Preparing for Berlin – entry 1

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the nature of individual reflexive practice, and how reflexive practice manifests when it’s active, alive, and well in large highly structured organizations such as municipal government.

These are important questions that form the foundation of what I believe my work to be in the next several years.  Next year at the beginning of July I’m presenting in Berlin about reflexive practice in municipal government at a joint conference of Attractor- a Danish based organizational consultancy, and the Taos Institute, an academic association with a focus on social constructionist theory and practice.

It’s an outstanding opportunity for me to not only present on an international stage but also to be among colleagues far more experienced than I, and to learn.  What makes it thrilling is to be able to talk about the practical application of reflexive practice in government.  I’ll talk about what some of my breakthroughs have been, where I’ve discovered some of the pitfalls, and offer insights into organizational reflexive practice.

I’m interested in exploring how organizations can learn to be both the participants in delivery of services, adapting to an ever-changing landscape, while at the same time being active observers of themselves as an organization in process — being in the process and outside the process at the same time.  This goes beyond program development, implementation, and evaluation to a place were the organization itself becomes more conscious of how it’s own ‘talk’ influences the process itself and indeed its own future and that of the community.   Organizational reflexive practice allows time and space for its members to thoughtfully consider what they are thinking about as an organization and the language they are using.  Why those thoughts, why that language, why that behaviour?  What are the effects of those choices conscious or not?   Organizational reflexive practices goes far beyond the crafting of services and the measurement of their success.  It’s not an analysis of the doing – it’s consideration of thought and behaviour and how it affects the organization and the future of the community.

What are the techniques we can use to ‘hold a space open’ for ourselves to consider how our language, in all of its forms and the way we use those forms, creates the future of our community? Indeed, words do create worlds.

My first section will explore purpose and its role in conversation.  What constitutes purpose?  How can we learn to recognize statements that masquerade as purpose? What is the difference between action and purpose? What may happen when compelling purpose is clear?

Other sections might include:

  • A look at how quickly organizational change can happen once the organizational language begins to change
  • The role of kindness in conversation
  • The damage that  fear and anger may cause and what can be done
  • The importance of narrative
  • The role of doubt in conversation
  • The beauty of uncertainty and certainty
  • Inspiring conversations
  • The remarkable power of invitation
  • Choosing a path with the clearest view
  • Being a whole leader for others
  • The strength in grace
  • Drawing strength from personal reflexive practice
  • Systemic congruence, the effect of one conversation on the whole
  • Holding up a mirror
  • White space, the value it creates in processes and how it helps shape the big picture
  • Why one word is important
  • Time to think, to be, and to do
  • Colour and texture of envisioning.

It’s with excitement that I embark on this journey and I invite you to join me.  I’ll share bits and pieces of the work as I continue to develop my presentation and accompanying writing.  I look forward to questions, thoughts, suggestions, and comments.

Attractor – the elastic space.

The conference started at a reasonable hour. A practice that felt good and allowed time for thinking and moving into a good space for the day.

I found it most interesting to consider the cultural and individual context that each participant brought to the gathering. What any word’s meaning exists for me can be very different than someone else. The way the Danish or the Americans construct meaning in English create new ways of thinking about various ideas we are exploring together.

There has been great presentations about the nature of dialogue and the role of models in reflexive practice. It’s nice to be surrounded by others that try to work reflexively. The challenge for all of us to be part of a process while at the same time be aware of the dynamics, internal feelings, body language, surroundings, aesthetics, and individual context.

I imagine all of us in a process holding onto the edges of a giant rubber band. Pulling a space open by consciously working together and in harmony and trust. Allowing the space within to be open for participants to explore, question, be uncertain, and relational. We are in this sense dual-natured, being both the practitioners who create a positive space and the participants in the centre that trust the space will remain open.

It’s this idea of process consciousness that I believe allows groups to become reflexive. How does a group develop group skills to enable them to hold dialogic and context awareness, as well as work with the content itself?

Attractor – Summer Institute

July 2, 2011. 

I’m flying to Gatwick this afternoon and will arrive early tomorrow morning. The time change is seven hours. I’ll spend the day with Alan, a close friend and fellow philiosopher.  Around 5 p.m.  in the afternoon I’ll catch a flight for Copenhagen.  The Taos Institute is hosting a summer series on systems thinking and positivity. The first experience I had with this organization was about five years ago when I attended a four day Appreciative Inquiry Course with David Cooperider in Carmel, California.  

Since then the thinking I was doing has developed and accelerated  my approach to community change, and help me begin to craft a different way of being in the world.   Since then I continue to explore how communities and organizations evolve and devolve, what stalls positive change and what helps it grow.

Society is vastly unaware of how language and thought shapes our future. Most can’t see the dynamics and organic processes the exist just below the surface of conversation.  The subtle interplay of process, language, emotion, and unconscious desire for knowing on our human experience create our future. 

My work is to bring a level of awareness to this interplay, to help the people and organizations I’m involved with become reflexive about the dynamics at work.  To understand how the language we choose to use internally or externally, our inner voice and outer voice, will alter these dynamics and therefore the future. 

Without bringing reflexivity into our present concsiousness we hold back creativity, innovation and paradigmatic shifts in human consciousness that presently struggles for life and that need to survive.  The unquenchable societal  hunger for certainty and the fear of change, cripples creativity and the ability to adapt. 

Many if not most of the  institutions in our present and our history, from governmental, to military, to religious and even to family, are rooted in certainty. Although bright stars do exist, our reflexive ability needs nurturing.  Our future needs require us to shift the way we use language in the positive direction. Away from problem solving to life giving creativity.  Our reliance on past thinking must be questioned, the good exacted and built upon, the inflexible and certain replaced with possibility and uplifting questioning. We need real focus on purpose. 

I’m thrilled to be able to take these eight days to explore thoughts and refocus my efforts to be both part of the systems at work and at the same time outside an conscious of them. It’s my goal to blog however briefly my experiences and reflections during the conference. 

On the beach

On Christmas vacation, we sit on a Hawaiian beach and watch the waves roll in and slip away.  Trotting down the beach comes a big fat dog — it is happy.  It stops right in front of us, digs a hole, and leaves a little present in the sand.  We look around for the owner but no one seems to own the dog.  Then a woman appears who seems to know the dog and was following it along at a distance.  She said that it didn’t belong to her when Terry points out the sand trap.   She just giggles nervously.  She and the dog wander back to the other end of the beach.

I sit here for a while, I know what I want to do.  I want to take a plastic bag I carried with me and go pick it up so that it won’t be stepped it.  I am somehow embarrassed.  I can feel that everyone who watched this incident happen are annoyed.  It feels like peer pressure to sit and do nothing more.  Finally I resist the feeling and quickly go to the place with my bag and scoop the poop, then tucked it behind my chair.  I hope that no one notices and contemplate how ridiculous it is to be thinking about what others think when I want to do something that I feel is right.

A short while later a young native Hawaiian man comes up the beach with a plastic bag and a slotted scoop.  He is looking everywhere and scooping up things from the sand that don’t belong — bottle caps, cigarette butts, bits of plastic.  Things left behind by others.  The fat dog follows behind him.  When he gets to us I ask if the dog is his.  He says ‘yes’, but doesn’t stop to chat, just carries on with his task.  I comment that ‘it’s a nice dog’.  He doesn’t respond.  And what would I have said he he had responded?

I sit there thinking about how this young man is not afraid at all to do something good for everyone.  It doesn’t embarrass him to be cleaning the beach.   I determine to pay more attention to my feelings and let my actions be congruent with them.  The next time I want to do something good I’ll be quicker to have this internal discussion about the conflict in my feelings and get on with it.

I assume that he is doing this to help keep the beach clean but I wonder if he knows that by setting this example for others that he will help keep parks and beaches all over the world a bit nicer, as all of these vacationers return to where they live.  Some of them will have experienced similar insights.  We must not ever think that our actions exist in a bubble.  He reminded me to leave every place I visit in better shape than I found it, and he also reminded me to pay attention to living a life congruent with my values — a belief that I’ve held closely for a while.

Surrounded by goodness.

It is a most interesting day.  I’m inspired by people and their capacity for trust, connection, empathy, joy and kindness.   First thing this morning I get up and go to the gym.  It’s leg day and I really would rather sleep just a little longer. I stay in bed as long as possible then hasten the journey.  Corey pushes me but it feels good.  I’m glad I go today.  Next stop is home where I need to connect with a friend whose mother has just died.  He is doing well and notices how much support and friendship he has around him.  When we talk he wants to know if there is anything that he can do for me.  No, I say.  I tell him that I’m fine and to focus on his family.  We’ll talk when I get back next week, but I’ll attend the funeral on Thursday, but I’ve heard it’s important to remember the date 1 month out, 6 months and the anniversary of a loss, when the world is continuing and the formal grieving seems to have passed.  I’ll mark them in my calendar.  He is always outward looking and I think that is what makes him such as gem in my life.

Next, I’m late for a meeting with a colleague and friend.  We start to work but soon realize that we are having some trouble working well. We are not at our usual high capacity of collaboration. So we spend the morning working on our feelings and challenges.  Listening to one another’s perspective and gaining insight in our own.  It’s an amazing experience, painful at times but I realize that when one avoids ‘lumps’, one may have harmony, but real depth and trust comes from sorting out difference and hurt feelings.  When one builds on a foundation of trust there is a deeper and more meaningful richness that allows connections to strengthen and those can take you places that you couldn’t go along.  Oh for the joy of friends that are willing to travel with one another on their solitary journeys.

I leave exhausted but lighter and more happy than I’ve been in a while.  I feel relief and a sense of surety that the work we do together will continue to be strong and inspired by one another.  On my way back to my office, I’m enjoying the sunshine so much that I decide I will take a detour to go meet the women that own and operate Babycakes, cupcakery in Red Deer —  Andrea and Diana.  I love their store and think I’ve found my new happy place away from distraction.  It’s a place that I’ll occasionally escape to, read for a while, and think.  Their cappuccino is excellent and then I bite into a ‘brown sugar mama’ with penuche icing.  I think I have died and gone to heaven.

We visit for a while on and off between customers.  It’s time to get back and focus;  perhaps I am putting off the paper work on my desk.  I decide to buy a box of these wee cupcakes and take them around the building to the tenants and staff AND I have to buy the cool t-shirt that goes with these things.  Who knew that they were such a phenomenon?  Downtown, with cupcakes in hand I wander the building spreading sugary chocolatey fudgey joy.

In the afternoon Carson and Lousie from Idea Market appear to size up the new office and see how I am making out with the painting and cleaning.  It’s good that they came by.  It’s going to be wonderful to have more creative people in the store — especially this team.  They are hearing great things about moving into the downtown of Red Deer.  Tomorrow we will get the painting and cleaning nearly finished and will hopefully be working on the details before I leave for Ireland.  More great people.

After work I come home and spend some time with my niece Kathryn who has just nicely moved away from home, but into our suite.  I’m pleased that she has come to live with us and look forward to some good times.  In some ways it feels like I’m a parent.  Kathryn is grown up, smart and charming.  She shows me that she’s mostly unpacked things and set up her apartment.  While we talk I suggest that that I have an old, but funky two seat chair with wooden arms at the store that she can borrow and perhaps recover.  We decide we’ll take her car and go get it.  At the store we haul the thing out of the basement and onto the quiet street.  Will it fit in the back seat?  No!  Will it fit in the trunk? No!  We stand there and think about our options.  We could put it back into the store and come around to collect it tomorrow.  I say to Kathryn to give me a couple of minutes someone will drive by that I know that will have a vehicle big enough, if that doesn’t happen we’ll go with plan b.

A black truck comes along the road and pulls into a stall near the RBC bank on Ross.  I can’t really see who it is but think I’ll ask for a favour anyway.  This is Red Deer after all, people like to help one another.  I excuse myself as I walk up to the man descending from the cab.  ‘I wonder if you can help me for a few minutes?’  As I get closer I see that it is Davin, a young man and I’ve had business dealings with a couple of times.  We chat for a moment and he agrees that he’ll help us for 10 minutes or so, but he’ll be late for his band practise.  Being kind and helpful is more important to him, that says something about his character.  He backs his truck up to the store and before he is out again Kathryn and I have loaded it the back.  ‘It is small’, he says.  ‘I know, I thought it would fit for sure in the back seat,’ I reply.  30 seconds later we are off to the house.  Kathryn leads the way.  On the way he tells me that he and some friends have purchase Records to the Rafters from Bill, the former owner whom I also know.  We exchanges notes on the retail music business and catch up a bit.  I’m really happy to have made this connection because he share things with me that we’ve had trouble discovering at Sunworks.  5 minutes later we’re home and unloaded.   We agree to get together and chat more.   Kathryn stands beside us keen to hear that they carry music she likes.  Then he’s on his way.

I sit here typing this because it feels like something that should be shared.  I had interactions besides these, with colleagues, customers, lovers, and friends.  Many of today’s experiences came from not being afraid to express my fears, my needs, or my appreciation.  All my interactions today were important and wonderful.  I think how very lucky I am to be surrounded by so many good people, not just in this City but in my life.  Doesn’t get much better than this.

The Empathic Civilization.

As you know I read… and I try to apply what I learn to the world around me.  I experiment with my learning and share what I am able.  Currently, I am reading a book called The Empathic Civilization, by Jeremy Rifkin.  I’ve waited to tell you to about it until I was well into it.  I wanted to be sure that my enthusiasm about his ideas was not premature.  Now, I have to tell you that this book and the concepts behind it seem to embody and connect some of the most important thinking for our time.  This book could change how interact with others in this world — instill confidence that your smile and thoughtfulness are important and that they do affect change  —  that our connections with one another are the most important part of our society.  It will also compel you to rethink the direction of humanity.  It questions whether the human race will survive and whether it can can come together to meet the rising challenges we face, but at the same time offers tangible ideas. Will we connect on a deep human level and work together?  Mediocre and slow change will not serve us.  Dramatic collaboration and fearless empathic communication must guide our collective thinking.  This book is not an alarmist siren-call (at least not up to page 201).  It’s a ‘must read’ soon. You need to know.

Here is the link to a page about The Empathic Civilization.  There is a great short video by Jeremy on that page that gives a bit of an overview of his ideas.

I feel so strongly about this book that I’m ordering 50 copies into Sunworks.  Drop me a wee note if you would like one be to set aside for you when they come in: I’m looking forward to a grand discussion with everyone that reads it.  Who knows, we might be able to get the author in Red Deer somehow.  Perhaps RDC would consider inviting him for the Perspective Series.  As always please feel free to drop in and chat — it’s always better in person.

Showing not telling.

When I was in high school I had a teacher named Sheena who was an incredible influence on me. Many of us are blessed with great teachers, they are a real gift to us. We probably don’t think to look them up later and then tell them how important they have been to us. I’m fortunate enough to keep in touch with my friend Sheena all these years later. Thanks Sheena.

Here’s something that happened in grade 11, I recall.

I was quite active in the arts in High School and took every art course that I could from Sheena. It was a way for me to express myself during that very awkward time of growing up — 6’5″ and 170 lbs — need I say more. During those years I was found at one of two ‘safe’ places, either the bowling alley or in the art studio.

I had taken an interest in ceramics and was becoming quite creative in the use of clay. Some of my pieces are in my office today, if you ask next time you are in I’ll show you. Sometime at the start of a new semester a new group of ceramics students arrived. I may have been the teacher’s assistant, or just a senior ceramics student — not senior by much — this was high school after all.

Out of the blue Sheena asked me to teach these students how to wedge clay. Wedging is a process that removes the air bubbles from the clay so when the piece has dried it won’t explode during a kiln firing. I was terrified of having to teach these students. I’d been picked on and bullied all the way through school, but that is a story for another time.

There were about five students gathered around the 4′ x 8′ wedging table, with me at the end. Each of them had a freshly cut piece of clay to work with. I just couldn’t speak so with trembling hands I slowly began to work the clay, pulling it up from the back of the slab with my fingers and then pushing it down with my weight on the palms of my hands. Not entirely different than kneading dough. It’s probably called wedging because if done right it creates a piece of clay that resembles a wedge shape.

One-by-one the students watched and slowly started to follow my hand movements and wedge their own clay. I watched them, I watched their eyes, I watched their hands. Over the course of 10-15 minutes everyone learned to wedge clay. I said nothing. I recall relaxing at the end and making a few suggestions but even that I’m not sure about now.

It’s likely that I taught others later but I don’t remember anything other than this first time.

As I think about this today I think about how this style might reflect my personality. Where words often fail me, I can show by example. I can prove that something can be done by demonstrating it. There have been times and continue to be times when I simply can’t explain something with my brain but that I feel to be right elsewhere in my body. The building of Sunworks has largely been like that.

Perhaps this is why I think that experimenting — giving things a try — is so important for community development. For example, how can we be certain of what we’ve been told by traffic engineers that blocking two lanes of traffic on Ross Street by City Hall would cause traffic to back up? Then, lucky for us, the lanes get blocked from construction for two years, and we make a discovery which we can demonstrate, and that leads us to the creation of a park (see Creating Cenotaph Plaza entry). Showing not telling is perhaps an underutilized form of teaching and learning.

Mary Joan’s Maui Restaurants Review


1. Pita Paradise – Kalama Village, 1913 South Kihei Road. Very good Mediterranean food, but you’ll probably not want to eat in. Great spot for take-out. It’s also cheaper than the one in Wailea. Lunch and Dinner. 808-875-7679.

2. Vietnamese Cuisine – Azeka Place I – # 107, 1280 South Kihei Road, Kihei. Very good Vietnamese food at excellent prices. Lunch and dinner. 808-875-2088.

3. The Kihei Cafe – 1945 South Kihei Road. Good breakfast and lunch spot. This is very casual and you might overlook it as it looks pretty grungy. You can sit outside and eat and the food is good, especially breakfast.

4. Sansei – Japanese and Sushi Bar – Kihei Town Centre – 1881 South Kihei Road. This is our favourite spot for sushi. You usually need a reservation. 808-879-0004.

5. Five Palms Restaurant – 2960 Kihei Road, Kihei. It’s on the main floor of a condo development and they have good food and great ocean views. We always sit on the patio. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A great place for half price drinks and appetizers in their bar up until 7 pm. 808-879-2607.

6. 808 Bistro – #A-2511 South Kihei Road. It is open for breakfast and dinner though we haven’t tried breakfast.  Good food but not great, casual atmosphere, BYOB. We were a bit disappointed in the food in 2012. 808-879-8008.

7. Coconut Fish Café – 1279 South Kihei Road. A café with great fish burgers and fish tacos. Very casual. Best for take-out. 808-875-9979.

8. Cuatro Restaurant – 1881 South Kihei Road (Kihei Town Centre). A very small restaurant but very good Latin- Asian-European food. 808-879-1110. BYOB

9. Three’s Bar and Grill – 1945 South Kihei Road – We tried this restaurant in 2011 and were not impressed. We went again in 2012 and thought it had really improved. The bar is a bit noisy, the inside tables in the restaurant a bit dark, so sit on the lanai. 808-879-3133.


1. Gannon’s (formerly Sea Watch Restaurant) – 100 Wailea Golf Club Drive. Very good food, expensive, and a fabulous view. Ask for a table on the lanai. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations 808-875-8080.
2. Spago – Four Seasons Resort, 3900 Wailea Alanui. Excellent food, but very expensive. We don’t usually go to the hotels but we had a very good meal. Again ask for the lanai and a view of the ocean. Reservations 808- 879-2999.

3. Mala at Wailea – Wailea Beach Marriott Resort. Open for breakfast and dinner but we’ve only tried dinner. Excellent food, expensive. We sat on the lanai and had a wonderful view of the sunset. 808-875-9394.

4. Monkey Pod – A new restaurant that opened in 2011 in Wailea. It’s very noisy inside, much like Earls. The food was okay, but eat on the lanai for sure. We didn’t try it in 2012 because the reviews were not great. 10 Wailea Gateway Place. 808-891-2322.

5. Tommy Bahamas – in the Wailea Shopping Centre. Very good food, fairly expensive. A nice lanai but no view. 808-875-9983.

6. Joe’s Bar and Grill – We have eaten here over the years and have not been overwhelmed the last year or so. I don’t think we’ll go back. 131 Wailea Ike Place. 808-875-7767.

7. Ferraro’s Bar and Restaurant – We tried this restaurant for the first time in 2011 and had a wonderful meal on the lanai with a great view of the ocean. We went back in 2012 and had another great meal. Very expensive. Four Seasons Hotel Wailea. 808-874-8000.

8. Pita Paradise – 10 Wailea Gateway Place – It’s a bit more expensive than Pita Paradise in Kihei but it has a better dinner menu and a much nicer environment. We ate on the lanai. The food was very good. 808-879-7177.


1. Maui Coffee Roaster – 444 Hana Hwy in Kahului. They have great beans and coffee and good food for casual breakfast and lunch.

2. Down to Earth Health Food Store and Take-Out – Very good health food grocery store and great take-out. 305 Dairy Road, Kahului. 808-877-2661.

3. Bistro Casanova – 33 Lono Ave, Kahului. Very good Italian food at pretty good prices. One of the only Italian restaurants on the island that we like. No view however. 808-873-3650.

4. Main Street Bistro – 2051 Main Street, Wailuku. This is a real find. Great food at great prices and very casual. They are open from 11 am until 7 pm Monday to Friday. They serve lunch and tapas. 808-244-6816. Live entertainment Friday 5-7 pm on the first Friday of the month but it’s very noisy for that night only.

5. A Saigon Café – 1792 Main Street, Wailuku (under the highway overpass). Very good Vietnamese food and the prices are good. 808-243-9560.


1. Hali’imaile General Store – Hali’imaile Road, 4 miles up Haleakala Highway, left at Hali’imaile sign, continue 1.5 miles. Probably my favourite restaurant. Excellent food, expensive. We have gone for lunch and dinner for over 20 years. No view but it’s a fun spot. We like to sit in the front not the back room. Reservations 808-572-2666.


1. Moana Cafe and Bakery – 71 Baldwin Avenue, Paia. If you are heading out for the day and end up at Paia (the beginning of the Hana Highway), this is a great lunch spot. You don’t need a reservation and the food is very good. Paia is a very fun town to wander around – very artsy. 808-579-9999.

2 Paia Bay Café was Green Banana Café – 137 Hana Highway, Paia. A wonderful coffeehouse in Paia. All homemade cookies and muffins. Great cappuccino. 808-579-9130 This café changed hands and is now the Paia Bay Café. We didn’t try it this year but it was really busy so it looks good. We’ll try it next year.

3. Mana Foods – 49 Baldwin Avenue, Paia. Our favourite grocery store. They also have excellent take-out food. The best cinnamon buns by the cash register.

4. Mama’s Fish House – 799 Poho Place, Paia. It’s just out of Paia on the Hana highway. You need a reservation for sure. The food is very good but very expensive and I think a bit over rated. It would be a good place to go for lunch because you can really see the ocean then. 808-579-8488.

5. Flatbread Pizza Company – 89 Hana Highway, Paia. Excellent thin crust pizza. It gets really busy for lunch so go early or late. 808-579-8989.


1. Hula Grill – Whaler’s Village, 2435 Ka’anapali Parkway, on the beach. This is over on the other side of the island in Ka’anapali. It is Jim’s favourite beach spot for lunch because it’s right on the beach and the food is okay, but not great. Everything tastes good on the beach however and the view is wonderful. 808-667-6636.

2. Mala Ocean Terrace – 1307 Front Street, Lahaina. It’s a great spot for lunch. It’s on the ocean, the menu is very good, casual, and reasonably priced. It’s also open for dinner which we haven’t tried yet. 808-667-9394.

1. Pineapple Grill – Nice spot for lunch on a golf course. Good food. 200 Kapalua Drive. 808-669-9600.

2. Merriman’s  – We had read that Merriman’s was not that great and too expensive so we just stopped for appetizers and drinks to watch the sunset. It was good bar food and a lovely view. 1 Bay Drive, Kapalua. 808-669-6400.

Mary Joan Cornett
Updated March 23, 2012

Sunworks March 2010 Newsletter

This newsletter is devoted to news and events.  First we have three cultural events to tell you about.   Here they are in date order.

Fertile Choices – March 25, 2010 to March 27, 2010

My friend and colleague, Glynis Wilson-Boultbee has written and directed a new play called Fertile Choices.  I know her and her work.  I highly recommend you get tickets and go to this production at the Matchbox.  It starts next Thursday and runs only until Sunday.  We have tickets at the store.

Fertile Choices explores myriad reasons why women choose not to have children and the implications of those choices. The story is told with unflinching honestly and electrifying wit. Fertile Choices is based on the provocative poetry/ceramic show of the same name by Glynis Wilson Boultbee and Michele Dupas.

Fertile Choices launches Ignition Theatre’s inaugural ORIGINAL VOICES series. Each season, Ignition Theatre will accept new scripts from Alberta playwrights, will develop and workshop one, then produce a full limited engagement run. This will assist Ignition Theatre in expanding its mandate to include the support of emerging playwrights.

Robyn Dell ‘Unto and Sean Pinchin – March 28th

On Sunday, March 28th Sunworks will host an intimate acoustic show, featuring Robyn Dell ‘Unto and Sean Pinchin. Gather around 5:00 — the show will start at 6:00. Tickets are $10. Cash wine bar.  We appreciate when you buy your tickets in advance at Sunworks, however tickets will also be available at the door.  The seating is limited.

ROBYN DELL’UNTO spent new year’s eve 2009 in Niagara Falls, sharing the stage with Styx and Glass Tiger in front of a crowd of over 60,000 people. Robyn is at home on stage, and easily relates to, and wins over, any crowd…she’s just signed a deal with The Orange Lounge label, and her songs have been featured on both CBC and CMT. Melissa Mcclelland & Justin Hines are also with The Orange Label.

The story-telling, Folklore artist, SEAN PINCHIN, is best known for crafting warm and soulful sounds with nothing but his voice, harmonica and slide guitar. Using his music as therapy, every performance has an emotional delivery that any audience can feel and relate to.

Paul Headrick – April 16, 2010

Our next literary event is a reading by author Paul Headrick.  His new book is called The Doctrine of Affections and is a collection of eleven stories. Paul Headrick takes us on a fascinating journey into the heart of music. From the perfectly honed decrescendo of a symphony’s string section to the down-home chord progressions at a late-night kitchen party, Headrick’s stories question the subtle differences between hearing and listening, and communicating and understanding. The subjects of this collection are soloists, ensemble players, scholars, collectors, and lovers of music, but their experiences with risk, religion, relief, and often regret make their stories resonate for readers who are hearing their songs for the first time.

A poverty-stricken guitar virtuoso navigates the political landscape of nineteenth-century Parisian society as he comes out of retirement for one final concert. A sessional instructor competing for the prestigious Interdisciplinary Chair in Aretha Franklin studies gets sidetracked by her obsession with a mysterious student in a yellow hat. A dying doo-wop DJ and his wife try to bridge the estrangement wrought by illness as they travel in search of the horns, drums, and vocals of highlife.

It’s going to be a fun and entertaining evening.  No tickets are necessary and we have room for 30.  Come for wine and cheese and enjoy another excellent writer.


For those of you ‘on Facebook’, and I know there are many, please join our Sunworks group.

What’s new?

It is so hard to say what is new and what has changed.  We’ve been enhancing Sunworks for years and since Christmas 2009 we’ve done some major changes that have once again taken the store to the next level.  We all are very pleased — come down for a visit soon.  See the ever growing music section in the store, the upgrades to the book room, the kitchen product, cards, pottery, glass, and garden statuary.  You can always visit through our webcam, sadly you can’t buy through it yet.

Idea Market Moves to Red Deer

We are pleased to announce that the Idea Market team will be moving into the Sunworks Building for May 1.  Their new office is #205, 4926 Ross Street.  We are so thrilled to be associated with this dynamic and talented group of people.  To learn a little more about Idea Market visit their website.

Conscious Evolution

Last month I mentioned my blog and invited you to visit it.  Then in an editing faux pas, I neglected to put in the URL…. so here it is.

Conscious Evolution — observations and insights through living on earth in the company of solitary travellers — is my personal website.  I’ve been quite active building this site to share my thoughts and insights about life.  As a community facilitator, writer, and artist I believe that I’m discovering ideas and ways of thinking that are helping me to make sense of the world and highlight what I think are useful questions to help us create an inspired future.  You may find it interesting to read and follow (OR you may not).  I share ideas, encourage thinking, promote collaboration and questioning, as well as post simple things like great recipes.  I link my site to sites of other thinkers and organizations that I find interesting and thought-provoking.  Mostly I have fun.

City Council

I’ve been asked many times to consider running for City Council.  I’ve considered it for years and now the time is right.  So it’s official, I will run in the next election. The outpouring of support and encouragement has been tremendous.  During the next six months I’ll be actively listening to the community.  If you have something that you would like to share with me, an idea, a challenge, an insight, please do not hesitate to call me, email me, or drop by.  I plan to run this campaign and do my potential work with City Council in a strength-based way.  I believe that we will do better if we work from a perspective of what can be rather than what isn’t.  We do have areas that need improvement there is no doubt, but we also have great examples and strength in this community to build something amazing for all of us.

Our Happy New Promotional Video

Last month we approved the final version of a video for Sunworks that we have been working on for a few months.   As we continue to improve the store, it feels good  that we have something that we can share electronically with people that helps to showcase the shop.  Click on the link; we hope you enjoy it.   Feel free to send it around — there is a spot beside the video to do that very thing.  Terry did the voice over for this video and I think that he’s done an outstanding job.  He’s says that he wouldn’t give up his day job but he definitely has that sexy radio voice going on.

Clearance Room – More Added

Over the course of every month we have to look at the inventory and determine what needs to go and what should grow.  Where we’ll build and where we’ll adjust.  We’ve created a sale clearance room for things that we’ll not be carrying again or have minor but repairable damage.  There are many interesting and useful things there for you, marked down by 50 – 90 percent.

Harris-Warke Gallery

the geography of things
An assortment of wall reliefs and sculptural pieces by Ellen Dick from Swalwell, Alberta. By rearranging and juxtaposing a variety of recycled common materials in unusual ways, Ellen creates sculptures that open windows “into a bit of magic and mystery. Being evocative of other places and other times, they form their own geographies.” Ellen Dick is originally from northern Ontario but has lived in Alberta for over 40 years. She is also a painter and works in stained glass. “The Geography of Things” opened on Monday, March 1 and runs until April 2, 2010.

Store Hours

Sunworks is opened Friday nights until 8 p.m., and Sundays Noon – 5 p.m.  The rest of the week it opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.  Please drop by and explore — enjoy a complimentary Illy coffee and customer service that truly independent retailers can deliver.

If there is something that you would like read about in future issues please email me back.  In fact all feedback is welcomed, we actually like to hear back from you and we’ll share your comments with all of the Sunworkers.

Time to run for council.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written and it has been a busy time. I wrote last about the City’s plan to build Cenotaph Plaza at the end of our street. Each day that the weather warms, the snow melts away, and the construction zone where the plaza will be slowly is being cleaned up. It’s a matter of weeks before crews will begin the transformation of the street. It’s a very exciting time for us.

We’ve completed most of the major changes to the store and begin to prep for the Spring and Summer seasons. It feels great. The Sunworkers are doing a great job and the proof is evident when you come into the store.

As I contemplate the upcoming seasons, I feel relatively confident that the store will continue to improve and finally beat this recession. Shoppers are slowly returning and there seems evidence of a turn around. Still I’m surprised daily by the number of people that come into the store that say they’ve never been in. We started in 1997 and still people are discovering us. We’ve never had such a strong team of people as we do right now. It’s fun every day to be there and play.

Much has changed for me since 1997. After eight years on the board of directors of the Red Deer and District Community Foundation, I’ve only a few months left. During my time there I’ve learned important things but I’ve also grown in my professional life as I’ve grappled with the complexity that exists in the relationship between business and community work. I’ve learned much about community change, and about facilitating creativity and collaboration among diverse groups of people. I’ve faced some of my greatest inner fears and I’ve grown tremendously as a person, particularly in the past two years. Which brings me to what I’m thinking about for the stage of my life.

I had lunch with my colleague Cindy several days ago and she encouraged me to think about running for City Council. I had been thinking about it yet this conversation stirred serious thought. I’ve since spoken to my most trusted friends about it and everyone is in favour and supportive. It is time for me to run, to be elected, and to work from the inside (if there is such a thing). I have a different perspective, one that is reflective of many others in this community. I believe that I can help this community achieve its vision for itself in a way that will help it rise to meet the rapidly evolving world. Changes are quick in their coming and we must adapt quickly to both the challenges and opportunities.

Over the next five months there is a lot to be done to prepare. I want to hear from you to help me craft the right platform and clarify the things that are important. I’ll need your support. Please feel free to call or write, or comment here.