Recent Publications

The Value of Reflective Practice For Partnership Brokers Contributed reflective practice images to support visual tools for partnership brokers. 

Why I invest in my employees' well being

Our guest blogger, Bob Peart, Executive Director of Sierra Club BC shares why he invests in his employees, assisting them to develop personal sustainability and a deeper understanding of themselves. Take a read! Why I invest in my employees' well beingA number of Sierra Club employees have attended Inner Activist courses. Upon returning to the office they praise the approach, the personal depth to which the courses push you, and the relevance of the material to how they approach their work.  With a couple of my employees it has changed their relationship to their work, how they bring ‘themselves’ to work and how they respect and understand who they are and why they do what they do. We know intuitively as managers that one of the smartest things you can do to achieve success within your organization is to retain high-quality, effective employees. To achieve this, it is critical to support them in their efforts to do good work while taking care of themselves personally; which in turn leads to helping them to figure out how they can become even more effective at what they do. To this end, I am very pleased with the programs being offered by The Inner Activist, and when asked by my colleagues I am complimentary and highly recommend them. In my forty some-odd years of managing people it has become pretty clear that the people who have clarity within themselves are more effective about how they approach work and how they manage themselves within the work setting. There are other excellent programs for staff development, however the more personal approach and the effort to delve into the personal-workplace dynamic sets The Inner Activist aside. Like a lot of non-profit organizations, Sierra Club’s staff experience huge demands on their time. There is always too much to do and it is all super important. In addition they earn a limited salary and have limited benefits, so to support them to experience the Inner Activist approach to transformation is key - to their performance at work as well as and to becoming effective leaders in their personal life. I take my hat off to The Inner Activist. I have no hesitancy in Sierra Club staff taking the time to attend one of their courses - and the fact that they have a generous bursary program helps a great deal as well.   About Bob Peart Bob Peart is Executive Director of Sierra Club BC. He has been active in the conservation and environmental education movement in BC for nearly 40 years and has volunteered for non-profit boards at the local, provincial, national and international level. Connect with Bob via email

Debunking the Notion of "Hard to Reach" Communities

Reflections on Community Engagement: The Next Generation
One of my favorite workshops at Tamarack Institute’s Community Engagement: The Next Generation conference was Trickle-Down Engagement of the Marginalized and How to Avoid It, led by Mark Holmgren. I was drawn to this session because of the notion that there are “hard to reach” groups in our community-building work and we need to do a better job of bringing those groups into our community-building efforts. Often, especially in our work, those “hard to reach” groups are renters, individuals working second- or third-shift jobs, parents with very little time to commit, idle youth, or the homeless. Often, these individuals are mislabeled as being “uninterested”, “unwilling”, or “unable” to take part in our community-building work, so less effort is made to engage them and get their input. Rather than being at the top of the list of people to reach out to, outreach to these individuals often falls by the wayside. We assume that our project will be big enough that they’ll learn about it and what to be engaged or we assume that our great community-building effort will produce good things for these groups in the future and they will feel the trick-down effects of our effort. I appreciate Mark Holmgren’s session because it reinforced and affirmed my belief that many groups are not “hard to reach” – we just do a poor job at designing efforts that meet these groups where they are. Often, our community-building strategy or other efforts are built around our schedules, occasionally expanding our work day or causing us to work on the weekend. We host these efforts in spaces that are comfortable and accessible for us or choose locations that have easily been used in the past (like that community center or school gymnasium or church hall that seems to always get an okay crowd). Sometimes (or should I say often times?), we even take the cheap way out because we under-budget our proposal because we really, really want to get a project going. Mark’s session challenged the notion of doing what’s easy or what’s easily funded – rather, if we really want to design a community-building strategy that is inclusive of “hard to reach” groups, we need to work alongside them and meet them were they are. We need to push our boundaries as community-builders, we need to go where these groups are comfortable. We need to challenge our own biases and assumptions, and never assume that just because a group may seem “hard to reach” that they don’t want to be included. Most importantly, we need to be human. We need to treat people with dignity, respect, and empathy. If we are truly going to be inclusive and engage “hard to reach” communities, we cannot view anyone as an “other”. With this perspective in mind, we can design efforts that bring the “hard to reach” to the table, show that their input and voices are valued, and create community-building strategies that will benefit all.  This blog was submitted by Nina Holzer, a participant at the Community Engagement: The Next Generation workshop in Ottawa from March 9-11, 2016.

Community Engagement: Bridging Traditional and Next Generation Approaches

Reflections on Community Engagement: The Next Generation
Our world is seemingly more disconnected than it was before. When we look around a room, we see more eyes on phones or computers than we do people sharing a conversation.  In March 2016, I took part in Tamarack Institute’s Community Engagement: The Next Generation conference in Ottawa, where we spent several days challenging this notion of disconnect and exploring opportunities to capture and engage individuals through those digital platforms they are so consumed by. Throughout the conference, our hosts presented us with new methods for using social media platforms to draw people in around a cause and build a movement. We learned from case studies, such as the Bissell Centre thrift store, which caught fire and lost its inventory and donations. However, through social media, they were able to start a campaign that brought in more donations and funds than they could have imagined – bringing the centre back to life. One major takeaway for me was the need to challenge that we live in a decreasingly engaged society and that we need to do a better job at meeting people where they are. If someone is more comfortable sharing and participating in an online community, then we need to develop strategies for engaging those individuals in an appropriate way. We need to consider trends in social media, which platforms are used by whom, when developing campaigns – what is appropriate for Facebook may not translate to Twitter, and vice versa. But we also shouldn’t throw traditional organizing and engagement opportunities out the door. As community-builders, we must bridge the gap between web-based engagement and face-to-face engagement. It is on us to create spaces for people to have generative dialogue and community conversations, all the while leveraging new technology to bring people in. In all, I left the conference wondering what other new technological advancement will come our way in the next generation and look forward to seeing how us community-builders will use tech to bring people together for community change. This blog was submitted by Nina Holzer, a participant at the Community Engagement: The Next Generation workshop in Ottawa from March 9-11, 2016.

Gender equity is about more than numbers

  Inner Activist faculty, Natasha Aruliah, joined the CBC at their Vancouver studios early March 8, 2016, International Women's Day.By Natasha Aruliah on March 10, 2016 | Connect with Natasha via email       It was an honour to be asked to speak a little on gender equity and feminism on the CBC today to highlight International Women’s Day. However, as is typical of media, time was limited and so I thought I would add a few comments to expand on what I said. The main question put to me was, “do we still need feminism and policies that address gender balance in 2016?” Well the short answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The main point I want to make is that while great advances have been made, we haven’t achieved it all. We still have pay inequity and low representation of women in decision-making and leadership roles like government. We still have gender violence and hyper-sexualisation of women’s bodies. And we still have undervaluing of women’s unpaid work as care-givers. It is crucial that leaders, decision-makers, and politicians understand the full complexity of women’s lives in order to lead and make decisions that benefit and support women. That means women have to be a proportion of those leaders, decision-makers and politicians. The gains we have made are not for all women, but a select few, mainly based on race and class. While white, middle-class women have achieved a lot in the work place, Indigenous, racialised, immigrant, working class women, women with disabilities, and transgender women have not progressed as far. The work of understanding our multiple identities, how they intersect and the complexity is a crucial next step in gaining equality for all women. Finally, the work of feminism and gender equity needs to be elevated to another level where we are addressing male dominated norms and terms of reference – such as the type of work that is valued, how success is defined, and challenging gendered role expectations and stereotypes. Feminism should not be about women gaining access to be token men, but women gaining respect, acceptance and value for being women on our own terms. The use of policies and quotas can help move things in the right direction, mainly by creating the opportunity to have a critical mass of women. However, that is not enough. Great care needs to be taken to ensure those places are not just filled by white, middle-class women, but rather a wide diversity of women to reflect the range of women’s lives and lived experiences. If no attention is paid to changing the culture of an organization and of society as a whole to support women, we will revert back to the ‘norm’ which is based on maleness and masculinity. With no attention to shifting the culture, women are likely to experience a number of microaggressions, comments, behaviours and actions that undermine, attack and impact them adversely. This can create a toxic work environment that often results in women leaving the work place. Results like a revolving door of women coming and going because well-intentioned diversity policies often end once people are hired. These policies often do not address the environment and culture of the organization and how it might impact women in order to support and retain them. On the show it was discussed that this work (feminism) needs to be taken on by everyone, men as well as women. This is an important evolution of feminism, not just in considering gender equity, but all forms of equity. The work on cultural change and the responsibility needs to be found within all groups, especially the dominant groups.  In addressing all forms of oppression – those in the dominant, privileged group need to be engaged and part of dismantling oppressive systems. Particularly when a 33% critical mass and proportional representation of marginalized people such as transgendered people are not met within a group. There is so much more I could say, but I will end with reclaiming feminism as a word that is not polarizing or negative, but one that we can all be proud to use to fight for gender rights, which are human rights. Being a feminist does not mean hating men. It means all people - men, women, trans - fighting for gender equity. Listen to Natasha's first full interview on CBC radio here. Listen to Natasha's follow-up CBC radio interview here, starting at minute 24.  

Strategic Development Plan

Implementing Collective Impact and Network theory
This document outlines the Strategic Development Plan and visual evaluation plan for the First 2000 Days Network; merging the Collective Impact approach with Network Theory, and a visual guide to our Learning & Evaluation plan outlining our shared measurement lens.

My review of Christian Bason's marvellous book on co-creation

LEADING PUBLIC SECTOR INNOVATION: Co-creating for a better society
This book is a magnificent read, and a valuable resource for anyone who sees 'innovation in the public sector' as a crucial challenge for our time, and not as an oxymoron for all time!  My review is here:!Christian-Basons-marvelous-book-LEADING-PUBLIC-SECTOR-INNOVATION-Cocreating-for-a-better-society/c1mbt/56a92f090cf215a9bb9db8c0

Building Personal Mastery - events coming up!

2016 is going to be another big year. I wanted to share some great leadership training opportunities coming up with the organization I work with, the Inner Activist.The Inner Activist was created to support the leadership development, effectiveness, personal sustainability and long-term success of change makers. Our course and events all full of new tools and approaches to creating a more self-aware, balance and inspired social change practice. More about the Inner Activist here.FREE Introductory webinar: Building Personal Mastery, Jan 19, 2016 - 12:00pm - 12:45pm. Hosted by Jackie Larkin. Register now! 
FREE Introductory webinar: Building Personal Mastery, Feb 3, 2016 - 12:00pm - 12:45pm. Hosted by Natasha Aruliah. Register now! Special evening event in Victoria, BC: Building Personal Mastery - How to make difficult conversations easier, Jan 21, 2016 -  6:00pm - 8:30pm, $20 sliding scale.Register now!
Five-day ocean-side retreat course held at the Haven on Gabriola Island: Building Personal Mastery March 5-9, 2016 - $1450 incl. 360-degree feedback, all meals, accommodation and tax. Bursaries Available, deadline Feb 13. For more info or to register click here.Feel free to email me if you have any questions.Happy 2016!Leslie Dickout Inner Activist Manager of Marketing &

Mark Holmgren Song Lyrics and Spoken Word

Performed at the 2015 Tamarack CI Summit, Vancouver
You can download the lyrics from the file at the end of this posting It was a joy for me to be a part of the Summit and, among other things, be one of the Artists in Residence with my amazing colleague, Elayne Greeley. Thank you to all that approached me at the Summit with your kind words and your interest in my music. Many asked me for copies of the lyrics, which are in this document. You are free to share them. Also many asked if I had a CD. My previous albums are sold out but I am thinking of doing a new CD so will keep you all posted. In the meantime you can hear and download my work at I also have a book of poems and narrative called I believe in the barking dog, available here: You can also take a look at my book Ideas: Digital Art and Reflections at the same link. Thank you Mark Holmgren

Join our team!

Inner Activist is hiring an Outreach & Enrolment Coordinator
The Inner Activist is seeking an individual to work part-time from their home in British Columbia to assist us to meet our enrolment goals for each of our three annual leadership courses in 2015. We are looking for someone who can join our small-but-nimble team, enjoys collaboration and would be comfortable supporting people to connect with the opportunity to take our courses. Our OVERALL LONG-TERM APPROACH is to work as part of a team to establish and deepen relationships of trust, respect and mutuality with key stakeholder communities including equity-seeking communities (for example, First Nations and groups facing systemic injustices based on their gender identity, race, religion, culture, age etc.) and progressive government, union and business organizations. Intrigued? Excited? Feeling like you are up for a challenge and would be a great fit? Read the full job description for the Inner Activist's Outreach & Enrolment Coordinator here. Applications will be accepted until October 19, 2015. Please submit them to Inner Activist Project Director, Ian Curtin: Learn more about Inner Activist courses and Tides Canada projects.
Join our team!