Excited and Worried: 2014 and Climate Change...

I've been convincingly convinced that the threat of climate change is real. And I and we are not doing nearly enough to address this threat. I've heard some folks say that 2014 might be the year the human race gets serious about living in a more planet / climate friendly way. Let's hope and make it happen. One starting point is Guy Dauncey's book - The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming. 

Running and Gingerbread Lattes...

I'm starting this post at a Starbucks, awaiting a grande gingerbread latte and a double chocolate brownie.

I'm rewarding myself.

Over 2013, I rediscovered the challenges and the opportunities of living a more active life. As in my post about running in June, after running quite a bit in high school (even spent a term in grade 12 with the cross country team), I started running again in the past two years. I started in 2012 and became more consistent in 2013. Indeed, from Nov 28th to Dec 31st, I joined the holiday running streak and ran at least a mile a day, every day. I was more than fully clothed on all runs so this was a streak in only one sense of the word!

While there have been challenges, there have been many many more good times. I am a happy member of the Kamloops Run Club, one of the most supportive, friendly and gentle groups I've ever experienced. They start you very easy, encourage you to go at your own pace, and never leave anyone behind on a run. Led ably by the amazing Jo Berry, I've met incredible people at run club. I started training for 5k events, did 10k from July 2013 onwards, and am hoping for my first half marathon in 2013.

I also have employed some cool technology to help me in tracking my running and motivating weight loss. A Garmin forerunner 610 gps sports watch has been a near constant on all my runs since March 2013. I can keep track of pace, speed, mileage, distance, and heart rate. It even tells time! I also have a Withings wireless scale, which I stand on nearly every Saturday. The scale gives me my weight and body mass index. Both the watch and scale send information to my computer, which then uploads to password protected websites. It really makes me motivated to see the graph trend lines go in healthy directions.

What I Tried to Share with Incoming TRU Students This Morning...

The school year is upon us and I had the incredible honour, this morning, as Deputy Mayor for this month, of sharing some thoughts with first year Thompson River University students. I had the good fortune of speaking at the orientation convocation ceremonies. 
The organizers of this event had a very tight timeline to work with. I was given one minute, maybe two, to share some thoughts. At first, I was a bit dumbfounded but I soon appreciated being forced to focus on really essential thoughts. The last thing most of these students wanted was a city councillor going on and on. 
So I did just three quick things:
- I welcomed the new students on behalf of our Mayor, our council, and our community.
- I asked them to think about what they really love and/or are especially gifted at - and I encouraged them to focus on that as they want through their TRU studies.
- I expressed great appreciation and admiration for the heart, the intentions, and the intellect of the vast majority of TRU staff.
And I sat down feeling good.

A decade of blogging!

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.  

Doing democracy better: some thoughts on day 1 of the 2012 NCDD conference.....

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.

Technology Threatening the Raison D'Etre of A Youth Hostel?

Common Room / Barnacles Hostel / Dublin / Ireland

Photo Credit: Barnacle Hostels


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.


For The Record....

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.