A Reading List on Loss, Death and Will 
Nox, Anne Carson

As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

A Grief Observed, CS Lewis

A very easy death, by Simone de Beauvoir

H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald

The Long Goodbye, Meahan O'Rourke

Freud, Beyond the Pleasure principle

Civilization and its Discontents

Schopenhaur, The World as Will and Representation

Walter A. Davis, Deracination: Historicity, Hiroshima, and the Tragic Imperative

When Pain is the Doorway, Pema Chodron

Wave, Sonali Deraniyagala

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Alison Bechdel

Bough Down, Karen Green

The Loved One, Evelyn Waugh



Our HRM Alliance- Greenbelting and Complete Communities 
WRWEO, the environmental association that I Co-chair is an active member of Our HRM Alliance. Comprised now of 54 local groups and organizations, Our HRM Alliance accompanied and lobbied the Halifax regional planning process that took place over the last few years. The Alliance has adopted a two-pronged approach to going forward:

1. Greenbelting (including an initiative for people to hike, bike, canoe the greenbelt around HRM to explore its possibility)

2. Complete communities. Suburbs are not the problem. If suburban communities are built with transit at their core, walkable design, and a mix of shops and other business, they can encourage healthier lifestyles and produce considerably less emissions.

The problem is single-use, low-density sprawl. When communities are built in a way that makes cars the only option for doing every single task of the day, they engender enormous costs.


See the related link below for more detail including our own David Patriquin's brief on the impact that green belting will have on biodiversity.
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Inspirational community work: Sketch & Courage Lab exploring Decolonization 
I've been a supporter of this organization for years. Use them as a case-study in my facilitation. Early, early days I was a volunteer in Toronto. Such an inspiring approach full of dignity and possibility - the best of what art can do.

Courage Lab, is part of a new collaborative project between Neighbourhood Arts Network, ANVU and SKETCH, aiming to gather diverse artists, educators, organizers and activists to courageously investigate, share and experiment with concepts, ideas, tools and practices for exploring equity and anti-oppression through the arts. On Wednesday, April 1, the most recent lab explored decolonization.

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Finnish Educational System kicking butt with a Less is More approach to learning and life 
1. Less formal schooling
2. Less time in school (more play, more idleness)
3. Fewer instruction hours (more planning time for teachers to be creative)
4. Fewer teachers over a longer period
5. Fewer classes (more breaks)
6. Less testing. More learning.
7. Fewer topics. More depth.
8. Less homework. More participation.
9. Fewer students. More individual attention.
10. Less structure. More trust.

Check out the full article on the related link below.
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Social change through alliances and networks- One of the few things that works 
Ela Bhatt, founder of SEWA, women's labor and self-employed movement close to one million strong, once said. "A project never changed the world."

There is growing consensus that the old approach to community development, local economic development have not been working because they are not really addressing larger political and systemic issues. This is partly because they are atomized into departments, projects, institutional and individual egos. Growing experience of what works in communities and has been written about in theory is that alliances and networks are one of the keys. This includes effective engagement of government and business. One of the ways that corporations or the private sector are held accountable is through alliances that have legitimate ownership and power at the local level.

This from a conference at Harvard in October of 2014. The Doing Development Differently conference. They found that successful initiatives reflect common principles:

They focus on solving local problems that are debated, defined and refined by local people in an ongoing process.
They are legitimised at all levels (political, managerial and social), building ownership and momentum throughout the process to be ‘locally owned’ in reality (not just on paper).
They work through local conveners who mobilise all those with a stake in progress (in both formal and informal coalitions and teams) to tackle common problems and introduce relevant change.
They blend design and implementation through rapid cycles of planning, action, reflection and revision (drawing on local knowledge, feedback and energy) to foster learning from both success and failure.
They manage risks by making ‘small bets’: pursuing activities with promise and dropping others.
They foster real results – real solutions to real problems that have real impact: they build trust, empower people and promote sustainability.

I would add:

They are political.

All of my experiences with alliances, citizen-driven examples I've seen at all levels from social movements in Brazil to neighbourhood revitalization include advocacy and political organizing. Even the literature supports the notion that the non-profits that have achieved the most impact have done so at a systems or collective level, not organizational. And through what they do in combination with advocacy. This is the little left out bit in all of our conversations about collective impact and social entrepreneurship, doing things differently. It's the only way to clear a path for and sustain the gains that we make.


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