About the Author


Brenda Herchmer is committed to empowering collective capacity for local social, environmental, and economic well-being. Her work focuses on strengthening whole-community sector-connector approaches that result in collaborative cultures, informed decision-making, future-readiness, and innovation.

She is the founder and CEO of a social enterprise called Campus for Communities of the Future and Co-Chair of Catalyst 2030 Canada. A speaker, trainer, coach, and strategist across Canada, she is a former Professor and Director at Niagara College, Director of ACE Communities (Alberta) and worked for the City of Niagara… More Posted on 06-13-24

The Power and Pride of a Unique Horse


Some years ago, my work took me to the Yukon for the first time. As we approached Whitehorse from the airport, I was surprised to see a stunning sculpture of a majestic and powerful horse rearing up on its hind legs on the hilltop overlooking the city.

Upon getting closer, it was even more interesting to see that the regal, almost 3.5-metre horse was cleverly composed of a compilation of scrap metal. Not just any scrap, but as I later learned, scrap made up of… More Posted on 07-17-24

Hard Work and Even Harder to Explain


I’ve often been asked why I chose such a challenging career path when there were other less stressful and better-paying options.

In hindsight, being a community builder somehow chose me. Once I found the right path, there didn’t seem to be a choice. Of course, I had no idea how challenging or complex that path would be.

The complexity path is not typically crowded; however, it’s often where you’ll find social innovators and entrepreneurs. While working toward meaningful impact comes with its perks, it can also be lonely and lacking… More Posted on 06-25-24

The Kids Are Not All Right


Those closer to the frontline would say that while many are doing well, others are not.

While some would attribute the decline in youth mental health to COVID-19, it turns out there were many who weren’t doing well even before then.

Today, we are seeing increasing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide among young people.

There are differing opinions about why it has happened. However, Jonathan Haidt’s new book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, sheds new… More Posted on 04-02-24

Too Tired to Lean in to the Future?

Not sure how others feel, but Covid just might have knocked some of the hutzpah out of me. Maybe I have taken my foot off the gas pedal a bit? And yes, there are days when I may have leaned back more than is typical and fallen into a napping mode that has allowed me to avoid looking too far ahead. However, even though we don’t seem to be talking about it much, I sense I’m not alone.

For the most part, it seems we are all still navigating our way to a new… More Posted on 03-08-24

The Role of Sector-Connectors: Utilizing Collective Wisdom for Whole-Community Development


In our world today, we face a web of interconnected challenges. The health of our communities is about much more than medicine and health care practitioners, it’s tied to access to clean air and water, nutritious food, and a stable income. Social equity is another piece of the puzzle. Not everyone has the same opportunities because of systemic inequalities. Then there’s the economy. It’s not just about money but how resources are distributed and whether people can find work that provides a living wage. Lastly, the environment binds these elements together.… More Posted on 02-28-24

Are We Languishing?


Recently, a talented group of consulting colleagues met in a relaxed, informal networking setting. During the gathering a lot of ground was covered as both personal and work-related subjects were addressed. More than once, there was discussion about broken systems and how they too often constrain and limit innovative responses to individual, social, economic, and environmental well-being.

There was also acknowledgement of vetocracy: a term typically used in government and traditional institutions to describe the system of entrenched interests that make it very hard to get anything radical built or done.

During… More Posted on 02-26-24

Doin’ What Comes Naturally?


In the Broadway musical, Annie Get Your Gun, one of the most memorable songs was one called Doin’ What Comes Naturally. I’m not sure why, but for some reason I thought about that song and the idea of doing what comes naturally during a recent webinar delivered by an intelligent, passionate presenter who was doing just that.

His own ‘naturally’ seemed to be about positioning himself as the sage-on-the-stage with webinar participants as his attentive audience. That became clear, when one of his first requests was that everyone turn off their… More Posted on 02-04-24

When You’re Stuck in the Weeds


A long time ago, I worked for a guy who was something of a leadership junkie. Every time he returned from a conference or read a new book, we would brace ourselves for what we referred to as his new flavour-of-the-week management theory.

Inspired by his enthusiasm, we adopted a gung-ho approach to implementing new thinking or strategy.

Without fail, it would ultimately die a slow death, and we would then hold our collective breath, waiting for the next great new idea to be sent our way.

In hindsight, it has… More Posted on 01-23-24

There’s Always Chocolate!



Recent times have been tough and while I haven’t lost my mojo, I definitely lost, or at least misplaced, my normal, fairly resilient, Pollyanna-ish self.

Instead, I’ve done more than my share of whining and venting. 
If I were a child, I would be distracting myself with a shiny object or handing over a bottle and telling myself it was time for a nap. 

When my kids used… More Posted on 01-14-24

Seriously, Loud in the Library?


The library in my hometown of Welland, Ontario kicked off the new year with a special event called Loud in the Library.

No kidding. It was a free community event offering live music performances that had participants singing and dancing among the stacks of books! Even better, there was free pizza and snacks.

If I didn’t already love my library, I love it even more now, knowing their leadership is reflecting our changing times.

I was born and raised in a relatively large family of seven. While we never went hungry, there wasn’t… More Posted on 01-13-24

A Roadmap to Happiness & Well-being in 2024

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

I wish I could take credit for that line as it is a thought-provoking piece of advice. It was actually part of a commencement address delivered by Apple’s Steve Jobs in a Stanford Commencement speech.

I especially like it because of its simplicity. In today’s world of often overwhelming change, information, and events, making the complex simple is something we all could use more of.

So, in the spirit of simplicity, here’s the best advice I’ve got for what you can do to be happy and well in 2024 They’re… More Posted on 01-02-24

Finding Holiday Joy

While I like to consider myself one who loves change and embraces trends and early signals, this has been a challenging year to say the least. And yet, could it be there might just be a silver lining?

This week I made a quick late evening visit to a local mall where shoppers were pretty sparse. As a result, it was a bit of a surprise to hear a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘White Christmas’ being played on what could only be a grand piano.

As I followed the sound to what I was sure… More Posted on 12-18-23

Grilled by Sandra Day O’Connor


Hearing of the death of former US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor this week brought back memories.  I not only had the honour of meeting that amazing woman, I also experienced - albeit shaking in my boots - her putting me through a grilling cross-examination.

Yes I know she’s American and I’m Canadian but I distinctly remember the widespread excitement when Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to be appointed as Justice to the United States Supreme Court. It was a big deal for women and girls around the world.

More Posted on 12-03-23

Time to Colour Outside the Lines and Off the Page?


Years ago, a friend of mine described herself as someone who specialized in being a generalist. While the comment made me laugh, it also made be realize it was a description I could apply to myself.

My work involves a lot of complex, often fragmented information that comes fast and furious. My job is to make sense of it, find possibility, synthesize, summarize, and use it to determine future direction and action.

Being a generalist who knows a little about a lot of different things, as… More Posted on 11-29-23

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