Tag Archives: social change

A Gathering of Social Change Leaders at Hollyhock

by Gina Lazenby via woman-at-large


Wow … ! have I had the most amazing week … ?!

I had the wonderful opportunity to join the annual Summer Gathering at Hollyhock, Canada’s lifelong learning centre on the outstandingly beautiful island of Cortes (an hour north of Vancouver by seaplane). The Centre is now in its 31st year and I understand this place has been home/parent to the Gathering event for at least 25 years.

Not only was I in paradise for over a week but I got to hang out with 100 social change leaders for a 6 day invitational programme where we made connections, shared ideas and passions and played, sometimes quite late into the night. I tell you … I almost didn’t leave!

Gina-2What a great community of people with heart, humility and hope. It’s going to take me ages to share everything with you … but at least let me give you a quick round up and then point you in the direction of some blog posts, links and videos … enjoy a bit of my experience vicariously and perhaps benefit too. (3 blog post & 2 videos here …. plus a part two of this newsletter in a few days with 3 more videos).

  • This was no ordinary conference: The 6 day programme was organised by Rick Ingrasci (from the Whidhey Institute) and co-facilitated by Eric Mulholland and Peggy Taylor who has co-authored a brilliant book (due out Jan 2014) that provides ways for groups to connect as community and use creativity for deeper impact. We had many story-telling exercises that helped us to engage and bond as a group – watch out for her book in January 2014 if you are a facilitator or community leader.

  • Women’s Gathering: oh what joy to be given an Open Space slot to host a women’s gathering with women from Canada, USA, Columbia, Sweden, India … and me from the UK. I have written a Blog Post about the insights gleaned.

    Women’s wisdom shared in a Circle gathering …. from many different cultures
  • A Men’s Circle: inspired by a growing conversation all week about the feminine energy rising, Gary Malkin of the Wisdom of the World project and an award-winning composer, decided to host a Men’s Circle. He gave me feedback on what came from the men sharing … and I grabbed my video camera. See my Blog Post: How men are feeling in the Rise of the Feminine.

  • Founding Families launched: Betsy Hall McKinney spoke of her passion for bringing women together (you can guess we got on well!) and launched Founding Families, a pro-democracy movement in the USA that calls upon men and women to partner as never before in human history. Her TEDx talk is inspiring. I love the Declaration of Interdependence that she has drafted.

  • a chance meeting in a Ugandan slum in 2004 and Millie’s paper bead necklaces sowed the seeds for a huge export & training organisation that has empowered thousands of women out of poverty. Read about the regular Hollyhock Gatherer Torkin Wakefield – her presentation on Beads for Life which she co-founded was electrifying. It seems many great initiatives are seeded or enlivened by Hollyhock energy.

  • Poverty powerhouse: little did I know that the quiet Indian woman next to me in the yoga class was a world-class pioneer author with over 25 years of experience working at the World Bank, the UN, and NGOs as an independent international poverty, gender and development advisor. Even though Deepa Narayan was leading a women’s programme at Hollyhock after our gathering she still made time for me in her lunch-break for a truly inspiring chat on video. We talked about India post the Delhi rape case … watch out India is all I can say (to be posted).

  • Elder’s Wisdom: As is usual in countries where settlers live amongst the First Nations people, it is customary to include a welcome to country and an acknowledgement to the ancestors who have gone before. Chief Phil Lane Jr did the opening welcome address and led the closing ceremony for us all. He is a traditionally recognized Hereditary Chief and Elder of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations. Chief Phil Lane Jr is an internationally recognized indigenous leader in human and community development, and is a frequent speaker on behalf of indigenous rights and wisdom. I asked for 5 minutes of his time for a video conversation about women in First Nation cultures and we ended up having a 30 minute chat! (To be posted).
  • Inspiring stories of healing: Diana shared her journey back to life from stage four lung cancer in a 5-minute Ignite talk. It was a wow to hear how she had done that after being given just a 1% chance of survival. What was also fascinating was what her husband shared in his own 5-minute talk. That was an eye-opener as you don’t often get to hear from the ‘reluctant’ husband. I did a brief video interview with both of them – this is definitely one to share with all those rational-minded partners who roll their eyes when we talk about the alternative healing modalities we are willing to try out. (To be posted).

  • Gina-5and finally .. but not least…. The nightmare awaiting students: I thought I’d hang out with the younger folks one lunchtime but our conversation gave me indigestion. They told me about the student debt situation in the USA. The facts are unpalatable. Again, I grabbed my iphone camera so that Derek Hoshiko could explain what is happening … shame on those who make the laws that allow this huge burden of debt to fall on the shoulders of the next generation. Get this … student debt surpassed credit card debt as the largest form of debt in the USA and in 2012 more history was made as the amount of unpaid student debt topped $1 trillion dollars. Derek & his pals were plotting ways to take action to help students. See my Blog Post: The Nightmare awaiting students.

And these are just a few highlights !

To be continued: More videos to come in a few days when I have finished editing

gina-4I bet you’d like to go next year wouldn’t you? It is not up to me to invite folks but if it has appeal then please email me and I will pass on your request. Check out the really interesting programme of events and courses that Hollyhock offers from March to November each year.

Anyway, for now enjoy these shorts videos .. which did you find most interesting?

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/

11th annual Hope in Shadows Contest

by Rosanne Sia via Pivot Legal Society

Last Saturday, a woman I’d never met walked right up to me, wrapped her arms around me, and squeezed me into a bear hug. “I love you guys,” she said.

We were standing inside Pivot Legal Society’s office where I was helping to hand out official Hope in Shadows photography contest cameras. The room, which staff had cleared the night before of office desks and chairs now piled high in the tiny “Green Room” meeting space, was crammed full of DTES community members lining up to receive their cameras. Outside, I could hear soft guitar music playing on stage at the block party. But inside, there was a much louder buzz of excitement.

01.jpgSaturday was the 11th annual launch of the Hope in Shadows photography contest and first ever block party for DTES community members. We’d already handed out a smaller number of cameras at our partner organizations: a Latin American group at Watari, the DTES Women’s Centre, Ray-Cam Co-Operative Centre, and Oppenheimer Park. But Saturday was the big event. And community members didn’t disappoint, with over one hundred and sixty turning up to collect their cameras and enter the three-day photography contest.

In almost any other situation, the hug I received that day would have felt odd. An invasion of my personal space. But that day it felt natural. Since I joined Pivot Legal Society as an intern exactly one month ago today, DTES residents have brought me into the incredible community that surrounds Hope in Shadows.

Over the past month, I’ve been putting up Hope in Shadows posters inside residences, SROs, service organizations, and shelters in the DTES. “Hi, I’m from Pivot Legal Society. Can we put up a poster for Hope in Shadows?” I’d ask, after being buzzed into the building.

I’d watch the face of the person at the front desk change from a tired wariness to a bright, friendly smile: “Oh, it’s that time of the year again, is it? Put it up right over there so everyone will see it.”

Then, more often than not, they’d launch into a conversation about how they knew so-and-so who’d won last year, or how they’d entered every year for the past 10 years and still hadn’t won anything but weren’t about to give up, or how their mother had been featured in the winning photograph a few years back.

It was as if carrying a Hope in Shadows poster let me into a secret club.

If I was let into this secret club it’s one that couldn’t exist without Carolyn Wong, who has coordinated Hope in Shadows for the past five years. It’s under her leadership that the contest has developed into one that is truly community run. Pivot staff and a dedicated team of volunteers may have been putting up posters and handing out cameras, but it’s the community that has made this contest HIS_CameraHandout02_revised.jpgtheir own.

Last Saturday, I heard many photo ideas from contestants: Their daughter in a garden of flowers, symbolizing the growth of the next generation. Fish swimming in a large tank of water, showing the peaceful relaxation they feel in the community. Contestants told me their ideas, and then rushed out into the sunshine eager to start taking photos.

What will they come up with? We don’t know yet. But the theme of the contest is “what I value in my community.” We asked contestants to answer this question in an interactive art activity at the block party. They told us they valued: “random kindness,” “acts of beauty,” “beautiful smiles for a wonderful DTES community,” “my friends,” “getting to laugh,” “anyone who struggles to get by, but still goes out of their way to help another in need.”

I’ve been privileged to experience these values first hand. Soon, so too can the rest of Vancouver, when the 2014 Hope in Shadows calendar is released this fall.


Social Change with Hollyhock

social_change trio

Leadership. Skills. Connection. 

Sharpen skills, deepen impact, generate new possibilities. SCI gathers seasoned and emerging innovators to strengthen capacity, collaborations, and success of the social change sector.  SCI enhances organizational effectiveness, provides leadership development opportunities, and generates new possibilities through interactive workshops, creative practices, dialogue circles, and community building. Join us for this 5-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.
Why attend SCI 2013? You will gain insight into the latest movement and organizing strategies, online tools, campaigns, leadership practices while immersed in the stunning natural setting of Canada’s leading educational retreat centre~ Hollyhock. This is your chance to break away from the daily pressures of work and life. To think big, focus your intensions, sharpen your skills, and make life long connections.
Your Social Change Institute Conference Hosts include: Joel Solomon and Cara Pike andTheodora Lamb.
Joel Solomon is President of Renewal Partners, Chairman of Renewal2 Fund and Board Chair of Hollyhock. renewal2.ca

Cara Pike
 is the director of Climate Access, founding board member of the Global Footprint Network and an advisory board member of David Suzuki’s Stonehouse Standing Circle. climateaccess.org

Theodora Lamb
‘s passion for digital advocacy led her to work in social media where she helps strengthen online communities. She is a web consultant with Capulet Communications. capulet.com

“SCI is truly a unique event. Highlights included meeting activists and leaders working in different sectors and from different constituencies to share the best ideas. Learning about the challenges and successes of their campaigns was invaluable, we don’t get this kind of opportunity to learn from each other and give feedback.” ~ Seth Klein, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
The opportunity to addend Social Change Institute is by invite only unless you’re returning as an alumni. You can request an invite and learn more about the conference at scihollyhock.org.
Join Joel Solomon, Cara Pike and Theodora Lamb for Social Change, on Cortes Island June 5-9, 2013

Meet Our Friend SPUD

binonporchFounded on the idea that there should be a more sustainable way to buy your groceries, SPUD.com has been connecting local farmers and food producers to the community by using a just-in-time home delivery system. The result is fresher food, and healthy convenience delivered to your door. Similar to an online farmer’s market, SPUD strives to make local, healthy food accessible and the new norm for everyday grocery shopping. Every product from SPUD is certified organic or locally and sustainably produced. Customers can choose from a wide variety including local and organic produce, organic grass-fed meats, gluten-free products, organic dairy products, healthy snacks, and more.

While working with local farmers and food producers is a priority at SPUD, so is delivering local and organic groceries to customers in a green and sustainable way. Every purchase at SPUD includes an “Eco-Audit” that allows customers to track their carbon footprint reduction by not driving a car to the grocery store.

SPUD has also developed a program to collect and reuse a wide variety of difficult to recycle items through TerraCycle’s Brigades collection programs. For every item recovered, TerraCycle donates 2 cents to charity. SPUD will match that amount for a total of 4 cents per item. Once collected, items are upcycled into a variety of consumer products such as toys and office supplies.

COMlogo-125x125SPUD is also active in the six communities it serves, supporting local community organizations and charities through it’s Community Outreach Program. By utilizing their delivery fleet, SPUD is able to collect donations from customers during various drives throughout the year. Whether the drive be focused on prom dresses, winter coats, school supplies or canned goods, all donations go directly to the charitable foundations SPUD is partnered with. Learn more about SPUD and how it’s contributing to a cleaner, greener and easier way to shop at www.spud.com.