May 8, 2019 News

Going forward, I’ll be posting on a twice-monthly basis, corresponding roughly to the first and third weeks of the month. From my experience in sharing events of interest to Saskatoon-based non-profit folks, I think that schedule will capture the majority of events while avoiding posts where all (or almost all) listings are simple repeats of the previous post. That being said, I’ll keep my evaluator hat1 on and adjust this schedule as needed!

Saskatoon Events

Leadership Saskatoon is hosting an Extended Conversation in their Lunch and Learn series on Wednesday May 15 to demonstrate how to host a World Cafe, using Everyday Leadership as the sample topic.

KM [Knowledge Mobilization] in the AM welcomes Dr. Colleen Dell on Tuesday May 16 for a discussion on how to include community members in research.

The Saskatchewan Nonprofit Partnership is hosting a one-day Provincial Summit on June 7, with a focus on exploring “current and future priorities for the nonprofit sector in Saskatchewan, and [considering] potential models for how the sector can collaborate to address these priorities”.

The Canadian Evaluation Society’s Saskatchewan Chapter is hosting a full-day workshop on June 18, featuring Kim van der Woerd and Billie Joe Rogers, on the topic of Culturally Responsive Evaluation with Indigenous Populations.

Online Events

Community-Based Research Canada (CBRC) is hosting a series of monthly webinars on topics related to (you guessed it) Community-Based Research. The first one takes place on Wednesday May 15 with the topic of Research Ethics as Praxis: Being Mindful of Potential Harm and Benefits to Research Participants.

Online Resources

Vu Le shares the challenges, frustrations, and humour of working in the non-profit sector through his blog, Nonprofit AF. One post earlier this year falls squarely in the latter category by applying Marie Kondo’s KonMari method to tidying your organization, both in terms of physical clutter (including expired snacks!) and relationships – asking whether board members, volunteers, staff, and even funders continue to “spark joy” or whether they should be thanked and let go.

  1. Not a literal hat, though if you know of such an article of clothing that exists in the real world, please let me know!

Community Psychology in a minute (or two)

In a recent Eval Cafe podcast episode, my co-host Carolyn Camman and I had a great conversation with Evan Poncelet about our professional journeys in the field of evaluation. All three of us come from an applied psychology background, and I spoke a bit about the influence and grounding I have courtesy of my “home field” of community psychology. For whatever reason, though, I sometimes find it difficult to provide a succinct definition of what community psychology is, or what it means to work from that perspective.

Fortunately, just last week a community psychologist, Leonard Jason, appeared on “The Academic Minute” podcast and in my opinion knocked it out of the park with explaining who we are and what we do (and in less than two minutes to boot!). The link above has both the audio and a full transcript of Dr. Jason’s presentation – I was originally planning to pull out a representative quote or two, but it’s short enough (as the podcast title implies) so I recommend simply going ahead and listening or reading it in its entirety.

March 13, 2019 News

Apologies for missing last week’s news – I blame travel and March Madness (of the non-profit variety, not basketball!). On the plus side, the weather is definitely improving outside – perhaps not difficult after one of the coldest February’s on record – and the calendar is beginning to fill up with local spring events.

Saskatoon Events

Leadership Saskatoon is hosting a Lunch and Learn panel discussion on Wednesday March 20 on the topic of Human Rights, Volunteers & Your Workplace.

The fifth-annual YXE Connects, an annual one-stop shop for community services and supports in Saskatoon, will be taking place on Monday May 6. Registration is now open for service providers, volunteer hairdressers and barbers, and general volunteers.

Technically not in Saskatoon, but Tamarack Community Institute is hosting a workshop in Edmonton on Asset-Based Community Development May 28-30. I’ve heard that there are some folks here in Saskatoon who are looking to register and travel together to save on costs and thus help build capacity in this area locally – if you’re interested in attending this workshop, drop me a line and I can put you in touch with those people.

Kim van der Woerd (Eval Cafe alum!) and Billie Joe Rogers are returning to Saskatoon on June 18 to lead a one-day workshop on Culturally Responsive Evaluation with Indigenous Populations.

Saskatoon Resources

The Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership’s 12 Bold Ideas to Eliminate Poverty document is now available for download.

Leadership Saskatoon is accepting applications for their flagship 10-month leadership development program.

February 21, 2019 News


Not much new this week, aside from the opening of a grant opportunity through the Saskatoon Community Foundation. Sometimes it’s just a slow news week, I guess!

The next news post here will be the week of March 4.

Saskatoon Events

The University of Saskatchewan’s Community Relations and Engagement Office is hosting a talk and workshop on February 27 with Jayne Malenfant on the topic of “Youth, Lived Experience and Inclusion in Community Research”. More details in the poster.

Technically not in Saskatoon, but Tamarack Community Institute is hosting a workshop in Edmonton on Asset-Based Community Development May 28-30. I’ve heard that there are some folks here in Saskatoon who are looking to register and travel together to save on costs and thus help build capacity in this area locally – if you’re interested in attending this workshop, drop me a line and I can put you in touch with those people.

Online Events

Kylie Hutchison will be leading a webinar on February 26 on hosting data parties.

Mark Cabaj and Galen MacLusky are hosting a Tamarack webinar on the Systems Change Evaluation Canvas on March 12.

Saskatoon Resources

Leadership Saskatoon is accepting applications for their flagship 10-month leadership development program

Saskatoon Community Foundation has opened their call for proposals for the Youth Endowment Saskatoon (YES) fund, with a focus on supporting healthy living for children and youth.

February 13, 2019 News

Fun fact: -40 is the point where the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales converge. Do not ask me why I had reason to figure this out!

Saskatoon Events

The University of Saskatchewan’s Community Relations and Engagement Office is hosting a talk and workshop on February 27 with Jayne Malenfant on the topic of “Youth, Lived Experience and Inclusion in Community Research”. More details in the poster.

Technically not in Saskatoon, but Tamarack Community Institute is hosting a workshop in Edmonton on Asset-Based Community Development May 28-30. I’ve heard that there are some folks here in Saskatoon who are looking to register and travel together to save on costs and thus help build capacity in this area locally – if you’re interested in attending this workshop, drop me a line and I can put you in touch with those people.

Online Events

Kylie Hutchison will be leading a webinar on February 26 on hosting data parties.

Mark Cabaj and Galen MacLusky are hosting a Tamarack webinar on the Systems Change Evaluation Canvas on March 12.

Resource of the Week

Leadership Saskatoon is now accepting applications for their flagship 10-month leadership development program. I’m a grad of the program (Class of 2014) and have since co-facilitated a half-day session for the program and also act as a mentor. For more information on the application process, check out Leadership Saskatoon’s website.

February 5, 2019 News

Some great events happening this week in Saskatoon – though if you want to stay indoors with the weather (or if you’re reading this in a place where “snow” and “cold” are four letter words), we’ve got you covered too with a couple of online evaluation-related events coming up.

Saskatoon events

The University of Saskatchewan is celebrating Indigenous Achievement Week this week, with multiple events on campus including an awards ceremony on Thursday afternoon (February 7th).

Also on February 7th, the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership is publicly releasing “12 Bold Ideas to Eliminate Poverty in Saskatoon” at Station 20 West, starting at 10am. Full disclosure: I have participated in some of the discussions and planning work around this document.

Interested in knowledge mobilization? KM in the AM is hosting a morning workshop February 11th on brave, honest conversations.

Reconciliation Saskatoon’s Learning Committee is presenting a KAIROS blanket exercise – an interactive experience looking at Canadian history from an Indigenous viewpoint – on February 15th at Station 20 West.

Online events

SFU is hosting a free webinar on their Evaluation Certificate program on February 12 (which includes past Eval Cafe guest Kim van der Woerd as an instructor!)

Kylie Hutchison (another Eval Cafe alum!) will be leading a webinar on February 26 on hosting data parties.

Mark Cabaj and Galen MacLusky are hosting a Tamarack webinar on the Systems Change Evaluation Canvas on March 12.

Resource of the week

February is Black History Month, and the Centre for Social Innovation has a great annotated reading list for anyone interested in learning more about both the historic context and present day realities.

January 29, 2019 News

As hinted at earlier this month, one area I would like to (re-)start on this website is regular news updates. While Saskatoon can often feel like a small town, especially in the non-profit sector, it has grown to the point where we have many interesting events happening – and more importantly, we can’t just rely on word of mouth or “being in the know” to be aware of all of them! And of course, there’s a whole sea of online events that can be useful where you are (and which conveniently don’t require you to leave your home or office when it’s -35 out!).

So, I’m trying the regular news format again to help provide a coherent signal amidst the noise for Saskatoon-based nonprofits. It’ll be a weekly update on Tuesdays (to start) and include both Saskatoon-specific items and online events, with a focus on Strong Roots Consulting’s strengths – namely, community-based research, strategic planning, and program evaluation.

This week we have a couple of last minute events in town combined with a good range of evaluation-related online learning opportunities – so if you have professional development funds to be used up before fiscal year end, make sure to check them out! And finally, some good news from CRA (how often can you say that?) for organizations with charitable status who also engage in advocacy or public education work.

Saskatoon events

Tomorrow (January 30) Erin Ryan-Walsh of William Joseph is hosting a free workshop on Marketing for Nonprofits. Seating is limited and registration is required – they have an earlier session that has already filled up, so if you’re interested don’t delay in signing up!

The Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES-SK) is holding a meet and great tomorrow evening (January 30) at the Thirsty Scholar. Open to anyone who is interested in evaluation!

Finally, next Thursday, February 7, the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership is publicly releasing 12 Bold Ideas to Eliminate Poverty in Saskatoon at Station 20 West. Full disclosure: I have participated in some of the discussions and planning work around this document, and I’m glad to see it go forward! See poster for more details.

Online events

CES-SK will be offering the Essential Skills Series for learning the basics about program evaluation through an online format starting February 4.

Another online evaluation-related course, the Art of Evaluating in Complexity, begins February 5 and runs for the four Tuesdays in that month. Full disclosure: Chris Corrigan was a recent guest on Eval Cafe, and Carolyn Camman (co-host on the podcast) is one of the guest presenters for the course.

Later in February, SFU is hosting a free webinar on their Evaluation Certificate program (which includes past Eval Cafe guest Kim van der Woerd as an instructor!).

Kylie Hutchison (another Eval Cafe alum!) will be leading a webinar on February 26 on hosting data parties.

News of the Week

I often joke that I’m not a lawyer and I don’t even play one on TV, but here’s some welcome news from folks who are in fact lawyers: CRA Releases Draft Guidance on New Rules Permitting Charities to Engage in ‘Public Policy Dialogue and Development Activities’ (hat tip to the Centre for Social Innovation’s newsletter). From a brief non-lawyerly read, it seems that CRA is more explicitly allowing activities that were formerly in a grey zone, such as research, representations on public policy, and public mobilization around issues that are related to the charity’s stated charitable purpose. Still prohibited are activities that “directly or indirectly support or oppose a political party or candidate”, including transferring resources to a third party for that purpose. If your charity does any type of work in this area or is considering doing so, it would be worthwhile to read through the above link and consider consulting with legal professionals to ensure your policies and practices are on-side.

Eval Cafe

At the 2017 Canadian Evaluation Society conference, my friend and fellow evaluator Carolyn Camman and I decided to start a podcast on the topic of program evaluation. We were inspired by Kylie Hutchison and James Coyle’s Adventures in Evaluation podcast, which had wrapped up in 2014, and also by the conversations we fell into whenever we met up in person.

Thus, Eval Cafe was born, featuring informal chats on evaluation-related topics – the kind you might overhear at your favourite coffeeshop, if it was frequented by evaluators.

While the two of us eat, live, and breathe evaluation, we do our best to keep the conversation accessible to anyone who has an interest in the field, even if they don’t identify with the term “evaluator”. In our short run thus far (16 episodes and counting!), we have discussed a range of topics, from participatory approaches in evaluation to how Star Trek and evaluation connect.

Our latest episode features Chris Corrigan, where we talk about the intersection between evaluation and facilitation as well as the role of evaluation in community change more generally. I think that if you work at all in the non-profit or social change field, you’ll definitely enjoy this episode!

You can listen to the audio directly in your browser (below), or simply search for “Eval Cafe” in your podcast app/platform of choice and you should be able to find us.

Also, a quick plug for Chris’ upcoming online course, The Art of Evaluation in Complexity, starting February 5th and featuring Carolyn as one of the presenters!

Reinvigorating the Strong Roots Blog

Featured

Last year marked six years of operations for Strong Roots Consulting. I’m happy to say that the business is going strong, but there’s been one area that is way overdue for some re-development – this blog. A quick trip to the archives will show a variety of different post types, formats, and posting schedules, ranging from near-weekly to the year-long hiatus between the 2017 and 2018 Canadian Evaluation Society annual conferences.

This past summer, I spent some time reviewing where I see Strong Roots Consulting as a company growing and developing into. As part of that planning exercise I reflected on the role of this website generally and the blog specifically, identifying potential audiences and purposes and starting to sketch out what a posting framework would look like. What I realized was that I want this site to both serve as a general resource on evaluation, strategic planning, and related topics that can be useful to anyone who stumbles on this website, as well as a place to share relevant information and news for non-profits based in and around Saskatoon. At the same time, I wanted to make sure that the blog framework would be feasible in terms of time, so I could maintain a regular posting schedule and not let it lie fallow as in the past.

So, here’s what the blog will look like going forward. Every month will see a more in-depth post on a topic related to the skillsets here at Strong Roots Consulting. That monthly post can be an exploration of an approach or framework, a book review, or a walkthrough of a specific tool or technique. With a less-frequent schedule, I can take the time to focus on the topic and link in other resources so that the post will stay “evergreen” for some time.

In between these monthly deep-dives will be shorter posts on a variety of topics. Quick commentary on an article from another website, sharing a resource, and news about Saskatoon events of interest to the local non-profit scene would all fit in this category. These will be posted on ad-hoc basis but I’ll take care to space them out, especially for the sake of email subscribers to the site.

The key word for me in this new framework is being adaptive. As I go along, maybe I discover that the monthly posting schedule is too frequent and it’s better to more time to get it right – or conversely, that I can post twice-monthly at the quality level I expect. Similarly, perhaps the infrequent posts naturally cluster into certain types: local news comes to mind, and I’ve also seen other websites post a “I wished I wrote that” list on a regular basis. In any case, rather than creating something elaborate right now that could stumble coming out of the gate, I want to get a minimum viable product (to borrow the startup industry term) rolling and build it up as circumstances and my capacity dictate.

Here’s to a more blog writing in 2019!

Spring Growth

Greetings from Calgary! I’m in town for this year’s edition of the Canadian Evaluation Society (CES) conference. While I’m excited as always to be participating, during my trip preparations I realized that my last post online was from last year’s conference! Though the site may have been quiet these past twelve months, Strong Roots Consulting has been anything but, filled with both interesting client projects and some initiatives to develop our own capacity. On that second topic, here’s a quick run-down on where we’ve been and where we plan to go.

Learning and Sharing Events

If this past year had a theme, it would have been “Learn and Share”. In addition to last year’s CES conference in Vancouver, I presented at the biennial conference of the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) and attended learning events hosted by Tamarack Institute on Cities of the Future, Evaluating Community Impact, and Asset-Based Community Development. While all of those events were great, the most personally-meaningful workshop I attended was right at home on the topic of Decolonizing Evaluation. Led by Kim van der Woerd and Billie Joe Rogers from Reciprocal Consulting and featuring a case study of Reconciliation Saskatoon, the two days featured thought-provoking content and great discussions on how evaluations can be designed to be culturally-responsive rather than perpetuating inequitable and harmful relationships.

For some time I’ve had the idea of hosting introductory evaluation workshops in Saskatoon. Thanks tofellow consultant Micheal Heimlick of Two Bridges Consulting, the Saskatchewan chapter of CES, and the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership, this dream was realized when we hosted a free half-day “Eval 101” session at Station 20 West in Saskatoon. Based on the positive feedback and requests received since then for a repeat event, I hope to continue offering these workshops in the future!

Online Activities

Although the blog was quiet, I have definitely been active online! As usual, my Twitter account lit up during the learning events I attended – expect the same during the next few days at CES. The website also saw a bit of a refresh, taking down some old pages and streamlining and updating existing content.

What I’m most excited about in this area is Eval Cafe, a podcast that I co-host with Carolyn Camman. At its heart, the podcast is two evaluators having a casual chat on different topics. So far we’ve covered “serious” topics like participatory approaches and evaluation ethics, along with more whimsical affairs such as boldly going where evaluation and Star Trek intersect (thanks to Kylie Hutchison for joining us for that one!). Carolyn and I will be recording an episode at CES this year, and we both look forward to sharing our discussions in the months to come.

Now that I have the mic and some experience recording, I’ve been thinking about a solo podcast project to go alongside Eval Cafe – stay tuned on that!

Growth

One of the biggest developments for the business this year has been hiring an associate. I’ve always enjoyed working with others who have a similar passion for supporting community initiatives and organizations, but up until now it’s always been on a partnership or subcontracting basis for specific projects. Earlier this month, Strong Roots Consulting welcomed Lindsay Herman as a term associate for the summer. Lindsay recently finished her Masters degree in Urban Planning at the University of Saskatchewan and brings a strong focus on community to her work. In addition to working on client projects, our hope is that we can both contribute to the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership’s efforts in creating and evaluating a municipal poverty strategy.

A few months ago, I started the application process for the Credentialed Evaluator (CE) designation through CES. The program serves to recognize education and skills related to specific evaluator competencies and promote ongoing professional development. While I didn’t quite meet my aim of submitting the full application before the conference, my hope is to get it in within the next few weeks.

Finally, the business is coming up to its sixth anniversary and we’re using the anniversary to take stock of where we’ve been and how we can continue supporting non-profit organizations and community change initiatives. Oh, and last but not least, I’ll be testing a new approach to the blog to ensure more regular content and fewer months- (or year-) long gaps between posts. More news to come as these pieces come together: keep your eye on the blog here for the latest!

That’s it for now. If you’re at CES this year, come find me and say hi!