Sector converges tomorrow

We have almost arrived at the third edition of ConvergenceYMM, a gathering of the nonprofit/social profit sector in Wood Buffalo.  A collaboratively organized event, Convergence has evolved and changed over its young life.

The inaugural event really attempted to address both the real and expected changes that were occurring in the community at the time, with the approval of both the Municipal Development Plan and the City Centre Area Redevelopment Plan.  How do we be resilient in the face of so much change?

In Year Two, Convergence moved into conversations around collective voice and all the requisite questions therein:  Who should that voice be? How should they speak for the sector? What should/could they say? etc.

The 2015 Convergence offers a slightly different experience, as sector leaders will be joined by staff - in the past the conference was geared toward executive directors and board chairs.  With the theme GROWING TOGETHER - LEADING FROM WITHIN, Convergence promises to intrigue and inspire.  There is also a marvellous collection of concurrent learning sessions from facilitators from here and away.

WORKSHOP TIP:  Be intentional when attending a learning session.  Go in with the mindset to soak up new knowledge and explore ways to integrate it into your work and life.

Learning highlights include a session on the results of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing with my friend and colleague Nancy Mattes from Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo.  How do we compare to other communities?  Where are our strengths?  Where do we need to pay more attention in terms of quality of life elements.

Sophie Graine and Kodjo Efu are going to introduce the Strategy Roadmap, a way of looking at, and understanding, complex systems developed by Keith Jones and David Forrest.  Of all the things I've been exposed to in recent years, the Strategy Road Map tops my list in terms of its potential to build stronger, more resilient and remarkable communities, organizations and systems.  It may look complicated at first glance, but I believe this tool can change the world.

My friend Constance Scarlett from Arts Council Wood Buffalo is sharing her knowledge around finding funding solutions, an ever-lingering challenge in our sector.  Celebrated author and speaker Charmaine Hammond will deliver several sessions over the two days, one on leadership and another on working with conflict.

The selection of sessions is absolutely great.  There appears to be something for everyone.

We are also going to have a number of high profile visitors during Convergence.  Mayor Melissa Blake and several councillors will be with us, as will MLA Mike Allen.  Don Scott, Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education, will be making a special presentation, and Heather Klimchuk, Minister of Human Service (formerly Culture) will be bringing greetings on behalf of Premier Jim Prentice.  Two high profile sector leaders from Ontario, Cathy Taylor and Bruce MacDonald, will be making opening and closing keynotes.  They both promise to be enlightening and inspiring.

What is my favourite part of Convergence?  Well, I've always been a fan of how the experience and production committees set the scene.  The colour green pops into my mind when I think of this event, injecting a sense of life, growth and the potential of tomorrow.  But the thing I look forward to the most is the networking, the opportunity to meet new people from the sector, and strengthen relationships with those I have met before.

CONFERENCING TIP:  Do your best to leave the office at the office.  The more present you are, the more value you will get.

I think of Convergence like a gift, a sparkling, alluring, intoxicating opportunity to spend time with colleagues who are equally passionate about the work they do to build a better community, region, province, country and world.  Delegates are going to get a lovely program when they arrive.  I hope its note-taking pages get filled with words of wisdom, new contacts, and great learnings.

NETWORKING TIP:  Bring business cards; get business cards.  When you get home at the end of the Convergence day, send each person you met a short email, strengthening your connection.  If we all committed to doing this one single thing, the fabric of the sector would instantly strengthen.

Finally, a word of thanks to Ifeatu Efu for her organizational leadership, and to all the volunteers on committees who contributed to making ConvergenceYMM 2015 possible.  They represent organizations from across the sector and dedicated dozens and dozens of hours to bringing it all together.  We've also had great funding support from a variety of generous companies who believe that bringing the sector together is a good thing for our community and region.  We'll see you at ConvergenceYMM.


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