What’s a Third Place and Why Pianos?

This week I heard a great CBC interview about the concept of ‘Third Places’. It twigged a memory so I went digging and found a newspaper column I had written in July 2009. Maybe a concept a little ahead of its time but today, some 13 years later, it seems even more relevant. You might be interested in knowing some of the pianos still exist and the street piano movement spread to communities around the world.
A couple of weeks ago, 30 somewhat funky looking pianos were placed… More Posted on 12-15-22

Kindness Has Its Own Rewards


I’m the first to admit I’m a big fan of retail therapy. On the other hand, I don’t consider shopping for groceries to be fun at all. For me grocery shopping is definitely a chore.

However, as I was buying groceries today, it seemed the clerk at my checkout was even less of a fan.

She just looked so miserable I felt compelled to find something positive to say.

Glancing at her I smiled and said, “You’re definitely a good… More Posted on 11-29-22

Ocean Freighter or Canoe?

While there are some who might envy those who are self-employed as social entrepreneurs, the reality is that it often comes with long hours and sleepless nights. On the flip side, it comes with many advantages.

For sure working for larger institutions or businesses comes with more security and a pension, but as I recently explained to a colleague, it’s akin to the difference between trying to steer a highly loaded ocean freighter and a nimble, flexible canoe.

The canoe is far easier to manage and better able to… More Posted on 11-21-22

It’s So Tempting To Play Ostrich


Curiosity velocity is a positive attribute, but sometimes we may not like what we find.

I recently stumbled across a 2022 study by Lancet Planetary Health that surveyed 10,000 people between the ages of 16 to 25 from 10 different countries.

Here’s the sad part.

Three-quarters of those surveyed said, “the future is frightening” with more than half believing that “humanity is doomed.” Nearly 4 in 10 said that they were hesitant about having children.

Some 58 percent of those surveyed said their… More Posted on 11-15-22

The Soft Side of Innovation


I have a brain that is constantly leapfrogging.

So while my thought processes may not be typical, I’ve learned over the years to roll with it and explore whenever I can. While it often makes for chaotic conversations in my head, it typically leads to learnings that are deep, meaningful, and informative.

As a result, when my brain recently landed on the topic of focus groups, it seemed important to pay attention.

Not as random as it might sound, the subject was… More Posted on 11-11-22

Are You a Positive Deviant?


I was recently described by a colleague as being a positive deviant. When she saw me flinch, she instead suggested I was a maverick. While she clearly thought both terms were complimentary, I’m not sure everyone would agree.

After all, does anyone say, ‘I want to be a positive deviant when I grow up?’ Is it even a conscious choice? More likely, colouring outside the lines is something one is wired to do.

Regardless, research does indicate that Positive Deviance (PD) is based on the… More Posted on 11-06-22

The Tattoo That Made Me Want One


While I like to consider myself as one who loves change and embraces trends, tattoos are something I’ve personally never been able to get behind.

In part its because when I was growing up tattoos weren’t especially mainstream. Unless of course you considered sailors, bikers, and criminals to be mainstream.     

Mostly though, I’m not a fan because I’m easily bored and tattoos are just so darned permanent. Heck, I get tired of wearing the same sweater after… More Posted on 10-25-22

The Invention that Sidetracked Education


Some people, including myself, have asked why I chose to leave a secure position at a college a number of years ago. The truth is I really didn’t have a definitive answer.

Part of it was fueled by a desire for new challenges, however, it was still somewhat perplexing, particularly as after leaving, I continued to be drawn to anything that provided an opportunity to teach, facilitate, train, or provide an environment for transferring knowledge in some way.

My teaching direction is gradually moving away… More Posted on 10-18-22

Are You Ready for What’s Next?


Not sure about you, but I’m a tad dizzy from all the spinning going on as we struggle to prioritize our personal lives, our organizations and businesses, networks, and communities.

It used to be much simpler….you could figure out where you currently were, where you wanted to go, and then develop action steps to address the gap in between. That I understood. 

The reality today is that we live in far more… More Posted on 10-08-22

Paddling on One Side of the Canoe?


We all have our tried and true, especially when we’re stressed. There’s a tendency to fall back on what we know has worked in the past. It’s not unlike cooking. When I’m busy or rushed, it’s the tried and true recipes I fall back on.

Yet, if we want to go in a different direction, relying on our old recipes is the equivalent of only paddling on one side of the canoe. Not only will we have difficulty getting to a new place, it sometimes results in us travelling in circles.

More Posted on 09-30-22

Can Simplicity Make the Complex Possible?


Not sure exactly why but I recently signed up for a podcasting course.  Although I’ve previously taken a one day workshop and had the basics, I’ve never actually but them into play. This time I’m hoping it sticks.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised because the course has been interesting, engaging, and ultimately, quite promising. In large part it’s because the course has been broken down into simple bite-sized assignments.  The first assignment was to give our podcast a name, the second list to 10 people we would interview, the third was… More Posted on 09-25-22

Why Jobs Make Me Twitchy

I don’t want a job.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to work. It could be my strong Ukrainian work ethic or it might just be that I am somewhat 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’m not especially attracted to most of the jobs I’m seeing. Of course, it is tempting to think about a consistent… More Posted on 09-13-22

A Paucity of Curiosity?


This week I had a wonderful connection with a colleague who is doing amazing work focused on equipping organizations to thrive and fully realize their social purpose.  In the course of a conversation that bounced effortlessly from topic to topic, she suggested one of our greatest challenges today was ‘a paucity of curiosity’ and a ‘reluctance to tackle new learning’.

It was an elegant and insightful way of presenting a critical issue. It was also rather disconcerting because curiosity and creativity are what we need more of if we are to tackle… More Posted on 09-09-22

What the Heck Do I know About Prison Reform?

I spent an exciting hour on a zoom call this week with a network of eclectic and extraordinarily wise individuals from diverse professions and countries around the world.

The dynamic presenter shared a concept that is gaining traction. While ultimately her vision is to develop strategies for regenerating society and broken systems, her idea is to begin with an innovative pilot that will focus instead on reforming a prison or correctional institution - ideal because prisons are typically a self-contained community entity where applying a holistic, systems, or community perspective is more feasible.  More Posted on 09-02-22

Where’s the Community Innovation When We Need It Now More Than Ever?

As the result of years of experiencing collaborative learning alongside brilliant colleagues and community stakeholders, working ridiculous hours, and dipping into hard-earned savings for startup costs, I have now been the Principal Collaborator of a social enterprise called Campus for Communities of the Future for ten years.

I should be proud to have kept it afloat. And yet, my reality is that I stumble whenever I talk or try to explain the initiative.

It seems my mixed emotions are the result of the push and pull experience of wanting to make a difference, and needing… More Posted on 08-23-22

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