About the Author

CAREER OVERVIEW

A passionate community builder, Brenda Herchmer has a diverse background gained in a variety of government, education, business, and community sector settings. A writer, educator, consultant, coach and project manager, she has focused on enhancing the ability of seasoned and aspiring leaders to work collectively to address complex community issues with transformative change. She has specialized in community leadership, adaptive planning, community development, and organizational capacity building. She is the owner of Grassroots Enterprises and the Campus for Communities of the Future (a social enterprise/micro college) where… More Posted on 06-13-19

Weaving a Better Future Together

Like many others, I’ve learned about both personal and work-related partnerships by being part of some that were good and some I’d rather not think about.

As with a good marriage, a good partnership has the potential to enrich who you are, what you do, and how you do it.

I’ve often thought partnerships could be compared to fabric. Even though one’s existing fabric might be fine, it can be enriched and strengthened by the right partner who weaves in, mixes and mingles their own unique strands of thread and fiber. The resulting… More Posted on 08-19-21

Love Your Pink Shorts!

My mother has a sense of style that hasn’t let up even as she’s moved into her 90’s.

She loves quality clothing and has a clear understanding of what styles and colours look best on her.

When I talked to her recently, she shared that when she had been out for her daily walk, a young woman she estimated to be in her early 20’s was walking her dog on the opposite side of the street. To her surprise, the woman crossed the street to speak to her.

The young woman greeted… More Posted on 08-14-21

Moving Beyond COVID-19 One Bite at a Time



In my younger years as a grassroots activist I proudly wore a t-shirt that said, “Think Globally. Act Locally”.

While I knew the slogan was suggesting we all needed to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in our communities, I’m not sure until now I really understood how I could make the world a priority when local on its own was often so daunting. 

As a result, my work instead focused first on community-led development, which ultimately evolved to include systems-thinking, strategic foresight, and digital adoption… More Posted on 06-28-21

Why Red Tape Stifles Innovation and What We Can Do About It

I think I was born practical.  As a result I really hate wasting time, money, or energy.

No surprise then that I have very little tolerance for red tape – meaning complex and time-consuming forms and procedures.

   

While I no longer work for government or a bureaucracy, a number of recent encounters were a reminder of just how darn good they can be in terms of generating it. And the thing is, every centimeter of that red tape was generated by government with the very best of intentions. What makes it… More Posted on 06-22-21

Can the Big Picture Make Things Easier?

Like many others these days, the complexity of the world we live in is wearing me down and I find myself craving simplicity. But, what if instead, the big picture actually made things clearer?

When seeing the Earth from afar for the first time, many astronauts described a cognitive shift in their awareness. Now called the Overview Effect, their experience of seeing the reality of Earth suspended in space with national borders no longer visible, immediately resulted in them understanding the Earth as being tiny and fragile. Along with that came an awareness of… More Posted on 04-22-21

What? There’s a Fourth Sector?

Last week I got a call from a friend who I haven’t heard from in many, many years. As we caught up, it became clear he’s done a fabulous job of developing a business that grew steadily and become very successful. Like me, he’s worked really hard and has taken risks. Whereas his path was relatively straightforward, mine was somewhat different. My track record with employers together with a sometimes painful and lonely climb, was reflected in a sketchy and eclectic employment history in corporations, social profits, education, government, and as the owner of several… More Posted on 03-09-21

What Bill Gates Didn’t Say

Okay, I get that Bill Gates is a smart guy and can provide some pretty astute advice.

For example, in a recent Fast Company article in an excerpt from his new book entitled How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he presented his case that many of the lessons from the pandemic—and the values and principles that guide our approach to it—apply just as well to climate change.

He summarized these lessons as (1) international cooperation and the need for everyone to work together, (2) letting science guide our efforts, and, (3) solutions that meet the… More Posted on 03-08-21

Finding the Joy

While I like to consider myself one who loves change and embraces trends and early signals, this has been a challenging year to say the least. And yet, could it be there might just be a silver lining?

Last week I made a quick visit to a local mall where shoppers were pretty sparse. As a result, it was a bit of a surprise to hear a hauntingly beautiful version of ‘White Christmas’ being played on what could only be a grand piano.

As I followed the sound to what I was sure had to… More Posted on 12-25-20

I’m Blaming It On The Vision Board

     
As Dr. Phil puts it, “You have to name it to claim it.”  My own mother has also shared similar advice over the years. advising that sometimes, “You just need to know what you want and put it out to the universe”. After all, she ended up with her soul mate after describing him on her vision board in what turned out to be pretty accurate detail. While I didn’t go that far - I am a very happily married woman after all - I did do a vision board and… More Posted on 10-27-20

Three Paths to Help Conquer the Chaos of Change

I’m having a tough time finding many straightforward workplaces these days. My future-focused leadership work often results in me landing in organizations where solutions are complicated and messy. Not only that, the need for change is sometimes driven by a belief (usually that of the funders, directors, or elected officials involved) that there is a one-size-fits-all, secret sauce solution that can be implemented within several months.

Needless to say these days it often takes much longer to check anything off my to-do list. Sigh.

Without a doubt this drive… More Posted on 09-17-20

Thinking About Our Community as a Fractal?

         

The first time I really understood fractals, it was explained by a poet a number of years ago at a Creative Communities conference. 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 poet was Alice Major, who at the time was serving as the City of Edmonton’s first poet laureate. An established poet appointed by City Council, her… More Posted on 06-25-20

Who’s Got Your Back?

Covid-19 typically has resulted in many working flat out to respond to new challenges. Some are managing, some not so much.  Separate conversations with two teachers provided me with a better understanding of why that might be.

The tale of two teachers began with a conversation with one woman who was totally overwhelmed.  In addition to being responsible for homeschooling her own two young children,  she was now teaching her own grade 7 students online – totally new turf for her.

Typically a confident teacher, she was definitely not comfortable with her lack of expertise… More Posted on 06-02-20

Distracted by Shiny Objects


This week I am so distracted by shiny objects you’d think I was a raccoon.

Maybe it’s the epidemic of overwhelm at work or perhaps the amount of data – COVID-19 and otherwise – that I’m trying to process each day. However,  it just seems I’m more and more susceptible to the distractions that are the result of being continuously plugged in.

Too often I find myself chasing the shiny objects to the point where I may be at risk for losing sight of what’s really important. Or, even when I’m… More Posted on 05-21-20

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… More Posted on 05-18-20

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