This is my second entry to Carold’s new blog. I could write about many things: about the innovative work of our eight Fellows, about our upcoming events in Montreal in June 2013 that brought together more than 100 people from our networks there. I could talk about our extraordinary Board and our interesting Fellowship applicants. Instead, I want to talk about the partners with whom we are working.
I visited the Coady Institute in Antigonish (www.coady.sfx.ca) last July. In fact, I rode there from Kingston on my bicycle – about 1500 km and 15 days of cycling. The Coady Institute was created in 1959 and is a world-renowned centre of excellence for community-based development and leadership education. In front of the Institute’s main building is a an open amphitheatre with this quote from its founder, Father Moses Coady:
“ In a democracy people don’t sit in the social and economic bleachers; they all play the game.”
My visit to Coady underlined for me the importance of the work The Carold Institute is doing, carrying forward in its own small way, the longstanding commitment of Canadians to building a vibrant and diverse country through voluntary action and adult learning. But, we are not alone. I am very excited to see the web of organizations, many of them brand new, that are mobilizing their efforts to build strong democratic societies in Canada and around the globe.
Samara (www.samaracanada.com) is an exciting new organization formed out of a belief in the importance of public service and public leadership. It is named for a ‘samara’, the winged ‘helicopter’ seed that falls from the maple tree – a symbol of Canada, and a reminder that from small seeds big ideas can grow. In one of their recent studies, Samara found that only 55% of Canadians are satisfied with the way democracy works, down from 75% in 2004. The study also found that Canadians award members of Parliament less than a 50% mark on their performance in most areas – except that of representing the views of their political parties!
Samara had developed materials for us in schools across Canada to teach politics. They have also launched a national public outreach initiative to provide Canadians, especially young people and new Canadians, with a platform to discuss how politics can better reflect their daily lives.
Ashoka Canada (www.canada.ashoka.org)is a global association of social entrepreneurs – individuals with system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. Ashoka wants to redefine the global citizen sector by creating a network of social entrepreneurs who will develop and implement new solutions to global problems. To date, they have named more than 2,700 social entrepreneurs as Ashoka Fellows, in 72 countries in five continents. Across Canada, they have elected 44 Fellows since 2002 – of whom two are members of the Carold Board.
Framework (www.frameworkorg.org) is another new organization that creatively connects people with causes and causes with people. It matches a skilled volunteer to an organization and helps organizations focus better on delivering their mission using the best tools that new technology has to offer.
Cuso International (www.cusointernational.org) is a well-known international development organization that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of skilled volunteers. Cuso volunteers collaborate with local groups on projects in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
Carold is working with each of these organizations to leverage our modest resources and to maximize the impact of our combined resources. In these organizations, at least, nobody is sitting in the bleachers.
We’re all in the game.