We're Late, We're Late



Like the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland we're late for a very important date. We missed our deadline.  And, has often been the case over the past 14 years, technology is the issue. As a result, our fall learning opportunities are delayed. 

Technology is a lot like communities. In both communities and technology it’s complicated because there’s no one best way of doing things, instead there are many ways.

Additionally, just as communities are made up of many silos that don't always connect or work well together, the same can be said of all the many moving components that are needed to make up a complex learning portal. The individual silos work well, but they aren't always integrated.

Time for Systems Collaboration in Your Community?


Our youngest son wasn’t quite three years old at the time when his older brother unexpectedly gave him one of his coveted GI Joes so they could play together.

As the result of being the recipient of such unexpected generosity, he turned to me, grinned, and said, “Mommy, that’s collaboration.”

While I was sure a child with that kind of a vocabulary was a genius, upon questioning, I soon realized that he had simply absorbed collaboration as the word of the day from Sesame Street.

Celebrating 10 Years in a Surprising Way


The Path to Collaboration Station 

We're not just celebrating our 10th Anniversary as Campus for Communities of the Future with cake. Instead we're at a very new, and slightly scary beginning that evolved as we supported and learned from individuals, organizations, businesses, neighbourhoods, and communities as they strengthened their leadership and organizational capacity for complexity. It is also the result of a sometimes messy and vast pool of resources and learning that was often the result of standing on the shoulders of some amazing and often unsung change agents across the country and now beyond.

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 mix has the potential to be synergistically rich and strong, creating something that is greater than the sum of the respective parts.

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.

Doughnut Economics?

Albert Einstein once said, The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple. He also said, Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Yet, making things simpler is not for the faint of heart, because ultimately it means everyone should be able to understand and use the knowledge, plan, or resource being shared regardless of their experience, cultural background, literacy, or learning style. In other words, it needs to be described simply, so it can be used simply.

Moving Beyond COVID 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 just local on its own was often so daunting. 

How 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

Fuzzy Future?


Any decision you make is based on your images of the future and

what you expect is going to happen.

If your images of the future are fuzzy and incoherent then

your decisions will be fuzzy and incoherent.

--Reid Reiner

Can the Big Picture Make Things Simpler?

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

Where to Now?

"Where to now?"and "What's next?" Not sure about you but these days there are times when I'm so dizzy my head is spinning as we struggle to find answers.  While it is tempting to bury my head and dig in deeper, the reality is that playing ostrich is likely the riskiest strategy. This

 is our explanation of why an investment of time and energy in future focused leaders and organizations might just be the first step if we are to ensure our individual, social, environmental, and economic well-being. 

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 businesses.

What Bill Gates Didn’t Say About What the World Needs Now

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.

Shaken, Rattled and Not Sure How to Roll?

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?  

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

3 Steps to Find Meaning in 2020


"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. 



Help for Information Overload?

 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.

Thoughts for Reflection: GETTING TO TECH SAVVY


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.  

Tool: The COVID-19 Game - Mentally Surviving The Pandemic

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. 

Thoughts for Reflection: 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 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. 

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. 

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.

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. 

Welcome to the Neutral Zone


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”. 

Building Back Better

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....this is Kinda Fun

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!  

Say Goodbye to the Heroic Leader

Our current global pandemic just might be teaching us about a new kind of leadership.  

A number of years ago while working at Niagara College and planning a leadership retreat, our organizing committee grappled to define what we meant by leadership.

Lightning In A Jar

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. 


Wanna Make a Whiteboard Explainer Video on a GoKart Budget?


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

Brenda's Blog: There's Always Chocolate!

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.

Brenda's Blog: Mining the Gold in COVID-19

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

  • I discovered free zoom meetings a couple weeks ago, and every day my mom, dad, sister, and brother connect by zoom for 40 minutes. We 

Brenda's Blog: Responding to the Black Swan

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

Measuring What Really Matters

Truth be told, there has been some kicking and screaming over the years in getting me to spend as much time as I do these days in thinking and talking to others about outcomes and measurement.

Mostly, it is the result of my fervent belief that we’re not doing enough to measure what matters most in our communities because we’re too often focused on economic growth at the expense of our overall quality of life.  The reality we all need to keep in mind is that what gets measured matters. What we count, quantify, measure, and evaluate influences public policy, decision-making, and investment.

Ready for 2020?

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,

Successful Businesses: It Takes a Village


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.

The Transition to Leadership


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. 

How Not to Be a Future-Ready Leader


Alberta’s newly elected provincial government recently tabled its first budget.

It generated an overwhelmingly negative response from the tech sector who viewed it as being short-sighted and reflective of a lack of regard for the importance of creating jobs for the knowledge economy.

Alberta Bound


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.

Brenda's Blog: Maybe the World is Flat?

Flat world

This month was somewhat surreal for me.

I’ve been teaching online for over ten years but despite the fact that I was sitting in front of a computer in Welland, Ontario, the audience shifted in a very big way.

This time round, my online community leadership course had participation not only from Canada - including NWT,  New Brunswick,

Channel Your Inner Tap Dancer or Work Middleout?

tap dancing shoes

There is nothing more rewarding than teaching a group of motivated adult learners.

They are quite different from the students I used to teach in a face-to-face college setting where it was sometimes necessary to channel my inner tap dancer to get and keep their attention. Instead, these adult learners are generally much more motivated and eager to learn.

The Times (and the Trust) Are a-Changin'


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.

Want Honey? Plant Flowers!

GardenMy work at the Campus for Communities of the Future involves delivering a lot of training sessions focused on the how-to’s of strengthening community building. As a result, I’m gaining traction in terms of becoming more comfortable and confident with both the content and delivery. However, I wobbled a bit recently when I started to prepare for a session for economic developers.

A Piece of the Pie?

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

Artists, Geeks, and Rockers Lead the Way


The times they are a’changin and that’s good news for my hometown of Welland, Ontario especially Downtown, because

Flipping the Learning?


While it really isn't anything I can explain, every once in a while I stumble across a transformative concept that simply feels right.

Rural Community Building With RhPAP

RhPAP Workshop

Campus for Communities was delighted to collaborate with Alberta's RhPAP (Rural Health Profession Action Plan). What an exceptional group of staff, elected officials, and volunteers!  Read the full article here

Pecha Kucha: A Strategy for Preventing Data Smog?

Data SmogAlthough I am an admitted information junkie I must confess that recently I’ve suffered from a bit of data overload.

Normally I can handle it and even enjoy it, however I do think data is like food – best when served in reasonably-sized portions from several food groups leaving one satisfied but not stuffed.

Change Not Chance?


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.

Gene Simmons Raving About Canadian Civility?

 Gene Simmons

Author's Note: This week a good friend told me that I would always struggle to be understood because typically I was ten years ahead of my time. Thought I'd test that theory by going back

To SWOT or to SOAR?

 SWOT or SOAR Graphic

Sometimes an oldie can still be a goodie.

The SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a straightforward and useful tool

Quality of Life is a Worthy Investment

nature bird people grass

Much of my paid and volunteer work over the years has focused on community development and community leadership in various voluntary and nonprofit organizations. Yet, regardless of where I

Standing Bear: Social Innovation Driven by the Wisdom of Youth


There’s a lot of talk these days about the need for innovation. Unfortunately, when tackling complex social issues we too often overlook

Risk Averse or Risk Smart?


I am an excessively optimistic person who was blessed with a genetic tendency to look on the bright side of life. As a result,

Three Paths to Help Conquer the Chaos of Change

Three Essential Paths

Today's workplaces are rarely straightforward. It is especially true of organizations that are looking to grow and innovate. As my colleague Rick Smyre has stated, "We're preparing for a future that hasn't yet been invented". As a result, my community building work typically results in me working with organizations where solutions are complicated and messy.

Canning and Community Building?

 canned peaches

Who would have thought a Facebook post would bring back memories of my own grandmother?  The post in question was from a good friend who shared a beautiful photo that included a comment about how there was nothing better than canning with friends. 

A Different Kind of Profit?


I just read a blog by the insightful American author and former business executive Seth Godin that got me thinking even before I'd finished my morning coffee. 

Technology is Complicated

Technology is a lot like communities. In both communities and technology there is no one best way of doing things, instead there are many ways.

Time to Refresh and Reboot the Campus



Five years ago, as the result of years of experiencing collaborative learning alongside brilliant colleagues, 

From Feel Good To Real Good

orig photo659464 7766755 resized

Great article by Kathleen Kelly Janus. We do need to equip the next generation with the tools if they are going to deliver on good intentions and fulfill their desire to change the world.. 

Neighbours Rallied to Help Family After Farmer Died


While many towns and citiescommunities have lost their sense of community, its presence still exists in Saskatchewan.

A Future Where Machines Will Dominate Work

In a future where traditional employment will no longer be the centre of our lives, we will need to redefine how to have a good life. Clock


Shifting from Treating Symptoms to Finding Solutions

Read this inspiring story about what happened when a hospital made a decision to do more to address the underlying root causes of high health care costs. It began with a decision to treat its local neighborhood like a patient. 


A Tattoo That Made Me Think

0518pd gwin joy

While I like to consider myself as one who loves change and embraces trends, tattoos are something I’ve personally never been able to get behind. In part

Where the sweetness happens

Where the Sweetness Happens

On an intellectual level I understood the community leadership learnings I planned to share were solid, innovative, and grounded by boots-on-the-ground experience. 

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