From A to B to Social Innovation

Do you ever wonder about what the value of Positive Risk is if you never take it?

Are you satisfied just watching how the system ticks, tocks, and ticks again?

Do you feel that there must be a better solution to the traditional model?

Are you interested in reconnecting with the roots of community and creating meaningful opportunities for its citizens?

For those who have followed my blog for the past year you will have heard me talk about Peter Block and his role in transforming community, Adam Kahane and his work on the “Power of Love”. I have jumped from seminal visionaries like Kurt Lewin, Paole Freire, and Chris Argyris to noble gentlemen such as C.S. Lewis and Peter Drucker. All of these mini dialogues have brought little to no feedback from my community of followers. Why? Too much social media? Drib drab content or things you already knew…? I think it is because all of this talk had no action. Social media has a number of merits but I still think the digital environment is largely superficial. I do not believe that the “container” of the internet is the best vehicle for dialogue.

Because of this, I am changing my rhetoric to action. The blog will continue to exist but it will act as a magnet. A tool to entice my readers to engage with me in person. Some of you attended my workshop in June! Thank You!  I will be holding another session in November and I hope to see you there ( For those of you however that are looking for something different, I have now formed a group. The goal of this group is to create a social enterprise. No more talk…it’s time to walk the walk.

If you are interested in forming a type of social enterprise venture called a Community Contributions company (CCC) then this group is for you. Join me on Monday August 25th at 6pm in Richmond. Sign up here:


3 DAYS LEFT – The Paradigm of Community

The Paradigm of Community – A Community Inc. mantra

 Every single one of us have been raised in a community. A community perhaps with: schools, shopping malls, or dirt roads? The paradigm of community is at the epicenter of many of our experiences. The community that cares, a community of support, or a community of neighbours?  When we wake up every day and step out of the places where we call home we step into community! We have an opinion of this community: It’s safe..or dangerous, full of people that care..or those that are rude, it’s clean…or dirty?

New York CIty - May 2014

Whichever point of view you take recognize it as your paradigm of community. If you are not happy with it, only you can unhitch yourself as a victim and exert your temperament of advocacy to impact change. Meadows (2008) believed that the paradigms you control give you the power of mastery, the tools to live in constant joy, and the impact that difference makes (p. 165). Last week I hosted a workshop on Community Governance with a small group of change agents, Presidents and long standing members of community boards. I helped to shift the paradigms in which they operate. I created the opportunity to partner, to share resources, and to build a stronger understanding of affiliative networks. Mahjabeen, Shrestha, and Dee (2009 ) stressed how important it is to create inclusive opportunities to create change with representatives from an entire community. I made a difference by bringing people together to learn, think aloud, and explore their model of governance. If you want to explore your paradigm and look at the model of your role in Community there is only one three days left to sign up. Visit and make a difference in your community.


Mahjabeen, Z., Shrestha, K., & Dee, J. A. (2009). Rethinking community participation in urban planning: The role of disadvantaged groups in Sydney Metropolitan Strategy. Australasian Journal of Regional Studies, 15(1), 45-63. Retrieved from

Meadows, D.H. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer (Ed. Wright, D.). Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction: VT




Don’t be left behind, be on the cutting edge of board development


With anti-spamming laws right around the corner it is time for all of us governors to huddle around the fire and figure out how we are going to develop sustainable practices without sending emails. Yes that’s right, according to new legislation coming into force on July 1st you will no longer be able to send an unsolicited message to anyone for any purpose! How will we survive? Well I for one have an answer. It is called Community Inc. And it relies on the power of stakeholder engagement. And yes, that means your neighbors! No longer will we be allowed to send a message to our friend down the street offering to buy them a cup of coffee!  According to Section one, sub-clause #2, a “commercial electronic message” cannot have “as its purpose… to encourage participation in a commercial activity… offer to …barter …a service …advertise, or …promote a person, including the public image of a person”. Now we are actually going to have to get out of our chair and walk down the hall and talk to our friend in person.


Our Board development workshops on June 12,19, and 21 2014 in Richmond BC will remind you what it means to be an effective governor, rekindle and form new relationships, engage with your constituents, and do all of it without relying on a smartphone that you cant use anymore..unless you use it to simply call a friend!

Register now at


What is Community Inc?

Community Inc. is a metaphor for the idea that people can build solidarity in a community. If we all become interested in the business of Community Inc. then we will work collaboratively to ensure we develop strong social leaders. Social leaders however, often fall into the trap of insularism. How do we get unstuck from our past practices and principled experiences? We may talk the talk of shared leadership, but do we really walk the walk?

The founders of the Community Inc. concept are John Thornburn, Reena Clarkson, and Alex Gaio. Together we have a vision that if we can help Board Members, community champions, and citizens who care develop a deeper connection with the power of shared leadership then together, we can all create stronger communities.

To facilitate this communication of our vision, we have developed a Leadership Conference. The conference is a series of four workshops developed by Building Better Practice. Each workshop is part of a cycle based on principles of community based participatory action research.

Be part of our workshop by registering today at  Registration is still only $200 for the full workshop!

Building Better Practice Model

Developed by John Thornburn, M.A.


















LEAD: Board leadership is required for disentangling the isolation of the not-for-profit sector. Uncover your board’s potential!

PLAN: Non-traditional strategic planning creates an alignment of efforts by engaging community stakeholders in actualizing your vision.

ACT: Facilitating engagement through Participatory techniques and methodologies creates new dialogue.

EVALUATE: Ongoing performance management tools help community partners manage their shared leadership.

Community Inc. workshops June 2014 – REGISTER NOW – CLICK HERE



The Power of Governance


Today, I write to share with you the culmination of many months of work. I am launching a Board Governance workshop. Having participated in and provided consultation to over a dozen boards of directors, I have identified a key pattern. In every instance, there are board members who wish to contribute to the social fabric of an organization but they do not have the correct tools to do so. The result is often passivity in the ranks with few people providing most of the leadership. This short professional development retreat and workshop will provide individual board members with a collective strategy to engage with each other and their constituents in a meaningful way. Any board that books a retreat and mentions my blog will receive a $200 discount.

Click the link below for the flyer:

Power of Governance










Drive – To what motivates us?

ImageI have just started reading Daniel Pink’s novel Drive. Although the book is focused on motivation, it was the introduction that caught my attention. In it, Pink stated that the value of intrinsic rewards far outweigh those of extrinsic motivators. As many of us are driven by capitalism and the cost of living, we have little choice but to recognize that external motivators are captivating. What we fail to realize however is that internal goals are much different. We want to be appreciated, acknowledged, and valued. Unfortunately both our perception and our attitude is driven by what we own, the titles we adone, and the wealth and power behind these values.  Notwithstanding, these are achievements in their own rigbt after many years of hard work and a result of a focus on personal skill development and business savvy.
I have been doing some research into poverty in communities recently and through dialogue with individuals and their experiences I have recognized a few things. First of all, individuals who live in poverty have every bit of an intrinsic desire to succeed and find achievement. Unfortunately due to many unforeseen and often uncontrollable events in their life, motivation holds little value. Motivation in their life comes from the desire to survive. They live their life with very little hope for external motivation but when it arrives, it comes in the form of natural supports, encouragement, and the value that developing resiliency can bring. 
As we reflect on what motivates us: the desire to be successful, the need to be acknowledged, or the safety of equity, I think that intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are not the motivator. I think the motivator is to navigate barriers in our life that prevent us from achieving a quality of life. Without the life skills of resiliency, passion, and dedication, rewards can be meaningless. What do you think?
Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhood Books.

Qualitative Intersubjectivity

As a qualitative researcher I am constantly reflecting on how my experiences influence my subjectivity. Each time an event occurs our world view changes and therefore impacts the way we interact with others. As opposed to positivist approaches to inquiry, an interpretivist method of inquiry promotes a subjectivist value on the importance of what we are research. For example, this past week we have once again experienced the senseless act of terror, this time at a sporting event. IMG_8959Perhaps our past experiences living in war torn countries, growing up in poverty, or memories of racial segregation flare up every time their is an act of terrorism. Or perhaps if none of these have affected you, your experience is still impacted by what you hear in the media. I remember visiting the UK years ago and asked why there were no garbage cans in public places. I was told about the history of terrorism in the UK during the IRA political wars with Britain. Because this was my experience, when I heard about the Boston Marathon being terrorized by a bomb that was in a garbage can it stirred up these experiences for me once again.

Now I wonder, while I move forward in my research working with people, how I will be affected by these events. Will they make me more aware? distrustful? compassionate? Although an unintended consequence – my experience has changed and my thoughts filter new information and I will approach an interview tomorrow differently than the way I did yesterday. Perhaps I will ask a question about how my interviewee has been affected by senseless violence? Perhaps this exploration will uncover an intersubjectivity between two people that will change our worldview? As we move forward in building relationships with others we ask ourselves about our position in the world and hopefully ask ourselves what we can help improve rather than what we can help destroy. How does your experience affect your inquiry?