I had a revealing week last week. I had travelled to Carleton University in Ottawa for the 2nd annual conference of the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research as part of my job at SFU. I went to learn about issues facing the nonprofit sector and about trends in community-university engagement and community-based learning. Sure, this happened too, but the most important piece of information was about myself.
I love being a part of the nonprofit community of learning and practice.
I am a bit of an introvert and generally find myself uncomfortable at conferences and large gatherings–drink in hand, eyes scanning the crowd as if I’m just waiting for someone to meet me. They’re late. I look at my watch. I take a sip. I scan the crowd.
But this time I met a great group of people that have done and are continuing to do great things for a diverse society. I engaged in dialogue with them, contributed my experience and opinions and soaked up those of others. Learned from academics and practitioners doing research – wait for it – with PRACTICAL implications for the nonprofit sector (warning: sometime cynical university staff member). I learned about the Centre for Voluntary Sector Research and Development at Carleton, whose research associates are almost all practitioners with on the ground experience, and whose research focuses on information that can help nonprofits fulfill their missions through practical information, tools and resources. I met interesting people like Ted Jackson, Keith Seel, Martha Parker, Naheed Nenshi, Wendy MacDonald, Paula Speevak Sladowski. I felt invigorated and was sad for it to be over.
So time for me to get started, living it up with this confirmed love of nonprofit. This blog had been floating around in my head for a while. I follow a large number of nonprofit blogs (see my blog roll) but find a gap in what’s offered to local Canadian nonprofits (context is important). Sometimes it’s nice to work within a community that is virtual AND local.
Next step: share the learning I gleam from my colleagues in their blogs and Twitter updates, from my work and research, from my academic studies, from my involvement with the nonprofit sector.
Future plans: further my studies in nonprofit, help mobilize knowledge and improve practice. Obviously not concrete goals yet – perhaps just musings…