Category Archives: Personal Challenges

My #elxn43 – Day 1

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Blink – Day One – here it is.  Tomorrow is election day. This is my last post before Canadians go and vote.  I started this mini arc of 8 posts back in August on day 53, and here 52 days  I can say we have done all we can do to ensure a win on Monday.

The days have been long and challenging but in the end everyday has been rewarding.  The team of volunteers have been outstanding, I have met and worked with an amazing group of people, most of whom I never knew before I started this back in August – now I call this team of volunteers, friends. As a Campaign Manager I will always want to have more volunteers, however today I am very happy with everyone that has stepped up and played a part in going from day 53 to day day one and to tomorrow, day zero – election day.

Going back on the previous 8 posts I realize that I haven’t mentioned where I have been, mainly because this was a series about the election experience.  Many of you know who I work for, therefore you will have this all figured out.

This past week, has seen long days as the push to be ready for election day for today has been intense.  Today will have our volunteers go out to our supporters with a reminder to vote tomorrow.  50 days of door knocking, phone calls, putting up signs are done.  One last push for tomorrow.

I guess the advantage of me being busy was that I practically ignored Facebook and was never on Twitter.  The most engaged I stayed on Social Media was Instagram, and somedays that for me it was a struggle to not make a comment on some stupid post that was ful of misinformation of the Conservative platform.  It has me even thinking that it’s time to cut ties with Social Media.  The thought of having to fend off silly attacks against my party tells me there are better ways to spend my time.

I have my thoughts on the candidates from the other parties, some were good and there were instances of attacks because my candidate was the “top dog” (as was stated by one of the other candidates) that were over the line and crossed into rude behaviour.  I was frustrated about this more than anything else, but it reminded me that the other candidates will be “how they will be” and that our campaign will be judged by how we reacted to the words and actions of the other candidates, which most times was not to react at all.

There has been much said that this campaign was about more about personalities, in our local campaign it has been about the issues.  The topic of deciding who gets to define the election, the media or the campaigns is for another day, days after this election is done.

That brings this all back to election day, everything that has been done snce day 50 leads to day zero, tomorrow, election day.

As for tomorrow, all I can ask is that you to get out and vote.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My #elxn43 – Day 52

There is nothing like a blank open space into which a campaign office can be designed.

img_20190829_10190627587164478351558283.jpgI have seen some spectactular campaign offices, in 2008 when Brian McGarry, the Conservative Candidate in Ottawa Centre the old School Board offices/school building on Gilmour street served as his HQ.  The whole building was not used, many offices were utilized, but the hidden gem was the auditorium.  The “Aud” could house a few hundred people and had a beautiful stage.  It was used for a local rallys in 2008 and a couple of larger campaign events.  I have never seen any office since have anything like that space.

The campaign office is defined by the space available.  In the Ontario election last year Colleen McCleery had a beautiful home for an office.  It was a 2 story structure with a big basement.  Most activities were restricted to three large rooms on the main floor for sign storage, greeting space and a room for a few people to make phone calls and prepare for election day.  It was as homey and friendly as the campaign atmosphere was.

Each space has it benefits and its challenges.

This year I’ve the oppportunity to open two campaign offices.  Both spaces were leased before I arrived, and a campaign office was created out of each space.  In Orleans, for David Bertschi the campaign took over an old paint store.  When we arrived we found a rainbow of biege, ‘blah’ blue and purple on the walls.  With some paint, blue and white of course, the office was transformed – the fresh colours added energy to the space!

Moving to the new space in Barrie-Innisfil, the office is a ‘shell’ of an office.  Drywall and cynberblock are the décor.  Being stripped of any décor means that there isn’t much that would be damaged. On the plus side though there is plenty of natural light!

Every Campaign Manager has their own touches that they like to see or not see. I don’t like clutter. A campaign office has a limited time of use, clutter derails any effectiveness in the office.  I am also a huge advocate of the campaign calendar on the wall, and I mean ON THE ENTIRE WALL.  It’s a countdown to election day and it is the campaign at a glance – canvass times, meetings, voting days, events, debates and media time are all documented.  The calendar is a sign of accountability for the campaign.    If it’s on the calendar it’s important!

Our campaign office will be as plastic and waste free as possible, we’ll use water jugs and ask everyone to use personal refillable water bottles.  The same will be in place for coffee and tea, we’ll ask everyone to bring a mug or cup.  Just because the office is operational for a short periodof time doesn’t mean we become lazy when it comes to the amount of waste in the office.

The Barrie-Innisfil campaign office is in transition –  a work in progress, with many pieces needed to make it functional for the many that have different tasks to perform.  While  a campaign office is really only a temporary home, it is still a home that needs to be welcoming, functional and efficient.

Sadly, on October 22nd, we just take it all apart and await the next election to do it all again.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

My small green shift

This post is predicated on a great article in the Globe and Mail on Saturday May 11th about plastic and single use plastics in particular.  If you have not read it, I suggest you do.

coffee 1It’s been one week and I have NOT thrown out 18 Starbucks cups in the garbage, one week since Liz and I made the conscience decision to use only a travel coffee mug. It is a small step, one that on the grand scheme of things probably only makes me feel better about my small effort. The first day I walked in to my Starbucks, rather than mobile ordering, the manager gave me a weird look because I had not mobile ordered.  I said I can’t do it anymore, I asked him ‘do you have any idea how many cups I throw out?  He understood.

Does this get me closer to purchasing an electric vehicle?  No.

Does this get me closer to starting to lecture others on what they should do? No

But it is my little bit that I can do know, less garbage and less plastics – it is our single efforts to do a little that will have the greatest impacts.  Like I said, it’s a little for now, it will grow to doing more and to being made aware of where Liz and I can make little changes for a cleaner world.

This one article was an eye opening read.  It’s amazing how much we encourage people to recycle and how much actually GETS recycled. Yes, everyone feels good when the blue box, the black box and the green bin go to the curb.  If we all understood how little good this did, what actions would we be willing to take to make a bigger impact?  It is generally accepted that there is far too much packaging in goods we purchased day to day.  How do we get manufacturers to act on reducing packaging, especially items that are sealed in hard plastics. plastics that may or may not be accepted in our recycle bins.

It costs municipalities millions of dollars to have recycle programs, and the same municipalities may not earn much revenue from these same programs.  Municipalities struggle with cost vs good of a recycle program.  In Ottawa, the city spent $42.5M in 2018 on waste diversion and recycling.  In 2016 the City had revenues of $10.1M for paper and plastics.  However that revenue did not cover the costs of the pick up of the recyclables.  Part of the costs of Ottawa recycling in 2016 were picked up by Ontario’s stewardship program, in 2018 that program provides over $6M to the city.

How much longer can muncipalities afford these programs?  I know we can’t afford NOT to have them.  This should change with the Waste Free Ontario Act passed in 2016 by the Wynne government.  This act puts the onus on the manufactiers and producers shoulders.  They will need to find ways to reduce their packaging and I assume the cost of  packaging.

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As consumers we can demand better and should demand better of the manufacturers and of ourselves. Demand that what we buy has less packaging and demand that we buy products with less packaging.  We need to compare and reward those that make the effort needed.  It’s something I have started to pay attention to.

So for today it comes down to me and my travel coffee mug, less waste and my coffee staying hotter longer – its my small green shift.

 


Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter@robertdekker& @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Would You Rather?

Would you RatherEver played the game would you rather?

Have you had to pick between two choices knowing the either choice could leave you with battle scars?  If you were to ask me “would you rather be a Candidate or a Campaign Manager” I can at least be thankful that I have done both and can make and informed decision.

So you go ahead ask me, ‘what would it be Rob, Candidate or Campaign Manager?’

As either the campaign manager or the candidate, the results on Election Day matter and they can be devastating if you take into consideration the work that has gone into the campaign.  As a candidate the results are more personal – the candidate puts their heart and soul into the campaign.  The campaign manager sees the wider scope of the election and has a sense of what the results might end up being.  As the campaign manager you are bound to give the most positive take on the internal numbers to the candidate motivating the candidate to continue working doors, the phone calls and encouraging volunteers. In the end, both the candidate and campaign manager take pride in the campaign and the results that come with the results generated.

As a candidate it’s easy to block out other aspects of the campaign – the focus is purely on results and continuing to gun for the win, but don’t ever forget about the volunteers! It makes no sense for either the candidate or campaign manager change their motivation for the campaign from winning to the ‘best result possible’ as the entire team relies on them both for motivation.  Volunteers can smell defeat, I have seen it before where either the candidate or the campaign manager feels that winning is no longer an option.  The volunteers scattered to the wind.  For the most part the volunteers will always defer to the campaign manager to report problems (though volunteers will always want to go to the candidate), provide advice and generally tell the campaign manager how to get a better result.  BUT it should always go to the campaign manager to work with volunteers, welcome them, appreciate them and always show them love.  The candidate should ensure that the one thing they do is THANK the volunteers if they do nothing else.  As a campaign manager I’ve had to douse a few possible fires between volunteers – and all it takes is to listen and let the volunteer tell yousomething they feel is important – those volunteers will always come back.

As a candidate I rarely knew the state of the campaign financials, as a campaign manager that idea flipped over, I knew every aspect of campaign financials.  What was spent, what was needed to be spent, will the campaign spend every dollar in the effort to win, and does the campaign leave the riding association money after Election Day?  Working with the CFO (the money person), the campaign manager knows where every penny is.  As the candidate I was given an overview, especially if money was needed.  In 2018 election fundraising was given a U-Turn when the Wynne Liberals changed the laws so that candidates could notattend a fundraising event for their own campaign.  I hope that the new PC Government will repeal this part of elections financing laws before 2022.

I would’ve liked to talk to more voters as a campaign manager in 2018; I was out for one day.  The door is where you connect with the voter. I found that in 2018 I was in the office more than ever.  The reasons? Meetings with campaign team members, training volunteers, answering phones and replying to emails.  There was no end to the work that often found its way to my home after the campaign office closed, it seemed that for the campaign manager there was no time to canvass.  In hindsight – I needed to make the time, schedule it in –make it work. Definitely, talking to voters was the best part of being a candidate.  For all the ‘bad’ doors, one ‘good’ door made them all go away.

Debates; This one is tough, as the candidate you want to make a good show, get the message out and not have any ‘moments’ that will cause a wrinkle in the campaign.  As the campaign manager I have to say I was right there with the candidate when questions were directed at her.  Did we prep enough?  Why didn’t we prep for this topic?  Will the candidate remember what we talked about?  Have we given enough context to the issue for the answer to be creditable? I think as a candidate you want to do all the debates, but realistically you can’t.  For the 4 hours a debate takes out of a candidate’s schedule, many doors and meaning individual conversations can take place.   In 2014, as a candidate there were two, yep, only two debates and in 2018 there were 10+ debates.  10 debates means more than 40 hours away from doors counting debate prep and the debate themselves, a full work week away from the doors.  When the candidate is in a position of needing to be known, 40 hours away from doors is not practical.  As a campaign manager I took the heat for not attending 6 debates, but as a candidate the debates where opportunities to shine.

Would I rather?  Yes I would – to both!

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker,@rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Ancient Wisdom and Knowledge, is it forever lost?

The Wayfinders

 

There is a saying, ‘a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’, it is derived from English poet Alexander Pope’s poem “A Little Learning”.  The earliest known printing of the poem is 1709. For the full poem click here: https://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/Classic%20Poems/Pope/a_little_learning.htm.  I think of this after reading the CBC Massey Lectures, a collection of five lectures entitled “The Wayfinders” by Canadian Anthropologist and explorer-in-residence of National Geographic Wade Davis.

I am reminded of this while reading the Wayfinder lectures because Davis seems to acknowledge that the knowledge of the “new world” is at the heart of the demise of many of the earths longest known peoples. The Africans – where the migration of people started and spread across the earth, Australian Aboriginals, the tribes of the rain forests, the Polynesian sea navigators and the First Nations of the Sacred Headwaters of BC and others have been walking this earth ten’s of thousands of years before the Europeans of the new world spread their ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ across lands and waters.

Does, as Davis alludes to, learned knowledge undermine intuitive knowledge?  The knowledge of our souls is like a family history, it can only be learned through the telling of stories and family experiences.  The terms of an oral history and generational transmission of knowledge is used to describe how generations of the earth’s first inhabitants shared knowledge.  Davis provides a great example of learned through intuitive knowledge describing the different experiences of Spanish sailors compared to the navigation of the Polynesians. The Polynesians, told through the life training of a modern day sea navigator, learned about tides, the sea movements under the boats, winds and using the stars without the tools that the new world explorers had at their disposal.  It is a fascinating experience of learning of an old world craft in a modern time.

As much we marvel at the tools and innovation that new knowledge bring, we must acknowledge that there is prejudice that learned knowledge is greater than that which is transmitted generationally.  In the fourth lecture “Sacred Geography” Davis not only talks about the lands of British Columbia, but also how 50,000 years of living by Australian Aboriginals is almost wiped out within a generation because of their only way of living a ‘savage lifestyle’ was noticed by the civil people that arrived in Australia hundreds of generations after some of the Africans walked to Australia.  The newbies in the land considered themselves better.  Through laws and actions of the newcomers, about only 500 Australian Aboriginals now speak in 18 languages; Before the invasion, there were over 270 languages and more than 500 dialects spoken.  Today one language is lost each year.  It is a theme that is visited in greater detail in the book – the newcomers impose new world values over generations of native inhabitants.

There are peoples and ways of life that have existed since the beginning of time that never reach our consciousness unless we purposely put it there.   I’ll end with something from the initial lecture that really left an impression on me that demonstrates the loss of the richness of our world; today there are 7000 languages spoken today around the world.  Half of them are not being taught to children, the effect is that every two weeks a tribal elder dies and takes with them an ancient language.  Since the expansion of the new world over a recent few hundred years, the English language has become the major language spoken. The science and tools of a new world has erased the practice of intuition and a connectedness the earth for movement and sustainable living.

Have we reached an impasse? Is there a hope we can regain some of that connection to the earth? Can we utilize modern innovation and technology to record, save and revive lost and soon to be lost languages? Can we better marry the use of technology and intuition to live on this earth and live more sustainably both personally and commercially?

For tens of thousands of years people migrated, navigated and lived in a natural harmony with each other, animals, vegetation on the earth and its spirits. While we have learned many things and been able to innovate at a speed that in a hundred years can erase what took thousands of years to understand why can’t we look back and connect to each other and the past and become a modern Wayfinder?

Thank you for reading #RedHeartBlueSign, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawaand on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Small Business, more than business – it’s social

first jobThere has been a lot of ink used about small business in Canada since the government introduced ideas about taxation. From these discussions it is generally agreed that Small Businesses are good for Ontario and Canada. They support community non-profits, create jobs – first jobs and spur growth in our local economies. There is more to it, there’s what small business does socially, yes, small business is a good social addition to our society.

By social, its not social media, but actually being social; social with customers, social with co-workers and social with supervisors. I recall my first job at 17, clearing a parking lot of grocery carts and looking after the parcel pick-up. It was also where I learned my first lesson of employment. I will have more about that first lesson later.

The social lessons of the small business employer have helped many youth with their first jobs. While as children we learn a lot from our parents, there are lessons that can only be learned from others. In our first jobs we experience different cultures, different languages and finally learning to have someone other than our parents as being figures of authority – someone else that we have to listen to and follow instructions from.

In our first jobs we have to listen to others, that can be challenging, but what saves us when have a new boss that is ‘challenging’ in their ways is our enthusiasm that we have for that first job and the regular pay cheque. We learn that what drives our employers is their need to succeed. Their business is their future and the future of their family. What we learn is not obedience but a respect for authority. While we learn respect in our first experiences of employment it also teaches us that we can also earn the respect of others when one day, we are in a position to supervise and employ others. While we might not know it then, we do learn good and bad leadership styles and hopefully keep the good lessons and learn outcomes from bad leadership.

The first job is not likely to be in an office cubicle, it’s also not likely to be behind a computer. It will probably be in retail, or a service industry – a Tim Horton’s or McDonalds. What is learned in these social settings will set us up for how we treat others for the rest of our lives. I learned in my first job to work with people of all different personalities, how to work for people with different personalities and how we serve so many people in our communities with different backgrounds. It can be very challenging, not everyone can ‘survive the bad boss, but these first jobs teach us the meaning of ‘being’ social to so many and smiling through it all.

In these jobs as service counter clerks, cashiers, grocery clerks is knowledge gained about business from so many that we worked for in those first jobs. When small businesses are lost, so to are opportunities to learn the social lessons by youth in those first jobs. When small business is called the backbone of the local business it should also be known as the great educator of our future business leaders, the leaders who will be better than we are because they will learn from our lessons and our weakness.

My first real lesson of employment came from the words of Roger Kingston, Store Manager of the old Woodchester Mall Dominion Store.  After working for a few weeks he asked if I liked my job, I said yes. He asked me “why does it look like you don’t? You know, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want to work here, but if you do, when you come for your next shift have a smile and have fun when you’re working.”

Boy did have those words helped, I went on to work at that store for 7 seven years and worked in many different positions.  I never forgot to work with a smile. and always made sure I enjoyed working, whatever I was doing.  I’ve had lapses when I let emotion get the better of me and suffered for it, but I’ll never forget the second chance that Mr. Kingston gave me. Because of that I have paid forward second chances to those I thought deserved it.

Small business is not just business, it’s social and the social lessons learned in those first minimum wage jobs we all had. We kill those job opportunities and we also lose those invaluable lessons that build the character of next generation leaders.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net