Awesome Community Business Projects

[Editor's note: Recently, I left my job at the UBC's Sauder School of Business (pictured above, my leaving is pictured below) for a job with UBC Career Services. Last year, Sauder launched the Community Business Project, an experiential and service learning course that is part of the curriculum for the Masters of Management program. I know all about it because I collaborated with some very awesome faculty members, students, non-profit leaders, and the school's administration to build it. It combines my most favourite things: education, community, service, innovation, and young people. BA 511 (that's the course code) is totally my baby - and I'm so proud of Sauder's students and faculty for making it happen. This is the second year of the projects, it's in the beta stage and, on Monday, May 9, 2011, I was lucky enough to take-in the students' final presentations for their Community Business Projects (CBPs). Needless to say, even though I've left Sauder, the Community Business Project is in good hands when students like the ones who presented on Monday keep enrolling in the MM-ECM program].

Dear MM-ECM Class of 2011.

The Community Business Project presentations that you delivered on Monday were fantastic and they made me proud to have worked with you all. From the crisp and clean slides to the discussion of your learning outcomes to the humour, wit and style with which you presented, I watched them all with compelling interest – hey, I didn’t even check Facebook for a whole two hours!

Knowing that you’ve all been working hard on your presentation skills, it was a giddy pleasure to see so many of you apply Ivan’s lessons to your work. While all the presentations were very good, a few of the groups really achieved something close to Presentation Zen with your work. Very well done, Emily, Stanley and Aaron, who worked with the BC Lung Association – your Prezi deserves a special shout-out.

Other highlights included several teams transcending ridiculous technical difficulties and one group even gave my father-in-law a shout-out! Smooth.

Over the past five months you have learned what it takes to be community-builders as well as how to work as a team to deliver business solutions in the real-world. With professionalism, grace and tact you addressed some of the challenges that working as part-time volunteer consultants (during a busy school year) for a non-profit client can bring: massive scope, unclear expectations, unrealistic expectations, not enough time, not enough trust, and overzealousness. You delivered difficult information in a positive way. You provided clients with recommendations that some of them might not have wanted to hear, but definitely needed to hear and, if implemented, can improve their enterprise.

And then there’s the learning. The very important reflective element of service and experiential learning. Your presentations showed a holistic comprehension of some pretty serious local (and beyond local) issues (mental health, lung disease, affordable housing, trees, corporate perceptions of art, and many more). You ‘get’ social enterprise. You worked as a team for a long, long, long time and, for the most part, you worked well together. You managed a client relationship. You set and (more or less) achieved deadlines. And you did it all while rockin’ your finest Sauder attire. Most importantly, many of you had your eyes opened to a part of the world that you might not have seen without the CBP experience. As you know, these skills will serve you all very well in the real world of work.

MM Candidates from the ECM program, I thank you for realizing the potential of the Community Business Project. Good luck in the future and be sure to enjoy the journey!

Kind regards,

John Horn

[Editor's note: here is a list of the organizations that were clients of the 2010-2011 CBPs:

  • Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table
  • Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Common Thread Co-operative
  • BC Lung Association
  • Canadian Mental Health Association
  • Strathcona Dental Association
  • Vancouver Native Houseing Society
  • YMCA Vancouver
  • The Children's Foundation
  • Evergreen
  • Vancouver Economic Development Commission
  • Journey Home Community Association

If you know of an organization that might be interested in learning more about the Community Business Project, contact the Business Career Centre today!]

Aboard the Editor’s Pirate Ship – Back to School

[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!"]

ist2_3965048-back-to-school-colorful-child-writingAcross Canada and around the world (The Gumboot has followers from Uruguay to Uzbekistan, baby!) millions and millions of people are going back to school. Obviously, there are a lot of places to get advice on everything from school supplies to fitting in to increasing your career potential by exploring your options. Now. The highly paid staffers here at The Daily Gumboot possesses a collective expertise in a lot of things – compassionate conservatism, tennis, laundromats, pirates, existential detection, qat, scrapbooking, butter – but, in all truthiness, where we really shine is in our knowledge of education. First, almost all of us went to school at some point. Second, yours truly was raised by two teachers and has attended and/or worked in schools (high ones, colleges and universities) forever. Third, education is pretty much the only thing that’s gonna save our poor little planet; so take it seriously as you have fun with it!

Without further ado, here are five key things to think about as you head to class on Tuesday (or a little earlier, I don’t know if Uzbekistan has Labour Day or not):

1. Be Yourself. This one is simple and complicated. People who change schools or enter college or university with a clean slate are often seduced by the opportunity to re-invent themselves. And it might work. For awhile, at least. Thing is, you are who you are and, no matter how much you pretend, you will inevitably be yourself. Besides, being comfortable in your own skin – maybe even confident in it – is so incredibly attractive and magnetic that, before you know it, you’ll be the most saught-after friend in your class! In conclusion, just ask Oscar Wilde: “be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

2. Find Your Tribe. Get involved. After all, hopefully you’re going to school to become a well-rounded, value-adding person in life, the universe and everything. Start reflecting on what you value (ie. accountability, you do not pay tuition because you think the system is unfairly structured and you would like to choose where your money from hardworking night shifts at Subway goes) and what interests you (ie. pirates) and try to combine them into a fun, campus-based community (ie. The Revolutionary Pirate Club). Also try to be a bridge-builder or connector – maybe your basketball friends and your History department friends and your revolutionary pirate friends will get along and collaborate to form a larger, awesomer pan-community with world-changing potential. It all starts with finding people who give you energy and bring out the best in you.

3. Demand Edutainment. Edutainment combines education, technology, media, entertainment, and, ideally, humour in a classroom setting. Basically, it is a force of positive change that is endeavouring to blow apart the nineteenth-century paradigm of education. Your classes should be collaborative, infused with technology, personalized, and, most importantly, fun! Teachers from kindergarten to university are shaking things up in a lot of ways, so keep your eyes open for distance learning, mind-mapping, social media insta-polling, blogging, e-portfolios, digital media projects, service learning, and project-based courses. And, most importantly, if you find yourself in a classroom listening to an expert for more than an hour, start yelling. The content and style of education should be engaging, after all.

4. Write Down 101 Dream Goals. What 101 things do you want to accomplish before your funeral? What stories do you want to tell your grandchildren? What kind of person do you want to see when you look in the mirror? What do you do for fun? Backpocket COO, Cameron Herald, told me about this supercool mind-mapping exercise. No, you don’t need to map out details like your professional title, geographic location, marital status, family size, and name of your three dogs that you will have by the time you’re 34. You should, however, start identifying your core values, skills and interests sooner than later. If you’re heading into a post-secondary institution, track down their career services office and schedule an appointment in your first year. Again, by no means should you be expected to define an exact and specific post-graduatation job, but you should start thinking about what you want to do when you’re finished school. And keep this in mind. More than likely, the job you will have at then end of your post-secondary education hasn’t even been invented yet. So, maybe put “know three interesting future trends” in your 101 Dream Goals…school-bus-resized

5. Handle Your Booze. “You don’t need to drink to have fun.” My mom told me this as she packed boxes of clothes to be shipped from Vancouver Island to Quebec. Frank the Tank she is not. Little did I know how powerful and unifying this phrase would be. Because, as silly as it sounded to a hyper-masculine 18 year old, I didn’t - and don’t – need to drink to have fun. When my friends and I got heavily involved in Bishop’s University’s orientation week – which, in its hay-day, was a complete gong show of the best kind – our team/group/community motto was “you don’t need to drink to have fun.” Obviously, the boozers in the crowd laughed at our sarcasm; however, we weren’t being sarcastic, as we wanted to make sure that everyone felt included, comfortable and safe. Speaking of safe, take “booze” as a metaphor for whatever vice you put in, on or around your body.  The sooner you figure out that stories beginning with “man, I was so wasted last night…” are cool, absolutely, but only have a limited shelf-life, the more ready you will be to create positive change in the world. Still, when the time and audiences are right, start some stories with that line because, well, they’re usually pretty hilarious! And remember this line that I found scrawled in a Victoria, BC pub called the Bent Mast: “everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Students. Your brilliant young minds have never been as needed as they are today. And the world’s biggest employer is, well, The World. And She is lookinf for someone to help with a rather monumental change. There will be opportunities everywhere for you to find. Good luck. And have fun with it!


Learning from Pirate Communities – Gender and Women’s Rights

Long before universal suffrage, Roe vs. Wade, bra-burning, the Eveleth iron mine, Hilary Clinton, or the exporting of women’s rights to places like Afghanistan, a woman named Ching Shih watched her husband die in a hail of musket fire.

It was 1807 and Zheng Yi, a pretty darn good pirate in his own right, just got put down by the Royal Navy. A power vacuum emerged. Hundreds of Chinese pirates were looking for a leader. An opportunity presented itself. And on to the scene emerged the greatest pirate in the history of pirates. She called herself Madame Cheng.

Madame Cheng was ruthless, wily and charismatic. She immediately seized the opportunity (totally embraced planned happenstance, by the way) and consolidated power within the Chinese Pirate Confederation by leveraging her positive relationship with the members of her husbands professional and social networks. Madame Cheng also took a huge risk. As she cajoled and negotiated and charmed her way to prominence in China’s pirate community, Madame Cheng took on a young lover; the adopted son of a fisherman named Cheng Pao. And here’s the kicker: she made the kid head of the Red Sea fleet, which was the biggest and most important in the Confederation.

The move was shrewed and effective. Madame Cheng had an eye for talent, as Cheng Pao had grown up in a “floating community” of Chinese junks, adhoc houseboats and strung-together waterlogged debris. He had an uncanny understanding of the sea and Cheng Pao used such abilities to carry out his wife’s master plan, which, really, was nothing short of dominating the Chinese shipping routes from the Strait of Malacca to Australia.

By 1810, Madame Cheng’s pirate fleet was larger than those of most countries navies. She commanded between 600-800 coastal vessels, hundreds of small, river junks, and tens of thousands of pirates. Recognizing her growing power, the British, Portuguese and Chinese eventually banded together to stop Madame Cheng. But they didn’t. Following thousands of deaths – pirate and seamen alike – Madame Cheng decided to belay the bloodshed. From a position of power, she negotiated a peace treaty with the colonial powers and Chinese authorities and, following the agreement, sought an early retirement with her husband, Cheng Pao. Through organization, relationship-building and recognizing top talent, Madame Cheng created a pirate fleet the likes of which no one has ever seen (or well ever again see). And for three years she ran the shipping lanes of the China Sea and Strait of Malacca for decades.

Now. Madame Cheng wasn’t the only successful lady pirate. Anne Bonny and Mary Read are probably the most famous female pirates. Actually, they arguably made the inspiration for Johnny Depp, Calico Jack Rackam, famous by association. The three sailed together from 1718-1720 in the Caribbean, after Rackam, a charismatic fellow (not unlike another Captain Jack we know and love), was elected by his crew following the former captain was declared a coward and executed. Rackam, who was engulfed in a fairly tawdry relationship with Read, brought to two women aboard during a stop in Cuba, and the women joined the crew in pillaging small sloops and coastal fishing villages all around the Caribbean.

Life was good (there was even an alleged love triangle between Bonny, Read and Rackam), until 1720 when Captain Jonathan Barnet captured Rackam’s ship. Get this. All the men, including Rackam, hid below deck as the Royal Navy ship approached. Bonny and Read, who Barnet claimed could “swear and fight as good as any man,” charged the approaching sailors, killing and wounding dozens before they were finally captured. And while Rackam was quickly hanged, his body put in a cage near Deadman’s Cay, Bonny and Read, who – I kid you not – were both pregnant at the time, were allowed to have their children before returning to trial. Read died before re-trial, but Bonny escaped with her child, never to be heard from again.

Amazing stories, sure. And what does this mean for our current communities here on Earth? Well, I have some findings to report:

Leading women today agree with John’s idea. Okay, maybe, but probably not really. Still, having met Fiona Walsh (FM Walsh & Associates) and knowing her to be pretty darn brilliant and that she has a great sense of humour, check this out. Let’s see how Madame Cheng’s piratical example lives up to the three main components of Ms. Walsh’s Women in Leadership Program:

  1. Develop a professional “BIG PLAN” and have a “Plan B”. Check! Madame Cheng’s initial plan was to, well, dominate the China Sea and Strait of Malacca for another few decades. Plan B was to retire. Well played, ma’am.
  2. Understand your professional value (your reputation, specialized skill set, existing network) and build on these three components. Check! Madame Cheng (not to mention Bonny and Read) had fierce reputations. Cheng’s skill set involved top-level leadership, industry knowledge, talent recognition, and the motivational aspect of organizational behaviour. And she leveraged her husband’s network to become leader of the Chinese Pirate Confederacy. Brilliant!
  3. Build a powerful business network that will support your advancement through the world of business. Check! Beginning with the appointment of Cheng Pao, Madame Cheng surrounded herself with a variety of new business partners (river-going junks was a new idea, not to mention a very lucrative one) as well as a range of existing power brokers from the colonial and Chinese/Japa
    nese/Singaporean/Filipino/Vietnamese business communities.

Hilary Clinton running for President shouldn’t be a big freakin‘ deal! Well, yes, it should, because a woman leading the United States (arguably the world) is an amazing and inspirational concept; however, Madame Cheng, nearly two hundred years ago, showed us that women can not only succeed in a man’s world, but can absolutely and totally change the game. She took on Britain and Portugal and various Chinese city-states. That’s like Hilary taking on the economy, Climate Change and adultery! Point is, we shouldn’t be surprised. Women are, quite clearly, better than men at most things. Even piracy. Probably politics. More often than not, it’s just a matter of timing.

Women are unmeasurably powerful. Thing is, our economic measuring/value-system has been written by men for hundreds of years and, admittedly, is a tad biased. Get this. A recent study by the United Nations Human Development Index revealed that unpaid work, such as volunteering, caring for the young, old and sick, household management, do-it-yourself housing, food-growing, and community service, accounts for $16 trillion per year. The vast majority of this work is done by women. Further, a recent University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business study estimates the annual value of a stay-at-home-mom at $138,095 and points out that these community leaders work an average of 51.8 hours of over time per week. Now all we need are some metrics that measure this kind of contribution instead of just GDP…

Should we be surprised that the greatest pirate in the history of the world was a woman? Not really. Ladies, you might just need to embrace your inner-pirate. If you take one thing away from the story of Madame Cheng, let it be the part about recognizing an opportunity for success and seizing it. And when you do, be sure to collaborate with other women and share your success. Honestly, there are a lot of us out here who are excited for you to run the world. Sorry we’ve screwed it up so badly…

Good luck, and have fun with it!


community and the classroom

This all (more or less) happened at Bishop’s University.

A few days ago I let my two favourite undergraduate professors know about The Gumboot. Their responses were different and hilarious. One said there was “too much piratology” and struggled to comprehend why West Coasters are so inspired by “water logged wood.” The other, I was pretty sure, called me a troglodyte. Of course, I had to go and look up “troglodyte” to confirm what it meant (editor`s note: I was sorta close). Then I realized that he wasn’t implying I was a troglodyte, but was actually using the colourful term to describe people who lurch through the grey streets of Winnipeg. And, you know, fair enough.* My former professor – and current friend – told me that it was, and is, impossible to build community. He said that positive change is a hopeless and naive pursuit. Well, gauntlet accepted, sir.

Moving on…

The professorial feedback about Vancouver’s coolest new blog was correctly incorrect. But, most importantly, the aforementioned educators have been given a glimpse at what their classroom community-building has created. These profellas, after all, provided two of the most exceptional classroom communities North America had to offer. Whether or not Bishop’s is a “good” or “real” university is a debate for the ages – for people who value balanced, well-rounded, liberally artistic, intimate, personalized education, this place is for you. If you want a giant library, state of the art technology and to be taught by a TA, go to UBC, McGill or U of T. The classrooms of the Bishop’s History Department from 1999-2003, which may or may not have included boxed wine from time to time, sewed seeds for community engagement in real life. And, if done well, this experience can happen in a classroom anywhere.

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In the spirit of Stewart Burgess’s brilliance, I have constructed a matrix that displays the way that a classroom experience (mine is the example) can give learners the skills to positively engage their communities:




Arguing with Dr. Wegert about the tenets of socialism vs. unrelenting German rationalism

Negotiating • Standing up to authority • Confidence • Public speaking • Forming and delivering arguments

Building relationships with a diverse range of people and not being intimidated by the “powerful” ones

Learning about History

Historical perspective on horrible degree choice • Critical thinking • Research/Writing/Presenting

Learning and teaching about the past in an effort to plan for the future • Writing emails.

Drinking wine during seminars

Ability to responsibly consume alcohol in “high-stakes” social situations

Not looking like the office jackass when the delicious celebratory wine is opened

Taking time away from the Dr. Childs’s teachings of life during the First World War to discuss a fellow student’s quarter-life-crisis

Life in the present is more important than stories from the past • Active listening skills • Planned Happenstance

Think outside the box • Take risks • embrace and run with good ideas

Kurt’s perspective and the collaborative, interdisciplinary teamwork we used to destroy him (well, his neo-con , devil’s advocate arguments)

Understanding the power of diversity: my ideas are very rarely the best ones; really, it’s a team thing.

Kurt Heinrich is simultaneously an inspiring and annoying teammate. And being opened minded to new ideas and new communities makes us better equipped to engage others and change the world.

Tough marking, tougher feedback

Failure is fine • Learn from mistakes • Do better

Projects and the ideas behind them will fail, and we – as a community – need to keep going!

©Copyright 2009 Stewart Burgess and The Weekly Gumboot

To all the learners out there: your next step should be to figure out what community service learning means to you and then brainstorm some ways to take your experience in the classroom outside into your community. History at Bishop’s University was a good place to start. But community within – and beyond – the classroom can do so much more for the world around us. So, next time you find yourself in a classroom don’t just think about ideas; do them!

And, most importantly, have fun with it!


*No offense to the noble people of Winnipeg (or people who dislike footnotes). By living in that city, you`re automatically braver than most people in the world. Well done, folks.