Telus – The Future is Friendly; It’s Fast. And it’s here (4G). In just one click, you will have the information you need, faster and more accessible than ever before.

Obama – The BlackBerry smartphone was very much a part of Obama’s presidential campaign, and was at the centre (amongst other mobile and social technologies) of his popularity, organization, and success.

BlackBerry – Say “Be Mine” with BlackBerry. Romance begins when you gift the gift of BlackBerry.

The utopia that the empires of the mobile world envision (or rather, want us to envision) is produced and perpetuated through mass marketing, production of hardware and software, social media, and arguably, most powerfully, through us. There is a remarkable confidence in the power of mobile technology, which we can see through the masses of tweets (“less than 1 minute ago”), Facebook status updates, FourSquare check ins, and read BBM messages. We use our smartphones to express even the depths of who we are in sound bytes to our friends, our networks, and essentially to the world.

Andrew Herman reminded me of the BlackBerry Prayer today. What is happening in that sacred communion between user and device, between user and network, between user and community, between user and environment?

To be continued…


Resting Peacefully

September 2, 2009

Some time ago I wrote about my mother-in-law, Peggy. I wrote a small, yet simple blog post about the mittens she knit for premature babies in Niagara Falls, NY. No one asked her to do this, she just did it out of her love for children, and for wanting to help those who may be less fortunate.

Last month, on August 8, 2009, Peggy passed away.

We miss you Pegster, but know that there are little ones out there that will be warm this coming winter by the mittens you have made.



Plan for Chaos

September 24, 2008

I was recently part of the audience in a keynote presentation by thought leader Brenda Zimmerman about the nature of complexity in collaborative work. I was surrounded by community building practioners, researchers and experts, but this keynote could inform and inspire just about anyone.


In a very small nutshell, Brenda talked to us about complexity theory and the difference between solving simple, complicated and complex problems. 

  1. Simple problems are similar to baking a cake. If you follow a set of rules, guidelines, steps or a recipe, chances are your result will turn out as expected/planned.
  2. Complicated problems are like launching a rocket or completing a math test. If you study hard enough and pursue the right research, you should be able to achieve your task with the appropriate effort applied.
  3. Complex situations, on the other hand, can be compared to romantic relationships or even more fittingly, raising a child. You wouldn’t follow the steps of a strategic plan or do all of our research and expect the child to become what you planned. Child rearing just doesn’t happen that way. Additionally, you could read all the parenting magazines in the world, but nature and circumstance will influence the outcome – one child will not turn out the same as the other no matter how similar your child rearing techniques are. 
When I got home, I couldn’t help but buzz-in-my-brain to assess my life, my relationships, my child rearing perspective with the lens of complexity. How freeing, how compelling, how liberating it was to, in essence, allow myself not to have an answer, to be in the moment of chaos and feel a sense of comfort, and to look at life for its possibilities and hope, not for its probable failures. 
For an effective lens on the complexity of collaboration, community, communication and life, read and listen to Tamarack’s online seminar with Brenda Zimmerman, “Leading in a Complex Community Initiative.”

Canada Needs an “Obama”

September 7, 2008

I was looking forward to voting in Guelph’s by-election tomorrow (Monday, September 8th). I have this urge to vote against the Conservative Party. Canada needs change – maybe not as bad as America does – but why wait until we’re desperate?

How did we come to have a man like Stephen Harper represent this country? How did we come to have a man who lacks all the things we represent, in terms of policy and personality, lead Canada? 

It was embarrassing enough that he shook his children’s hands as they went off to school – instead of hugging them, kissing them, waving goodbye. He’s cold and charmless. It’s embarrassing that he failed to make an appearance in Beijing at the 2008 Olympics. He’s cold and ignorant. And, it makes no sense that he has called an election. He’s cold and selfish.

How many millions of dollars and time wasted is occurring as a result of Stephen Harper calling an election at this time of year? How many thousands of people have voted in the advanced polls of the by-election, only to go to waste now that Harper has decided to call a federal election? 

Despite all these questions, I really just have one – why? Why now for an election? Because it is the only time you stand a change to get back into government?

Community Conversations

September 4, 2008

I had the pleasure of working with Paul Born, President and Co-founder of Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement, on his book Community Conversations. Not only was this the first published book Paul authored, it was the first book I edited. You can imagine the thrill it was for Paul, Tamarack and me when it was just released, hot off the press. What’s even more fantastic is the phenomenal feedback we’ve been receiving from readers. 

It’s amazing the way two simple words – community conversations – can put into motion lasting change for a group of people, a neighbourhood, an organization, a movement…Two simple words and an open ear for listening is really all it takes to create a movement for change.

Margaret Wheatley captured the power of conversations best when highlighting that important change doesn’t happen from spreadsheets and strategic planning…it starts with a conversation between people. Can you remember the last time something socially innovative emerged from a schedule?

The essence of such conversations are captured in Community Conversations as Paul brilliantly tells the stories of his experiences mobilizing change in communities across Canada. He has witnessed, first hand, the power of conversation – in Belfast, Ireland during the height of turmoil, at meetings that welcome the voices of everyone including executives and low-income individuals, and right at his own dinner table with family and friends where the most simple conversations are often the most engaging. 

As a master storyteller, Paul’s experiences paint a vivid picture of what conversations can really accomplish, and the kinds of people with whom we should seek conversation. His stories shine a necessary bright light on the challenges we often face in different types of conversations – and he goes that extra mile to help the reader understand what it is we can do to overcome these challenges. What we could all start to do is listen, really listen!

In addition to Paul’s stories of conversation, he shares with readers 10 effective techniques for hosting conversations in their own community. These techniques include tips, instructions, guidelines and resources to help community leaders, practitioners and researchers host conversations in their own community. And, what’s more, is that Paul shares with us his own favourite experience with each technique in order to capture its true essence. 

The lessons shared in Community Conversations transcend the non-profit sector and are valuable lessons that any community, business, government, voluntary, academic, health and legal sector can learn from. In fact, I’ve learned a few myself and have started these conversations at my very own dinner table…

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