Monthly Archives: October 2015

EFCL staffer finds workshop practical, useful and challenging

By LOIE UNWIN, EFCL board development officer

Oct. 7, 2015 – I had the pleasure of attending the Board Governance: Emergent Thinking 2015 Conference this past weekend. Put on by Board Leadership Edmonton, this event was designed to provide attendees an opportunity to learn about and discuss the latest thinking and practical tools to help boards and board members lead their organizations. Held at MacEwan University – Robbins Health Learning Centre, we were treated to a full day of very participatory sessions.

The highlight was the Keynote speaker, Ruth McCambridge, who is the Editor in Chief of the Non-profit Quarterly magazine and based in Boston. She brought her 45 years of experience to both her keynote and the session she delivered.  Ruth provided both practical solutions and thought provoking insight to her presentations.

EFCL,Board Leadership Edmonton,

Ruth McCambrige, editor in chief of Non-Profit Quarterly, was the keynote speaker at the Board Governance: Emergent Thinking 2015 conference held in October. (photo sourced)

Ruth’s morning session was about the Cycles of Board Leadership. She talked about the various stages of an organization – starting with the Founding or Founder stage. At this point there is enormous enthusiasm from a small group. Everyone is involved and active, focused on the vision and mission of the organization. The next stages of Directive and Delegation are shifts in the way the organizations operate and require the Board to adapt their way of leading. S spoke about boards having to be sophisticated enough to recognize how they are operating and avoid huge swings in style. The question I was left with is how do we, as board members, recognize and acknowledge the signs of potential dysfunction?

In the afternoon, I attended a session facilitated by Kristen Ward-Diaz, a community development officer with Alberta Culture and Tourism. I’ve had the pleasure of attending other sessions with Kristen and really enjoy her style. She had us up and moving and actually collaborating! There was nothing dry about her presentation – it was wonderfully practical. Collaboration on paper seems quite simple, but we were tasked with collaborating, to develop a plan, with two or three others – complete strangers to us. It was really challenging.

The conference gave me a chance to meet people from all kinds of organizations (including a community league by the way) and share challenges and successes. There were board members and staff from a variety of organizations, each with their own stories to tell and challenges they are facing. What we had in common was the desire to move our organizations forward effectively.

As a board member on two non-profits and in my role as board development director for the EFCL, this day was just the kind of learning I like. Practical, useful, interactive and challenging. This was a day well spent for all who attended and an exciting way to end my first week with EFCL.


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Happy City author and community leagues on same page

By NORA BEGORAY, EFCL Marketing Director

Oct. 5, 2015 – A big YES  to Charles Montgomery and his talk at Happy City: Your City, Your Life, a well-attended event held at MacEwan University. It was a lovely fall Oct. 1 evening in Edmonton, and everyone seemed to be in a very good mood.

Charles Montgomery, EFCL, Happy City, Edmonton NextGen, community leagues

EFCL’s marketing director (L), Nora Begoray and Bev Zubot, EFCL planning officer, chat to guest speaker and author, Charles Montgomery signs his book at the Happy City: Your City, Your Life event hosted by Edmonton’s NextGen.

I was really inspired by the large attendance; some had even traveled in from Leduc to see Montgomery talk about his book, Happy City. So many of the concepts in the book speak to the very heart of what community leagues advocate for and believe in. Montgomery spoke about the well-known benefits of living more locally. Benefits for the environment in reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and benefits for the residents in their physical, mental and social health.

He talked passionately about how we need to fix all that we had done wrong in the past several decades. Done wrong in the sense of how we have allowed our cities to grow and the urban design that we have built has made the citizens more reliant on automobiles, and the greater isolation caused by home designs and towering condos.

For a happy city, people need frequent superficial contact with strangers. We need to intentionally create space for short interactions because that is a first step to developing trust and friendships. Front yard space where you see your neighbours, social green spaces in townhouses or apartments. He advocated against population dispersal, against consolidating shopping all in one district, or massive multiple sport field facilities, but instead intersperse your shopping, your activities, your gardens within your walkable, bikeable communities.

He advocated for the grassroots to request these changes from our policy makers, and insist on regulations that will encourage increased mixed-density and mixed-use developments throughout our city – purposefully design many places to walk to, stop at or visit.

The slower we move throughout our city, the more opportunities to connect and the more generous, more patient and more content we become.

I believe in Edmonton, our civic leaders and judging by the crowd, our next generation are fully immersed in the Happy City vision of transforming our lives through urban design.  Obviously some things we intuitively know, and community leagues are all about encouraging residents to gather, connect, live local, participate local, walk, bike and garden locally, but did we know that all those times we were serving hot chocolate, we were subconsciously encouraging people to think more warmly about each other just by holding a warm drink?  We do now.

Thanks Charles Montgomery, and to Edmonton’s NextGen for hosting the event – we will keep the hot chocolate coming.

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