Sunday, May 24, 2009

Universal Childcare

Last week Olivia Chow hosted a meeting to discuss universal childcare and universal food programs for Canadian children. It just so happens that Parents for Action Now was looking for a new topic to kick start its activities. Childcare is just the issue.

What is it that families are needing in a universal childcare program? We will be holding a World Cafe to discuss this topic and to figure out where to go next in raising our voices to be heard about childcare needs for local families.

Come and join us on Wednesday evening at St. Christopher House. It is located at the corner of Ossington and Dundas. We will be there from 6-8:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Toronto Community Development Institute

"Looking at the past must only be a means of understanding more clearly what and who they are so that they can more wisely build the future." — Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed)


Hi everyone:

Today Mandy facilitated a world cafe to help those community developers who participated in three days of workshops and sharing at the 2nd annual TCDI conference held at George Brown College.

The world cafe discussion was exciting. And the buzz in the room about the learning was amazing.

To find out what happened at the TCDI conference check out

There are blogs associated with the site and they are a fabulous way to connect with others. Within the next several weeks resources from the workshops will be shared.

Keep coming back.

Until then, if you have a burning issue for a community conversation please share it with us. Together we can kick start dialogue in your community.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,handsome, talented or fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not save the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinkingso that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of god within usIt is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously giveother people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated form our fear, our presence automaticallyliberates others.
Marianne Williamson


It has been a very busy fall.

Conversations and cafes have been happening. They have not been happening publicly (in the broad sense) - but rather within conferences. I

have done a number of world cafes. Two of them were with Tammy Decarie as part of workshops. Both of them were about looking differently at partnerships. They were about looking at how ready we are personally to move into being partners in new ways. One was with folks from the Family Support Institute of Ontario (FSIO) and the other with Building Equitable Partnerships.

I also had Mandy come to facilitate a world cafe for parent activists and agency staff involved with the Families Are Important Resources project. We talked about how do we be the change we want to see.

That is an interesting question. One that I hope we explore together in public spaces in the coming year.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Community Conversation: A Teleconference


Today we sat at a phone in my office to “participate” in a learning environment about community conversations. We learned MUCH (about what not to do). Here is what we learned:

1) Conversations are not passive;
The ironic thing was that as the two hosts were sharing this tidbit of information the rest of us were all on mute.
2) Engaging in conversations can positively affect your life, and they measured it;
We believe that participating in a conversation is a relationship for 2 hours that stimulates people, who can walk away and share with others. It is the ripples. To think it is measurable is …
3) They felt that leaders do not need to get smarter or work harder we need to have more conversations and keep having them over time.
We believe it is about communities make change and question where authentic power truly lies.

The two moderators shared their favourite conversation techniques:

1) Reflective panel: 3-5 practionners/leaders with an animator who participate in a discussion to 100 people in the audience. The first presenter speaks to the moderator’s question and then asks the next person on the panel and so on until it goes back to the moderator. The moderator then asks the audience who are at round tables. Each group discusses the question from the moderator and by the panelists. At the end of time, some one from each table reports back into the moderator.
(They worked with the panelists first to work out the questions.)

2) POP 100 exercise: Facilitator works with a group to identify 100 people that if they were in a room together and came to an agreement something in the community would change. They like to identify names across categories to have a full inclusion of perspectives in that one ideal conversation.

So we move away from this version of a conversation more resolute in our own approach.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

How ready are we? An honest look at partnerships

Personally, I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
Winston Churchill

This past week saw the first conference of the newly recreated Family Support Institute of Ontario (FSIO). One of the workshops was co-facilitated by Tammy Decarié, Early Years Health Promoter at Queen West Community Health Centre and I, Coordinator of Families Are Important Resources at Family Service Toronto.

We used World Café to explore some of the things that Tammy and I have identified as being key ingredients to the success of our partnership work. Those components were discussed under specific questions at each table. The question was “Thinking about the partnership you are in, or want to start, what’s needed to move to a place of passion? Or innovation? Or interdependence? Or action?”

The buzz in the room was great. People were ready to dialogue about what their own personal experiences were with partnerships. They shared examples of how well they were working together, what challenges existed to working more effectively and what dreams they had for better partnerships.

More than anything, they shared their readiness to connect and explore.

It left me thinking about the great examples of how World Café is being used around the world by corporations and wondering why it is that we in the not-for-profit sector have not begun to use dialogue as a place of agency and community transformation. I am wondering if it is the same thing that keeps many oppressed people from being more civically engaged. If all my energy is spent getting resources to try and pay the bills and I still live in a dump, how can I advocate for......

Notes from the workshop will be posted here by the end of this week.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dialogue and Politics

"Millions of people are suffering: they want to be loved but they don't know how to love. And love cannot exist as a monologue; it is a dialogue, a very harmonious dialogue." - Osho


When I was first in university a couple of decades ago, there was something that rated higher than partying for the young women in residence with me – well at least it on the weekdays. That was rushing home from class to turn on the Canadian Parliamentary Channel to watch what had been going on in the House of Commons. More often than not we were quickly engaged in a witty exchange between great thinkers that showed respect for each other regardless of what side of the issues they were on.

There was an understanding that everyone was there to do an important job and more significantly there was encouragement. And yes sometimes taunting that called each other to be the best. I remember in particular the sparkle in Pierre Trudeau’s eyes as he used the best of his charisma and evident caring for Joe Clarke to egg him to come out from underneath that bushel and let his little light shine.

I don’t remember the issue of the day that had them all in heated debate. I do remember feeling a sense of awe at what it meant to be a gentleman and a scholar. Sure, we might be able to say that it was an old boys’ club where the white privileged male could spit shine his higher education and spar in the elitist way that the Greeks had done; but then again, it was honest dialogue with a passion for building a strong nation and not messages crafted by skilled spin doctors spit out by elected officials to mask profits and deceit.

I wonder where dialogue has gone in politics.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summary Notes: Are you ready to take the plunge?

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin


One of the things that captured my attention in this conversation was that risk is contradictory. There seems to be a line between the things that we are frightened of doing and the risks that embody what it means for us to be intuitive and natural, adventurous, true to our principles or authoring our own lives. A distinction that on first glance is not easy to decipher.

What is it that makes riding roller coasters a thrill that is joyfully pursued during summer vacations by our guest speaker, Michele, yet keeps her off of her apartment balcony because it is too high? Isn't height part of the attraction to riding roller coasters?

The stories shared of life altering moments were varied and spanned several decades and continents. They mirrored the contradiction where actions we took in our lives that were life changing somehow did not seem to fit with the places and times we felt fear or out of our comfort zone. For many of us, it was true that in the moment of living we did not take the actions with risk taking in mind. More often than not it was because that moment was true for us. It was simply the right thing to do. It was upon personal reflection or having the moment named by someone else that the identity of self as risk taker was considered. Our guest shared that for her being politically active and being engaged in protest was intuitive and natural and that many of the things people named as examples of her being a risk taker were merely times when she was living her life in a way that fit best.

It was iteresting that for many this shifts dramatically in the workplace or other such institutional settings. Somehow the reality of someone else monitoring and evaluating our actions and we become more self conscious and aware that the actions we take, or dream of taking, are risky rather than adventurous. In many instances of risk taking in the work place, people had developed personal strategies for how to best package and deliver the risk taking we were inviting others to join us in.

Maybe a life worth living needs to embrace 100 words for the word risk to fully capture the complex lives we each live and the way we approach doing that authentically.

Maybe a institution becomes more authentic when its ability to be a risk taker and create a safe environment for adventurous creative thoughts and actions outweighs its need to cautiously measure its success.