Stop Asking How

How can someone toss a beer can off the ski lift onto the beautiful white snow down below?

How can that woman flip a cigarette butt out her car window like that? What is she thinking?

Every one of those questions comes from a place of anger and disgust. Emotionally-charged vents come from a place of no belief that things could be different. I’ve asked those questions, shaking my head, but they are questions that aren’t expecting an answer. We lament, we sigh and we share our disappointment with anyone who will listen. Yet it does nothing to make us feel any better, or believe that change is possible. Continue Reading


Moving Beyond the Check Box

The process is mapped out and system in place to ensure that a thank you letter is generated and sent out within two days of receiving every donation. Check.

What does that feel like to the receiver of the letter? It feels like a form letter was generated using mail merge. The end. There is no warm fuzzy with a form letter. While some letters go beyond the standard language of the thank you and include a wonderful story about the impact of the organization’s work in the community, it still feels “formy.”

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What’s Your Number One Ingredient?

You never know what you’ll find when you read the label – all of it. Wanting to fuel myself with atypical airport food on a recent trip I was pleased to find a spot that featured GT’s Kombucha and a tasty black bean chili. It may sound like an odd combination, or zero appeal to you. To me, I felt like I was nourishing all of me. Then I read the label and I felt an even deeper sense of nourishment for my soul.

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“How are you?” It’s a simple and powerful question.
I’ve been paying close attention to this question lately, and here are a few things I’ve found:
1. You have a choice in how you respond to this question.
2. You have a choice to authentically ask it of other people.

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Community Change source

Making Change

When we see change happening in communities, in organizations, in people’s lives – what is supporting that change to happen? What are the factors that cause change? We’ll be digging into that topic during the April edition of Creating the Future’s Making Change Program (live in video, recorded as a podcast). I’m honored and SO excited to join Creating the Future Co-Founder and Making Change Host Hildy Gottlieb, and Creating the Future Fellow Lisa Humenik to discuss creating change in and with communities. If you watch the live video, we encourage you to participate in the conversation via Twitter #ctfuture, or post comments to the blog page real-time. The conversation will continue after the live video as well.

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dipping toe in pool of possibility

Dipping Your Toe

Global corporations, government, public and private agencies, community benefit organizations, and businesses of all sizes and types have so much in common when we look at them in their simplest sense. However they are grouped and organized, they are all comprised of human beings, each individual being a community member.

When all the labels, categories, and org charts are removed, we can clearly see that we all want the same thing: A healthy, thriving and resilient community for everyone. When we are willing to remove our blinders and table our assumptions, we can aim our collective wisdom, skills, experience, passions and resources at building just that. The highest potential for any community will be reached when community members are engaged, valued, and feel a sense of belonging. The path to that is simple, yet so often overlooked. It starts with relationships. It starts with getting to know each other. By taking that essential time, trust is built. It starts when we are willing to dip our toe in the pool. And for those who are willing to cannonball off the high dive, we say “come on in!”

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Radio Dial

On the Radio

A song is playing on the radio, not coming in crystal clear and there’s a good bit of annoying crackles. You have two choices with two dials: Turn up the volume if you think louder makes the song clearer, or adjust the channel to find a better frequency. It’s no surprise that you choose the channel tuner dial. We know that louder does not make the song any clearer. Yet it is all too common to choose the volume dial when we want a response or action from someone.

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We Need…

“We need more board members!”  is a common lament I hear from board members at community benefit organizations. The declaration is followed by:

“We used to have 10 board members and now we only have seven.”


“I’m tired of always doing everything, and other board members just show up at the meetings.”


“Our by-laws state that we must have 12 board members, so we must fill those spots.”

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Collective Soul

Collective Impact is a buzzword and framework formally defined as “the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to coordinate their efforts and work together around a clearly defined goal” in Kania and Kramer’s  Standford Social Innovation Review Collective Impact Winter 2011 article. Through their research, they identified five factors for collective impact success as: common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforced activities, continuous communication, and backbone support.

For me, these factors may be part of the means to achieve X. But what is X? What are the ends we are aiming for? Here’s what I find matters most in my community engagement projects:

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