The Ben and Jerry’s Problem

Nope, nothing to do with too much ice cream. In a lively discussion of social purpose business in the US and UK, Tom Kelly  (U. of North Carolina)just described  the challenge that can occur when a social enterprise underperforms financially because of its social/environmental focus and becomes vulnerable to shareholder lawsuits.Interesting stuff at the Philanthropy and the Law Conference here in Winnipeg.


A Reason to Celebrate

Last night we had the priviledge of receiving a cheque for $103,500 to the Lawyers Legacy for Children Fund held at Hamilton Community Foundation, donated as part of the proceeds of the 2011 Hamilton Lawyers’ Show, A Man For All Seasons.  On so many levels this was a remarkable accomplishment and worthy of celebration.  As one of a few “non lawyers” in the room,  I felt proud and inspired to see such a large and varied group from our local legal community come together to celebrate the success of their huge commitment of time and talent in putting on A Man For All Seasons last June, in addition to the long term benefit that this effort will provide to the young people of this community, through the fund at HCF as well as the broader community as a result of an additional gift made to Theatre Aquarius from the proceeds.  The level of commitment, passion and collaboration that all involved brought to this project is inspirational and, as one lawyer noted in conversation, quite reflective of the spirit within our legal community that is somewhat unique to Hamilton.  Hats off to all of you!


Another Great HCF Annual General Meeting

In addition to celebrating another year of solid accomplishment, today we said a sad goodbye to several board members who have completed their service to HCF. Board Members Robert Crockford, Eric Girt, Geoff Hogarth, Sarah Murphy, Graham Browne, and PJ Mercanti all leave a positive legacy of contribution. We also thanked our departing past Chair Dr. Lindsey George for her long and distinguished leadership. Finally, outgoing Board Chair Dr. Gary Warner proudly passed the torch to incoming Chair Paul Gibel. HCF tradition of strong governance continued today. Gary been a great leader at HCF and in the broader community. We move forward with confidence in our Board and Staff leadership and optimism about the impact we are making on the changing trajectory of Hamilton.


Speaking to International Revitalizing Downtowns Summit in Hamilton

I am excited to be presenting this afternoon to the Revitalizing Downtowns Summit http://www.revitalizingdowntowns.net/. My panel includes senior leaders from Community Foundations in both Cleveland and Indianapolis with some amazing experience in partnering to develop great public spaces. The conference also includes some remarkable people like Pam Blais and Ken Greenberg who have done so much to shape thinking about urbanism in Canada and around the world. We are really fortunate that the conference has come to Hamilton for the first time, signaling both hope about the future of our downtown and challenging us to action the lessons of so many other cities that remain far ahead of us in renewal.


The long-term view: difficult but necessary

As the parent of two students in Hamilton’s public secondary system, I was especially interested in the two guests for the Foundation’s final Vital Signs show for the season:  HWDSB director John Malloy, and board chair Tim Simmons.  While I confess that my children’s school is not one of those directly affected by the accommodation review , I know many families who are and I have a sense of the depth of emotion that goes beyond the pages of the newspaper.

I hope you will take the time to watch the program.  It presents clearly the board’s rationale for the tough decisions it is making.  Both Mr. Malloy and Mr. Simmons are clear that declining enrolment and deteriorating facilities are concerns, but the focus is on putting resources into what kids need to be successful – now, five years from now and beyond.

More important than the decisions already made are those that lie ahead, with respect to programs, boundaries and transportation; decisions that are intended to create the type of diverse learning environment in which research shows students learn better.  As Mr. Malloy states, by offering more access to the range programs that kids need to be successful, “we open doors that, right now, they don’t know exist”.  He recognizes the complexities and the concerns but asserts that diverse programming that attracts a diverse student body is one of those things that works.  Creating that kind of learning community and engaging the community around that guiding principle, he says is “important, significant and challenging work…but our work wouldn’t be finished until we went there and that’s our plan.”

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one thing that is indisputable for me is that the school board and its trustees are making brave decisions, with the community’s best interests at heart.  They are fully aware of the associated emotion and the difficulties, but also steadfast in their belief that we must take a long-term view for the success of the Hamilton’s students.


More Recognition for Spec’s Code Red Series from Canada’s Scientific Leadership

http://www.chnet-works.ca/index.php?option=com_easyblog&view=blogger&layout=listings&id=6753&Itemid=50&lang=en More well deserved recognition for the work of Journalist Steve Buist, researchers Neil Johnston and Pat DeLuca and the leadership and commitment of the Hamilton Spectator in producing the Code Red Series. This hi-lights yet again many of the reasons that Hamilton Community Foundation remains focused on the devastating impacts of concentrated poverty in Hamilton. 


Community Foundations of Canada Board comes to Hamilton

HCF is thrilled to be hosting the Board of Community Foundations of Canada on Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. In addition to conducting CFC board meetings there will be a busy schedule of things happening in Hamilton. This afternoon we will be in the Beasley neighbourhood with officials from Benjamin Moore for a media conference announcing community grants for paint and expert help for community organizations doing neighbourhood improvement work.

Tomorrow the CFC Annual General Meeting will feature a keynote address by Trivaris CEO and volunteer extrordinaire Mark Chamberlain, talking about the importance of community foundation leadership to community change across Canada. The CFC Board will also be saying goodbye to our friend Vincie Travale, who will be leaving the Board after many years of distinguished service to the community foundation movement both nationally and here in Hamilton. Thanks Vincie, for all that you have done!


Using the ‘f’ word at work

In this case, the ‘f’ word is fundraising – which community foundations don’t do in the traditional sense. Despite that today I attended a presentation of our local Association of Fundraising Professionals chapter to hear what new President & CEO, Andrew Watt, had to say about the profession and the association.  He gave an interesting and compelling talk and the core messages I left with were that charities should focus on impact in their work and they should keep an eye to the big picture to maintain a focus on the long term balanced with addressing the current needs.

We often hear from the organizations in our community that in this volatile economic time the community’s needs continue to grow while fundraising for those needs remains an ongoing challenge. Andrew suggests this economic state of ups and downs is our new normal. This emphasizes the need for the organizations in our community to continue to be innovative and to change with the times.

Andrew shared a great example of increasing impact and leveraging support on a grand scale that shows the importance of being innovative and open to creative new solutions…

Bob Geldof founded Live Aid concerts in the mid 1980’s, at the time to support famine relief in Africa. This effort raised just over $245 million, no small feat. In 2005, Live8 concerts were held and instead of asking for donations people were asked for their name as a ‘global call to action against poverty’ – 30 million people obliged. As a result, one of the promises made by the G8 leaders five days following the concert was $50 billion more aid per year by 2010. More information on the promises can be found on the Live8website.

As Andrew put it so nicely, ‘it’s about change, not charity’.


Remembering A Great Teacher, Don “Doc” Ferguson

Sad to hear of the passing of Don “Doc” Ferguson”, who was a great teacher, basketball coach and mentor to several generations of Westdale kids. I was so fortunate to have had Fergy’s support, guidance and encouragement during my time as a student, athlete and coach at Westdale. It probably helped my cause that when I arrived at Westdale as a 4’11″ shrimp in Grade nine with a burning desire to play point guard on the basketball team, Coach Ferguson was a believer and the only guy in building smaller than I was. Along with many kids that had the benefit of Don’s wisdom and generosity, I was fortunate to have known this great man. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Marie and the Ferguson family. http://www.lifenews.ca/thespec/profile/276984–ferguson-donald-gordon-doc


Urbanicity Turns 1!

I have really enjoyed being a feature columnist with this great Hamilton focused urban broadsheet that Martinus Geleynse publishes monthly. Urbanicity recently celebrated its first birthday and went live with a great website. Here then for your reading pleasure is one of my columns from last year on the importance of building inclusive neighborhoods.

http://urbanicity.ca/2011/05/inclusive-neighbourhoods/