We have a weekly email called the Monday Essentials that goes out to our staff and initiatives across the province. Through it, we regularly share articles, inspiration, training opportunities and practical advice. This is a small selection that we found useful and inspiring this year.
– RESOURCES AND ARTICLES –
In January, the Northside Rising team shared this: “We are thinking of using this reflection journal from Saralyn Hodgkins as part of our transition into this strange new year.”
As we probe what it might mean to be an Intermediary Organization, consider, does our work fall into the “Field Catalyst” category described here? This is from the Collective Impact Forum newsletter, a terrific resource if you are not yet subscribed.
Toolkit for Community Leaders
This is a helpful guide from a website called Community Tool Box, which offers a list of practical guiding questions/ suggestions and associated resources to help anyone develop their ability to be a leader in their community, regardless of their position. https://ctb.ku.edu/en/building-leadership
Tamarack’s Collective Impact Toolkit
Tamarack Institute is one of our favourite collaborators. They specialize in Collective Impact, one of the best-known tools for systems change. Collective Impact is a process that guides organizations and community members in coming together to address intractable problems. Find Tamarack’s e-book and online portal. You may also be interested in what we have learned from nearly five years of work in Collective Impact.
Tamarack: Backbone Leaders
Morgan shared the recording of the recent Tamarack webinar, The Essential Mindset and Skillsets of Backbone Leaders. Backbone leaders can be a key ingredient in successful Collective Impact initiatives.
Nature of Hosting Podcast
We recommend you check out the whole podcast which was created by our friends at How We Thrive, but this episode in particular sees many of Nova Scotia and Mi’kmaqi’s most respected changemakers, especially in the EDI space, contribute.
In Episode 4, shalan joudry takes us inside the wigwam at Stone Bear Tracks. Elder Albert Marshall and Toria Aidoo talk about stories as windows into one another’s lives. Brook Thorndycraft, Madonna Doucette, Basia Solarz, and Sylvia Parris-Drummond talk about holding difficult (and often needed) conversations. Robert S. Wright and James Dube invite us to sit by the fire as we learn how to recognize trauma, and especially white trauma, in ourselves and our gatherings. Listen to the Podcast
Canada’s Report on Poverty: Getting to Systems Change
Morgan Dunn, CBYF Coordinator with Turning the Tide in Digby shared this resource that may be of special interest to those whose projects have an intersection with poverty work.
“I thought it looked interesting and informative as we work towards systems change. This is a webinar on Getting to Systems Change: Canada’s Report on Poverty.”
Halifax Examiner Editorial Nods to Systems Design
In an age when journalism is more time and resource-pressed than ever, leading to soundbite reporting and very little ability to analyse the systems behind news stories, it is both unusual and gratifying to see media recognizing that the design of systems has a direct impact on our daily existence. This short editorial piece connects to research into how the design of social platforms such as Twitter fosters and creates bad behaviour, and how this compares to the way urban / street design impacts traffic. When you can compare two such disparate topics, it’s easier to see the systems at fault.
Improving facilitation skills through listening
As we facilitate, we aim to build the container for people to engage with each other in a generative conversation that no one could have created on their own. This short article references Otto Scharmer’s work in Presencing and if you haven’t read Theory U, I highly recommend it. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/listening-discover-aka-4-levels-findtheoutside/
Louise Speaks on Developmental Evaluation
Executive Director Louise Adongo was interviewed about evaluation for the Canadian Evaluation Society of NS’s blog, Asking for a Friend. The blog is a great, accessible resource to find information on evaluation!
This is a reflection opportunity. Check out this excerpt. Has anyone read the book Seeing Systems? It is full of insightful pieces to challenge you to see how systems shape our perception of each other and our interactions.
“Throughout the system there is personal stress, relationship breakdowns, and severe limitations in the system’s capacity to do what it intends to do.
When this pattern develops, our tendency is to explain it in terms of the character, motivation, and abilities of the individuals involved— that’s just the way they are—or in terms of the specific nature of one’s organization—that’s just the way we are. If our explanations are personal, then our solutions are also personal: fix the players, fire them, rotate them, divorce them. If our explanations are specific to our organization, then we fix the organization: reorganize, reengineer, restructure.”
This is a powerful way to share the journey and lessons of a decade-long experiment/experience in social innovation that is both worth reviewing, and considering in IC’s own path and history, present & future.
“Social innovation is in Canada’s nature. From the advent of medicare to peacekeeping, Blue Box recycling to Greenpeace, Canada is a country with a long history of social innovation beginning with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
From coast to coast to coast, passionate people driven by necessity, human ingenuity, and care innovate to collaboratively transform the very way society works and make it more inclusive, sustainable, just and well. Social Innovation Generation (SiG) came together to serve these people and communities.”
Is workplace wellbeing funky breakout spaces? Maybe if you work in the tech software space this is how it’s portrayed. Motivational workshops are what I’ve seen more often, especially in the nonprofit space where we like an inexpensive, accessible solution.
Lee Chambers writes on LinkedIn:
“In my opinion, workplace wellbeing starts with:
- Realistic workloads
- Clarity of role, responsibilities and boundaries
- Feelings of value and appreciation
- Lived vision, values and purpose
- Capable leadership and management
- Concise and comprehensible communication
It’s not always fun to lift the hood up and see what’s lying beneath, but it’s much better than throwing money at solutions before you’ve even considered how you can make a difference and start building wellbeing strategically.”
UBC Anti-Racism Task Force Report
Report released offers some insightful recommendations. This resource is worth a read!
Income Inequality in Canada Article
Charlene shared: “Income inequality in Canada was strongly affected by COVID-19. This is a quick list of the ways that it shows up. It’s pretty quantitative-data and stats heavy (meaning some of it hurts my brain) but some of the charts are pretty clear. The upshot is that the income gap was trending toward closing until the pandemic shut down a vast swath of the service economy. CERB and other pandemic benefits helped mitigate the effect up to a point, but the gap is still widening”.
This is important background information to understand as we work in communities, where we witness the effects up close. It is an example of systems (the economy, public health, labour, education, etc) interacting, and the impacts flowing from that interaction.
Great Resource: “Building a Neighbourhood Strategy to Reconnect Community”
Check out the master class powerpoint here.
Visual Arts NS
Louise shared “If you know any artists who should join, or if you would like to become a member yourself, please consider it. The nature of our work thrives on the networks and communities we are part of. This is a good one to connect to.”
Find more information here.
Charlene adds: “The Writers Federation of Nova Scotia is also a terrific network and way to connect across shared interest with some thoughtful people in our province.”
Webinar Recording: Collaboration in Polarized Times
Morgan shared: “I thought others may find it useful, as it is on working together and collaborating in polarizing times or when you don’t see eye to eye. This comes up a lot in our work as we work on complex issues with people that are very passionate and that may not agree all the time.”
Watch the video here.
Mi’kmaw Debert Cultural Centre Resource
“I am from anywhere and everywhere. Eskasoni is the place I choose to live, but I am not from there… We say we are from Mi’kma’ki.”
– Mi’kmaw Elder Murdena Marshall
Ancestors live here. A must-visit website for those of us living in Mi’kma’ki. Find it here .
Radical Governance: Bylaws as a Tool for Social Change
Louise shared : “In our work to advance a more just, inclusive economy, one of the most overlooked social change leverage points are board of directors, advisory boards, plus the articulation of organizational bylaws, both formal and informal. In this seminar, we will take a look at current board practices, lived experience, and why we all need to take another look at bylaws and radically change them to align with our collective vision of a more inclusive, oppression-free world. ” -pk mutch”
While the workshop is past, it is worth exploring the presenters: “LiisBeth is a womxn-led and owned indie intersectional-lens centered feminist media enterprise with a global outlook based in Tkaronto (Toronto), Ontario, on the traditional lands of the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinabek, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit.
We publish an open-access monthly digital magazine (two-five features) and subscriber only newsletter for feminist entrepreneurs, creators, innovators, leaders and “solutionaries” working to re-imagine the economy and change business culture.”
“The Harms your R&D Project May Cause” by Louise Adongo
“Some reflection questions to consider as you experiment, iterate, and ‘fail forward.’”
Cheryl shared: “After reading it, I felt like a breath of fresh air had blown through Dartmouth North. This is what we need, not only here, but in other communities that face various forms of adversity.”
Read the article here!
– INSPIRATION –
Finding the systems change leverage point: Whistleblowers
Systems change can have many different starting points. We have experimented with catalysing through fellowships, education and with collective impact for example. The Signals Network is a group that focuses on changing systems by supporting whistleblowers.
“This is an exceptional moment in history. We face immense challenges, but one thing holds true: the bravery of a few can still galvanize movements to hold the most powerful companies and governments accountable.
We have to not only proactively listen to marginalized communities, but build our coalitions more broadly from the start, with inclusion as a focus, not an afterthought. We need to empower workers and support their organizing efforts so they can change systems from within.”
The Honesty of Trees
Jody Nelson, past lead of Northside Rising, shared this quote, reflecting the way natural metaphors really form the basis for how we tend to think about systems change.
“I believe in the honesty of trees. I, like many organizers, have spent a lot of time processing the notion that anything worth its outcome involves everyone’s priorities, desires, visions and perspectives in every phase and around every decision. I look at the anatomy of trees as one of nature’s examples of successful organizing that realizes that our power is in our ability to both be fiercely centered and grounded but also infinitely reaching towards our unique sources of energy, light, and growth. Each tree’s elements are reliant on one another but totally unique in form and function. There is no competition or pressure to be the root or the trunk or the buds that bloom. Each tree is a universe, a master delegator, a puzzle and a puzzle piece. They have encouraged me to not worry so much about making everyone ‘feel important’ and to focus on how to create systems and support efforts where everyone is important and clear on how their work is unique, crucial and totally interconnected.”
—Morgan Mann Willis
A Poem for New Beginnings
Executive Director Louise Adongo (herself a poet) shared this:
Don’t just learn, experience.
Don’t just read, absorb.
Don’t just change, transform.
Don’t just relate, advocate.
Don’t just promise, prove.
Don’t just criticize, encourage.
Don’t just think, ponder.
Don’t just take, give.
Don’t just see, feel.
Don’t just dream, do.
Don’t just hear, listen.
Don’t just talk, act.
Don’t just tell, show.
Don’t just exist, live.
Great example for strategy planning
Healing centered food banks
What a beautiful, simple vision and mission they have: “Our vision is to have joyful communities.Our mission is to promote healing through comunidad, comida, and celebración.”
Northside Rising Hosts Super Successful Coffeehouse
Congratulations, NSR team! With 350 views and 40 comments, this online event, Just for Today, is one of the most successful we’ve seen in our network. Suzi hosted three of the Northside Changemakers in discussing their zine projects, mental health and substance use. The authenticity and openness with which they shared their stories resonated with lots of viewers, and generated great conversation.
You can watch the recording: https://www.facebook.com/northsiderising/videos/397665298685475
Check Out Questions
A few suggested by staff:
- If you were to receive an award for something, what would that be?
- What did you learn today? What do you intend to do with the learning?
- What is your biggest takeaway from this event / meeting?
Moving past drama
A great video on moving from drama to presence
Q&A with Mathura “Temwa” Mahendren, author of Dismantling the Master’s Tools – Social Innovation Canada
“Dismantling The Master’s Tools is a toolkit that guides users through a brave and compassionate exploration of their identities, narratives, and practices as people living and working within systems steeped in white supremacy.”
How to Find Joy in Climate Action – TED Talk from Ayana Elizabeth Johnson
In a movement prone to burnout, this is important information.
The Feathers We Need to Fly by Vivian Hutchinson
Vivian draws from a lifetime in community – from activism, social entrepreneurship, disruption, and service, to identify the core elements of conversation in our communities. Looking at the speed of change across our social and economic lives, community is identified as messy and contradictory, complex, growing, living, active and unique to place. This conversation challenges us to consider what we have to offer, where we come from and where opportunity lies. Read the full version here
Changemakers Recommend Books for Summer Reading
Elissama Menezes shared: “These are 13 recommendations from social impact professionals and experts across the country. A mix of fiction and nonfiction, these may not be your typical beach reads, but each is engrossing and transporting in its own way.
They asked these 13 changemakers for one book they think anyone interested in social change should pick up this summer — and to tell us why they loved it.”
Read more here:
Ontario Community Changemakers
Louise Shared: “Ontario Community Changemakers use their energy, creativity, and collaborative partnerships to create real community change. From pollinator gardens to advocating for transit to creating spaces for art and healing and many more OCC participants active public space, enhance civic engagement and foster social inclusion in their community.” As we reassess our approach to micro-grants this is inspiring. “
More information here.
– Looking for courses or even more research? –
In addition to these resources, we offer a tiny partial list of educational resources we follow to deepen our systems change practice:
- Anima Leadership
- Tamarack Institute
- Social Innovation Canada
- CESNS / CES [Canadian Evaluation Society]
- The Outside
- Liberating Structures
- The Future of Good
Images in header: