About the Author
Brenda Herchmer is the owner of Grassroots Enterprises, a community development consulting company. Additionally she is the Principal Collaborator of a social enterprise called Campus for Communities where information about her webinars can be found. Brenda Herchmer has a diverse background gained in a variety of government, business, and community 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…
Posted on 01-01-13
Recreation: Poised for Big Data Analysis?
In the late 1990’s I got involved in a Canada-wide movement that collected evidence and research to document the benefits or outcomes delivered by recreation and parks.
Little did any of us know the field was ahead of its time in putting into place a precursor to what is now referred to as big data analytics. Let me explain.
The reality is that we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. What makes it… More Posted on 07-27-15
When Economy Trumps Quality of Life We Pay a Price
Community building is in my heart and likely in my DNA.
While my career path first took me into the corporate world, I was attracted to the field of recreation because of its focus on outcomes—helping people grow and be healthy, building strong families and communities, working with those who were disadvantaged, protecting the environment, and adding to the quality of life in our communities.
I subsequently worked in a variety of settings including a Boys and Girls Club, municipal recreation, Niagara College, then with the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association (ARPA), and now with my own social enterprise…
Posted on 07-26-15
Small Town Advantage
After living in Edmonton for the past eight years (population 877,926), we recently moved back to Welland, Ontario (population 50,631).
In Edmonton I could go anywhere and the odds are I would never run into a single person I knew. In Welland, that’s not the case because, as in other small towns across the country, people know each other. That’s one of the many things I missed.
I must say it’s disconcerting to walk into stores and see clothes that look so much like those I wore in my younger years. Fortunately most of them are pretty unattractive and are clothes I would never wear again even if I could.
On the other hand, they bring back memories of an era and a generation that staged protests and raised their voices in an endeavor to make the world a better place.
I like that I often see that same desire in today’s youth.
A friend recently told me how happy she was to know that all of the students in her young daughter’s class had been tested to determine their strongest forms of intelligence.
As a parent, she had received the full assessment. Interestingly enough, the teacher only received the aggregated results of all students. There was great value in terms of knowing how her teaching could best accommodate the particular ratios in her classroom. However it wasn’t important for her to know the specifics of each child’s test.
Eight years ago my husband and I spread our wings as empty nesters and made what many considered to be an irrational decision to pull up stakes in Welland, Ontario and move to Edmonton, Alberta.
One month before the move, I flew out to find a place to live in a city that at the time had a vacancy rate of less than 1%.
A colleague picked me up at the Edmonton airport and as we exited the parking lot, we looked up to see a stunningly beautiful rainbow. I took it to be an omen that our risky decision…
Posted on 05-22-15
All the World Loves a Maverick — or do they?
Last week someone introduced me as a maverick. While initially I thought of it as a compliment, now I’m not so sure.
The reality is that for many, being a maverick is never something to which they have aspired. Even if there should be, there don’t seem to be a lot of job ads seeking a maverick.
Typically defined as someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action, maverick was in fact the surname of a Texas lawyer named Samuel Maverick who refused to brand his cattle. As it turns…
Posted on 04-23-15
Need Some Vitamin N?
I’m not what anyone would describe as a tree hugger or as even as being the outdoor type. However, this year’s never-ending winter left me with a distinct longing to be outdoors tromping through the woods. It was as if my body and mind were telling me I needed to push myself away from the computer and find me a good dose of what author, Richard Louv, has termed Vitamin N – the N standing for nature.
As Taylor Swift has been known to sing, “Why you gotta be so mean?”
While I’m typically much more interested in grassroots leadership, Alberta’s recent provincial budget temporarily shifted my attention to the grasstops. The new budget includes a mean-spirited cut to the sector that can afford it the least, reflecting once again, a major disconnect between the provincial grasstops and the grassroots of our communities.
Until the most recent budget, Alberta provided a 21 per cent tax credit for individual charitable contributions. Given the impact of declining oil revenues, the government made the decision to cut the charitable tax…
Posted on 04-15-15
Let Local Businesses Show You What They Can Do
I reconnected this week with a colleague from the past who holds a special place in my heart.
While I can’t say as I knew her really well, she served as an important role model.
At the time I had graduated from Brock University with a degree in recreation and leisure studies and was working for the City of Niagara Falls. My colleague was a director of recreation for a large municipality, had a reputation for intelligence and hard work, and was a leader within our provincial professional association. She was the one who stood up to the old…
Posted on 04-13-15
Please People…Its About the Big Picture
I recently read an email posted by a recreation student on a pan Canadian listserv geared to academics. I taught recreation at the college level and am especially interested in emerging professionals and their areas of study. However, in this case I was left somewhat dismayed.
The student was working on her master’s thesis and was seeking Australians, age 18-35, who had traveled to Canada, and made use of social media.
Really? Call me crazy but who signed off on that topic as being thesis worthy?
A number of years ago I did some work with a very funny, self-employed motivational speaker. As a one person operation there was a lot involved in getting himself promoted, booked and on the road. As a result he put his daughter to work. At the age of nine he bestowed upon her the title of Vice-President of Photocopying. She even had her own business cards and a pay cheque based on an hourly rate - albeit one quite a bit below the legislated minimum.
I am blessed to have wonderfully fulfilling consulting, coaching, and training work that also provides me with the opportunity to travel and meet with people from diverse communities across Canada. I’ve learned that despite the diversity and decidedly different assets among the communities, even the small ones like Iqaluit in Nunavut have much in common with larger communities such as London, Ontario or Richmond, BC. Regardless of their size, location and unique assets, many communities are struggling to address the same complex issues.
I didn’t exactly start the new year off on the right foot.
I had spent an entire day finetuning a webinar to make the complex topic of marketing and branding less daunting for those working in a community development capacity. Although I had delivered it a number of times previously, it was the one webinar I always felt could be better. This time I was sure I got it right.
The content painted the picture on the top of the puzzle box by providing a clear framework and step by step process, sorted out the complexity by providing clear…
Posted on 01-07-15
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