“To never simplify what is complicated
or complicate what is simple.”
Our process and its findings enabled 4Rs to disrupt and reshape the mainstream narrative around reconciliation with the voices of young Indigenous leaders at the centre.
“Seeding Reconciliation on Uneven Ground” (co-author)
The 4Rs Youth Movement, YMCA Canada & the National Association of Friendship Centres
Client research report
In 2015, during the “Canada 150” celebration of Confederation, I worked with a national youth-led philanthropic partnership to help them experiment with and clarify breakthrough practices in Reconciliation and cross-cultural dialogue for the next 150 years on this land.
This curriculum was a deeply collaborative learning experience, based on narrative interviews that I co-led while coaching practitioners to lead.
Our process kept stories at the forefront, literally and metaphorically. We underlined the real progress and struggle by young people and their allies. The report closes with 5 design principles for how to keep this work alive.
“Adventures in Nest-Building:
How to support place-based youth organizing” (co-author)
The Youth Social Infrastructure (YSI) Collaborative
Funder “Learning Document”
My two years with YSI culminated in an influential ‘learning document’ that I co-authored with other staff and volunteers. Because YSI’s funding future was in limbo, we synthesized our hard-earned lessons about community partnership from the perspective of young leaders.
The stories and recommendations were a call to action for our philanthropic partners. Over the proceeding few months, YSI received over $1 million in additional funding
You can check out the outcomes of my work in developing YSI’s new website and brand below.
“I Will Never Be An Ally, and other discomforting revelations”
Research fellowship, Laidlaw Foundation
This is the second long-form essay in a two-part series that shares my ‘revelations’ about solidarity practices for ‘professional organizers,’ drawing from my experiences as a research fellow with the Laidlaw Foundation in 2015.
The results of my fellowship were also published as an article titled "Seeding New Organizing Patterns from the Soils of the Old," published in the Fall 2015 edition of Actions Speak Louder, a biannual magazine of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG).
Our process began with dozens of interviews that used a ‘user experience’ design methodology called Lean UX.
Community-driven branding shows how
"Good Things Happen"
The Youth Social Infrastructure Collaborative
Client website & communications strategy
Over the course of two years, I led a network of change-makers in the process of co-creating a brand new website and logo that would fuel its growth across Ontario.
Over my contract, we developed and iterated content that broke ground on multiple areas of work that continue to this day:
creating an entirely new website design with extensive copy that could define their new identity
focusing our understanding and language around innovative new areas of work
gathering stories from the past
editing member-written stories about local community work in the Algoma district
big-upping emerging leaders with personal profiles, and
Review: “The Lamento Sessions: Bass Lines of Music History” by Alex Ross
Arts & Culture
As a contributor to Ottawa’s most popular arts & culture publication, I reviewed a multimedia talk by the well-respected New Yorker music critic Alex Ross as part of his book tour for Listen to This.
Writing about music, Elvis Costello once famously quipped, is like dancing about architecture.
This anti-art critic zinger, well-worn though it is in music circles, would seem to undercut the value of a talk like that given by Mr. Ross, held at the National Arts Centre this past Sunday. Then again, how else but through a thoughtful historical critique would you be able to get to the bottom of this doozie of a thought experiment:
What would happen if a time machine were to bring together some late 16th-century Spanish musicians, a continuo section led by Bach, players from Duke Ellington’s 1940s band, and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones?
According to Mr. Ross, who was marking his first appearance in Canada: “They might, after a minute or two of confusion, find common ground.”
It’s that type of left-field historical enquiry that allowed Mr. Ross to connect the dots across generations and geographies of musicians in order to illuminate how recurring motifs, riffs and basslines have peppered the Western cannon from Bach and Monteverdi to Bob Dylan and Mary Poppins.
“Everything is under control”
Short Fiction (Main Feature)
I’ve written fiction and poetry my whole life—usually just for myself and my community of fellow artists and creators. In this case, I decided to submit for publication.
The factors underlying successful project design are—
The words blur out of focus, and I stare through the page.
The factors underlying successful project design are distinct from—
How many times have I read this sentence? I can feel my eyes crossing, and I only barely resist. My perception flutters for a moment, two.
The factors underlying—
Successful design is control. I’m not in control anymore.
—successful project design—
I wasn’t in control anymore. I wasn’t—
There is a tentative knocking at my cubicle’s metal frame. The words leap back from the haze. I jolt upright, only slightly, but more than I would like to let on. My pant-leg is crooked and I straighten it as I swivel around.
“How’s your progress on that report?”
“Yea, of course,” I reply, too quickly. My incoherence is self-evident, to my supervisor and to myself. “I mean, yea,” I fluster out before gathering myself. “It’s almost done. Just finishing the conclusion now.”
She mills around and we exchange pleasantries about our plans for the weekend. But my mind is still elsewhere, crawling through nonsense thought-fragments. Three, four incongruent ideas, overlapping and competing. I’m listening to the words she’s saying, nodding along in all the right places. But I’m actually searching, feeling around for what seemed so important. By the time she has turned to leave, it’s gone. I cradle my head up and to the left, blinking at the yellow-scratch hum of the overhead lights.