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Here’s a great quote from Peter Block’s book: Community – The Structure of Belonging, page 88:

“In addition to convening and naming the question, we add listening to the critical role of leadership. Listening may be the single most powerful action the leader can take. Leaders will always be under pressure to speak, but if building social fabric is important, and sustained transformation is the goal, then listening becomes the greater service.

“This kind of leadership–convening, naming the question, and listening–is restorative and produces energy rather than consumes it. It is leadership that creates accountability as it confronts people with their freedom. In this way, engagement-centered leaders bring kitchen table and street corner democracy into being.”


On the 2nd of April, Maya Bobrowska and I (Pamela Schreiner) took part in a High-level Meeting at the UN in New York City on “Happiness and Well Being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm”. And then on the 3rd and 4th of April, Maya and I took part in the Civil Society working group. We are committed to continue the exploration and have a positive impact.

I felt so privileged to be part of this meeting. It included everything from economic recommendations to a spiritual statement by leaders from many different faiths. It gave me great hope that we are truly moving to a world where we care for all. The world “altruistic” was mentioned numerous times as a necessary attribute of a new economic paradigm.

For more information, see

For a news summary about this event see:

And here’s a blog item from one of the spiritual leaders who attended:

And if you want to hear some of the speeches from April 2:

This started 4 decades ago in Bhutan when the king noted that GDP is not enough. What we need is GNH (Gross National Happiness).


We’re hosting a collaborative event in Ottawa

 – We want peace groups to work together so that our dreams for a more peaceful Ottawa and world bear real fruit.

When – Sunday, 1 April, 1-5 PM

Where – Help us find a venue for 50

Who – City of Peace Ottawa ( and KnowingOurCommunity (  (add your group as a sponsor) invite members of peace groups and other folks actively working for peace.

What –  We don’t want to create another group, we want to be a Nameless, Amorphous, Organic, Minimal Administration between already-existing organizations and groups.

How – Come to a meeting facilitated by KnowingOurCommunity using leading-edge dialogue-based methodologies for bringing people together for meaningful conversation, participative leadership and getting the results that are deeply desired. (Anyone else that feels called can join us to design the event).

To RSVP or for more information contact Pamela Schreiner or Peter Stockdale – or leave a comment on this post.

La soirée a débuté vers 18:00 hres par une présentation de Marie Lemay, la première dirigeante de la CCN, sur la planification de l’avenir de la capitale du Canada. Le but était d’informer les participants de l’intention, de la stratégie et de l’ampleur de cette démarche de consultation, ainsi que du travail déjà accompli depuis quelques mois à travers le pays.
Ensuite, vers 19:00 hres, trois thèmes de discussions ont été présentés, pour lesquels les participants en petits groupes autour de tables rondes avaient 30 minutes par thème pour soumettre leurs opinions et suggestions.
Nous étions cinq personnes dont l’animatrice, à l’une des deux tables francophones. Les thèmes abordés étaient comme suit avec les résultats de nos discussions.
Une capitale durable.
Les cours d’eau autour de la capitale (notamment les rivières Outaouais, Gatineau et Rideau, ainsi que le canal Rideau) doivent être propres; ils doivent également être accessibles par un aménagement invitant et rassembleur des berges. Ces cours d’eau doivent également être valorisés selon des perspectives environnementale, sociale et historique. Considérant qu’ils sont des éléments importants de l’histoire de la région, notamment par la présence des peuples autochtones, la perspective historique doit être bien représentée et inclure l’influence des peuples autochtones.
On s’est rappelé comment antérieurement l’endroit de la Capitale nationale était un endroit rassembleur pour les autochtones qui venaient par voie des 5 rivières environnantes séjourner sur l’Île Victoria qu’on appelait l’Île de la tortue. En souvenir du rôle important que représentait ces cours d’eau, il nous a semblé normal que la CCN assure la qualité de ces eaux et de ses berges.
On a également soulevé l’importance que la capitale assure l’équité sociale pour tous, considérant que l’aspect social constitue un élément important de la durabilité.
Lors de la plénière, la préoccupation des cours d’eau ainsi que la place des autochtones est ressortie à quelques reprises.
Une capitale représentative.
La représentativité de la capitale qui nous est apparue la plus significative fut Ottawa-Gatineau comme la Ville de la paix. On a reconnu plusieurs éléments qui déjà annonçaient cette possible vocation tels que : la Tour de la Paix, la plaque de Cité de la paix qu’a déjà Ottawa, la flamme de la paix et le Prix Nobel de la paix de Lester B. Pearson.
Afin de supporter davantage ce rôle qu’on voyait mondial, on a émis l’idée d’organiser un centre dédié où seraient facilitées des rencontres régulières de processus de dialogue. Des gens de partout dans le monde viendraient témoigner et présenter des sujets de discussions pour promouvoir la paix.
On voyait Ottawa-Gatineau reconnue comme Ville de la Paix au même titre que Paris en tant que Ville Lumière.
Lors de la plénière plusieurs participants à d’autres tables ont aussi exprimé cette vocation de Ville de la Paix. On a ajouté quelques suggestions auxquelles nous sommes d’accord telles que la construction de lieux pour loger un Centre de dialogue et un Cercle de toutes les nations sur l’Île Victoria.

Une capitale animée.
Pour animer la capitale, nous avons suggéré l’aménagement d’endroits rassembleurs tels que le site de l’Astrolab, la sculpture de l’araignée « Maman » (en y ajoutant des bancs), ainsi que l’ajout de mobilier urbain original (bancs, parasols, tables, surfaces de jeux, etc.) dans certains parcs pour attirer les gens et favoriser les rencontres.
Nous avons également suggéré des moyens de transport originaux et sympathiques pour inciter les gens à visiter la ville agréablement (tel un véhicule à plusieurs pédaleurs).
Lors de la plénière, on a suggéré l’aménagement de locaux de loisirs publics chauffés destinés à rassembler les gens même en hiver (comme le chalet de la montagne à Montréal).

Joanne et Pierre, de Gatineau.

Ottawa’s City Hall has a beautiful, inspiring peace plaque a short distance from the Laurier Ave entrance.

Today, as part of a group of 4 women, we visited Occupy Ottawa. We went with an open mind to find out what is happening here. We found a great variety of people — young and old, people from all walks of life. They were organized – people were fed, people cleaned up, recycling was being picked up….  I was intrigued that it seemed to be leaderless. And the General Assembly method of facilitation was fascinating — it seems to include whole people — i.e. it included the mind, the heart and the body. I will go back and learn more about the communication.

We bracketed our visit to the Occupation with visits to 2 memorials in our capital. Before visiting the people in Confederation Park, we visited the Human Rights Monument:

Afterwards, as we were leaving, we stopped at the Peace Plaque in Ottawa’s City Hall. I often stop here to meditate the words of this plaque into the space of City Hall and Ottawa.

What a beautiful outing!


On January 12, I had fish and chips for supper with Peter Goldsbury and Andrée Mathieu on top of the hill in Devonport, New Zealand. Even though Andrée lives a few hours from me in Canada, I first met her in New Zealand.

I learned more about the Tipu Ake leadership model that started with a Maori school wanting to get better outcomes. They used their ancient teachings to transform the school. For example, they recognize that ideas germinate in the undercurrents or chaos. The model and this inspirational story can be seen at .

Peter has taken this organic model and applied it to organizations and project management.

Here are Peter and Andrée atop the hill.

Here is me with the houses of Devonport in the background and the Rangitoto Island volcano.


On January 8, 2011, I had coffee with Margaret Jefferies in Lyttelton, New Zealand. My friend Joan Huling of Gore, New Zealand introduced me to Margaret. I was grateful that Margaret set aside some time for me and my mother.

Margaret told us about her community-building projects in Lyttelton. They have started a farmer’s market, community gardens and more. See their web site for more info:


I was intrigued with the TimeBank that they’re using. Members contribute and use time. They’ve found this to be a useful community-building system. And it has been especially useful after the earthquakes in both September of 2010 and February of 2011.

I’m now looking if there have been TimeBanks started in Ottawa. Let me know if you know of one.

Here is Margaret Jefferies and my mother, Sascha Rehmer at the market in Lyttelton.


On December 21, we (Paul, Maya and Pamela) interviewed Mark Kuznicki by phone. Mark’s consulting practice is remarkk . Mark started ChangeCamp , the tag line is: Re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation. They hope to ignite a self-organizing movement for positive change in cities, towns and neighbourhoods across Canada. Pamela attended ChangeCampOttawa last summer and saw how their unconference was an adaption of the Open Space methodology and how it was being used to further Open Data for the city of Ottawa. Pamela was intrigued with how technology and conversation can weave together for generative change.

Mark brings together both online and offline methods. Mark’s mission is around the resilience question.

Mark recommended some books that he has found helpful:

  • The Ingenuity Gap by Thomas Homer Dixon
  • Community: The Structure of Belonging by Peter Block

Mark suggested that we connect with the co-working community. For example, in Ottawa we have The Code Factory . In Toronto, they have the Centre for Social Innovation .

And here is Maya’s drawing that appeared as we conversed:



We’re continuing networking and speaking to others with similar interests as ours.

On December 3, we had a conference call with Gerry Kirk of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.


Gerry is an Agile Coach who works with teams and companies using a values-based and human dynamics approach. In 2008 he took part in an Open Space forum in Toronto and returned to his town wanting to introduce this new approach. He feels that we are entering the Age of Participation. We now need to work with tools to create engagement, to read and share. He believes in going with the energy and in quick wins to convince municipal authorities of the benefits of these approaches. They should see enough benefit to want to offer financing. He had a wonderful name for what he did: Community Gardening. At this time, municipalities are not equipped with the infrastructure needed to create community. Participatory methods such as OS, World Café and Change camp are tools that can pave the way to community.

His Strategy for Success: Experimentation

Since 2008 he has experimented with different versions of Open Space and has included Change Camp and World Café. He facilitated 1 day events under Change Camp banners, a World Café evening event resembling a speed dating event under the banner of Change Salon. He facilitated Innovation Games and Panel Discussions and on-line Ideas Forum and Portal. He also introduced events such as Ignite where interested participants had 5 minutes to talk about their subject. He hosted Pod Camps, an OS event with topics set in advance. He believes in being very creative and just being out there as much as possible in order to create as much momentum as possible. The results of all the events appear on-line where people can react or join with groups who are ready for action.

Some of the themes that emerged during his events include: how can we sustain change? What’s Important to you? How to build a vibrant community? Other themes have included: Rethinking how government and citizens engage each other. He kept most themes broad.

Next Step

What we found exciting is that Gerry has gotten the attention of the new Mayor. His next step is to demonstrate to councilors the benefits of creating a democratic infrastructure for their community. Before the end of March, he plans to prepare a project proposal for a Town Hall event in World Café style, financed by the city. This would give him the opportunity to show tangible results that would be enough to promote the idea of including these events on a regular basis by the municipality.

Other Contacts

He recommends that we contact Mark Kuznicki from Toronto who may be of help to us.

Gerry’s web site is:

As we took part in the conference call, Maya was doodling as you can see here. And isn’t this the Community Garden that Gerry was speaking about earlier?

Maya Bobrowska, Joanne Mantha, Pamela Schreiner

On December 1, in the evening, we went on a field trip to Orleans.

Joel Denis organized a community conversation. Although we all participated, Paul is the one in our group who lives in Orleans.

The web site of the Orleans Community Conversation is:


And in the next building, the new city council was celebrating as we were taking part in this community conversation.

Maya Bobrowska, Joanne Mantha, Paul Maillet, Pamela Schreiner


Afterwards, Maya, Joanne and I continued the conversation about community and our beings. Although we all view the world from many different lenses, there is a place where all is the same:

The lenses through which the self perceives -- all around the I AM




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