Folk U: The Art of Community Leadership

Folk U Radio: Art of Community Leadership 101. 

In this episode Colin Funk joins to discuss with host Manda Aufochs Gillespie to look at the idea of community leadership a little deeper. What is the mix of magic and resourcefulness and entrepreneurialism that makes an effective community leader? How do we cultivate that resilient and spontaneous aspects of our selves? And how do we create organizations that will support us in being responsive and visionary to the needs of a community? Even harder, how do we pivot organizations and businesses and ourselves when it is time for things to change or to let old-ways go?  Jenny Evans from North Island Employment Foundation also joins to discuss a bit more about how individuals can pivot in their work lives. 

Colin Funk works as an organizational consultant and leadership development coach and was a trustee with the Cortes Island Business and Tourism Association and is now a director of Cortes Community Economic Development Association or as an improv actor and leader of the Laughing Mussels Improv Troop. 

What is Community Leadership?

Manda: How do you define community leadership? What might it look like in a small community like ours?

Colin: Community describes people who share a particular place and all the resources located there.

A healthy community is a place where all people can meet their economic, social, physical, cultural, and spiritual needs, work together for the common good; and participate in creating their future
Community Leader…..a person who works with others to develop and sustain the health of the community

Community Leadership occurs when anyone, regardless of their official position or lack of it, works to develop and sustain the health of the community

From the outside…..Framing Ideas, Building Relationships, and mobilizing resources….

For Cortes …..Much of what it currently looks like….An awake, aware, caring, engaged, and active citizenry – relationship building key

Working with Improv

Manda: How does your work with improv influence your idea of what it means to be entrepreneurial in these times? 

Colin: Paying Attention…..Trusting the process. Make the ordinary extraordinaryWorking with your inner critic…. Rehearse….then “do be prepared’Be present….Laugh lots….Failure as a learning toolUnderstanding the difference between Original and Clever

Where do you see Cortes right now?

Manda: Where do you see Cortes right now in the form of its community development and the exchange of resources and ideas?  

Colin: Good, hard on ourselves sometimes—no municipal structure (SRD) Very impressive to see how the community is supported by non-profits….is this sustainable?Reinvent how we structure non-government support systems….how we form new businesses…

Where is Cortes Going?

Manda: Where might we Be going? 

Colin: Wish I knew the answer to that….no unified direction….multiple paths,  multiple realities? Navigating Complexity….so how does a community best navigate complexity?

  • How to create….common shared experience…..Seafest, Cortes Days….
  • More physical commons’ – accidental innovationThe capacity to strengthen relationships 
  • *Digital commonsLong-term Financial base…stability….Foundations and Non-profit to Social Profit 
  • Multiple subcultures – challenge of a common vision
  • Tidelines….unique forum….Online communication has leaped ahead 4-5 years….Community Based Journalism….Cortes Currents…..

The Leap Report

Manda: What is the Leap report, who led it, why was it done? 

Colin: Cortes Local Economic Action Plan (2017-21) Lead the community in the design of an island wide economic strategyIdentify and review key island, regional, national and global trends Capture Community input and ideas 220 residents took the survey, 9 different sector focus groups….Community Forum. Set out priority activities and investments for the next five years to benefit the island as a whole Activities, immediate outcomes, intermediate outcomes, ultimate outcome

Ultimate outcome….The cortes economy is vibrant and resilient, our communities are cohesive and in right relationship with our surrounding environment.

Click here to download the LEAP report


Manda: What is the role of CCEDA in all these things? 

Colin: Community Economic Development

  • Sustainable
  • Community based
  • Asset-based
  • Participatory
  • Self-reliant 

Two key outcomes of Leap…affordable Housing initiative….ED officer One of the recommendations coming out of the LEAP report.The creation of an economic development office – Officer, Coordinator*This is a critical position in municipal government
Steward of the current LEAP process and future updates…2021…
A non-profit- social profit…Vision CCEDA exists to help build a thriving, equitable, and regenerative local economy on Cortes Island.
Mission CCEDA advances sustainable community economic development initiatives to support a vibrant and thriving Cortes community, promoting wellbeing, innovation, and collaboration.

Manda: How did CIBATA know It was time to dissolve? Was this complicated to create agreement on? How did it happen? 

Colin: By far my most frustrating experience….Feedback from the community…not a compelling vision…Tourism & Business is a trigger for some.   

Manda: What did you learn about this that you’d share with your neighbours, other grassroots organizations, and Boards. 

Colin: Members of non-profits need to keep mindful of the organizations original purpose…as things change in the external environment and the organization doesn’t adapt it needs to move out of the way for more urgent and/or dynamic movements.  I like to think of an organization is it’s various stages of life….are we a toddler, in the peak of our career…or sunsetting and in palliative care….

Where can you get involved?

Manda: What advice do you give people on Cortes who are looking to get more involved: whether that is by creating more meaningful work for themselves or by helping create productive change?

Colin: Take time to clarify what you are seeking in life, purposeTake time to clarify what are you unique strengths….Cultivate Serendipity…..and practice ImprovPay Attention….(reverse the trend of becoming comfortably numb….uncomfortably aware) 
Practical advice….Join a non-profit, volunteer….Join the Laughing Mussels….