The Few, The Some, The Many?

Technology is clearly both a blessing and a curse.

I’m in the middle of launching our Campus for Communities and for months now have been immersed in the often perplexing world of technology.

However, I’m blessed to have found a company with a brilliant CEO who has become a good friend.  He and his stellar team have helped me navigate and integrate an incredible number of options from among many often perplexing choices. That integration piece has been key and in my opinion is what has made our partnership such a great fit.

Over the last several months,… More Posted on 12-12-13

Are We Paying a Price for the Eclipse of Community?

It’s sad and disturbing.

And, it isn’t the result of anything we’ve done but rather more about what we haven’t done—myself included.

When a lone gunman went on a murderous rampage in the Washington Navy Yard this week, we barely broke stride. Even though it resulted in 12 people being killed and another 8 injured, it barely registered as a bleep on our radar, we all just went about our business.

Have mass killings become so commonplace that we’ve become immune?

When exactly is enough, enough? How many innocent bystanders have to be killed before we (especially our American… More Posted on 09-19-13

A Tech Startup? Me?

As the result of years of experiencing collaborative learning alongside brilliant colleagues, working ridiculous hours, and dipping into my own hard-earned savings, I own a tech start-up.

I should be proud. And yet my reality is that I stumble whenever I talk or even write about the initiative.

I realize my mixed emotions are the result of the push and pull I experience between wanting to change the world, and needing to be an entrepreneur in order to make it happen.

The truth for me is that my personal journey has always been much more about social innovation and… More Posted on 08-30-13

If a Five Year Old Can Be Taught Active Listening…

As he was driving home from a father and son outing in New Jersey a few months ago, Nathaniel Dancy Sr, suffered an aneurysm and a stroke, leaving his 5-year-old son, Nathaniel Dancy Jr. desperate to find help.

The clever little guy called his grandmother and read off the letters on the sign of a furniture store near where the car had pulled over. While his grandmother tried frantically to identify where the two were, Nathaniel calmly instructed her to use her “active listening” skills, something he had learned in kindergarten.

That’s when his grandmother figured out that they… More Posted on 08-21-13

Are You a Complicator or a Simplifier?

I just read a post on a Harvard Business discussion forum with the subject line shown as, “Are you a Complicator or a Simplifier?”...hmmm.

Jerome, the guy who posed the question went on to suggest there were two types of people.

The COMPLICATORS who complicate things around us by their cluttered thinking and their fanciful tendencies. As he put it, “Contributing much to the entropy in the economic, academic, legal, political, and social environments”; and the SIMPLIFIERS, who “Try to deflate the hot air balloon of hubris and grandiosity in our systems, thereby rendering our labyrinthine world easy to… More Posted on 08-18-13

Ready, Fire, Steer?

These days there’s a big spotlight focused on Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, as the result of his recent purchase of the Washington Post.  While the transaction created a lot of buzz, in some regard it makes a lot of sense because if there’s anyone who has what it takes to apply new models to old problems it would be Bezos.

He will no doubt ensure the spirit of experimentation that is so essential these days.

As he put it in his initial communication to the employees at the the Post, “There is no map, and charting a path ahead… More Posted on 08-15-13

We Oughta Know that Stories Matter

The best part about summer for me is that I actually have time to think and to write.

While I get that it may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, it definitely makes me happy even though it’s often hard work.

The challenge for me is that I’m typically using different types of writing.

By way of example, this summer my writing included a chapter of a textbook being published by Athabasca University about leadership for active, creative, and engaged communities as well as another article called How One Small Rural Community Found their… More Posted on 08-13-13

Leadership Learnings for Active, Creative, and Engaged Communities

“ACE Communities gave us the confidence to say, “We can do this.  We don’t need a professional leader. We don’t need a planned government program. We need some support and some funding helps, but give us skills and we will amaze you.”
                                                                                Local Community Leader


Rural communities get stronger when their leaders do.  And, local leadership… More Posted on 07-22-13

Engrossing But Not Gross

My young nephews, age 11 and 14, are visiting us from Ontario and, of all the possible activities we suggested, their number one interest was a visit to the Telus Science Centre. After consent from their parents was received, they were especially excited to learn the timing of their visit would allow us to take in the Body World exhibit.

Not exactly something I would have signed up for, Body World and The Cycle of Life uses real, human bodies preserved through a process called plastination.

Plastination of the bodies involved removing all of the body fluids and soluble… More Posted on 07-09-13

Who Speaks for Canada’s Rural Regions?

Almost one third of Canada’s population - approximately nine million people - live in rural regions and yet, the Government of Canada took the final steps to eliminate the Rural Secretariat on May 9, 2013 when they laid off the 13 remaining staff members. In about a year they went from 92 staff members to none.Responsibility for non-financial co-operatives was transferred to Industry Canada on March 4th, 2013.

The Rural Secretariat website still states the following: “Almost one third of Canada’s population - approximately nine million people - live in rural regions. The Government of Canada is helping… More Posted on 06-07-13

Do the Right Thing Even When No One is Looking

Most Canadians would agree that ethical behaviour is pretty simple — do the right thing even when no one is looking. 

And, if you’re not sure what the right thing is, it has been suggested one could apply the “Front Page of the Newspaper” test.
In other words, simply ask yourself if you would be comfortable seeing your act described on the front page of the newspaper and being read by your family, friends, and associates.

Ironic isn’t it that two formerly respected journalists — Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin —appear to have failed… More Posted on 05-19-13

Teaching Nana to Market Car Seats for Cats

Regardless of one’s interests or field, it is extraordinarily challenging these days to stay on top of the onslaught of information and change that is the result of today’s hyper-connectivity.

But, as I was recently reminded by a very smart colleague, we are moving from an Industrial Age based on the principles of physics (cause and effect, linear thinking, etc) to a Connect Age based on biological principles (use of complexity theory, and/both thinking, emergence and evolution, etc.).

As a result, everyone of us will need to ensure we have trusted relationships and networks if we want help in… More Posted on 05-18-13

My Mother Planned to Name Me Wendy

My mother planned to name me Wendy.

But, when her Ukrainian mother-in- law came to visit her in the hospital shortly after my birth, she misheard the name as Windy. Her response was not positive. 

My Baba said somewhat scornfully — and you’ll need to read this with a thick Ukrainian accent — “Windy? Who ever heard of a baby named Windy?”

As a result, my mother decided to name me after her younger sister and I became Brenda.

While I like the name Wendy, there is something special about being a namesake especially when the person… More Posted on 05-05-13

Google is Not a Synonym for Research

While I get that “Google is not a synonym for research”, I’m definitely not a research wonk either.

So, while I blame my being right-brained for my tendency to be driven by intuition rather than facts, I have also learned that the balance between spidey senses and hard data is a critical one.

That being said, I think every Canadian should be worried about the lack of emphasis our federal government appears to be placing on research and hard data, as well as their seeming propensity for ignoring it once they have it.

This month the federal government… More Posted on 04-28-13

Why We Need More Co-ops, Credit Unions, and Worker-Owned Businesses

I guess it’s because I’ve always rooted for the underdog, but right or wrong, I have always been drawn to the quality of life side of the community ledger rather that the economic side.

Regardless, I’ve accepted the reality that the majority of people believe money and jobs are more important than community building so I’m always trying to expand my knowledge and understanding of economic development.

So, to make a long story short, I’ve somehow ended up being part of a crowdsourcing team that is helping to develop a new course at Graceland University in Iowa called Leadership… More Posted on 04-22-13

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