’s…
Posted on 01-01-13
There is nothing, and I mean nothing, more rewarding than teaching a group of motivated adult learners.
They are quite different from the students I used to teach in a face-to-face college setting where it was sometimes necessary to channel my inner tap dancer to get and keep their attention. Instead, these adult learners are generally much more motivated and eager to learn.
Perhaps more importantly, they have much to contribute to the classroom in terms of information, knowledge, and wisdom.
I’m losing patience and respect for the “Old Boys” among us.
While I’ll be the first to admit they bring extensive experience and often great wisdom, there is a frightening sameness in their sense of entitlement, and an often masked, yet unmistakable arrogance.
Yes for sure there are exceptions. And, if you are an Old Boy, chances are you think you’re different. But trust me, you likely aren’t. You may even be one of the most dangerous because you’re smart enough to say and sometimes even act like a new age leader even though in your heart of hearts, you…
Posted on 11-01-13
Maturity and Moxy?
I don’t know much about building cars or how to fix them if something goes wrong, but I would say I’m a pretty good driver.
Driving a car is also how I think about information technology. And, even though I don’t speak geek, can’t code, and struggle to fix anything when it goes wrong, I use technology better than most people my age.
For me technology is simply an extraordinary gift providing previously unfathomable opportunities to communicate, share ideas, learn, grow, challenge, collaborate, advocate, engage, and make a difference together.
In other words, it really isn’t as much…
Posted on 09-30-13
Are We Paying a Price for the Eclipse of Community?
It’s sad and disturbing.
And, it isn’t the result of anything we’ve done but rather more about what we haven’t done—myself included.
When a lone gunman went on a murderous rampage in the Washington Navy Yard this week, we barely broke stride. Even though it resulted in 12 people being killed and another 8 injured, it barely registered as a bleep on our radar, we all just went about our business.
Have mass killings become so commonplace that we’ve become immune?
As the result of years of experiencing collaborative learning alongside brilliant colleagues, working ridiculous hours, and dipping into my own hard-earned savings, I own a tech start-up.
I should be proud. And yet my reality is that I stumble whenever I talk or even write about the initiative.
I realize my mixed emotions are the result of the push and pull I experience between wanting to change the world, and needing to be an entrepreneur in order to make it happen.
The truth for me is that my personal journey has always been much more about social innovation and…
Posted on 08-30-13
If a Five Year Old Can Be Taught Active Listening…
As he was driving home from a father and son outing in New Jersey a few months ago, Nathaniel Dancy Sr, suffered an aneurysm and a stroke, leaving his 5-year-old son, Nathaniel Dancy Jr. desperate to find help.
The clever little guy called his grandmother and read off the letters on the sign of a furniture store near where the car had pulled over. While his grandmother tried frantically to identify where the two were, Nathaniel calmly instructed her to use her “active listening” skills, something he had learned in kindergarten.
I just read a post on a Harvard Business discussion forum with the subject line shown as, “Are you a Complicator or a Simplifier?”...hmmm.
Jerome, the guy who posed the question went on to suggest there were two types of people.
The COMPLICATORS who complicate things around us by their cluttered thinking and their fanciful tendencies. As he put it, “Contributing much to the entropy in the economic, academic, legal, political, and social environments”; and the SIMPLIFIERS, who “Try to deflate the hot air balloon of hubris and grandiosity in our systems, thereby rendering our labyrinthine world easy to…
Posted on 08-18-13
Ready, Fire, Steer?
These days there’s a big spotlight focused on Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, as the result of his recent purchase of the Washington Post. While the transaction created a lot of buzz, in some regard it makes a lot of sense because if there’s anyone who has what it takes to apply new models to old problems it would be Bezos.
He will no doubt ensure the spirit of experimentation that is so essential these days.
The best part about summer for me is that I actually have time to think and to write.
While I get that it may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, it definitely makes me happy even though it’s often hard work.
The challenge for me is that I’m typically using different types of writing.
By way of example, this summer my writing included a chapter of a textbook being published by Athabasca University about leadership for active, creative, and engaged communities as well as another article called How One Small Rural Community Found their…
Posted on 08-13-13
Leadership Learnings for Active, Creative, and Engaged Communities
“ACE Communities gave us the confidence to say, “We can do this. We don’t need a professional leader. We don’t need a planned government program. We need some support and some funding helps, but give us skills and we will amaze you.”
Local Community Leader
My young nephews, age 11 and 14, are visiting us from Ontario and, of all the possible activities we suggested, their number one interest was a visit to the Telus Science Centre. After consent from their parents was received, they were especially excited to learn the timing of their visit would allow us to take in the Body World exhibit.
Not exactly something I would have signed up for, Body World and The Cycle of Life uses real, human bodies preserved through a process called plastination.
Almost one third of Canada’s population - approximately nine million people - live in rural regions and yet, the Government of Canada took the final steps to eliminate the Rural Secretariat on May 9, 2013 when they laid off the 13 remaining staff members. In about a year they went from 92 staff members to none.Responsibility for non-financial co-operatives was transferred to Industry Canada on March 4th, 2013.
The Rural Secretariat website still states the following: “Almost one third of Canada’s population - approximately nine million people - live in rural regions. The Government of Canada is helping…
Posted on 06-07-13
Do the Right Thing Even When No One is Looking
Most Canadians would agree that ethical behaviour is pretty simple — do the right thing even when no one is looking.
And, if you’re not sure what the right thing is, it has been suggested one could apply the “Front Page of the Newspaper” test.
In other words, simply ask yourself if you would be comfortable seeing your act described on the front page of the newspaper and being read by your family, friends, and associates.
Regardless of one’s interests or field, it is extraordinarily challenging these days to stay on top of the onslaught of information and change that is the result of today’s hyper-connectivity.
But, as I was recently reminded by a very smart colleague, we are moving from an Industrial Age based on the principles of physics (cause and effect, linear thinking, etc) to a Connect Age based on biological principles (use of complexity theory, and/both thinking, emergence and evolution, etc.).