Ten years ago today, I started my journey in personal publishing in earnest with this modest post. Although, I'm don't post here as often as I used to, I am still very attached to this little piece of cyberspace. It has brought me many many amazing things and a large archive of thoughts and experiences from the last decade.
It's such an incredible joy to be at the 2012 US based National Coalition on Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) conference in Seattle. I have long been interested in finding respectful, empowering, and collaborative ways to "do" democracy. And NCDD is a network of people who work together to find the same. C2D2, the organization i have the honour to cochair, in a very real sense, is an offshoot of NCDD. I feel very much at home here, as I do with C2D2 and with IAP2.
Eric Liu, the keynote speaker today, noted that we are in a moment in history where people are very interested ( hungry, was the word he used) in reclaiming their citizenship. NCDD seems very well placed to help facilitate this reclaiming process in a hopeful and positive way. A couple of data points. 10 years after the founding conference, this NCDD conference has many more sponsors than any previous. The evening reception was in a ballroom ringed with booths and tables from people, organizations, and companies showcasing their work. When plenary attendees were polled, fully 40% indicated they would conduct dialogues wherever they were asked to do so. There is so much great stuff going on and such strong committment. I'm ending my day very inspired.
I love that public participation conferences often attend so well to different facilitation, learning, and recording styles. The plenary and workshops today mixed presentations from the stage with different types of group work. An amazing group of visual recorders made the various themes and ideas come alive.
The theme question of the conference this year is how can we help build a more robust civic infrastructure. I was really happy to see a session on the role of journalism in this noble effort. We had some great presentations and discussion on the convening power within journalism, about journalism helping communities imagine possibility, about creating more (non traditional) journalism, and about much more. My personal starting point is that journalists and public participation / democracy advocated would do well to figure out how to learn from each other. The media is such a powerful force in creating and keeping culture. I dream of a day with a healthy ( financially and otherwise) media which embodies dialogic and deliberative principles, at it's very core.
Recently had the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in a backpackers hostel in Halifax Nova Scotia. First time I've stayed in a hostel in quite some time. I have very fond memories of staying in hostels all over Southern and East Africa in the mid 1990s - such amazing camaraderie. You could always rely on your fellow travellers for friendship, tips, spare toiletries, etc.
I spent very little waking time at the hostel in Halifax. On my quick walkthroughs through the common areas, I saw a lot of people face down, staring at computer screens. I wonder if some of the old camaraderie is being lost. Just a curiousity really. Not at all a statement.
It has come to attention that a former employee of my family company has been posting online comments critical of our decision to let him go. I find this sad and unfortunate. I have always made time to meet or communicate with him directly about any concerns he has. Instead, he has decided not to engage in respectful and civil dialogue and has gone another route. I have no interest in making a media circus out of this issue but I want to make sure that I publicly state a few facts of the situation:
1) This person was let go according to the contract he signed.
2) He was given more notice than legally required and a $1000 severance payment (there was no stipulation in his contract for such a payment). I gave him a personal loan so he could get the $1000 earlier as he said he needed money for a new damage deposit, etc.
3) We tried to help him find a new job.
4) We initially made an error filling out his Record Of Employment which we have corrected. (We have never had to fill out a Record of Employment before)
5) This person has been invited to discuss his issues and concerns, but has refused (or been reluctant) to do so Instead, he prefers to protest and post online comments with a stated intention of "getting me off council".
As I said, this is not something I intend to push. I simply wanted to publicly state these facts. I still have concern and regard for my former employee. He feels aggrieved. I get that. I think my family acted fairly, ethically, and kindly. As I said, I am more than willing to sit down to discuss anything with him. I will not, however, be allowing comments on this blog post or answering any further questions at this time.
Ran out of time this weekend to post more than a link to the conference page with a link to the Program Guide (Agenda). Really good conference, totally proud of the organizers. I attended sessions on empowering youth, communication strategies, local food security, a new policy agenda for youth and families, accessibility, and youth and nature. More really soon, I promise.
2011 was an exciting year for me. Worked on some great volunteer initiatives through the truly wonderful Kamloops Ending Youth@Risk fundraising team and through my awesome Rotary club. I got my MA and went on a cross Canada research trip in the spring. Marsha and I both got our Master Degrees! I was able to work with an incredibly capable and diverse group of people on a campaign for Kamloops City Council and was elected. And I was appointed co-chair of the Canadian Community for Dialogue and Deliberation, a group of people who share a strong passion for promoting vital public engagement and commnity conversation work across the country.