Nature Deficit Disorder
Recently doing some consulting work in Alberta, I stepped out of a meeting and strolled into an adjoining parking lot for a quick stretch. I looked up, gasped, and stopped dead in my tracks.
Directly ahead and looking almost surreal in the glistening afternoon sunlight, lay a stunning, majestic view of the Rocky Mountains that rivaled anything I’ve seen on a postcard.
Having been immersed in an intense morning of thinking and strategizing, I felt compelled to soak in the moment and gradually felt myself being overtaken by a feeling of calm. In addition to the sense of…
Posted on 10-28-07
Community Leaders Have a Different Kind of Power
It’s good to be reminded that sometimes people really do get it.
I recently met one of them, a young woman who lives in a small northern community. Working in the health sector in a community development capacity, she is aware and concerned about growing health concerns in her hometown.
Despite much that is good in town, including a strong economy and even a surplus of jobs, a recent survey of residents showed higher than average levels of obesity, addictions and mental health issues. Even life expectancies are significantly less than the provincial average. And yet, instead of…
Posted on 10-21-07
Successful Cities Built on Own Unique Characteristics
Who would have thought a poet would be the one talking about fractals? And okay I admit it, when I first heard the word fractal I had a flashback math attack because it was such a left-brain kind of concept.
The occasion was the national Creative Cities conference and the speaker was Alice Major, Edmonton’s first poet laureate. An established poet appointed by City Council, her role during her recent term was to use her poetry to reflect the life of a city during official and informal activities.
One of the best things about the long Thanksgiving weekend is that it actually gives you the time to slow down, think, reflect, and be grateful.
I’ve been blessed to have grown up with a mother who has made it a practice to give thanks. Beautiful in spirit, she is a walking heartbeat who has made it her life’s mission to care and nurture others. A youthful and vibrant seventy eight years of age, she still religiously counts her blessings each night as she falls asleep. I’m convinced that this “attitude of gratitude” is a key factor in keeping her…
Posted on 10-08-07
Recently enroute to a business meeting, a rather peppy song played on the car radio prompting a colleague and I to sing along.
As the song faded my colleague told me that while her young daughter used to love that song, she now cringes when she hears it and begs her to change the station.
Apparently her daughter recently spent time with an aunt and had accompanied her to a fitness class. While the class of women did their aerobic dancing to that same song, she sat at the back of the room and watched.
My job responsibilities have recently changed. As I happen to be one of those people who thrive on variety, this is a good thing.
Turns out that while I may embrace and get excited about change, for many, it’s just not quite as easy.
According to the late economist, Mancur Olson, individuals aren’t the only ones who respond differently to change. Cities too can reflect different responses. As he puts it, when places grow up and prosper in one era, they find it challenging and sometimes even impossible to adopt new organizational and cultural patterns, even though the…
Posted on 10-01-07
So What Exactly is Branding?
I recently hung out with a good friend and her young daughter Katrina. Although only eight years old, Katrina is remarkably bright, sensitive, and unexpectedly fashion savvy. One of her favourite television shows is TLC’s What Not to Wear.
Once of the surprisingly mature conversations we had resulted when I told her I refuse to own or wear anything with a logo.
While Katrina was initially quite horrified by my position, she eventually understood that I simply refuse to pay for the privilege of being a walking billboard. If I’m going to wear someone else’s logo, I certainly…
Posted on 10-01-07
ABOUT GRASSROOTS ENTERPRISES
As the owner of Grassroots Enterprises and the CEO of the Campus for Communities of the Future, Brenda Herchmer’s career path includes working as the Director of ACE Communities across Alberta, as a Professor and Director of the Centre for Community Leadership at Niagara College, and the city of Niagara Falls. Brenda is the author of three books, a YWCA Woman of Distinction in Training and Education and a winner of the Brock University Applied Sciences Distinguished Graduate Award. Brenda and her husband also own a board game cafe and an online store called Horizon Kites.
Brenda… More Posted on 09-30-07
Although it has sometimes been a painful journey, our youngest son is growing up. The experts sure weren’t kidding when they say boys generally mature later in life than girls.
To be fair, it may also be that as a typical member of Generation Y he has been searching for work that he can be passionate about but will also allow him to combine work and play. Additionally, as with many others his age, it seems he has been overwhelmed by the wealth of choices juxtapositioned as they are against the reality of a not-so-rosy labour marketplace.
I met an amazingly energetic and vibrant woman this past week who unabashedly admitted to having just turned sixty five.
Despite having just come off a weekend that included her daughter’s wedding and a house jam packed with visitors, she looked wonderful.
She shared that part of her joy was learning her thirty-seven year old daughter had found she was pregnant just prior to the wedding. While the couple hadn’t expected to have children quite so quickly, everyone on both sides of the family was absolutely thrilled.
In another conversation, totally removed from the first, a…
Posted on 09-04-07
Why Are Eight Year Olds Worried About Their Weight???
Her comment left me floundering for words and quite honestly broke my heart.
A recent road trip with a friend gave me the opportunity to spend more time with her delightful eight- year-old daughter.
Jennifer is frighteningly bright and mature, bubbly, energetic, and absolutely adorable.
Yet, as she was telling me about her friends, she told me that some of them didn’t like her.
One of them had told her she was fat. Another’s mother, obsessive about being thin, apparently told her daughter if she didn’t eat properly she would end up looking like Jennifer.
I probably should have written this particular column a while ago.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite know how to start it or exactly what to say.
As our friends and family already know, my husband and I recently made the difficult decision to leave Welland. We’ve not only left the building, we’ve left the region, and the province. We have pulled up stakes and moved to Edmonton, Alberta.
Even though we don’t expect it to be a permanent move, it was still a tough call. The reality is that we love Niagara and we especially love Welland.… More Posted on 08-14-07
Who Says Sports Aren’t Important?
It’s more than just a soccer story.
Last week, despite odds of 50-1 against them winning the tournament, Iraq defeated Saudia Arabia to win the Asian Cup.
The win is even more significant when one considers that the eleven member team was composed of Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites – cultures known more for their violent clashes than for working together. Yet as a soccer team, religious and ethnic differences were put aside and they managed to do what over a dozen political parties and 275 members of their parliament have never been able to do. They united their…
Posted on 08-07-07
The Measure of a Man
The measure of a man.
While I am familiar with the phrase, I hadn’t given it much thought until my favourite uncle, Bud Branson, passed away this week of cancer. Although he lived with verve and joy until the very end, it still seems his life was cut far too short and many are left to mourn his loss.
While thinking about my Uncle Bud, it occurred to me, that the measure of a man is ultimately determined by those who are left to mourn.
I’m rethinking that African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child”. After last week, I think it may need to be reworded as, “It takes a child to raise a village”.
Of course the youth I met last week weren’t exactly children. They were leaders from Mayors’ Youth Councils and high schools across Niagara who were brought together to take part in “Talk, Teach, Take Action”, a symposium for young leaders organized by the Business and Education Council.
The unique forum was designed to connect youth leaders in Niagara with local elected officials.