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… More Posted on 01-01-13

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… More 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.

In his book, “The Nature Principle”, Louv shows that this connection to nature, or… More Posted on 04-17-15

Why You Gotta Be So Mean?

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… More 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… More 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?

Don’t get me wrong, and maybe I’m missing something because there might be… More Posted on 04-07-15

Vice President of Photocopying?

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.

While it made for a humourous anecdote he often used in his speeches, it also… More Posted on 02-18-15

Community +  Collaboration = Innovation

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.

                               … More Posted on 02-06-15

Silver Lining Learnings

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… More Posted on 01-07-15

According to Pink and the Puppets…..

My son disappeared again.

It’s not really a big deal. After all, he is a fully grown adult and has every right to turn off his phone and ignore texts and emails if he so chooses. But, when he did it again between Christmas and New Year’s, both his grandmother and I grew somewhat concerned. That is until we both remembered that when he has time off from his job he often gets totally focused and immersed in a new creative project.

His last project involved him going off the grid to write, direct, build sets, design lighting, and… More Posted on 01-03-15

Turning Learning Upside Down

While it really isn’t anything I can explain, every once in a while I stumble across a transformative concept that simply feels right. Sometimes I try to push the concept to the back of my mind because I know implementing that change is going to result in disruption, not to mention a significant amount of work. Ultimately though the concept keeps surfacing and draws me in like a moth to a flame.

This year two such moments got me thinking about teaching in a very different way.

That’s not to say I don’t already think about teaching a great… More Posted on 12-24-14

All About that Boss, ‘Bout that Boss

In many ways it clearly is “bout that boss” and whether or they have earned the respect of others as a leader.

More and more we are seeing an unwillingness to work for someone in a position of authority who hasn’t shifted from a traditional “command and control” model to a form of leadership that is more about sharing power and control.

It is a challenging shift and one that takes courage and heart.

By way of example I often cite what I witnessed several years at a townhall meeting designed to help grow the community by engaging a… More Posted on 12-13-14

Are You a Treasure Seeker or a Trash Collector?

I recently stumbled across a thought-provoking post intended to help teachers cultivate practical optimism in their classrooms. However it became clearer as I read that it contained ideas applicable to every single one of us.

The post was written by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University.

The post discussed that until recently optimism was considered to be an unchangeable trait. Now it is understood that optimism is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced. Convers and Wilson are developing tools to help… More Posted on 12-11-14

What kind of Workplace Would Make Gumby Happy?

This week I wrote a blog for a government website. To be honest, it made me a bit nervous.

Unlike my typical writing where putting forward my own opinion is a given, in this particular case, I had to apply, pass scrutiny, and be given permission to blog. As a result, I felt a bit of pressure to behave.

Clearly it was not the kind of workplace structure where a Gumby could flex, respond, and innovate.
                                          More Posted on 11-16-14

A Powerful Story that Reminded Me About Gratitude

I am grateful for the many good things that are part of my life. And, while I do my best to reflect an attitude of gratitude, I recently heard a story that truly put everything into perspective.

The story came a few weeks ago from a neurosurgeon I only knew as the result of a breakfast conversation at a B & B where we were both staying.

                                     

It started as the… More Posted on 10-11-14

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