In Trust  
Waters shedding shifting
stretching from Five Island Lake
to Seabright offering emptying

into the Bay
the marshes
bogs below barrens

thick and wet with life
brackish dreams

as a child I remember
the roar of the Woodens

the stumps, blackest
scat piles

signs of eyes
of tracks

small followed by
bigger followed by
bigger still

tracks of fishers,
and hunters
of forests past

two old friends
trading tales
sharing bannock

like the
two first roads
mingling overlapping
awhile before
bursting into their own

Granite & root, root & rock
rock & river

Trails inspiring silence

but wait
I hear the year’s first insect buzz

The warbler’s
wind chimes

the Kinglets & Juncos

I see a Broad-winged Hawk
its slow circled trance

In the wild
we hear with our eyes,
green and rust,
a still lake.

we hear with our feet,
swoosh and glop
What's a little mud?

The forest is full of compensations

Moss cascades
canopies shade
and death nestles

under a
trembling
aspen

an elderly oak
or knobby-kneed beech

Specks of green
nub along branches of
slim tamaracks

The air so clear
you can see right through the rocks
breathe the granite in

Woods, you’re a
languid, lichen-draped
beguiling old man.

There are small creatures
clamouring at your ankles.

still some fern-flirting left in you.

Sunlight danced on the Bluff &
I felt the heartbeat of a birch

Roots, rocks carry me
Back to my sleeping self
Preverbal

Take me to the erratics
Remind me that this is life
We are residuals of history
and forces wild and errant
here in our bodies.

how I love the frog songs
the larch buds breaking
autumn blush of crowberry
spring velvet of the lady-slipper

dragonflies mating tale to neck

Black Felt Lichen sticks to granite
like bits of burned maps

tree roots muscle over muddy paths

Everything in proportion
and a space for us

On behalf of all the wild things that make this
land their home and with reverence for the First Peoples
who preserved this land before us, we dedicate
The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail to preservation.

We can do this
we will work together to
protect this sacred heritage
we

passionate volunteers
we trail runners who come weekly
we old friends making the four loop pilgrimage
we family of four plus two dogs
we Crew from England who will definitely be back
we friends from Quebec and BC and Spain and Minnesota
We 10 hiking babes
Troops of scouts and girl guides
We 2 fat guys doing our best

We couple reminding ourselves
what love looks like
outside of the city

we can camp, fish, hike
run, mess around,
collect wild edibles

we can do this

skinny dip in a lake
run the river
paddle full moons

we can take the kids
from screen to green
occupy the forest
keep her secrets

We can do this in trust
we can learn her deep beauty
delight in the wildness
in ourselves
that we share
with the earth and the water,
the spirits that inhabit us

We do this for all
that is teeming and wild
We do this forever
We do this in trust


This found poem was generated from
the monitoring books on the Bluff
Wilderness Trail and two poetry workshops
held on the trail. It is dedicated to Rich Campbell
whose vision and passion led the way.



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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