100 Community Conversations

A few weeks ago, I received the following email invitation:

Dear Laurel,

On behalf of the Campbell River Economic Development Corporation and Simon Fraser University Public Square, we invite you to join us in a local conversation about British Columbia’s economic future.  Please find a one page event description attached.

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 from 3:30pm to 6:30pm

Rivercorp Boardroom, Enterprise Centre East

900 Alder Street, Campbell River.


I responded immediately, and on the day of the event found myself in a room with 16 other engaged community leaders representing Grieg Seafood BC Ltd, Rivercorp, Vancouver Island North Film Commission, BC Salmon Farmers Association, Bank of Montreal, the Visitor Centre, North Vancouver Island Aboriginal Training Society, We Wai Kai Nation, North Island Employment Foundations Society, the Museum at Campbell River, the Immigrant Welcome Centre, the City of Campbell River, and Shelter Point Distillery.

Within the theme of “Charting BC’s Economic Future”, facilitators Marissa Lawrence and Mark Friesen from Simon Fraser University (SFU) Public Square asked participants to contribute our ideas, questions, and insights regarding wealth creation, the promotion of social equity, and environmental protection.  We were not expected to be economic experts; we were encouraged to read the discussion guide prepared by SFU Public Square and come to the table with ‘an open and curious mind’.

The discussion guide provided a myriad of background information, analysis, data from a recent poll of BC residents, and guiding questions intended to stimulate our thinking and help lead an informed discussion.  As a group, we looked at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of BC’s economy; we were then asked to record and post any additional thoughts on those SWOTs.  Seeing the information presented from a province-wide perspective in addition to our Campbell River context was valuable to both the participants and the facilitators.  As we progressed into identifying action items that would help address wealth creation, social equity, and environmental protection, I was placed in a smaller group with a city planner, an employment counsellor, and a First Nations Chief.  Our discussion was fascinating and full of learning, sharing, and curiousity and I became very aware of how many people and/or organizations are working towards similar goals, yet roundtable discussions such as the one hosted by SFU Public Square and Rivercorp are rare.  As The Sociable Scientists, Erin and I are focused on being a part of knowledge creation and leading knowledge mobilization within our communities, so we applaud the role that SFU Public Square has taken in fostering collaboration across the province of BC.

Campbell River was the first of nine community conversations that SFU Public Square will host across the province – the other 91 are open for BC residents to facilitate.  Community members are invited to host these conversations in their boardrooms and in their kitchens; the more inclusive these conversations are, the more valuable the information gathered will be.  If you are interested in hosting a community conversation, you can contact Mark Friesen, mark_publicsq@sfu.ca, Community Outreach Coordinator for the SFU Public Square Community Summit.

On October 4th, SFU will facilitate a dialogue based on the 100 community conversations that are happening across the province with 150 of BC’s opinion and thought leaders .  As a BC resident, a Sociable Scientist, and a young entrepreneur, I sincerely hope to be invited to participate in that event.  I think Charting BC’s Economic Future through 100 Community Conversations is an excellent model of knowledge mobilization and I thank Marissa, Mark, and the entire team at SFU Public Square for facilitating these discussions and Kim Doney at Rivercorp for the invitation to participate.

And as with anything posted by The Sociable Scientists, you can contact me or Erin directly for more information.