Learnings from Youngstown and Avatar

Small town living and the movie Avatar might have something in common. 

Last week a colleague and I delivered a community building workshop in Youngstown, Alberta – population 190. Forty five people from a variety of backgrounds attended including business owners, elected officials, volunteers, and social profit and government staff.

As we were setting up for the workshop, Mayor Bob mentioned they had held a ceremony for a bumper crop of high school graduates in the same hall the previous week. Curious as to what “bumper crop” would translate to in a town of less than 200, I… More Posted on 05-30-10

Advocacy Doesn’t Mean Ankle-Biting

It might not have been ankle-biting but it wasn’t exactly an effective advocacy strategy either.

A number of years ago I was managing the Centre for Community Leadership at Niagara College during a period when the social profit sector was being subjected to a particularly brutal round of funding cuts. With little understanding of what advocacy really is, we took it upon ourselves to challenge regional government as one of the sector’s key funders. We asked for, and were granted, an opportunity to speak to a committee of Council to present our concerns regarding the sector.

We presented… More Posted on 05-23-10

Our Shared Value….Community Matters

There is wisdom in our communities.

That belief was reinforced for me last week after spending three days with a group of amazing local community leaders at a retreat designed to help them enhance the quality of life in their communities.  A unique mix of staff, volunteers, business owners, and elected officials, they came wearing different lenses and bringing diverse sets of skills and experience. But, as one participant pointed out, while the challenges and solutions within their respective communities were unique, their paths to success were in fact very similar. 

While I totally agreed with the statement, it… More Posted on 05-17-10

Public Policy Should Mean Doing the Right Thing

Are we scared to change, overwhelmed, or do we really think the challenges in our communities will go away if we ignore them? 

I’m currently reading Thomas L. Friedman’s book called “Hot, Flat and Crowded”. In it he makes the case that post 9/11 Americans have shifted to a defense mode that has resulted in them exporting their fears rather than their hopes. And, as he points out, it’s impossible to be visionary if you are in a defense mode. It has also meant Americans have neglected such critical issues as their health care system, crumbling infrastructure, immigration reform,… More Posted on 05-09-10

Building on our Assets

While many might not understand its significance, it was by far the most meaningful speaker’s gift I have ever been given.

I was presented with a beautiful eagle’s feather after delivering a workshop at an Indigenous community capacity building conference. The eagle plays an important spiritual role in aboriginal culture as it is the eagle that is identified as the messenger of the Creator and the creature who flies the highest and sees the furthest. I was told that when one receives an eagle feather, that person is being acknowledged with gratitude and respect.

It was another reminder… More Posted on 05-02-10