Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Quadra Village Day 2011

April 14, 2011

Quadra Village Day Poster 2011 final

I’ve been involved in the Quadra Village Day planning committee since shortly after moving to my new neighbourhood. What a dynamic group of individuals representing the community, business, the city and local not for profits.

In these times of budgetary restraint, it’s wonderful to see a community pull together to produce an entirely FREE family friendly event.

Join us on Kings Road (between Quadra and Dowler) Saturday May 7th from 9:30 am to 1pm for breakfast, community displays, activities for kids and teens, music and dance demonstrations.

More information on our website.

The musicians performing include:

Mike Edel, Paul Black, and Coco Jafro

There will be dance performances by:

Chinese Seniors Dance Troupe, the Sons of Norway Folk Dancers, the UVic Cuban Salsa Club and the Vic City Breakers & Friends.

With grateful thanks to our sponsors and media partners.


International Free Hugs Day July 3 2010 Victoria BC

July 15, 2010

It all started on Twitter, doesn’t it always? Alex Yates @Lunacee tweeted about International Free Hugs Day, and before you could blink we had a Facebook event and people committed to attending in front of the Visitors Information Bureau on the Inner Harbour, Saturday July 3rd 2010.

International Free Hugs Day was the inspiration of Juan Mann (a pseudonym) an Australian, in 2004. The hugs were intended to be random acts of kindess. The day was made popular by a Sick Puppies music video.

At the appointed time, we arrived – most learned about the event via Twitter, but Karen and Carol heard through the grapevine. We spent two hours greeting visitors to the city with hugs. It’s interesting to see who wants to receive a hug, who backs off. In the end we all agreed that we will definitely be there for International Free Hugs Day 2011, perhaps in a spot with more locals.

Thanks to Alex, Janice, Rebecca, Karen, Carol, Kieron.

Set Theory and Human Relationships – The Power of One

July 13, 2010

This past weekend July 10 and 11th, in Victoria BC, Kris Constable hosted Idea Wave, a conference of ideas. Over 2 days, 50 people (25 a day) presented 10 minute talks on their ideas. They ranged from  “It’s Nursing for the Future Trans-Humanists”by Sarah Novotny, to “Taking Charge of Your Health:Maintaining Your Personal Health Record” by Cheryl Upright and “The Cost of Convenience” by Janice Mansfield.

Kris sollicited submissions by asking for ideas – “big and small”. I’d already given him a run down of my idea at the #victoriatweetup after Victoria Word Camp in May, but I was very hesitant to present before a crowd of people. It was as Sasan Aghdasi stated in “Ideas Are Like Crushes” – was I ready to be in a serious relationship with my idea?

But I wouldn’t want to miss Idea Wave for anything. Kris was one of my first in-person contacts after joining Twitter in the spring of 2009. I was intrigued with Ideas Victoria meetings, and the ability to discuss ideas with other people  who liked talking about ideas. The conversations were more than lively at the meetings I attended (every Wednesday at the Canadian Pacific Lawn Bowling Club behind the Crytal Gardens).

Besides, Idea City in Toronto, and TED were beyond reach financially.  What did it matter that it was a summer weekend and the Organic Islands Festival and SkaFest were scheduled?

Here’s the transcript of my idea. It is a “small” idea with large implications. I invite your comments.


I’d like to thank Kris for conceiving Idea Wave, and congratulate you for attending.

You know you’re in the right room when ideas include game theory and respect, fuzzy logic and human exo-skeletons, and human flocking behaviour.

Are there any mathematicians in the room (with apologies to any mathematicians in the room)?

Any math phobes – please don’t shut down – you will understand, I promise.

Your participation at this conference is key to its success and today, I’m going to explain why.

There is, I find, in today’s society, a two pronged push to minimize the importance of the individual.  On one hand, we have the external push of outside information and media; the sheer volumes of numbers would seem to indicate to us that, in the great sea of humanity, we, are relatively unimportant.

On the other hand, our own apathy, distraction, procrastination and general laziness provide us with the handy excuse “just this once, I don’t need to attend.” “What will it matter if I come late?”

Well – a lot, as I’m going to demonstrate today.

If you’ve read the website, you’ll see that I’m described as a community builder, passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive social change. In the context of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point – I’d fall somewhere between being a Connector and a Maven. And I’ll touch very briefly on Gladwell later in this talk. However, for the purposes of this discussion – I am more importantly a widow.

Up until June 5 2001 our small family included 4 members, myself – Janis, my husband of 20+ years, Yves, and our two teenaged sons – Christopher and Elliott. We were a tight knit family who enjoyed spending time together.

Then – Yves died. Christopher Elliott and I were devastated – naturally. However, as time passed, we became increasingly puzzled by the deep sense of loss we felt. Why was it that our relationships seemed deeply diminished?

Beyond the obvious emotional and family systems answers, I knew there had to be a logical answer, even a mathematical one. But trust me; this is not something you discuss with most people – for it seems oddly dispassionate.

So – I put it to the back of my mind – have you ever done that – allowed your subconscious mind to provide you with an answer? Waited for the AHA moment? Some people find answers in walking, running, washing dishes, gardening – for me it’s driving – that semi rote behaviour. And there I was – at the Four Way – Tillicum and Craigflower when it came to me!

Set Theory – the answer was in Set Theory.

Set theory  is the branch of mathematics that studies sets, which are collections of objects.

In our set there were four family members and the relationships between the members of the set are as follows.

These were our relationships:

Janis, Yves, Christopher, Elliott (everyone)

Janis                 Yves                Christopher                  Elliott (singles)

Janis Yves                    Janis Christopher                      Janis Elliott

Yves Christopher                      Yves Elliott       Christopher Elliott (duos)

Janis Yves Christopher             Janis Yves Elliott

Janis Christopher Elliott             Yves Christopher Elliott (triplettes)

The empty set – which of course works in a clean mathematical sense, but not in a human relationships sense.

The total number of relationships is 16.

Now – reduce that set to three and you have!

Janis Christopher Elliott (everyone)

Janis                 Christopher                  Elliott (singles)

Janis Christopher                      Janis Elliott                   Christopher Elliott (duos)

The empty set

The total number of relationships is now 8!

Losing one member of our family of 4 reduced our relationships by half, not by 25%. No wonder we felt the gaping hole….


The explanation is in Set Theory and the idea of the Power Set.

In mathematics, given a set S, the power set of S, written , P(S), (S) or 2S, is the set of all subsets of S, including the empty set and S itself.

If S is a finite set with |S| = n elements, then the power set of S contains 2n elements.

And I realized! In any given group of people by reducing the number by one – you reduced the number of relationships by half and conversely by adding one person you DOUBLED the number of relationships in the room.

2 to the power of 4 = 16

2 to the power of 3 = 8

2 to the power of 5 = 32

With a group of 10 people, you already have 1024 relationships!

2 to the power of 20 is over a million relationships, 1 048 576

2 to the power of 30 = 1 073 741 824 = 1B

2 to the power of 40 = 1 099 511 627 776 = 1000 B

The world’s population is only 6.8 B

And then I considered the notion of Dunbar’s number = 150 which was made popular in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “the Tipping Point”

2 to the power of 150 =  1.42724769 ×1045

That’s a lot of relationships!

Dunbar is an anthropologist at the University College of London, who wrote a paper on Co-Evolution Of Neocortex Size, Group Size And Language In Humans where he hypothesizes:

… there is a cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships, that this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size … the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.

And then I got to thinking about other relationships – about catalysts, and synergy.

How we often justify or minimize our lack of participation in an event with “but just this once it’s not going to matter if I don’t come to that open house, march, volunteer appreciation, festival, show.”

But it does, oh it does – every time you walk into a room – you have just doubled the number of all possible relationships in that room.  Is it any wonder some people seem to light a room up and make the party explode? That performers complain of a “dead” audience?

Summer Fun in the City – Theatre

July 7, 2010

We are truly blessed in Victoria, BC – voted Cutural Capital of Canada in 2008.

This summer theatre season includes:

The Victoria Shakespeare Society performing  Richard the III and Taming of the Shrew at Camosun College, Landsdowne Campus

ASAP Theatre performing A Party Worth Crashing and The Next Five Years at the Canadian College of Performing Arts Hall, 1701 Elgin Ave in Oak Bay.

Belfry Theatre and Billy Bishop Goes to War

Blue Bridge Theatre with Street Car Named Desire and Hank Williams, the Show He Never Gave at the McPherson Theatre.

Then, of course, to finish off the summer – the incomparable Victoria Fringe Festival returns, even bigger and better, August 26th – September 6th.

Do you plan on attending live theatre this summer? If no, what would persuade you to do so?

Quadra Village Day May 8th “Building & Celebrating Our Thriving Community”

April 19, 2010

Poster Quadra Village Day May 8th 2010

I’ve been involved in the Quadra Village Day planning committee since shortly after moving to my new neighbourhood. What a dynamic group of individuals representing the community, business, the city and local not for profits.

In these times of budgetary restraint, it’s wonderful to see a community pull together to produce an entirely FREE family friendly event.

Join us on Kings Road (between Quadra and Dowler) Saturday May 8th from 9:30 am to 1pm for breakfast, community displays, activities for kids and teens, music and dance demonstrations.

More information on our website.

The groups performing include:

9:30 am Ross Rossborough

10:15 am Chinese Seniors Dance Troupe

10:30 am Coco Jafro

11:15 am Sons of Norway Folk Dancers

11:30 am Dj Murge and guests

12:30 pm Acres of Lion

With grateful thanks to our sponsors and media partners.

#yyj Twitter #Fooddrive Results & Update

December 10, 2009

Saturday December 4th saw the Victoria BC #yyj Twitter community join together in support of the Mustard Seed and Westshore Food Banks.  Rocky Mountain Soap, Fiber Options and Jamtots agreed to be our drop off spots.

Thanks to Scott McDonald  (aka @FootButterGuy) of Rocky Mountain Soap for the updates for Victoria proper(Megan from Fiber Options – now EcoEverythingBC – took the donations from her store to Scott).

There was a total of $146 in cash, 7 large bags and one very large plastic packing box of food.

Food items donated were:  mostly pasta, tuna (31 cans) and peanut butter but also fruit  cups, Xmas candies, chocolate, tea, granola bars – total pieces 213.

22 twitter people came in, among them:

@yukarip– thanks for having the initial idea of a Christmas and holiday season fundraiser Yukari






@toots11– thanks for tweeting from @ecoeverythingbc Janice



Scott apologizes for not getting the names of all.  “There were more but I didn’t catch them all, many came before I got

In addition out on the West Shore both @kevinaschenbren and @DustypupVI devoted their day to tweeting @Jamtots. Thanks Kevin and Cathy.

@wakemp and @RasheedBolade came in to make donations.

Quoting Scott “Would we do it again?  Absolutely. The Mustard Seed people were delighted.”

We’ll get updates from @Jamtots and report back soon.
Thanks again to everyone who participated. If your name is not on the above list, please let me know. I’d be happy to add you.

At the #victoriatweetup this morning we were already  discussing our next fundraising initiative – should it be another food drive (say in July) or back to school supplies in August or??  Give us your ideas.  Comments welcome.


In Memorium – Happy 60th Birthday Yves Loran!

October 17, 2009
It went zipping by so fast a few days ago, the tweet from @sarahpetrescu. It would have been her dad’s 58th birthday, so to honour him she was going to the union meeting, then to light a candle, and toast.

That’s when it hit me – my late husband’s birthday , October 17th, was fast approaching – quick calculation; it would have been his 60th today. And I forgot!

So, in honour of Yves Loran….

Yves was a lover of single malt Scotch, judo, horses, jazz, Victoria BC, his kids and me (not necessarily in that order).  He grew up just after the Second World War, working class, in a small French village that later went on to become one of Georges Pompidou’s famous “new cities” or “villes nouvelles”.

As was not uncommon for the era, he left school at 14 to work first as a delivery person and then later as an apprentice butcher.

We met because he volunteered at a stable where I took my kids from the group home for therapeutic riding.  Back then he rode in Civil War renactments and broke and trained the most obstinate of horses.  His passions extended to the local judo dojo where he was completing his first degree black belt.

Married, it soon became evident to us that we did not want to raise a family in a country with very rigid social conventions and norms; a country where working class was always working class, and most definitely, not middle class.

Moving to Vancouver Island , my home, we settled in Victoria. Over the years Yves worked in the hospitality industry, in building maintenance, and finally as the owner of a landscaping business.

Family and community were his two foci – he volunteered as a sensei (teacher) at Victoria Judo Club, at École Victor-Brodeur, with Childrens’ International Summer Villages (CISV), the Saxe Point Residents Association (SPRA), the Upper Room, the Mustard Seed and Francophone Scouts .

He could be counted on for any event involving food – the hot dog barbecue at school, deboning 100s of turkeys for the Mustard Seed Christmas dinner, making crèpes for over 200 at the Scouts’ Maple Sugar Dinner (dîner de sirop d’érable), dishing out salads and cake for our neighbourhood’s July 1st Block Party.

He was proud to continue his progression from 1st degree (nidan) black belt to 3rd degree (sandan) and see his sons join him at the club.  As a dad he was involved, long before it became fashionable; we made a great team in so many endeavours. His quiet presence, guarding my back, allowed me wide ranging freedom to explore my own passions.

In life he was at ease among people, whether the Lieutenant Governor of the province, the mayor of our municipality (Esquimalt) or people he served at the soup kitchen – he saw people on an equal footing, and they appreciated him for that.

Injured in a serious vehicle incident as a young man, and confined to a wheelchair for two years, he was told he would always be a “cripple”. Stubborn, he continued to dance with the Breton folkdance troupe, and took up first aikido, then karate, and finally judo.  Being so close to death so young, he approached life as a grand adventure. His favourite saying was “every day above ground is a good day”.

Thanks for the constant reminders of a life well lived.

Yves Loran 1949-2001


October 8, 2009

Today is my sixth month Twitter anniversary! Appropriately, it was also the morning of our regular #victoriatweetup.

I remember being introduced to Twitter and thinking “this isn’t for me, it’s just another time waster”. Then, I went to a business breakfast where we discussed  social media. One of the participants @Susan_Low mentioned that twitterers in Victoria were actually meeting face to face at spontaneous tweetups.

Something went “Click! – I can use this tool to increase my network  in Victoria.”

From that very humble beginning in April 2009, I have found a new community in Victoria. Together we meet for business networking sessions and for fun. We’ve organized a Twitter fundraising festival – Twestival Victoria @yyjtwestival – and raised $5000 for Power To Be Adventure Therapy Society.

We teach and mentor people who are new to Twitter, we do business with one another; some of us are members of Social Media Club Victoria @smcvictoria an organization dedicated to social media literacy, knowledge and standards.

Projects initiated through Twitter, #victoriatweetup and Social Media Club Victoria include @yyjWordCamp, #vicChangeCamp and a Twitter based winter food drive (more details coming soon).

This morning’s breakfast included:

@Babes Go Bare –  a fundraising calendar for the BC Cancer Agency initiated by Trish Caddy

Christopher Loran –  the Q’s roadie #1 son to @lacouvee

@Rod_Phillips – buyer for Liquor Plus stores – the cork dork

@FootButterGuy – Scott McDonald, Rocky Mountain Soap Mayfair

@Ahkonsu – John Overall, Fire Dragon Hosting

@matvic – Mat Wright, the Wright Result, Web & Graphic Design

@ScottGarman – Scott Garman, realtor with Sutton Group

@_hipples – Jeremy from @HempandCo, Hemp and Company

@oceanrivervic Brian Henry , Ocean River Sports

@gapowell – Graham Powell , Ocean River Sportss

@sosaut – Bill Broughton, SOS Automotive

@CWCDVan – Dan Dobbie, City Wide Coupon Directory

@jodie_nodes – Jodie Gastel, In Jodie’s Brain

@josealbis – José Albis, marketing manager, Morriss Printing

Stan Gielewski – photographer & website development

@DustypupVI – Cathy O’Connor, volunteer extraordinaire

@LawlessBrownKrista Lawless, mortgage broker

@B_West – Chris Burdge, BWEST Interactive

Randy Waldie – employment counsellor, Worklink and musician

@ArtofCocktail – Kathy Kay, general manager the Victoria Film Festival

@mikevardy – Mike Vardy, Eventualism (and operations manager the Victoria Film Festival)

@CJStephensonCindy Stephenson, communications professional

@hedyhear – Hedy Senz, director of meetings & events at Carlson Marketing

@NancyFraser – Nancy Fraser, Nota Bene Consulting

@margarethansonMargaret Hanson, graphic designer

@lacouveeJanis La Couvée, financial services professional (me!)

Thanks to everybody who has been a mentor and collaborator in the past six months on this fantastic journey of community building in Victoria, BC.  There is definitely more to come.


June 13, 2008

Every day I take my small dog for a walk in the neighbourhood – sometimes up the hill to the Garry Oak meadow, sometimes past the temple and around.

Yesterday two young girls called out, telling me how pretty she was. A long conversation ensued about the appropriate way to pet a dog, the new baby, soon to be born, whether they were any help to their mom, had they been up the hill to the meadow, their names.

As we walked away I reflected and questioned, had I no dog to call out to, would they have called out to me.

Many times I know the name of the dogs here before those of their owners. We share common concerns about bylaw enforcement & green space but bit by bit we share our lives.

Dog create community in a way that no other animal does. I am reminded of a sign that our neighbour posted on her lawn to tell everyone that her beloved pet, known to all, a celebrity, had died. Soon the lawn was filled with flowers, cards and small gifts. We wept.

And yet, it is harder and harder to own a dog, and keep a dog in this increasingly single society where they often provide the only companionship.

So, I walk, and as I walk, I learn my neighbourhood and am “the familiar stranger” to many.