Tag Archives: SCI

A coastal refuge teaming with wisdom, buzzing with community.

by Johanna Robertson

A coastal refuge teaming with wisdom, buzzing with community.

Hollyhock has been a life-long intellectual feeding ground for me. From solidifying my sense of rhythm and respect for world music with Babatunde Olatunji, to a warm welcome into the Social Change Institute; I can safely declare that this institution of deep learning has shaped me.

Exposure to this multigenerational and collaborative upwelling has informed my decisions and development as a young adult. Financial support from the generations above has made my enduring experience a reality. I look to the campus and community that gathers at Hollyhock for guidance and without fail find more there than I can fathom. Continue reading A coastal refuge teaming with wisdom, buzzing with community.

Athabasca Chipewyan spokeswoman calls tar sands expansion policies "cultural genocide"

by Jenny Uechi via Vancouver Observer

Photo of Eriel Deranger by Linda Solomon
Photo of Eriel Deranger by Linda Solomon

Her people are on “the precipice,” their health and culture poisoned by oil sands pollution. They are one of the First Nations closest and most exposed to hazardous effects of tar sands pollution, and the damage has been devastating, Eriel Deranger of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, said.

“It’s a genocide. It’s happening slowly, but we are dying off. We’re still drinking the water, and we’re eating the fish, but it’s getting poisoned,” Deranger, a keynote speaker at the Hollyhock Social Change Institute who works on the front lines of her people’s legal battle against unchecked tar sands development, said yesterday.

Living off the land has always been a basic part of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation culture, she said.  But now maintaining connection to culture can be dangerous, if not lethal.

“I’m still eating the fish, because I don’t want the tar sands to change who I am,” she said. “But I still get these moments of panic after, because I don’t know what toxins are in the fish and going into my body — nobody knows.”

A fight for the soul of a culture

The need to fight to protect her land has been passed down from her parents, Deranger said.

“Until just 20 years ago — that’s in my lifetime — the Athabasca Chipewyan were a subsistence society. That means that everything we needed, we got from the land,” Deranger, a 34-year-old mother of two, said.

“My parents met at the American Indian movement. They lived off their land in Saskatchewan until they were forcibly removed, at gunpoint.”

Her father in particular, she said, was raised to respect the land and traditions of his people.

“My dad was a bush man. He was forced into the residential schools, but he ran away and he lived with his dad in the woods. My dad has never lived in the white man’s world. But he looks at the tar sands development, and all he can see is what it’s doing to the earth.”

Read full article.


Jenny-UechiJenny Uechi is the Managing Editor of The Vancouver Observer. She is a writer and editor with an interest in mixed cultures, art and social issues. She recently worked as a news director at NHK World in Tokyo and writer for The Japan Times. Her articles can be found in Ricepaper, Megaphone and other publications. She has also facilitated creative writing workshops for Megaphone at Onsite (Insite).

Keystone XL an "unholy nightmare" for Obama…

…Grist’s David Roberts says

via Vancouver Observer

June 11, 2013

Photo by Jenny Uechi
Photo by Jenny Uechi

“Keystone XL is a hellish political issue for Obama. It’s awful all round,” Grist environmental blogger David Roberts said on Sunday at the Social Change Institute at Hollyhock.

Saying that the pipeline is “broadly popular” in U.S. polls, Roberts says that in 2014 Senate elections, “a lot of centrist purple state Democrats are vulnerable this round.

“So if Obama is anti-pipeline, if he just shuts it down, Republicans will take the Senate and it would be an unholy nightmare for two years. Obama is in a lose-lose situation.”

“My advice to people involved in Keystone is to think about what you will do if he does approve it,” Roberts said.

“There will be a lot of attention, a lot of emotion in the air, and it will be a turning point. But more than half the battle is not just blocking the old status quo, but also painting the new world economy emerging and what we’re supposed to be fighting for, and what 100 per cent fossil fuel free energy world would look like.”

“I’d like a lot more focus on the positive side. It’s not just policy.”

One good example happening today is around energy — who uses it, who gets to control it, and how the people are beginning to take energy into their own hands. Roberts has just finished a popular multi-part series around energy and utilities — a dry, policy-heavy topic which he enlivened through humour and cute exotic animals such as quokkas and slow lorises.

“If you think about the local food movement, more self-reliance, more independence, more community and relationship building and more pride in community and place,” he said.

“All those same benefits are true in terms of generating your own energy, storing your own energy, in terms of generating and storing and managing your own energy within your own neighbourhood.

“All of us are totally dependent on large, distant, corporate entities that probably don’t have our best interests at heart.”

Rather than blasting Obama over pipelines that are increasingly beyond his control, people should be paying attention to the steps that the president is politically capable of doing, Roberts said.

“Back in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide could be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. So there’s this process of figuring out how the Clean Air Act would apply to carbon emissions. Several things were triggered. One was, you had to regulate mobile sources, and that’s what the new fuel economy is about.”

The second is regulating new power plants.

The big piece is regulation on existing power plants, which are the biggest source of carbon emissions in the US, he added.

“The EPA can make the regulations as strong or as weak as it needs. It can be meaningless or incredibly significant. I worry that this key issue is getting skewered by a lot of other debates.”

“This is an under-the-radar thing that Obama absolutely can do, Congress cannot stop it, and it would take a substantial chunk out of US carbon emissions.”

Social Change Institute: Interview with Cara Pike

Social Change Institute is a five-day experiential convening designed for high impact and emerging leaders from nonprofits, government and mission-based enterprises who are seeking practical skills and networking opportunities to take their work to the next level.

Junxion Strategy spoke with Cara Pike, director of Climate AccessHollyhock Board member, and one of the producers of this year’s Social Change Institute (SCI).

Junxion:  What is the value for the social (change) sector in coming together in events like SCI?

Cara Pike:  A lot of social change leaders are busy, bombarded by daily tasks, and it’s hard to find time to take a step back and think about the change you’re trying to accomplish. Hollyhock’s setting and the style of workshops at SCI allow for a lot of reflection on an organizational as well as a personal level.  That’s really key, because you’re most effective as a change leader when you’re feeling your focused intention as an individual leader.

The other big piece SCI addresses is the need for connectivity.  We can accomplish a lot more by working together across organizations and sectors.  That’s what SCI really allows for – it’s bringing together nonprofit, government, and business leaders who have a social purpose.

Junxion:  Looking at the line up of speakers, case studies and topics at this year’s SCI, what are some of the themes you see emerging?

CP:  Because we have a great mix of people coming this year from the U.S. and Canada, we’ll be able to talk about what’s happening in the context of both countries, and see where there are opportunities to learn from one another and collaborate.  I expect there’ll be lots of political discussion happening, particularly with a focus on energy issues that are important in both countries, such as Keystone XL and tar sands expansions.

There’ll also be a lot of discussion about digital and network-based efforts for social change – not just how you talk to your members, but about how your organization is evolving and structured overall, to the larger strategic impact and opportunities.

Subject matter-wise, SCI balances external hard skills [marketing, organizing, fundraising, branding, etc.] with personal development.  Gibrán Rivera will be doing a lot of work around the art of leadership and personal development, and that’ll be a nice thread throughout.  There are also some workshops focused on diversity that I’m excited about. I think there’ll be a lot of opportunities for a lot of different voices to be part of the conversation and the content throughout.

Junxion:  What excites you about this year’s gathering?

CP: Personally, I’m interested in the chance to learn from some of the political leaders who’ll be joining us.  It’s not often you get a chance to hear directly from someone like Nathan Cullen [Member of the Canadian Parliament and Official Opposition House Leader] or David Eby [recently elected to the BC Legislative Assembly by defeating the current Premier in her riding] – so that’ll be particularly exciting.

I’m also excited about leading a session with James Glave from Tides Canada on how to shift the public discourse from tar sands to what is available to us as an [alternative to] development. We’ll delve into some of the big challenges people are facing, and we’ll also talk about hope – where do people find their personal motivation – and how we can support leaders around that.

Junxion:  How do you see the investments that SCI is making transforming the social change movement?

CP:  After several years of doing this, we’re starting to see the cumulative effect of people collaborating together in pretty deep ways, often thanks to having had the chance to meet and work together at SCI.  In particular, it’s exciting to see the development and impact of organizations like Leadnow and Next Up – these were some of the first case studies when we re-launched SCI four years ago – now very much coming into their own and thriving.

In many ways, the investment will start to be further leveraged particularly in British Columbia, because we’re at a crossroads with the emerging innovation economy competing with the old boom and bust style.  SCI and other leadership events have a chance to grow the innovation sectors, and as much as that can be a model for the larger change in Canada (and where relevant in the U.S. as well), that is a goal – there’s an opportunity because of the foundation of leaders that Hollyhock has helped to cultivate.

Junxion: How can the wider community of change agents help support conferences like this if they are not able to be there in person this year?

CP:  For starters, Hollyhock [the organization that produces SCI and other social innovation conferences] relies on donations to bring in speakers and help support the scholarship fund, so people can help with leadership development work by donating.

Also, people can help get the word out by sharing content from the conference picked up from the Hollyhock Life blog and pushing it out through social media channels.

Finally, they can let Hollyhock know the types of programs and events that would bring them back next year and make Hollyhock a regular part of their annual schedule.


For the third consecutive year, Junxion Strategy is proudly sponsoring Social Change Institute at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, British Columbia.  This is one in a series of articles by Junxion about SCI.

For more information about Social Change Institute, taking place June 5-9, 2013 at Hollyhock , see http://hollyhocklife.org/sci/

Social Change Institute: Interview with Steve Williams

Social Change Institute is a five-day experiential convening designed for high impact and emerging leaders from nonprofits, government and mission-based enterprises who are seeking practical skills and networking opportunities to take their work to the next level.

Williams-SteveJunxion Strategy spoke with Steve Williams, Principal at Constructive Public Engagement, about his return to this year’s SCI.

Junxion: What’s your role going to be at this year’s SCI?

Steve Williams:  I’m a participant, and I’m also leading a workshop called “How Do You Know If You’re Making a Difference?”  One of the big challenges we have in this type of [social change] work is that we’re putting all this effort into it, working long hours and not seeing our families much, but we don’t always know if we are actually making a difference, if real change happening. So the workshop looks into two parts of that.

The first part is on an individual or organizational level – how do you know if you’re spending your time most effectively?  How do you set goals for your organization, track progress, and most importantly, share that with others?  We’re going to use the Demonstrating Value framework to look at these questions.  It’s proved to be a very effective tool to help social enterprises measure, manage and communicate their performance.

The second part is going to be looking at the bigger picture.  Most of us [in the social change sector] don’t start these organizations to make a lot of money, but instead because we have a goal of changing the world in some way, whether it’s fundamentally disrupting Canada’s transportation system, for example, or redefining Canadians’ relationship to food.  How do we know if we’re achieving those big goals?

To answer this, we’ll use part of Tanya Beer’s work at the Center for Evaluation Innovation.  She’s proposed what she calls an “advocacy evaluation” framework that’s really effective in helping us look at who we’re really targeting (whether that’s the general public or policy makers), and what we want them to do (whether that’s raising awareness or taking action).  What we see is that a lot of organizations, especially in the environmental movement, are very focused on raising public awareness, with the theory that if people just knew about their issue, then the world would magically become a better place.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it really works.

Junxion: How does your work through Constructive Public Engagement create larger and systemic change?

SW:  I’m really interested in making complex relationships visible and understandable.  The challenges that we face are so big that no one person or organization can solve them.  At the same time, none of the problems are independent – you can’t look at homelessness without looking at addiction, which you can’t look at without looking at mental health, which you can’t look at without looking at early childhood education, which you can’t look at without looking at nutrition, and so on.  With all of these complex problems, a lot of people naturally either give up, or focus on one slice of the problem.

I use data and information design to visually show people what those relationships are, and then let them play with that through simulations, seeing what the effect would be if we invested more into one of these areas than another, or shifted funding from this sector into that sector, or [considered if two] organizations were collaborating, and so on.  It’s really helping people figure out the best way to invest their time and resources on complex social issues.

Junxion: What do you see as the top desired outcomes of SCI this year?

SW:  The best outcome would be what I’ve seen at past SCI’s, in the connections and projects that come out of the conversations that take place there.  The people who come are passionate about their own work, but don’t always see before they arrive how complementary that work can be.  It really is a case of two plus two equaling five, and being able to accelerate that impact.

For me personally, I’m looking forward to some time to slow down and really take a close look at where my own priorities and focus should be… just observing what’s happening and seeing how that fits in with my own direction over the next year.

Junxion: This is your third time attending Social Change Institute… what brings you back again this year?

Steve Williams:  Two things – one is reconnecting with this group of people who feel like my “tribe,” who are doing great work, and who are really inspiring.  The other is that I’m really interested in sharing some of the knowledge and ideas I’ve been involved with lately, particularly through the Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation program at the University of Waterloo, and I see SCI is a great place to do that.  People are hungry for the tools to make real change happen, which is pretty cool. It’s exciting to be a part of SCI.


For the third consecutive year, Junxion Strategy is proudly sponsoring Social Change Institute at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, British Columbia.  This is one in a series of articles by Junxion about SCI.

For more information about Social Change Institute, taking place June 5-9, 2013 at Hollyhock , see http://hollyhocklife.org/sci/