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.

Where to now?  The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many individuals, organizations and businesses scratching their heads as to what's next. The truth is we are shaken, rattled, and not quite sure where to roll any more.  

Is the pandemic simply a pause before the resumption of business as usual? Is it a moment when we realize it’s an opportunity to do better? Or, do we chance continuing on the same path and risk the ruin or collapse that many are predicting?  Better yet, could it be that it might be an opportunity to initiate something truly innovative and transformative?  


"I think that, whereas in the past we used to think a lot about just-in-time management, now we have to start thinking about just-in-case - preparing for events that are generally certain but specifically remain ambiguous but give us limitless capacity for adaptation, variation, and invention. And, the less we know about the future, the more we're going to need these tremendous sources of human, messy, unpredictable skills." --Margaret Herffernan

The above is an excerpt from a wonderful Ted Talk from Margaret Heffernan.  Watch it at this link.




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 be a live performance, I came across a pianist in the centre court playing on a grand piano.


"If you feel a deep sense of loss, that’s okay. You’re not alone." Jon Lokhorst from the Lead Change Group shares three ways to help leaders find meaning in the past year, including giving space to your losses and letting you know its okay to grieve.   Read the full Fast Company article at this link. 



Working remotely is hard. Or, is it? The reality is that some people are really enjoying the opportunity to work from home, others perhaps not so much.

A lot of the difference can be explained by individual personality types. This article via Fast Company provides A practical guide to working remotely with all 16 personalities types.  If you're not aware of your own Myers-Briggs personality type already, start with better understanding your own by using this free test at 16personalities.com. Feedback suggests that virtually everyone who has used it has found it to be uncannily accurate. 

It used to be that the boundaries between organizations and sectors were pretty clear. Today, that no longer appears to be the case. It is in part because of the complexity of such issues as poverty, racism, global warming, affordable housing, violence etc. that have made it necessary for sectors to come together to respond.  Additionally, services that have typically been provided by traditional organizations are in some cases being outsourced to the private sector or are being delivered by businesses.

 Although I am an admitted information junkie I must confess that recently I’ve suffered from a bit of data overload. Although normally I can handle it and even enjoy it, I think information is like food – best when served in reasonably-sized portions from several food groups leaving one satisfied but not stuffed.

Today it seems the amount of information is enough to choke the heartiest of eaters, even when chewed properly.


Last week I participated in a webinar focused on the social impact sector and the importance of utilizing the technology that will contribute to greater efficiencies, better responsiveness to stakeholder needs, and more innovation. The conversations touched on some of the specific technology products and apps being used by organizations, the importance of ensuring that human connection isn’t replaced by technical solutions, and, of course, the need for more funding. Granted, all of those issues are important, but quite honestly I’m not sure any of that will help if we don’t first invest in leadership.  

Lise Damkjær and Line Andersen from Denmark have created this amazing game as a conversation starter for small and large companies, public and private sector organizations and charities. During these unprecedented times the need for constructive conversations are more important than ever and this game enables you to start conversations about all of the difficult things as well as the new opportunities that arise during this pandemic. These two wonderful women have provided this game FREE at this link.  Just download it, print the materials find one dice and you're ready for more of the conversations that the world needs now. 

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 happily married woman - I did do a vision board and figured I'd start with some things that were a tad smaller. At least that was the plan. 

Our Futures is a game that encourages you to imagine new ways to involve people in thinking about the future. It can be played by anyone but is particularly relevant for futures professionals, artists, designers and technologists, as well as anyone with responsibility for engaging or consulting the public. Players (individuals or teams) compete to devise scenarios for new types of participatory futures activities that combine emerging technologies and a focus on tackling 21st century challenges, such as biodiversity loss or extreme weather events.


This ‘Impact Gaps Canvas’ is a tool to help you ask the questions you might want to consider for addressing a problem, issue, or challenge. By asking questions related to the challenge landscape (questions about the problem and its impact as well as what might be holding the current status quo in place) and the solutions landscape (what is already being tried and what has or hasn’t worked) you can then identify gaps where the solutions are failing to meet the problems.


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.


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. 


There is no doubt that COVID-19 is already impacting our infrastructure, institutions, and delivery systems. It will also mean life will likely never be the same again as individuals, organizations, and governments evolve and transform, often after working through a grieving process and learning to let go of “the way things used to be”. 

Smaller, local businesses give back to the community not only in terms of tax dollars but also in providing support to community groups. Research shows that for every $1 spent at local businesses, 45¢ is reinvested locally. Non-local purchases keep, at most, 15¢ in the local community. 

Looking for a diversion or just want to avoid work but learn at the same time? This uncanningly accurate free personality test based on Myers-Briggs will tell you so much about yourself! Additionally if you get other family or team members to do it too, everyone will find it easier to suspend judgement about one another and lessen any tensions you might be feeling as a result of not enough or too much social distancing!  

Maybe this mini presentation impacted me because I was feeling rather whiny when I received it from my colleague Karen Driedger. Regardless, this really puts one's life into perspective and made me realize how blessed we truly are to be living in Canada. Anyway take a look at this link. You'll be glad you did, but I'm also guessing you might think twice before you complain about dealing with the challenges in your own life.  It certainly did for me. Thanks to Daniel Morris who I believe is the author. 



In a world of increasingly complex issues, you can't always make the solutions simpler but you may need to find ways to explain and convey them in a simpler manner.  Unfortunately, as a non-profit or social enterprise there are rarely enough dollars for customized marketing tools. However, that doesn't mean it can't be done.

While fact sheets, white papers, infographics

If I were a child, I would be distracting myself with a shiny object or handing over a bottle and telling myself it was time for a nap and a diaper change. 

Recent times have been tough and while I haven’t lost my lost my mojo, I definitely lost, or at least misplaced, my normal, fairly resilient, Pollyanna-ish self. Instead, I’ve done more than my share of whining and venting. 

When my kids used to whine, I would draw on humour and mimic them or just pretend I didn’t understand what they were saying until they used a normal voice. While those strategies may have worked on kids, I’m not sure about their applicability to adults. As a result, I got thinking about the best way to deal with negativity and complaints from a whiny adult.

Here’s the resulting five pieces of advice I gave myself.

If you've been given the gift of time, you might be interested in investing it in online learning and growth that will benefit both you and your community. While all of these certified courses have costs attached, there are also some subsidies and/or discounts available that are described once you click through to each link. If you're not familiar with our courses, check out these testimonials from our participants. If you have previously completed one of our Phase One courses (Community Building Fundamentals or Rural Community Building Fundamentals) you will find Community-Led Development  (Phase Two) especially interesting as we are applying an innovative flipped classroom approach that is sure to provide a practical, reflective and deep learning experience. 

Just a reminder of an online course starting on Monday that that will benefit both you and your community. If you have previously completed one of our Phase One courses (Community Building Fundamentals or Rural Community Building Fundamentals) you will find Community-Led Development (Phase Two) especially interesting as we are applying an innovative flipped classroom approach that is sure to provide a practical, reflective and deep learning experience. 

Course Opens April 27, 2020 (first online webinar is May 4th)

More information at this link.

As we got started in one of our Campus community leadership webinars this week, I invited participants to share (1) an example of a silver lining provided by COVID-19 and the resulting physical distancing or (2) what they're doing to cope with the challenge that is providing a positive impact. 

While their sense of humour was clearly intact, some of their comments were thought-provoking. While the responses were diverse, there were some common themes that make for a good read. There's "gold in them thar community builders!" 

Family Time

A number of years ago while working for a municipality, I was part of a of a task force responsible for putting emergency measures into place across the city. At the time, planning for potentially catastrophic events felt as if it might be a make-work measure. Knowing what we now know, they may actually have been ahead of the curve. In essence, we were working together to build the community’s capacity for what my futurist colleagues would call, a Black Swan event. 

What's a Black Swan Event? 

The 9/11 attacks in 2001, the 2008 global financial crisis that wiped out over $10 trillion dollars

If you're looking for learning opportunities to help you better serve as a catalyst for change, the information below may be of interest. All of these learning opportunities will share inspirational learnings and practical strategies to help you strengthen capacity for innovation and transformative change. 

We're also interested in hearing from you about knowledge and learning practices relating to community building

Planning for the future never used to be quite so complicated.  

Whether I was planning to improve my personal life or business, or working with other organizations, neighbourhoods or even entire communities, it typically was a matter of determining the current situation, where you wanted to go, and then determining how to address the gap in between. 

A review of top trends and predictions, a situational analysis, a review or development of a vision, mission and strategic priorities and, badda-boom-badda-bing,


I can't recall how we were first introduced, but I can tell you that when we first sat down over coffee, I learned Yvonne was an intelligent, energetic woman who was passionate about supporting entrpreneurs. At our first meeting she handed me a strangely titled book called Ripples from the Zambezi and suggested I read it if I wanted to know more about the work she was doing with others to support business enterprise.


Seth Godin's suggestion that A+ students might not become good leaders definitely rings true in the case of my family.

Although it was many years ago, my mother distinctly remembers the reassurance of a kind guidance counselor during report card time. The counselor comforted her by saying that even if none of her five children managed to bring home great A+ report cards, they were on track to become solid, all-round, good citizens. 


Brenda Herchmer is Alberta-Bound as she will be presenting for both EverActive Schools and RhPAP (Rural Health Practitioners Action Plan). Always mindful of being as practical and effective as possible, she would be interested in presenting in other communities while she is there during the first week of February. If you're interested in the possibilities, please contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Systems LeadershipNot a new concept to many but good to see that systems leadership is being championed at a global level. Of course that won't happen unless those in positions of authority prioritize "eco" systems rather than "ego" systems....here's hoping. In the meantime, what is systems leadership, and how can it change the world? Read more at this link from the World Economic Forum.

15 Character cooking up sauce 1

Community Building is the Secret Sauce for leaders committed to making a difference. 

Our training can help you and your organization Multiply, Mobilize and Maxmize to address virtually any complex issue in your community and the innovation and transformative change it will require.  Its not too late to register as all webinars are recorded. Course begins September 30, 2019 at 1:00 PM EST.  


Financial accounting is at the heart of the “operating system” on which the global economy runs. So why aren't the environmental and social effects of that economic activity part of that system?  Companies, investors, and consumers need an expanded set of metrics that more broadly and accurately measure risk, return, and value. In addition, they need practices that support relevant data collection, management, and integration into strategy and decision making.

Read the thought provoking artlcle at Stanford Social Innovation Review 

Music EcoSystem

Many cities, regions and towns are in the process of developing music strategies. The best examples are those focusing on music as a holistic, community benefit, across economic development, tourism and inclusive growth. This thought-provoking article via the World Economic Forum suggests music is a vital urban resource that requires attention. How do we plan for it? Read more at this link.


Join us for this FREE webinar at this link 

Are you an experienced community builder with a passion and expertise in a specific area? Do you have experience as a trainer or instructor? Are you interested in learning more about the potential of online learning? If so, this free webinar will be of interest to you. Today's future-ready community leaders at all levels are responding to complex health, social, economic, and environmental challenges. If we are to esnsure future-ready leaders, they will typically require new skills, knowledge, attitudes, and curated practical tools and resources. This growing need is increasing demands for convenient, affordable, just-in-time, practice-based learning opportunities delivered by instructors with with boots-on-the-ground experience.

Upon completion of this informal and interactive webinar, participants will:

  • an overview of online learning; 
  • what we learned about what works best online; 
  • potential steps for developing and delivering your own online training.  


Soft CityGreat article from Fast Company magazine that provides insights on the idea of a 'soft city' and how urban design can facilitate a neighborhood built on relationships! Good cities are ones that make these connections possible. They can look different and exist in different contexts, but they share an overarching and essential quality,  which the author calls “softness”—a stark contrast to the rhetoric of “grind” and “harshness” that’s often applied to urban life . 

Read the full article at Fast Company.  


As I sat down to write this blog, I didn’t have a starting point. I wasn’t even sure about the topic. But, being good at procrastinating as well as being ready to be distracted, I did a quick scan of some old blogs on the topic that I wanted to address - trust. And, wouldn’t you know, I found a blog I had written some time ago.  Although it was 7 years ago, it seemed to hold up and might even more relevant today.

Cherry Pie

Partnerships are somewhat on my mind these days as the Campus for Communities continues to morph and grow. With proof of concept regarding the impact of our training, after many years, we’re poised to scale. In large part, it is the result of paying attention to, and learning from those at the

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As an important client of the Campus for Communities of the Future, we wanted to let you know we've been tweaking our community building courses in order to remain relevant and practical. We've done it by standing on the shoulders of some amazing change agents across the country, most of whom are clients like yourself who continue to utilize our training and provide valuable feedback. 


I am blessed to have maintained a precious relationship with three colleagues with whom I worked over a number of years as part of an exciting community development initiative called ACE Communities. Although we are all now self-employed we continue to connect via monthly group Skype calls.


BEGINS JUNE 15, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTE: This Rural Change Makers course is one component of a pilot program that is being provided for young adults age 18-29 by the Rural Ontario Institute. Successful applicants are fully subsidized as the result of generous contributions by the Government of Ontario, the Campus for Communities of the Futures and other sponsors. For more information about the full project contact Vicki Dickson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 


The ROI Rural Change Makers course provides training and certification for young adults age 18-29 who want to make a difference by serving in a formal or informal community leadership role in their rural or remote community. The overall program is designed to "grow the capacity of young adults to serve as changemakers able to strengthen rural community development by providing leadership opportunities through sustainable, experiential learning". Ultimately the program will prepare young adults to mobilize action in their community, structured around an identified priority in their region. The training provided within this course component is suitable regardless of the background and interest of participants e.g. health, social services, economic development, education, justice, libraries, elected officials, recreation, agricultural, arts, co-operatives, environment, faith communities etc. While other self-selected options for more informal learning will be provided for participants as upcoming separate components, this course will provide the fundamental skills, knowledge, and tools that will position young adults for success as future-focused community leaders.  It will be especially relevant for those who are working with other stakeholders to address complex issues and are committed to facilitating the social innovation and transformation needed for their organizations and communities. 

Upon completion of this certificate, participants will be better able to:


  • serve as a catalyst for positive community change and growth;
  • engage citizens and partner stakeholders by applying a community development approach, and;
  • demonstrate personal growth as a community leader. 


77% of Canadians agree or strongly agree that arts experiences help them feel part of their local community. Article from Municipal World: 5 Ways to Build a Culture of Belonging Through Arts and Culture. Read more at this link.

seth godin

This blog by Seth Godin is brilliant, succinct and should really make you think about why work is or isn't going well. It will make you think not only about the future of work but where you personally want to be working. Read more at this link. 


CFEAT Lonely 1024x576


When British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed a minister of loneliness in January, it made news all over the world. Was a ministry devoted to something as intangible as a feeling seriously a thing? The jokes comparing the position to Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks” almost wrote themselves.

Read more at this link.


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