Paper on Transformative Learning Online 
We are presenting a paper at the Transformative Learning Conference at Columbia University in NY October 23-25. The paper describes our experience with community-embedded online learning and its transformative potential. Lessons have been drawn from delivering both face-to-face and online courses in community-based microfinance for mid-career community development workers from Africa and Asia. Spaces for experimentation, emergence and private deliberation are key. In face-to-face courses, there is a lag of time and space between work space, community learning and return to the work to apply the learning. Online these spaces can happen simultaneously creating opportunities for experimenting in the field while online as well as shared power and peer-supported learning in ways that face to face learning cannot.

Local economies in a globalized world 

How do small producers and artisans get a leg up in a globalized world? Community organizing and support to local economies for a start combined with solid historical, market and contextual analysis. Taught the Livelihoods and Markets course with Yogesh Ghore at the Coady Institute the last couple of weeks. Such a treat. Yogesh is highly experienced and adaptive. Participants had rich experience to share from cooperative and federation organizing to pushing policy and legislation at national levels. Colleagues from Latin America, CUSO partners, most representing cooperatives and associations- a few government representatives- shared their work in such diverse areas as wild medicinal plants, wild almonds, honey, fruit/jam, cacao, coffee. Great debates about the extent to which what we are doing is contributing to or building alternatives to the neo-liberal model.

Summary of Literature Review that I did for Public Health Agency of Canada on funding Collective Impact 
A sounder understanding of scaling approaches, system change and the private sector ensures a more strategic approach to third-party vested partnership development. Salient in the literature is the importance of networking and networks that are shaping new roles for government, the community and the private sector. System change, in health and any sector, is about changes in behavior and services but also changes in confidence, attitudes and societal perspectives about the way we live, play, work and connect with one another.

There is an assumption that a strong project or model can be replicated for wider impact and reach in new populations and communities. However, the little evidence that we have about how social and system change works proves the contrary. These dynamics are home-grown, context-specific and highly based on relationships and motivations of the partners involved. Even the business models are relationship-based and embedded. The interventions were developed and adapted by those partners based on continual communication and shared analysis of emerging evidence.

PHAC-IS has already begun to ask questions about both organizational readiness and system-level readiness. Funders interested in system-level change that extends beyond service delivery, even integrated service-delivery, need to better understand how to assess system-level readiness. This type of analysis could include both the dynamism of the network as well as the extent to which partners share a vision, coordinate activities and share analysis in measuring change. Funding of strong backbone organizations or support across organizations is another consideration since evidence shows that one of the main reasons why networks and alliances fail is for lack of strong backbone support.

Understanding system readiness and system-level change will allow for more strategic analysis of where funding in its various forms including private sector capital can play a key role. A more nuanced understanding of the private sector hopefully opens up a much wider range of opportunities for the effective use of private capital in social and systems change for health equity.

Practically-speaking, this understanding means that partnership considerations with the private sector need to include a business/governance model that shows a sound understanding of the market and its opportunities as well as the range of private sector agencies and individuals that may be interested to play a role.

Partner interest and motivations are key as preliminary findings in the literature show that being champions, in-kind and other technical supports can be as, if not more important, than the financial capital. When and how the private sector comes in with its funding can also be important to ensure that it leverages rather than drives the ownership coming from the community and other partners.

In the consideration of third-party and private sector partnerships, it is important to think creatively in context about the range of private sector partners and the role of capital going beyond traditional understandings of philanthropy and private capital. Most of the interesting innovations are happening in the relatively new middle. These are partners who demand and, sometimes understand and expect both economic and social returns. These partners want to contribute in various forms.

Increasingly, and depending on the vested nature of these partnerships, they are demanding, not only good stories for corporate social responsibility. They are demanding evidence and adaptation as well as an ability to contribute to the analysis. Funding, both private capital and “smart subsidy,” can play a critical role in coordinating and consolidating these efforts to ensure that the full picture of healthy outcomes and impacts are being captured and realized.


Copenhagen bike lanes - a model of active transportation 
200 miles of bike lanes and one with 40,000 bikers a day.

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Dear citizen 
If economic security

I mean agency I mean

justice is not bred to

move in political realms

is it because the path is simply

one of snakes and ladders, spirals

because we don’t find the right

balance of love and power,

between growing trees and

navigating jungles or we chickegg

the poor thing into parts until

it’s dying or stuck and

we’ve failed to watch

how it moved. Is it

because we miss in it

the moral power, the

imagination, intoxication,

the trust, the critical

intangible of the

townhouse, the gathering,

the dialogue, this dialogue,

our kite and our stars.

This found poem was generated from a forum that I participated in at the Coady Institute on the links between economic and political citizenship. For me, as I describe in my bio, the two have always been tied though political (in the broadest sense) agency cannot be assumed.