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
Complex Issues Means Rethinking How We Plan
Given the nature of my work as the principal collaborator of a social enterprise focused on supporting seasoned and aspiring leaders to meet complex community demands, January is often marked by a flurry of emails and calls from organizations who, after finally getting a chance during the holidays to slow down and reflect, get pumped up about organizing a strategic planning session.
Quite rightly they would see the beginning of a new calendar as a time to bring key stakeholders together to plan for the future by establishing a common direction, prioritizing their many competing demands, and determining financial…
Posted on 01-03-17
Are We Designing Systems for Failure?
It was a nightmare of a trip - definitely a long time, not a good time.
My flight, on a major airline, was initially delayed three hours due to mechanical difficulties. Apparently this particular airline doesn’t feel it’s important to notify passengers of delays even though they do make a point of collecting email addresses as well as business, home and cell phone numbers when tickets are purchased. But, as the ticket attendant pointed out…
Posted on 01-03-17
Life’s “Gong-able” Moments
There’s no doubt my youngest brother is happy to see the tailend of 2016. His year has been especially brutal and if not for an off-the-chart stubbornness gene, I’m sure he wouldn’t have survived it.
Already in a wheelchair as the result of an accident, over the years he has had vertebrae in his back fused as well as 3 hip replacements. The last one was complicated by botched surgery, a broken femur, and the loss of a…
Posted on 01-01-17
Want to Grow Your Community?
Ugh. Another meeting focused on one of my least favourite subjects – evaluation.
I’m not sure why my initial reaction is so negative. Is it because there’s so much pressure these days to make things happen that we don’t have the time to pause, never mind look back and reflect? Or is it because evaluation is a word that evokes judgment and a focus on what we may or may not be doing right?
I’m having a tough time finding many straightforward workplaces these days. My community building work often results in me landing in organizations where solutions are complicated and messy. Not only that, the need for change is sometimes driven by a belief (usually that of the funders or elected officials involved) that there is a one-size-fits-all secret sauce solution that can be implemented within several months.
Needless to say these days it often takes much longer to check anything off my to-do list. Sigh.
Most people would have bet against it ever happening. After all, six weeks ago, it was just a crazy idea generated by a guy who managed to convince a few of his friends it would be fun. There were no links to a formal organization that could have provided support, nor was there any funding in place.
However, what most people failed to take into account is that there is significant and growing interest in a different kind of leisure. As identified in the National Framework for Recreation in Canada…
Posted on 09-01-16
What the World Needs Now is Phronesis?!?
Sometimes multi-tasking is a good thing. It has in fact, strengthened the Campus for Communities where I work with a number of other associates as its Founder and Principal Collaborator.
The grassroots consulting, coaching, and facilitating being done by our associates feeds and shapes the training, tools, and resources we are able to offer via the Campus. In a reciprocal fashion, the training, tools, and resources feed and shape the calibre of what we are able to bring to our respective consulting work.
It was a long time ago but it’s a memory that is always triggered by the kind of hot and humid weather we had this past weekend. And, it’s one that that never fails to make me smile.
I was 17 years old and in my second year of serious competition in track.
With some of my key contenders competing elsewhere, I managed to win gold at the Eastern Canadian meet in the 400 metres and to everyone’s surprise, including my own, qualified for the national championships in Winnipeg.
… More Posted on 06-21-16
I Laughed So Hard, I Learned??
I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard or learned so much.
Wait. Laughing and learning at the same time? Can it be? After all, I distinctly recall getting into trouble for assuming I could combine the two. Even my kindergarten teacher wrote on my report card that although I was a good student I was inclined to be too a bit too social.
While today there is a better understanding and acceptance that children learn through their play, we typically don’t equate fun and playfulness with…
Posted on 05-28-16
Did I Walk Out to Walk On?
Several days ago I received an email from my alma mater advising me that I had been nominated for a Distinguished Alumni Award.
While I know it is an incredible honour and I should be excited, the truth is I don’t feel it’s something I deserve.
I am aware that I work really hard, have taken risks, and have had some success. However, my track record with employers and sometimes painful climb up the corporate ladder left much to be desired. That, together with my lack of staying power, is reflected…
Posted on 04-19-16
Measuring What Matters
I’ve recently spent a lot of time thinking and talking to others about evaluation and measurement. Truth be told there was some kicking and screaming involved in getting me to do it.
While I do know it’s important, there’s just something about evaluation that makes me want to yawn and roll my eyes. Maybe instead of calling it evaluation we could make it more palatable by referring to it as learn, celebrate, and tell the story?
I don’t want a job.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to work. It could be that my Ukrainian work ethic is genetic. Or, it might just be that I am defined by my work and want to make a difference. Regardless, I work hard and put in far more hours than most people would consider typical or healthy.
Despite all that, I’ve recently concluded I’m going to have to stick to being self-employed because I don’t want any of the jobs I’m seeing. Of course, it is tempting to think…
Posted on 03-01-16
Me? Dinner with the Governor General??
Yes siree I had dinner with the Governor General at 1 Sussex Drive.
I know. Hard to believe. My mother almost fell off her chair when I told her.
To be accurate it wasn’t just me. I mean there were others as well. In fact all of the three finalists for the Arctic Inspiration Prize were invited as well as those on the selection committee, donors and sponsors..
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada was absolutely delightful, the food was out of this world, and the…
Posted on 02-01-16
Monkey Mind Musings About Community
As the holidays become a distant memory and we get back to the reality of more typical regimes, I’ve been reflecting about the upcoming year.
Rather than making resolutions which my monkey mind doesn’t always allow me to keep, I thought it might be an idea to focus on the community building work that continues to absorb so much of my energy. Here are five key learnings that have evolved for ensuring active, creative, and engaged communities. While they aren’t resolutions, they hopefully will provide direction for those wanting to make…
Posted on 01-07-16
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