Thursday, August 11, 2011


Gotta Love Toronto!

Gotta See Billy Elliot
After a short respite at home, we drove to Toronto, yes DROVE! No more airplanes, buses, taxis, ferry boats, tuk-tuks or least for now! We arrived in downtown Toronto to find a fun and fun-loving place, one of our favorite cities in North America. We were happy to enjoy great meals and the Toronto production of the musical, Billy Elliot!

The next morning, we drove to our first interview, with Wayne Cadwallader, a well-respected investment manager, a managing partner with Elkhorn Partners. We were not disappointed. Wayne obviously understands numbers in a way that exceeds the ability of most managers, especially those in the finance industry. He takes a long view, looks for funny numbers, and looks beyond the numbers to seek deeper management skills when he analyzes a company. He unfortunately finds many management teams lacking in what he considers to be essential management skills such as conducting a productive meeting, writing an understandable memo, getting to root causes of problems, and managing a project. His insight about management behavior was refreshing. He believes that so many of our financial problems come from managers focusing on short-term, quantitative results, with no consideration of long-term consequences. This may be because he also believes that most professional managers operate out of fear and many second-generation family business managers are not adequately invested in the ongoing success of their companies.

From there, we traveled to Waterloo to visit Paul Born, the founder and President of the Tamarack Institute for Community Engagement. In their own words:

Tamarack exists to build vibrant and engaged communities in Canada. Our work will result in more collaborative approaches and less poverty.
A vibrant community is one where committed citizens work together to build a community that is caring, prosperous and sustainable.
Our mission is to engage citizens in inspired action as they work and learn together on behalf of their communities to create and realize bold visions for the future.

We have long been admirers of Paul Born's work, particularly in the area of poverty reduction. It was a joy to spend a few hours with him soaking up his experience and wisdom about what it takes to bring people together from all walks of life and all sectors of the community in order to gain an understanding of the community's issues and assets, to engage them in collective action to bring about positive social change, and to keep them engaged over the long haul about making their communities vibrant and healthy. We look forward to sharing more of what Paul and his work is all about as we bring together lessons learned from Dave's sabbatical.

After a stimulating time with Paul, we visited Joe Mancini, the founder, along with his wife, Stephanie, of a Kitchener nonprofit called The Working Center. What Joe and Stephanie have accomplished together, along with the residents of Kitchener, over the the last 30 years is truly remarkable. It is truly a manifestation of self-organization, as well as a "build it and they will come approach." The Center started out, and continues to be named a "working center," a place where people can find and create meaningful work that serves the community. It is clear that the spirit of the Mancini's has taken it far beyond that. It is a community center made up of hundreds of people that is focused on helping people find or create work that they care about. Enterprises that have been born out of the Center include St. John's Kitchen, Worth a Second Look resale, the Recycle Cycles community bike shop, the Waterloo School for Community Development, Access to Technology, and Affordable Supportive Housing, among many other initiatives.

Queen Street Commons
One enterprise, the Queen Street Commons Cafe, illustrates the mission, passion and creativity which with the Working Center operates. The café, located at 43 Queen St. South, is strongly supported by volunteers and offers a vegetarian menu, community meeting space, music nights, and a unique gift shop. Food for the café is prepared at Maurita's Kitchen, another Working Center enterprise, at 66 Queen. The café & kitchen are Urban Agriculture projects which aim to reconnect city folks with the local food system.

As we left Canada, we began to think about the last stop on the Schwinn's 25th Anniversary World Tour, and the very last interview for Dave's 2011 sabbatical. Although we've gotten twice as many interviews as expected, we have yet to talk with a representative of the healthcare industry. That final interview will take place at the end of August with a dear friend and colleague, Dr. Tom Inui, who is, among other roles, the Sam Regenstrief Professor of Health Services Research at Indiana University in Indianapolis. Stay tuned...

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