White Bikes - A Solution for Inner Community Travel??

It seems to me that the secret of creative thinking might just be starting with good problems.

Then, before you can even think about generating ideas, that problem needs to be turned into a challenge.

My current work includes working with a community of approximately 500 full time citizens augmented by seasonal cottagers, who live within a serene and natural resource-rich environment. They care for their community and one another, work hard, speak honestly and directly, and share a distinct and often wacky sense of humour.

As with many small communities, they are dealing with the challenge of transportation.

More Posted on 02-10-08

Shifting to Wellness

Last week, an Alberta provincial minister did something a bit unusual and perhaps even somewhat courageous.

Dave Hancock, Minister of Health and Wellness, hosted a provincial forum for some two hundred senior policy and decision makers from across the government, voluntary and business sectors.

Similar to other provincial statistics and as he discussed in his opening address, 40% of the population is considered to be overweight or obese, cases of type 2 diabetes have doubled in the last 20 years, and health care costs have risen by an astonishing 12.2% over the past year to the point that it… More Posted on 02-03-08

Stretching to Touch the Future

Last week while shopping for a gift, I came across a poster with a picture of a rock climber reaching upward along a sheer face of mountain. The caption below read, You gotta stretch to touch the future.

It struck me that the initiative I’m focusing most of my energies on these days is about that kind of stretching. Those involved are working hard to find new ways of working with community leaders to build healthy, vibrant and creative communities.

The blessing and the curse is that the leaders are sprinkled across the province as are the staff and… More Posted on 01-25-08

Joy on the Job

This week a family connection resulted in me landing tickets to see Michael Bublé’s sold-old concert.

The big band/jazz/pop crooner, often compared to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, put on a magnificent show. His music literally had people dancing in the aisles. He was funny, irreverent, and surprisingly authentic….kind of made you proud that he was Canadian. 

Of mostly Italian heritage, Bublé was born in British Columbia and grew up listening to his grandfather’s collection of jazz records. In listening to the romantic and meaningful lyrics of those songs, it became clear to him that he wanted to… More Posted on 01-20-08

Mistakes Were Made

When I write a column I think my dad might find interesting, I make a copy and send it to him. He called me this week after reading several I had sent that referenced family members.

While he said it a bit in jest, there was an undercurrent of sadness when he suggested that it might be nice if I were to write a column about him some time. 

He is right of course, I don’t write about him.

For a moment, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond as I really didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Besides,… More Posted on 01-13-08

Relationships Needed for Change

A long time ago I worked for a guy who was something of a leadership junkie. Every time he got back 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 would initially adopt a gung-ho approach to implementing some new thinking or approach.

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

Given that it’s January and we’re… More Posted on 01-06-08

Different Learning Styles, Different Teaching Methods

I have a good friend who I’ve always thought would make a fabulous teacher. She’s finally making the leap and will teach a course this semester at Niagara College.

Although anyone who knows her is confident she’ll be great, she admits to being a bit nervous. I really don’t think she needs to be as she really does know her stuff. Additionally, she’s very organized, works hard, and is the kind of person who cares deeply about others. The students will love her.

In the course of our conversation about her new venture I volunteered to help in… More Posted on 01-02-08

A Year Spent Learning About Life

As year end approaches, I’ve always been a big fan of looking ahead and making plans.

As business guru Tom Peters wrote in his book Thriving on Chaos, it’s important to ask two questions.

One, have I made a difference in the last two years and two, am I having fun yet? If the answer is no, you still have work to do.

This year I’m not sure I’m quite ready to look forward. Given what I’ve learned and how blessed I’ve been this past year, it seems more appropriate for me this time round to invest… More Posted on 12-26-07

Riding the Addictions Roller-Coaster

It used to be our family’s dirty little secret.

But, believing others could perhaps benefit from our learning, my family suggested we share.

As a result, almost exactly one year ago, my column included a letter I had written to a younger brother caught up in the terrible pain of addiction.

There wasn’t a family member who ever believed it possible that one of us would end up on the street. We’ve learned that addiction does not discriminate and that it is so very complicated.

While my brother’s addiction spiraled as the result of painkillers prescribed… More Posted on 12-19-07

Family Values

I won’t be home for Christmas.

Just putting that in writing makes me weepy.

The reality is that it will be a very quiet Christmas. My husband and I will celebrate, for the first time ever, without our children and our respective extended families. Instead we’ll spend Christmas Eve with good friends and Christmas Day on our own. 

Ultimately one of the silver linings within a potentially blue Christmas is that it’s made me think a lot about my own values and making sure I’m living them.

Family has always been my most important priority. As part… More Posted on 12-13-07

Child Poverty Stats a Call to National Action

It was, as Dr. Phil would put it, a defining moment.  It occurred for Ian Hill, a good friend of mine, as he drove by and saw kids splashing about in a puddle in the parking lot of a rundown motel. 

Despite cool weather, the kids were shoeless and dressed in ill-fitting, grungy clothes that had seen better days. For some unknown reason, he felt compelled to stop and talk. 

He learned that although the kids lived with their mother in one of the dismal motel rooms, they were alone because she was at work. They were without… More Posted on 12-07-07

Can Clutter Equate to Leadership?

If you were to judge the man by his office alone, chances are you might not be all that impressed.

Aside from the 70s decor, which in itself would make Martha Stewart shudder, it’s clear that paper rules in his office. There isn’t one inch of surface in his office that isn’t covered with stacks of paper. And, describing them as stacks, isn’t an exaggeration. When he ducks his head a bit, you can’t even tell if he’s in his office. Meetings in his office are pretty much impossible as the couch, chairs and coffee table are buried. A recent… More Posted on 11-28-07

The Challenge of Community Engagement

It is just so ironic.

I’m sitting in a conference session called “Conversations, Consultations, and Community Engagement”. The session description talked about the importance of ensuring citizen support, input and participation.  Always keen to learn especially on a subject near and dear to my heart, I was eagerly anticipating the session. Unfortunately, I am so bored that instead of listening to the speakers, I’m writing this column.

The room set-up should have been my first clue. A panel of four speakers sat at the head table, the first already standing at the podium firing up a powerpoint presentation.

Participants… More Posted on 11-18-07

Minds for the Future?

That balanced lifestyle I’ve been trying so hard to achieve? Definitely on the backburner this week!

Instead, I’ve been working flat out as part of a team developing a multi-million dollar proposal focused on province-wide strategies for ensuring active and more creative communities.

While it’s been fun, its complexity has been taxing.  I really miss the days when proposals were straightforward enough that if you kept your office door closed, it was actually possible to write one the day before it was due. 

Today that simply isn’t possible. As such, proposal writing just seems to symbolize how… More Posted on 11-11-07

Do Smaller Communities Have an Advantage?

The reality is that while there is much about growing older that leaves a lot to be desired, there are definitely some perks.

One of those perks is that as we mature, most of us do get to know ourselves better and what it is we’re passionate about.  At long last, some of those disjointed, dancing dots do get connected.

For me that translates into knowing I find joy in learning more about community leadership and how we can better nurture the development of our communities as strong, healthy, and vibrant places to live, work and play.

Recently my work… More Posted on 11-09-07

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