Selected Projects 2013

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Ross works with a diverse group of organizations on a wide range of topics. The items below represent a small but representative sample of that work in 2013.

Family Services of Greater Vancouver

Ross facilitated a professional development session entitled Clear Paths in a Strange World. We live in a world focused on the individual, but our most meaningful experiences are with groups: in the family, in the workplace, in our personal relationships. Our ability to be with others, to communicate, to learn and grow together, is the essence of what being human is all about. And yet, increasingly we find ourselves nudged into situations of digital isolation, communal distance, and personal disorientation. The world is a strange place at the moment, and it can be tough to find a sure way forward. How do we respond to the momentum of technology? How do we handle the acceleration and pressure of modern life? How do we stay connected – to ourselves, to our peers, to those we love – in a world that sometimes seems so fragmented?

This workshop explored some of the skills we can use (or develop) to stay in touch with our self-awareness, our empathy, and to find ways of moving in the world that are purposeful and clear. Using principles and values centered on group creativity, play, and self-reflection, the workshop offered participants strategies and considerations for working on ourselves, working in groups, and working toward healthy communities.

Vancouver International Writers’ Festival

Ross facilitated a professional development workshop for writers. The contemporary age is one of tremendous upheaval and uncertainty for writers: new technologies challenge established business practices. Nascent and rapidly emerging markets pose new questions about processes and products. Conflicted conversations about rights and the uses of creative commodity dominate an increasingly fractured landscape. Within this turbulent tumble lies the writer as artist: pressured by the exigencies of commerce, burdened by the minutiae of intellectual property law, increasingly hobbled by anxiety and disorientation.

The writer in Canada now feels at the whim of indifferent and unpredictable forces. The buffers which once protected professional writers from the messiness and incipient momentum of the market are now, for the most part, dismantled or disintegrating. Creative and professional paths that once were secure are now fraught with new obstacles. The sacred space of creative inquiry seems under threat. The artifacts of that inquiry have lost much of their meaning. The casual blog has vanquished the thoughtful book.

At least, this is how it seems to many writers working today in Canada: dark times, enemies at the gate.

But this is how all the great stories begin. Turbulence – emotional, cultural, political – is the source and fuel of creativity. The current age is thus a great gift. Artists and writers are now free, in the philosophical (and perhaps spiritual) sense, free to pursue the clamour and craft of their work, in a manner that we have not encountered before. Not since the audacious invention of writing itself.

This professional development workshop invited professional writers to discover – or rediscover – the unrivaled adventure of creative work in the world today. The path forward is not labyrinthine but requires, rather – like most daunting tasks – that a small number of simplicities reveal themselves behind the swirl of turbulence. Workshop participants will learn about various technologies of creativity – this, of course, is a pertinent and pressing matter – but this workshop was not, primarily, another introduction to blogging, social networking, web content, and viral marketing. These are only the outer appearance – the carapace, the shell – of what amounts to a re- imagining of what it means to be a creative person in the world today.

This workshop helped writers reclaim the fundamental right of creative endeavour and choose paths that lead forward.

Freedom, adventure, opportunity: these are the watchwords of the contemporary creative professional. Every age calls its inhabitants to action. How do we know this? Writers tell us. How do they tell us? By facing their own crises of confidence, by wrestling with the emerging norms and practices of their time, by seizing the word as their instrument and their stand. Why should we expect our age to be any different? Why would we want it to be?

Maple Ridge School District

Ross facilitated a series of professional development sessions for educators on the themes of mentorship, facilitation, educational renewal, and the cultivation of the whole person.

BC Union of Psychiatric Nurses

Ross facilitated two professional development workshops for Psychiatric Nurses at their annual conference:

Session 1: Technology and Health

Technologies are now foundational to both our personal and professional lives. We surf the web, communicate via email, immerse ourselves in social media, stream our favourite shows, and read our digital books. Our daily activities increasingly depend upon technology – searching for gas stations on our route, browsing research findings online, organizing meetings and events through the web. And yet, we haven’t had much opportunity to think through how we are using technology. Is constant connection good for us? Does social media corrode or enhance personal relationships? Are we hurtling toward a society of permanently sedentary, spoon-fed automatons? Or are we building new visions of integrated and engaged human society? How do we know, and how do we find out? This workshop explored these questions and offered suggestions for engaging purposefully with technology.

Session 2: Confidence in Conflict

Dealing with conflicts in the workplace is immensely stressful for most people. We feel adrift, uneasy, activated. How can we learn to manage these reactions and to approach conflict with self-awareness, neutrality, and confidence? This workshop explored behaviours and strategies that increase the likelihood of resolving conflicts in the workplace, with an emphasis on self- development perspectives, power dynamics, and positive approaches. Conflict is inevitable; how we deal with it determines, to a large extent, how successful we can be both in the workplace and in life.

Air Canada

Ross facilitated a full-day professional development workshop for Air Canada employees who volunteer as peer support for their colleagues. Participants explored themes such as resilience, mentorship, mental health, and the skills required to assist those suffering from addictions, burnout, trauma, family stress, and related vulnerabilities.

School presentations

Ross facilitated sessions for educators and parents at Florence Nightingale Elementary, the Nanaimo School District, the Alberni School District, the Abbotsford District Teachers’ Association, and the Maple Ridge Teacher/Librarian’s Association. All of these sessions were focused on the interconnected themes of personal development, mentorship, and innovation in education.

NOTE: Feel free to get in touch with Ross directly for further details about any of these projects.


Other Projects

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St. George's School

Cultivating Mentorship and Personal Development

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Amazon Field School

Education as Personal Odyssey