Karen Smith joining MDB Insight!

23 09 2017

karensmith     MDB-Insight-Website-Logo

A private-sector consulting firm with a mission to “improve the world”? Whose values and vision align with your own? Whose team members are passionate, creative innovators? Sounds like the perfect place to work if you’re a community builder – and that’s precisely why Karen will be joining the team at MDB Insight as a Senior Consultant effective October 2nd.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, MDB Insight is Canada’s leading economic development consultancy specializing in connecting communities with opportunities. Their core practice areas also include workforce development, community development, cultural development, business development, strategic planning, and research and analytics. The firm has worked with hundreds of cities and towns, rural and urban, large and small, across North America with the aim of helping those communities and the people within them to thrive in the 21st century economy. As a member of the senior team, Karen will add her enthusiasm and experience to the firm’s established roster of accomplished professionals from across the country and will be working from MDB Insight’s Hamilton office.

To connect with Karen in her new role, pop her an email – ksmith@mdbinsight.com. And be sure to check out MDB Insight’s web site, featuring the firm’s blog and This is Not a Newsletter (TINAN) as well as resources and links of interest. You can follow us on Twitter (@MDBInsight) and on our Facebook page (MDB Insight) too!

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Cohousing, Innovation & Intentional Living

6 04 2017

One of the projects that has been keeping me busy over this past year+ is a departure from my usual professional pursuits. It is proving not only stimulating but also challenging. More personal than professional, my interest in the cohousing movement began with my own examination of intentional living – trying to envision my later years and match my living arrangements with my aspirations, needs, and interests. I quickly discovered a glaring lack of existing options within my community. Looking for a one-floor plan (no stairs) other than a high rise will get you very little in the way of choices (and often involves paying for a lower level you don’t want and likely won’t use). Recalling many conversations over the years with friends, I knew I wasn’t alone in thinking about the future and seeking options that weren’t readily on offer. Hadn’t we joked about a hippie house full of aging women? Wasn’t there even a serious discussion or two about pooling our money to live comfortably in retirement? With that, I began researching options outside those currently available in my area…and cohousing quickly piqued my interest.

For those interested in cohousing specific to later life, I recommend Innovations in Senior Housing: the Complete Guide to Cohousing. It’s a comprehensive resource (and one of few specific to Canada) full of information and useful links. It was prepared by the Community Social Planning Council of Greater Victoria and Canadian Senior Cohousing Society with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC.

For those interested in my cohousing explorations in Hamilton, check out www.sisterssharingspace.wordpress.com where I’m blogging about the journey of a group of local women who have joined me, and sharing information and resources we are finding along the way.

Complete_Guide_0  hispanicgarden2 nws kwg 4





Wrapping Up 2015

29 12 2015

Despite little activity on this page in 2015, it’s been a busy year. Too busy, it turned out, to devote much time to blogging. But if there had been enough hours in each day, there would have been posts sharing the ups and downs, excitements, challenges, and experiences that made up the last 12 months…

  • the renaissance of Hamilton, my hometown and a city finally sloughing off its industrial overalls in favour of hipper, more confident stylings
  • the launch of a new, aspirational name and branding for the former Community Child Abuse Council – now THRIVE Child and Youth Trauma Services
  • political change, and the promise of federal policy that seeks to return Canada to its peaceful role on the world stage, value women and children, honour Native peoples, and combat social problems with evidence-based initiatives
  • the journeys of refugee families, including those from Syria, who now call Hamilton home
  • a host of small triumphs, minor missteps, celebrations, losses, and all the poignant moments that fill a year and leave lasting impressions

As the year closes, here’s wishing everyone the very best for 2016 – may it be a year of more peace, greater fulfilment, and bigger steps towards the world we want to see for everyone sharing this planet. Remember that unless something is physically impossible, it is indeed possible. That means many if not all of our dreams and hopes are totally within the realm of possibility. So, follow those dreams and take those steps. Each one gets us each a little closer to our vision of the future.

Happy New Year.





Planning that creates the future – free vid-cast

3 02 2015

future-vision-On February 10th I will be a guest for Creating the Future’s vid-cast “Planning That Creates The Future”, an online discussion about how our annual planning and strategy work within organizations can help to create the future of our communities. I’ll be joining Gayle Valeriote and Kate Bishop from Guelph, Ontario to talk about doing something different, something more aspiring, than the planning most organizations do. Looking forward to the conversation with these fellow community builders!

To follow or join the conversation (it’s free) register here:

http://blogs.creatingthefuture.org/communityfocus/planning-that-creates-the-future-making-change-vid-cast/





Unacceptable realities…points to ponder

29 08 2014

Something more personal for this post…an update after a considerable hiatus from blogging. I blame Facebook, in part, because of the distraction it provided to this newby. It took several months to discover what I really wanted to get from the site, and how to make my participation meaningful. But it has been my busy professional life that has taken most of my time and attention. Always rewarding, at times frustrating, ever changing, it both commands my full attention while I’m “in it” and necessitates downtime that is just that.

The sexual abuse of children continues to make headlines, along with these same crimes against women. Issues of gender inequality, gender-based violence, exploitation, pornography, cyber bullying, rape culture, sexting, and the debate over the educational curriculum for sexuality and human relations have become so commonplace in news reports that I worry we are numbing to their seriousness. And, on most days, I am hard-pressed to understand how these vitally important issues are not front and centre in our political and public policy discussions. These very issues are the bedrock of my work, each and every day. I notice the headlines, pay attention to the news coverage, am saddened by the disclosures, and outraged by the appalling lack of change. These constant reminders of the work still to be done creep into my off-work hours, make regular appearances in my dreams, and urge me onward. No, I am not obsessed or inappropriately burdened by these unacceptable realities. I manage to keep a healthy (most days) balance. But these remain unacceptable realities.

A friend told me recently that there was a disturbing pattern to many of my posts on Facebook. He said he understood why so many of my posts related to the issues that relate to my professional work, but he “just couldn’t read all of them” and found many of them “too disturbing”. And, sadly, I know he’s not the only one.

So, by way of updating this blog and sharing what has been keeping me busy of late, here are a few points to ponder:

  • today, here in my own community (as in many others), 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually victimized before their 18th birthday
  • in Hamilton, the city I am so proud to live in, overall violent crime has decreased but not sexual crimes against women and children or child pornography
  • the agency I lead, the Community Child Abuse Council, employs the equivalent of 3.2 full-time staff and a team of consulting clinicians who provide direct trauma treatment to children and youth experiencing the trauma that results from sexual abuse – we have a perpetual wait list
  • we also work to address the unique mental health needs of immigrant and refugee children and youth who are experiencing symptoms of trauma – from war-torn countries, experiences in refugee camps, violence, loss, and upheaval – there is a waiting list for this program too
  • we turn every dollar provided by government towards these services into $1.70 – in blunt terms, we spend a significant amount of time and energy raising money to serve the children who need our help, and on any given day the provision of these crucial services may well depend on bake sales and raffles
  • the Council has an incredibly generous circle of supporters with whom I am in regular contact  – their commitment to making sure these essential services are available to youngsters in our community is beyond admirable, yet they are but a tiny proportion of the caring population in Hamilton

children_threatsI share these points not to claim any undue burden or regret – I love the work I am doing and I could not be more committed to this cause. I share these points for consideration by people like my friend who bristled at the content of my posts on Facebook. Or for any readers of this blog who may have wondered why I had been absent of late. I share them because it is important to me that the nature of the Council’s work be understood – an entire community’s response to the sexual abuse of children and youth is resting almost exclusively on the shoulders of one small agency. How fortunate we are to have an exceptionally specialized and seasoned clinical team of experts doing this work. How wonderful it is to know that this agency is accomplishing great things on a daily basis thanks to the tireless efforts of staff who care deeply and volunteers who are passionate. How reassuring to know that the Board of Directors at the Council is comprised of individuals with integrity, careful stewards of public funds, and diligent ambassadors for a cause far too often overshadowed.

Yes, many days I am tired. And I do get frustrated. But I continue to give my all to this remarkable organization and the youngsters it serves because the work we are doing is making a difference. Every day I see the results of treatment programs that are effective. And every day I am fortunate to be around some of the bravest young people you’ll ever meet. They are what matters. Helping them to get beyond the trauma, heal and move forward, that is what counts. We believe thriving children create thriving communities, so everything we do to help our young clients get back on track is ultimately an investment in the future of our community. That inspires me, that commands my attention, and that keeps me focused.

If you find me posting a recipe or a travel link on Facebook, you’ll know it’s been an especially good day.

Postcript:

To date, the most-searched phrase that lands visitors here on my web site is “children girls porn”. Sadly ironic, and another reason for this important work to not only continue but to knock it out of the park. You can help – have a conversation, share resources, point others towards these issues, support the work that is so important to ensuring our youngest community members can go on to be thriving, contributing future leaders.





Reflections

11 01 2014

Looking back on a year that had many highlights…moments that stood out from among my photos:

The quiet beauty of my garden

Entering my third year with the Council, one of development and bold planning

Entering my third year with the Council, one of development and bold planning

Polivery IV

Speaking at Polivery IV, Ontario government policy innovation and leadership conference

A memorable fishing trip with my father

The pretty side of the ice storm

The pretty side of the ice storm

A faithful friend

A faithful friend

Learning and sharing at the Polivery IV conference

Learning and sharing at Polivery IV conference

An inspiring visit by Hildy Gottlieb and the team from Creating the Future

An inspiring visit by Hildy Gottlieb and the team from Creating the Future

Another successful CAPPY Ride in support of the Community Child Abuse Council

Another successful CAPPY Ride in support of the Community Child Abuse Council





Warm holiday wishes

21 12 2013

WinterMittens

 

…to you and yours, the very best of the holiday season and a heartfelt wish for health and happiness in the new year ahead…

Happy-Holidays