Campbell’s Casino … Consultation-less?

What could make this scene better ... than a gigantic casino

I consider myself a reasonably knowledgeable person when it comes to current events – I have a mild addiction to CBC news and have a good ‘ol fashioned love affair with reading good ‘ol fashioned newspapers. Which is why the announcement of a new casino being planned for the False Creek area of Vancouver caught me wayyyy off guard. My mind started running through all the reasons this was clearly a mistake: didn’t Gordon Campbell campaign (way back in the day) on a promise to curb gambling? Isn’t False Creek a burgeoning residential area in great need of schools, community centres, and, well … anything but a 100,000-square-foot monstrosity of a casino? Is this really in line with the aesthetically-conscious urban design plan for Vancouver? Convinced that this was merely an idea – just like the idea a few years back to move the Vancouver Art Gallery into that space – I made a mental note to find out when and where community consultations would be taking place, knowing that there would be a large, engaged group of citizens who would turn out to express their suggestions and concerns.

My confusion grew and frustration blossomed as I scoured news sites later that day to find out how I could become involved in the process. As I read more about the proposed casino, I started taking note of my questions and concerns – if it’s merely replacing the Edgewater casino, why is it 70,000 square feet bigger? With (very valid) concerns about gambling addiction, will this ‘state-of-the-art’ casino implement measures to address this, such as new regulatory technology in Ontario that does not allow self-identified problem gamblers into casinos? With a historical precedent of returning a percentage of gaming revenues back to arts/culture organizations and charities within the community, what benefits will be returned to the city? How much say do our city planners have in the design of the building? With an expressed interest in accelerating construction, will design changes be taken into consideration? If we don’t want it – will it still be constructed?

Sadly, the opportunity to have my questions answered seemed to get more dim as I kept reading: City counsellors have more or less stated that their hands are tied – with the site on provincial land, it is exempt from city zoning. It was also stated quite explicitly that the city is in no position to demand any benefits at all from the development.

Vancouverites should be entitled to have their questions answered, complaints heard, demands made, and wants taken under serious consideration. Our city is young, growing, and still in the process of defining itself – if we adamantly feel that this new casino is not a good ‘fit’ for our city, or have valid concerns about the size, location, design, or revenue distribution, we have the right to have our voices authentically heard. I do hope that community consultations do come to fruition, and they are more than just a tokenistic attempt to appease the masses – and hey, if they do, I hope to see you there.

Community by Design

An iceberg: such an apt visual for design thinking about climate change.

An iceberg: such an apt visual for design thinking about climate change.

Gregor. Gordon. Stephen. I hope you guys are reading (or lackeys managing the blogosphere for these fine fellahs; that’s cool too).

In the past year, arguments have been made that Harvard MBAs ruined the world. While partly true, one could make an equally strong case for Physicists killing Wall Street and sending the world into an economic spiral of despair and Fox News.  Luckily for Copenhagen, the planet and our future, UBC’s Sauder School of Business has a collection of 40 or so MBAs who are poised to save Earth from annihilation the likes of 2012 by employing innovation, business-sense and sustainability by design. “John, what the heck does this all mean?” you ask. Well, it means there’s hope in the world and that UBC is leading the way in harnessing such a thing to create a better community for everyone. Recently, I sneaked into a UBC 2.0 Sustainable Business by Design workshop at the University of British Columbia’s Robson Square campus. Actually, I didn’t sneak in, I just didn’t want to make the Province, CTV, the Vancouver Sun, CBC, and jealous by telling them that The Daily Gumboot was the only media invited to this exclusive event that is, as I type, changing the world.  Alright, perhaps, “snuck in” or “only representation of media” are a little too strong of terms, as might in fact work for UBC and may or not have been invited.

Moving on…

The purpose of the conference is, according to eminent game-changer/world-saver, Dr. James Tansey, “engage students in an active dialogue with world experts on major issues that will shape the business environment in which they spend their careers.” The project focuses particularly on three key frontiers for UBC graduates: the geographic frontier of being a major trading hub between North America and the rest of the world; the technological frontier of UBC being at the epicentre of R&D on the West Coast; and the cultural frontier between, arguably, the Western World and Asia.

The way that students were encouraged to create ideas and concepts was even cooler. Enter Moura Quayle, one of Sauder’s newest faculty members. The group of 40 plus MBAs were shown how to incorporate Design Thinking into their planning. So, what is design thinking? Well, Ms. Quayle has some great explanations for such questions: “design thinking is a collaborative, exploratory process, rooted in user research, in which a multi-disciplinary team applies creative and critical thinking techniques to conceive, test and develop innovative responses to design, policy or business challenges and opportunities.” Design thinking is all about being integrative and holistic, thinking visually and spatially, iterative and non-linear, and it’s a safe way to risk (testing ideas before implementing them).  Now, not everyone is a fan of design thinking. Take Peter Merholz, for example, who argues that design thinking marginalizes the “spreadsheet crowd” and, really, is actually just “social science thinking” in disguise. Ms. Quayle, as I imagine she does all the time, has an answer for this, given that her approach actually fuses “business” and “design” thinking, well, it’s easy to see why Sustainable Business Design lives up to Ron Kellett’s, UBC School of Architecture & Landscape Architecture, quote: “as a matter of survival, successful business will learn to design and continuously improve itself as a matter of course rather than exception…” The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management turned to a Design Thinking concept on the heels of last year’s financial meltdown.

Here’s a brief glimpse of the process (the previous link to Jim Ratcliffe’s blog has six steps, while Moura Quayle’s model below has eight):

  • Define: where is the opportunity?
  • Discover: what are the resources? Engage participation!
  • Re-think: what does it all mean?
  • Envision: brainstorm!
  • Select: what concept should we develop?
  • Develop: how can we translate this concept into tangible, testable form?
  • Deliver: empower and implement.
  • Evaluate: what is our process for ongoing monitoring?

Very important. These concepts are to be arranged, visually-speaking, as part of an interconnected circle into which you can enter through any theme, depending on where your body, heart, mind, and soul are in the design process. ACTIVITY: draw a circle and create eight sections (think pie, people).

Six Thinking Hats - a cool graphic with some expansion below!

Six Thinking Hats - a cool graphic with some expansion below!

If you haven’t already, check out Vancouver’s handsome Mayor’s face on the cover of The Georgia Straight. Gregor Robertson’s vision is to make Vancouver the Greenest City on Earth. Fair enough. Great idea. And it’s going to take more than just him, the Vision Vancouver team and committees of enthusiastically uncompromising bureaucrats. Such a project must be designed by all of us. And here’s where it gets interesting. My suggestion is that, no matter what community you’re trying to build, you engage your clients, collaborators, neighbours, stakeholders, partners, and/or sheep with the following tagline: this is our community by your design. “Our community” implies ownership, inclusiveness and importance – we all have a stake in this community. “Your design” implies collaboration, accountability and impact – you will play a major role in shaping this community with your ideas.

To wrap things up, here are eight simple tools (one for each stage of Moura Quayle’s design thinking formula) that you can use while collaborating with your friends, neighbours and, possibly, sheep to better design your community:

  • Tool 1 – Free Write: just as it sounds, find a blank piece of paper and start writing about ideas!
  • Tool 2 – Asking questions: whether you ask “why?” five times during a conversation or try to ask 10 open-ended questions beginning with “how” or “what” – well – this is a great way to discover key concepts about your project.
  • Tool 3 – Six Thinking Hats (see amazing image to the right and below based on Edward de Bono’s theory): depending on what problem you need to solve or what conversation you need to have, you might require a different thinking hat; it’s always great to have visual aides to get a point across.
  • Tool 4 – Brainstorm: pretty straightforward; remember, everyone contributes good ideas during a brainstorm.
  • Tool 5 – Synetics: take your idea apart and put it back together to make sure it works.
  • Tool 6 – Open Evaluation Matrix: well, it took until 3/4 through this business-minded article to get to the word “matrix,” which was, I think, Forbes Magazines business word of the year for 2009…
  • Tool 7 – Time-task Schedule: while being realistic, outline the whole process and assign tasks to people, no matter how minor they might be.
  • Tool 8 – Storytelling: keep an accurate and detailed record of your idea’s story so that you can effectively evaluate it’s impact on your community; more importantly, how can you present something amazing if it doesn’t have an amazing story to go with it?

So there it is. People in communities reading this blog. I encourage you to get out there and work together to better design your community. After all, we don’t want the MBAs of the world to get all the credit again, do we?

Have fun with it!


Copyright Paul Foreman - de Bono's "Six Thinking Hats" - which one is your favourite?

Copyright Paul Foreman - de Bono's "Six Thinking Hats" - which one is your favourite?

Blades of Community!

It started with a text message…led into a weird/uncomfortable appreciation of Gordon Campbell and the 2010 Olympics…and then I did a triple axle! So, let me explain the whole story of the public ice skating rink at Robson Square in Vancouver and an odd group of friends and family who got to partake in a Canadian past-time fairly unfamiliar to those of us on the West Coast.

Here’s the thing about having cool friends. Sometimes, they send you a text message suggesting activities that you would never think of. Things like ice skating outside in Vancouver. On this special day (Sunday, December 13), our group itself was a pretty unique little community. My mom was in town for a quick weekend visit. My Special Lady Fiance, Michelle, was finished school and actually had time for things other than studying on the weekend. And Captain of the Estronauts (and soon-to-be-Gumboot-Correspondent), Stephanie Bowen, is now a full-time member of Vancouver Team. The first ingredient of a fun afternoon was that we had an eclectic and superawesome team in place.

And then there’s the Robson Square Skating Rink. Located in a giant hole right next to the Vancouver Art Gallery, it’s, quite literally, open to everyone who can skate – and even some who can’t. For example, you will be rented a “cleat” if you struggle putting blades to ice. Speaking of renting, skates only cost you $3 – helmets can be rented for $2 (I know this because my mom, quite wary of the fact that I haven’t skated in nearly 10 years, offered to rent me one). Oh, and if you own skates you can circle the ice free of charge.

What a great way to embrace community!

Sure, the popularity of the rink just being open made things incredibly crowded. I mean, people from all over the Lower Mainland were there. Senior citizens wearing trench coats and Bogart-esque chapeaus. Young couples on first dates. Fighting couples on last dates. Singles circling whilst puttin’ out the vibe. Hot skaters showing off their wicked skills. Wee munchkins clinging to their parents’ legs, other staggering behind “cleats.” Inspired by the dozens upon dozens of snowsuit-wearing children, the young women in our eclectic group felt some warm pangs from their biological clocks, too. And who can blame them? Babies in snowsuits are pretty frickin’ cute. Like I said, everyone was there. Needless to say, this made things slightly sketchy for yours truly, someone who skates not unlike a newborn horse or deer…that is trying to skate. A product of the Saskatchewan ice fields I am not. And there were quite a few folks not unlike myself. My mom even got clocked in the face by a flailing young lady (mind you, this happened because she wasn’t paying attention when the “Skating Attendants” told everyone to switch directions) – don’t worry, “the real Pete,” she was okay!

It felt great exercising muscles – skating muscles – that I never use. Everyone there, I must say, were in pretty great moods, which meant great side conversations during our trips around the ice. And when Stephanie got her picture taken with my mom (first time they met, just to remind you) and Santa (for the record, this was the third time Steph met Santa), well, it was a beautiful thing.

Did I do a triple-axle? Maybe I did. And maybe it was truly awesome. Or perhaps I pulled off something a little more low-key and casual. Nonchalant, even. Like holding hands and going in a circle. I did deliver on some solid C-Level ice skating, great conversations, risk-taking, people watching, and helping others overcome unintentional physical violence; it all made for a pretty spectacular afternoon of community exploration.

Ice skating at Robson Square also did much to reflect British Columbia’s catchy and “street” new slogan: you gotta be here. And it’s posted in no fewer than 7,892 places around the rink. Vancouver, you’ve come one facility closer to joining the likes of New York City as a world class, cosmopolitan location! Only a subway line or two, a real financial district and a few more sports franchises and we’ll be there!

When it comes to skating, you just gotta. Have fun with it!


Powerful People

Courtesy Marvel Comics - Two of the Most Powerful People on Earth: Barack Obama and Spider-man (The Ghost of Abe Lincoln, unfortunately, didn't crack Forbes's Top 100)

Courtesy Marvel Comics - Two of the Most Powerful People on Earth: Barack Obama and Spider-man (The Ghost of Abe Lincoln, unfortunately, didn't crack Forbes's Top 100)

Last week Forbes magazine released its list of “The World’s 67 Most Powerful People.” I know what you’re thinking (because I thought the same thing): why 67 people? Why not 100 or 50? What’s with such a random number? Here’s my theory. Budget cuts. Originally Forbes struck out to list the world’s 100 most powerful people, but a sudden drop in ad revenue forced them to curtail the list and stop it at 67. Do you know why this sucks? It sucks because a factual and comprehensive study from The Recent Findings Institute showed that Daily Gumboot Editor-in-Controversy, Kurt Heinrich, was slated to be listed at number 72. Tough break, Kurt Buddy. We still think you’re terrifically powerful.

Moving on…

You can review the entire list by following this link. Some interesting and “fun facts” about the list include, but are not limited to, the following observations:

  • Barack Obama is, in Forbes Magazine’s opinion, the most powerful person on Earth; this is probably the first time a non-white person has been given this title, which is kinda-sorta reflective of hope and change for a planet that desperately needs it.
  • Women are in short supply on this list, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel coming in at number 15 and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton coming in at number 17. Oprah Winfrey ranks number 45 on the list.
  • Educators, writers and thinkers are scarce to say the least. Luckily, Forbes thought of such a problem – for the record, this isn’t the first time that Forbes outwitted the editorial staff of The Daily Gumboot. Check out their “one in a billion” list to find powerful thinkers, teachers, medical folks, and even Hollywood. The idea of “one in a billion” comes from the fact that the global population will soon reach seven billion people, so it will be important to distinguish the fantastamazing people from the 6,999,999,860 other folks on the planet. I haven’t checked the media category, but I’m pretty sure The Daily Gumboot, Callum Ng and/or Margaret Hanson are on the list. And if we’re not, I challenge the ver foundation of realism  “voting” and Liberal Democratic Logic that made up Forbes’s selection process.
  • Of notable absence is George H.W. Bush. I mean, I know that his son and Puppet Master Dick Cheney have recently joined the ranks of America’s unemployed, but, give me a break – George Bush Sr. might be the single most connected fellow on the planet. His resume is beyond impressive, including stints as US Ambassador to the United Nations, Chief of the US Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China, Director of the CIA, Vice President to Ronald Reagan, and President of the United States of America. Throw in a fairly intimate relationship with Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud (who is number 9 on Forbes’s list) and some outstanding, non-partisan philanthropic work and, well, in my humble opinion you’ve got a recipe for a pretty powerful person. Renaissance Man Justin Timberlake and the comedic tag-team of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were left off the list, too. Finally, speaking of comedians, I’d like to make a case for Canadian Mark Henry Roswell to be on the list, too. Mr. Roswell is perhaps the biggest foreign influencer in China (RIP Michael Jackson and way to spiral out of control, Tom Cruise), as his comedic persona, Dashan, entertains millions of folks in  a country that yields almost as many “powerful figures” on Forbes’s list as America does. In the opinions of Hu Jintao (number 2), Li Changchun (number 19), Li Ka-shing (number 23),  Lou Jiwei (number 34), and Li Rongrong (number 61), this video might very well be hilarious! And that’s a lot of power for a Canadian to have…

In conclusion, what is power? And why do we think nobody from Vancouver, let alone Merville, BC, graced the list with their presence? According to Forbes, power seems to be measured by political might, business, money, and influence through media. But what do you think? Is power truly global, or can it me more effectively wielded on regional and/or local levels? For example, in the city of Vancouver who is more powerful, Stephen Harper, Gregor Robertson, Russell Peters, Miss 604,  or Gordon Campbell? And, last but not least, how do you wield power in your community?

I gotta say, I’m pretty excited to hear your thoughts on Forbes’s list and how our communities from here to Toronto and back again relate to it.

Have fun with it!


The Symbiotic Connection or “Socioeconomironmentaleducationealth”

Hopefully these little guys or gals will be around next year to see the Olympics

Hopefully these little guys or gals will be around next year to see the Olympics

I have a wonderful friend named Catherine. And she really, really likes bears. Especially polar bears. But especially grizzly bears. So you can imagine how upset and angry she is over the recent Globe and Mail article that predicts thousands of black and grizzly bears will starve to death this year. BC’s Environment Minister, Barry Penner, has even issued a bear count, as many conservationists have already reported a drastic drop in numbers. Are there less tourists for them to eat? No. In fact, there are more tourists in grizzly country – and they are much more delicious – than ever before. But the sockeye salmon population – from which the bears gluttonously grab most of their food – in BC has been cut in half. And there will be problems to overcome this, um, problem, as we humans have a very, very difficult time articulating the interconnectedness of warming oceans, depleting salmon stocks, suburban sprawl, starving bears, soaring food costs, slowing eco-tourism, unemployed Parks Canada people, and an un-balanced (which means un-healthy) ecosystem. I mean, we just “misplaced” 510,000 cubic meters of water in Lake Louise for crying out loud! Like a coral reef and Kevin Bacon’s global reach, everything on this planet is connected. And, still, we continue to separate it. Sure, it makes things simpler to compartmentalize ideas and things, but life on this planet is made of complicated stuff, so I say we owe Earth a more complicated, interconnected attempt at problem solving.

Take this example, for instance. A few months ago, Peter Robinson, CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation, outlined the top five issues that Canadians wanted addressed during the last four federal elections. In no particular order they are: the economy, health care, the environment, education, and social problems (ie. why do we have poor people in Canada?). Mr. Robinson’s

argument is that these are not separate issues. They are all connected because they are all environmental issues. Here’s what he had to say in a recent interview with Vista Magazine Online: “the link between human health and environmental health is not being addressed properly. Part of that has to do with putting a value on what nature provides us as human beings other than monetary. We’re exploring a full ‘systems assessment’ for each natural resource. For example, when we build a dam, traditionally all we consider is the value that is contained in the water as an energy source, used like a battery to generate power from the force of the water. And a forest, in traditional accounting, has no value until you cut it down. But in fact, a forest provides many other services in terms of filtering CO2, and various species that we rely on within it, like spawning grounds for fish, that only remain if the forest remains.”

The Walrus‘s Chris Turner has a much funnier assessment about the need for global symbiosis not unlike that of a teeming coral reef: “And then there’s the extraordinary symbiotic web the reef’s myriad denizens have woven, enabling this aquatic Babel to thrive more or less self-sufficiently for

Don't get too close to this photo: there are sperm and eggs everywhere.

Don't get too close to this photo: there are sperm and eggs everywhere.

millennia. Hermaphrodites and sex changers abound. A great many of the reef’s coral polyps mate once a year, simultaneously, in a great cloud of eggs and sperm whose release is precisely timed with the lunar cycle.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if our planet is going to survive we need more hermaphrodites engaging in orgies based on the lunar cycle.

Moving on…

Educationally, there are several effective strategies for teachers to incorporate environmental issues (which nicely include health and economic topics as well). My personal favourite is the BC Ministry of Education’s CARE document, which outlines four environmentally-based learning outcomes that teachers from kindergarten to post-graduate seminars can role into their classroom. Such an interdisciplinary approach is where the world of education needs to go if we are to solve such complicated, interconnected problems.

The social determinants of health as outlined by the World Health Organization certainly interconnect with economic, educational, and environmental issues. Check this out: the 1986 Ottawa Charter pretty much started the discourse of environmental factors having to do with health. Let’s walk the talk here, Canadians. Perhaps start walking down to the cool graph in the article, which shows how people with permanent jobs have much, much higher rates of mental health. Like I said, it’s all connected.

Unemployment, underemployment, stressful or unsafe work is associated with poorer mental health (Source: Wilkinson and Marmot, 2003)

Unemployment, underemployment, stressful or unsafe work is associated with poorer mental health (Source: Wilkinson and Marmot, 2003)

And for all you Canadians out there who are concerned about unemployment, GDP and the economy, well, I encourage you to consider what exponential growth on a finite planet looks like. Is the expansion of humanity and the shrinking of biodiversity sustainable? Will shrinking of biodiversity result in the detrimental function of our world? Is using the word “sustainable” sustainable? David Suzuki has some ideas about what we need to start doing with our global economy – bottom line: stop being selfish. David A. Wilson, President and CEO of the GMAT exam, recently gave a talk at UBC’s Sauder School of Business regarding the role of the MBA in a new sustainable business model. Mr. Wilson’s arguments were fairly simple: as humanity moves forward, economic growth can, and should, only happen within environmental and social contraints. And if biodiversity and/or people are compromised in order to make a buck, well, then such growth is truly unsustainable and – ahem – musn’t be sustained any longer.

Here are three things you can do to encourage a discourse of connectedness between environmental, economic, health, educational, and social issues:

1. Read things and talk about them. Whether you learn about the science warning about the danger of climate change or about the science warning against the science warning about the dangers of climate change, learn about the issues and have an educated opinion about them. As for talking about what you read, I recommend public transit as a fantastic place to strike up a complicated conversation. People like learning new things when they can’t escape…

2. Demand more from our political “leaders.” I use “quotations” because modern democracy is based more on self-interest and party-preservation than it is on large, collaborative, global strategies for real, positive, effective, longlasting change. Still, write letters to Steve, Mike, Jack, and Gilles about how the environment – and all things symbiotically existing within it – is slightly more important than who gets to be Prime Minister during the Olympics. Perhaps you’d like to speak with Gordon Campbell about why the HST is great because it taxes consumption, but should probably be higher for Hummers and not apply to bikes, lightbulbs, seeds, and vehicles that are more environmentally friendly (like our Premier). Just a thought.

3. Be the change you want to see. If you think the disappearance of millions of salmon, starving bears, ferocious pine beetles, and a global economy that feeds (and is fed by) a population that expands while biodiversity shrinks are important challenges, well, do something about it. Join a community group, start a business, teach a class – whatever you do, get involved.

So, the next time someone asks “what’s your issue?” Think about responding with something along the lines of “all of them.” Because it’s not just about the economy or the environment or health care or education or social issues. Our challenges are completely and symbiotically connected and the environment is the thing that binds it all together (mostly because it’s where we live). So it is with coral reefs and salmon and grizzly bears and tourism and my friend Catherine, who, like millions of people around the world, is none too pleased that so many cuddly, naturally peaceful and delicious creatures are about to starve to death.

“In spite of what such signals as the gross domestic product or the Dow Jones Industrial Average indicate, it is ultimately the capacity of the photosynthetic world and its nutrient flows that determine the quality and quantity of life on Earth.” Well said, Paul Hawken. Well said.

Now. Go out there and read, demand and be the change. Most importantly, have fun with it!


Aboard the Editor’s Pirate Ship – Johnism

[Editor's note: Aboard the Editor's Pirate Ship is pretty similar to "from the Editor's desk" or "The Editorial Section" of a "newspaper" (remember those, kids?) - thing is, I spend a lot of my day at a desk, so, when I get to twitblogging, it takes place on a creativity-inducing pirate ship where I can stretch my legs as I expand my mind. To you, dear readers, I say "Welcome Aboard!"]

Ideology just got exclusive, ridiculous and so much cooler!

Ideology just got exclusive, ridiculous and so much cooler!

Militarism. Communism. Conservatism. Fascism. Socialism. Liberalism. Pansexualism. Capitalism. Bullionism. Humanitarianism. Modernism. Post-Modernism. Cannibalism. Existentialism. Hylomorphism. Environmentalism. Idealism. Primitivism. Realism. Terrorism. Zoomorphism. Relativism. There is a long list of ideological isms out there. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, people are very, very delicious. They also control the universe through their sexual energy, but need to be cared for by the State lest their hedonistic ways destroy the environment to the detriment of exponential, free market growth! Or take democracy – democratism – as a great example of a fantastic, but horribly flawed, ideological system. As up-and-coming historical figure Winston Churchill, and his glass of whiskey, pointed out: “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except all the others that have been tried.” Zing, Winnie! In 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville even warned America about “the tyranny of the majority” as a veritable Achilles-heal of our favourite social system. Democracy, claimed de Tocqueville, had the potential to marginalize minorities, fix peoples’ pursuits on material pleasures and/or relax people into seeking “to use government to protect them in their mediocrity by restricting the freedom of any who might challenge or endanger them” (evidently, Iraq didn’t get de Tocqueville’s memo).

Needless to say, whether it’s Vancouver Parks Board Commissioners using taxpayer dollars to pay for rehab or 3 New Jersey mayors (and 5 Rabbis) being arrested on international money-laundering charges or HST and BC Railahem - irregularities or the Shenzhen Construction Bureau spending much of their coffers on massages, foot rubs and other spa treatments or Obama being the re-incarnation of Hitler, well, democracy  just doesn’t seem to be working too well these days. Voter turnout around the world is a shadow of its former self. People are cynical and uninspired. But with all the other ideologies being even more terrible than democracy we’re pretty much stuck with what we have, right?


There is an answer. There is a solution. It couldn’t be simpler. And it’s called Johnism.

John in Chinese

John in Chinese

Like I said, it’s simple. See, fueled by democracy, the global political system is still built in a way that attracts and enables people who want to be the world’s powerbrokers and reap all the delicious, material, ill-gotten/gettin’ goodies that such power allows. So, we need leaders for our communities – from local to global – but we need a new selection process. Enter Johnism. Recent findings show that there are approximately 942,564,723 people on the planet named “John” (translation and regional dialects were taken into account during this study). So, this up-and-coming ideology isn’t based on status or age or experience or ability or education or qualification or being good at anything. It’s based on having a really common name. A name so common that, when the random, name-based selection of global leadership takes place, we can be sure that the new team in charge are truly drawn from all parts and places of society. Wow – think of how much extra cash we can spread around when credentials do not include the ability to raise $1 billion in campaign funds! People not last-named “Bush” or “Clinton” might be in the running.

The name “John” – after all – transcends all social classes, ethnicity and lines on a map. People named John are everywhere. Check this out:

Terrorism or Johnism? We know where John McClane stands.

Terrorism or Johnism? We know where John McClane stands.

…in Germany – Johann or Johannes

…in France – Jean

…in Denmark – Jens

…in Holland – Jan

…in Spain and Latin America – Juan

…in Italy – Giovanni

…in Russia, the Ukraine, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Serbia, and Croatia – Ivan

…in Estonia – Jaan

…in Israel – Yochanan

…in China (see named image)

…in the Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, Libya, Syria, Morocco, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates – Yahya

…and, finally, in Armenia – Hovhannes

Clearly, when it comes to ideas from, literally, everywhere, Johnism has Planet Earth covered (I could’ve listed more countries, but my market research has determined that Scandinavia and most of Africa is a veritable lock for this idea). And that’s just the name John today. In the present. Let’s look to the past to get a bit of a sense of some of the more famous and “leadership-capable” Johns throughout history. This cross-section, when taken in an active historical manner, allows us to learn from the past as we plan for the future. The historical success of the name “John” logically determines that such success will continue into the future.

In no particular order, here are some Johns (multiple cultures acknowledged) of note:

Adams, John | Adams, John Quincy | Appleseed, Johnny | Ashcroft, John | Belushi, John | Bolton, John | Booth, John Wilkes | Brown, John | Cabot, John | Audubon, John J. | Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von | Gutenberg, Johannes | Peron, Juan | Swift, Jonathan | Yahya Khan | Yahya Jammeh | Swammerdam, Jan | Vermeer, Jan | Rousseau, Jean-Jacques | Favreau, Jon | Gosselin, Jon | Heder, Jon | Stewart, Jon | Carson, Johnny | Cash, Johnny | Depp, Johnny | Hart, Johnny | Horton, Johnny | Knoxville, Johnny | Unitas, Johnny | Cochran, Johnnie | Frakes, Jonathan | Franzen, Jonathan | Lethem, Jonathan | Rhys-Meyers, Jonathan | Calvin, John | Chretien, Jean | Kerouac, Jack | Nidetch, Jean | Piaget, Jean | Cage, John | Calhoun, John C. | Calvin, John | Candy, John | Cleese, John | Coltrane, John | Coolidge, Calvin | Cusack, John | Dalton, John | Daly, John | DeLorean, John | Dean, John | Denver, John | Dewey, John | Dillinger, John | Duns Scotus, John | Edward, John | Edwards, John | Ehrlichman, John | Flanagan, John | Ford, John | Fremont, John C. | Gillespie, Dizzy | Glenn, John | Goodman, John | Grisham, John | Hancock, John | Hanson, John | Hinckley, John Jr. | Holliday, John Henry “Doc” | Huston, John | Imus, Don | Jay, John | Karr, John Mark | Kasich, John | Keats, John | Kennedy, John F. | Kennedy, John Jr. | Kerry, John | Keynes, John Maynard | Krasinski, John | Le Carré, John | Legend, John | Lemmon, Jack | Lennon, John | Locke, John | Lord, Jack | Ivan the Terrible | Pavlov, IvanMacdonald, John A. | Madden, John | Malkovich, John | Marshall, John | Mayer, John | McCain, John | Mill, John Stuart | Milton, John | Muir, John | Newman, John Henry | Osbourne, Ozzy | Peel, John | Pershing, John J. | Phillips, John | Prester John | Proctor, John | Roberts, John G. | Rockefeller, John D. Sr. | Cherry, Jonathan | Singleton, John | Sousa, John Philip | Stanley, Henry Morton | Steinbeck, John | Stevens, John Paul | Tolkien, J.R.R. | Travolta, John | Tyler, John | Updike, John | Walker, John | Waters, John | Wayne, John | Williams, John | Woo, John | Wycliffe, John | Yoo, John | Yochanan ben Zakai | Pope John Paul II | John Evans | John Taylor

Political figures, writers, kingmakers, pirates, popes, entertainers, cowboys, revolutionaries, scientists, religious leaders, sex symbols. The name John/Johnny/Jonathan covers ‘em all and then some! Keep in mind this list doesn’t do justice to all the teachers, plumbers, architects, ninjas, fishers, businesspeople, doctors, lawyers, athletes, engineers, and community organizers who have made an impact on humanity but don’t appear on the list. Needless to say, if the past is any indication of the future (and it totally is) I think the world will be in good hands.

Does Kurt Heinrich support Johnism? Probably not, but he's giving a big "thumbs up" here!

Does Kurt Heinrich support Johnism? Probably not, but he's giving a big "thumbs up" here!

So, what are the tenets of Johnism? Well, they’re pretty similar to those of The Daily Gumboot. The ideology’s mandate is to “collect ideas from everywhere and use them to build community.” Other than that, no structure has been hammered out; however, should Johnism get picked up by the people of the planet, the upcoming Summit of John will see the collaborative development of a vision for the future and a strategic plan to carry it out. When it all comes together, I’m confident that you will be impressed. And, hey, people who aren’t Prime Ministers or Mayors or Aldermen or Premiers or Governors or Presidents or Ayatollahs or Dictators for Life or Directors get involved in their communities all the time in organic, contagious and meaningful ways. Just ask Paul Hawken. Like Paul, you folks not named John will totally have a role in the new way of doing things. We’re all part of the same team, after all.

Oh, one other thing. At this point the female readers are probably losing their minds (sorry, mom). Relax, ladies. Johnism is merely a well-thought-out selection process. As part of my very strong belief that women are smarter than men it should also be noted that each John will bring two women to the collaborative, visionary and strategic Summit of John [insert lewd comment here if you so choose]. For example, I will bring Michelle Burtnyk and Naomi Klein [again, insert lewd comment here if you so choose]. Savvy?

I don’t know about you, readers, but I find this all pretty exciting. And, really, what’s the alternative? Should we just exercise our collective voice in demonstrations of mass democracy in an effort to clean up our current social and political systems so they evoke an efficient, egalitarian and productive triple-bottom-line mandate that defines the true ideal of liberated human progress in a way that creates a healthy and happy global community in which we can all thrive? Man, that’s ridiculous!

Billy Shakes once asked, “what’s in a name?” As it turns out, a lot’s in a name. And the name is John. So, Johns, Ivans, Juans, Jeans, and Yahyas of the world: I look forward to working with you soon.

This has been from Aboard the Editor’s Pirate Ship. Thanks for your time.

Have fun with it!


Online Communities – Managing your Personal Brand

Do you twit-blog the interscape? Do you or your organization distribute information through the comprehensive and amazing medium of an “online blog website”? Do you have an account on the new social networking tool Bookface? Perhaps you employ these mediums as a means of connecting with friends, or maybe you’re a “pyjama job hunter” (someone who looks for work by emailing job applications through rather than physically connecting with people), or maybe you’ve got a blog and/or an ex-boyfriend you follow and/or stalk through Twitter.

Whatever the case. However you do it. The vast majority of people today have some kind of online presence.

Here are some amazing findings relating to our online community’s behaviour:

Twitter is arguably the hottest thing in new media. Usage is up 752% since December 2008. Last month, about 7.7 million people used the professional social networking site LinkedIn (being mindful of these tough economic times, if you haven’t already, get on there and get connected). If Facebook was a country, it would be the eighth largest in the world. Speaking of Facebook, did you know that 20% of Facebook users do not use any privacy settings? And of the users who do use some or all of their privacy setting, last year nearly one-quarter of them still shared their telephone numbers. Nearly 50% of users concerned with divulging their political views still posted them. And nearly 20% of Facebook users employing their “top” privacy setting.

So, would you like a job one day? Or maybe you fancy yourself as the next Gregor, Gordo, Merkel, or Obama. Maybe your family’s opinion of you is the most important thing in the world. Get this. About 25% of graduates from 50 countries say there is something about them online that they do not want their parents or employer to see. And, last year in North America, 83% of employers searched online to learn more about applicants. Of job-applicants who were dismissed in 2008, 43% were turned away because of what recruiters found online.

So that’s the game. But how should we play in it?

For students and young people:

  • According to the Vancouver Sun’s Mitch Joel, “the amazing thing about developing your personal brand in a world of online social networks and blogging is that you can home in and really focus on meeting and connecting with those that have shared values.”
  • You can be social and professional, people. Trust me, employers, recruiters and friends alike want to make sure you separate work and pleasure. Man, no one wants to check out a Facebook profile that looks like a resume. It’s just not fun. Now, you should still strive to build an amazing social and personal brand by using Facebook. Check this out:
  • I have a lot of students who are smarter than me. One of them sent me this link to Guy Kawasaki’s blog, which outlines 11 key ways to use LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your field. In these tough economic times, take full advantage of this advice!
  • Long story short. Having fun is important. Being social is important. Being classy is important, too. Maybe leave the funnel out of the picture next time, dude.

For teachers and counsellors and parents:

  • Teach and encourage your students/kids about the concept of Link Love. Get them to collaborate in a positive way and to connect their online communities. The more things written about people and groups, the more “searchable” they become. And when the “link love” is positive, once a group or individual is found, say, by Google, their online brand will be well-received by its audience.
  • One of the reasons Generation Y is incredibly useless when it comes to comprehending the implications of putting career and socially damaging photos and information online is because they have not been taught proper online community etiquette from their parents and role models. I mean, Shaquille O’Neal is a Twitter MVP, but that doesn’t mean he should replace you/us, parents and teachers. We need to get involved, too.
  • First step, get your kids/students to explain to you how an online community works!

For employers and recruiters:

  • Is Facebook reflective of a new way of doing business? Find another tool that can put a grassroots movement or a cool new product past the tipping point on a global scale in a more collaborative way in a shorter amount of time. There probably isn’t one.
  • With our global networks expanding at lightspeed, this figure has never seemed so real. Organizations must be sure to utilize internal and external social networks to attract, engage and retain top talent. Spreading your company’s brand through the word of mouth of an elaborate global network, after all, is pretty powerful stuff.
  • Recent findings show that a cross-section of industry experts believe that the majority of employers suggest several HR professionals see the world of work transitioning from a “machine” to a “community” and from a hierarchical system of management to one that is more reflective of a social network. If the medium is the message, what do employers today need to know about Facebook and Web 2.0? Probably lots.

The Globe and Mail
recently profiled the, um, online profiles of Gordon Campbell and Carole James. Like much else in British Columbia’s election, neither candidate showcases the stuff of inspiration. When managing one’s online presence, it’s of course important to be sincere, authentic and to have integrity (in the article, the closest Ms. James or Mr. Campbell got to being authentic was when Mr. Campbell chose a quote from the author of Faust, Wolfgang von Goethe, perhaps all too reflective of devilish deals politicians and their ilk have forever made). With so much noisy information clogging the series of pipes and tubes that make up the internet, those of us twitblogging are way through it must also strive to be unique, interesting and entertaining in addition to being sincere. Whether you’re a student, educator, employer, or politician, think about how you`ll be adding value to the experience of those connecting to your online community.

We here are The Gumboot add value by talking about pirates, communal nudity and cutting edge architecture way before fringe media groups like the CBC or up-and-coming politicians like this guy Stephen Harper do. Some people talk about what’s already cool. We make it cool.

And that’s how you manage an online presence. It’s a beautiful thing!