Chicken Soup Friends

Submitted by Devon Kerslake on October 13, 2016 - 4:47am

Please click here to view the October 2016 edition


Welcome to your October Edition of the Seekers Journal

Recently, Paul Born shared an awesome story with me about Jennifer McRae, of the RADIUS Fellowships in Radical Doing program, and how she is putting the teachings of Deepening Community in to practice. In her blog, The "Chicken Soup Friends" she shares both a practical and symbolic way of deepening community. Only got a minute? I welcome you to read her feature story below to learn more!

This Fall, there has been so much positive activity in our learning community, our neighbourhoods and beyond. We have been exploring synergies with our Vibrant Communities Canada colleagues and are thrilled to be joining forces on a topic that is close to both of our hearts. This October, we will be exploring the topic of "Neighburhood Strategies that Reduce Poverty" and we kick off the series with Victor Willis, the Executive Director of PARC (Parkdale Activity - Recreation Centre).

There are also lots of resources and learning opportunities available! Al Etmanski and Vickie Cammack, who delivered a powerful key note address at the Deepening Community gathering in Edmonton this past June, have now made their "Caring is Life" presentation available - I welcome you to read it and be inspired. And, did you know that Al and Vickie's incredible IMPACT-Ability learning series is launching this month? We have joined forces with Plan Insitute to host this amazing series and the spots are already filling up quickly. I welcome you to register for any (or all!) of the 7 parts - it's a wonderful opportunity to dive deeply into the many facets of impact as it is explored through the ingenuity of people with disabilities and their families.

In this edition of the Seekers Journal, I share stories from our community that really demonstrate how people are thinking intentionally about how to put this important work in to practice. Please join me in savouring some great examples of ingenuity and inspiration from our Learning Community members and consider what elements might help advance your own work.

And, as always, I welcome you to share your stories.


Chicken Soup Friends


By: Jennifer McRae

It was a Friday night. I was at home, lying on the couch watching an episode of who knows what through barely open eyes. I was exhausted. Around 3am that morning, I’d gotten in a cab and taken myself to the Emergency Room. I was, the ER doctor told me, having a gallbladder attack (nice ring to it, eh?). Everything turned out just fine but I had to cancel some meetings on Friday and get some rest.

The knock on my front door startled me from my barely conscious state on the couch. When I peaked through the window before answering, I saw Charles, my (then) boss and friend standing there with something in his hands. When our eyes met through the window, he gave me a big grin and a little wave. I opened the door, and he said “I just wanted to make sure you are ok. And I made you some chicken soup so you feel better.”

I think I just stood and stared at him. I could feel a whole complex gaggle of emotions welling up in my throat. On the verge of tears, I stammered out some underwhelming version of “thanks” and invited him in. He gave me another hug and said he could not stay and told me to call if I needed anything.

Read the full post

Learn from the Community


Lethbridge, AB

Neighbourhood Strategy 

Read the Case Study



Hamilton, ON

Neighbourhood Strategy

Read the Case Study


London, ON

Neighbourhood Stategy

Read the Case Study



Victoria, BC

Neighbourhood Strategy

Read the Case Study

Dancing in the Rain


By: Christie Nash

A group of neighbours gathered in the middle of King Street in Peterborough, ON on Saturday September 17, 2016. Our heads kept turning left and right, making sure no cars were coming. We were holding back our instinct to get off the road and make sure that kids weren’t darting into oncoming traffic. It took us some time to feel safe on the road knowing that barricades were set up to stop cars from passing through. In this moment, we were reclaiming the street as a public space where we could re-imagine it as a car-free space where children and adults can play, be physically active, and experience our neighbourhood in a new way.

Read the full post

Learn more about Local Deepening Community Initiatives

Neighbourhood Strategy Built by Neighbours, for Neighbours


By: The Kitchener Neighbourhood Team

"From the very beginning, we wanted the Strategy to be driven and created by residents," shares Mike Farwell, the resident co-chair of the Neighbourhood Strategy project team.

"Based on the variety of ways people were involved and the number of hours people contributed during our community engagement, I am confident the final recommendations of the Neighbourhood Strategy will be firmly rooted in the community." The numbers are in and the project team is very excited about the deep and meaningful ways people provided their input: 18 members of the Neighbourhood Strategy Project Team spent 888 hours guiding the project at 53 project team and subcommittee meetings. Add it all up, and that's 5,343 people and 3,842 hours of conversation dedicated to the making of a Neighbourhood Strategy. That's like talking neighbourhoods for 160 days straight!

Read the full post

Visit the interactive map

Caring is Life


By: Vickie Cammack and Al Etmanksi

"Caring for one another creates alchemy in our communities while unleashing a force deep within us. It nourishes our social immune system and reveals our humanity." - Vickie Cammack

We live in Surrey BC. Until recently we avoided telling people that. We preferred to say Vancouver or near Vancouver. If pushed, we would say we live in White Rock or Ocean Park or South Surrey. But never Surrey. The reason can best be summed up by a member of one of the Community Associations who was quoted recently as saying, “I’m kind of embarrassed to be living in Surrey right now. We’re back to being the running joke.” When I used to go to the comedy clubs in Vancouver one of easiest ways for a fumbling comedian to get a laugh was to simply say, “Surrey.”

Embedded in that word was scorn, ridicule, disgust, embarrassment. The message was clear - This is a place to avoid. Who would want to live there? Well nearly half a million people do. Surrey, is the second largest city in BC and 12th largest in Canada. It welcomes 800 new residents a month.

Of course, Surrey has its challenges.  In December 2013 Julie Paskell, a 53-year-old hockey mom, was murdered outside an arena in the Surrey suburb of Newton (about 10 km from where we live) while waiting to pick up her son who was refereeing a hockey game. This tragedy further tarnished Surrey’s reputation as the crime capital of Canada. Surrey’s institutions and formal authorities have not been idle in responding.  There is lots of good work underway. We have a crime prevention society that conducts safety watches, the business improvement association is cleaning up graffiti and the current Mayor was elected on a campaign to hire more RCMP, which she has done. 

Still violent crime is up 36% this year. Gun shootings and gang violence are on the increase. The media as you can imagine is having a field day. Fear, especially in Newton is growing. 

But there is another side to Surrey that the media often miss. 

The force of caring is on the rise.

Read the full piece

Join us for Al and Vickie's 7-part IMPACT-Ability Learning Series

Upcoming Events


Evaluating Community Impact
November 15-17, 2016
Hamilton, Ontario

Mark Cabaj and Liz Weaver have received overwhelming praise for the success of this three-day gathering, and now it is back, but with updated curriculum and a new workshop format that will help you develop concrete elements of an evaluation strategy for your work back in your own community. The workshop will take place from November 15-17 in Hamilton, ON.
Do you manage programs that need to be evaluated? Are you part of a collaborative that is trying to understand how to evaluate your work? Are you a community development professional who wants to make the connection between learning and community change? If so, this workshop may be right for you.

Register Here


Deepening Community for Collective Impact
November 14 in Red Deer, AB
November 30 in Waterloo, ON

Join Paul Born, one of North America’s top Community Engagement leaders, for a one-day workshop in Red Deer, AB or Waterloo, ON to learn how to engage and deepen your community in order to build a common agenda for large scale change.

Learn More about the Red Deer Workshop

Learn More about the Waterloo Workshop


Upcoming Webinars 


IMPACT-Ability: The Ingenuity and Creativity of People with Disabilities and Their Families is a Force that Continues to Change the World

Speakers: A 7-Part Learning Series with Vickie Cammack and Al Etmanski
 October 24th, 2016 - February 27th, 2017 | 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EST

Impact is a very popular word today. Change-makers, grassroots activists, politicians, funders and policy makers all seek impact. By impact they mean the ability to change laws and funding priorities as well as to shift attitudes, values and popular beliefs. In other words, change that lasts and makes a big difference.

Vickie Cammack and Al Etmanski have spent the last dozen years studying the field of social innovation to learn more about impact. They have discovered that people with disabilities and their families have a distinct talent for achieving impact. They have “impact-ability” because they are continuously inventing and creating their way out of adversity.

Register here!


Neighbourhood-Based Strategies that Reduce Poverty : The Parkdale People's Economy Project
October 27th,  2016 | 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EST

How do we bring together numerous diverse non-profits, to review and focus on aligning our organizational mandates with community-wide priorities, that aim to build a healthy, equitable neighbourhood? Join this webinar with Victor Willis, Executive Director of PARC, to take-in lessons and challenges about how diverse organizations have worked collectively to move beyond organizational boundaries and build more equitable local economies.

Register here!


Change for the Audacious: In Conversation with Steve Waddell
Oct 26, 2016 | 1:00 - 2:00 p.m. EST

A conversation with Steve Waddell about his newly released book, Change for the Audacious: A Doer’s Guide. If you are curious about the strategies needed for large systems change and are eager to discover the best organizing structures, tools and leadership needed, join us.

Register here!


A Game Changer Approach to Poverty Reduction Strategy and Evaluation

Speakers: Mark Holmgren and Mark Cabaj
October 14th, 2016 | 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. EST

Too often evaluation is a mysterious noise. We can’t discern a beat we can tap our feet to. The melody we seek is elusive. From a poverty reduction perspective, we are inundated with the voices of our clients, funders, donors, colleagues, governments, business leaders, and labour counterparts. Reducing or ending poverty is the music we want to create and listen to, but how can we lessen the noise that envelopes us and increase our capacity to make this music together?

Register here!