Selected Projects 2014

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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 2014.

Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nations Community

Ross facilitated two community workshops on understanding and dealing with addictions, which are the most common and the most misunderstood challenge we face. Most of us find addictions somewhere close by: in families, in our peers, sometimes in ourselves. Addictions are everywhere. And yet, it’s tough to know what addiction really is: a habit, a means of coping, a way of just having fun? And at what point does having fun become something else: something darker and much more difficult?

Despite the mysteries and complexities of addiction, we do know quite a bit about how it starts: in adolescence, typically, with a series of situations and events that tend to lead people toward addictive behavior. And we also know a great deal about how to stop addictions: through education, healthy relationships, mentorship, and meaningful experiences.

In this workshop Ross unpacked the matter of addictions: what it is, how to understand it, how it is connected to mental health, and how to deal with it. Participants learned about different kinds of addictions: drugs and alcohol, technology addictions, addictions to risk and recklessness. Ross also provided an introduction to the skills and knowledge required to be safe and self- aware with regard to addictions, and how to help others. This workshop was an open forum for discussion, debate, and learning.

Vancouver Coastal Health

Ross was the keynote speaker at the inaugural meeting of the integrated Mental Health and Addictions service areas. Ross spoke about the interconnected themes of childhood development, adolescent vulnerability, adult resilience, and the key role of mentorship in health and healing. He also made a joke about our current over-emphasis on brain science.

Meadowridge School

Ross facilited three workshops:

Teacher Session

The landscape of education has changed more rapidly in the past decade than in the previous hundred years. Cultural, economic, technological and social changes challenge educators with increasingly complex issues, themes, and opportunities. In this new environment – where the only certainty is that things evolve rapidly – how do we preserve and nurture essential and foundational values such as mentorship, community, and leadership? How do we help kids deal with the ever-increasing risks they face from addictions, mental health challenges, bullying, and technology? How do we help guide them through this complex landscape?

In this workshop participants explored opportunities for responding to the needs of young learners in new ways. Ross explained the core skills of understanding and dealing with addictions (to technology and substances), developing useful and practical programs for kids to navigate the challenges of mental health, and helping families (and the school) to work together with purpose and clarity.

If we are to deal with the contemporary themes of addictions and mental health, we must join the conversation, engage with the turbulence, and be willing to evolve as circumstances evolve around us. This workshops explored how to do this.

Parent Presentation

This presentation explored the emerging cultures of technology and their impact on childhood development, family life, and education. Technology is now an essential feature of the landscape of childhood and adolescence. Gaming, social networking, texting, and other digital tools now provide the central means by which children and adolescents manage the challenges of their development. Issues such as anxiety, depression, isolation, anger, and addiction are increasingly finding niches in the online worlds. Parents, educators, counsellors, and all those who work with children must be able to respond to this groundswell of change with new skills and strategies. This presentation provided a summary of those skills and strategies along with a suite of simple, practical tools that can assist parents in navigating – and helping kids navigate – the complexities of the digital landscape.

Student Presentation

Addiction is the most common and the most misunderstood challenge we face. Most of us find addictions somewhere close by: in our families, in our peers, sometimes in ourselves. Addictions are everywhere. And yet, it’s tough to know what addiction really is: a habit, a means of coping, a way of just having fun? And at what point does having fun become something else: something darker and much more difficult? Despite the mysteries and complexities of addiction, we do know quite a bit about how it starts: in adolescence, typically, with a series of situations and events that tend to lead people toward addictive behavior. And we also know a great deal about how to stop addictions: through education, healthy relationships, mentorship, and meaningful experiences.

In this workshop Ross discussed the matter of addiction: what it is, how to understand it, how it is connected to mental health, and how to deal with it. He explained the different kinds of addictions: drugs and alcohol, technology addictions, addictions to risk and recklessness. Finally, Ross articulated the skills and knowledge required to be safe and self-aware. This was an open forum for discussion, debate, and learning.

Young Presidents’ Organization

Ross facilitated a personal development workshop on technology addictions.

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.

Crofton House School

Ross facilitated a workshop for students and teachers on the emerging cultures of technology and their impact on childhood development, family life, and education. Technology is now an essential feature of the landscape of childhood and adolescence. Gaming, social networking, texting, and other digital tools now provide the central means by which children and adolescents manage the challenges of their development. Issues such as anxiety, depression, isolation, anger, and addiction are increasingly finding niches in the online worlds. Parents, educators, counsellors, and all those who work with children must be able to respond to this groundswell of change with new skills and strategies. This workshop provided a summary of those skills and strategies along with a suite of simple, practical tools that can assist parents in navigating – and helping kids navigate – the complexities of the digital landscape.

Ross also facilitated this session at Prince of Wales Secondary, Morgan Elementary, King George Secondary, and St. George’s School.

The Writers’ Union of Canada

Ross facilitated a series of professional development workshops for writers in 10 cities across Canada. 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?

The BC Association of Clinical Counsellors

Ross facilitated a professional development session for counsellors on the theme of addiction, which is the most common and the most misunderstood challenge we face. Most of us find addictions somewhere close by: in our families, in our peers, sometimes in ourselves. Addictions are everywhere. And yet, it’s tough to know what addiction really is: a habit, a means of coping, a way of just having fun? And at what point does having fun become something else: something darker and much more difficult? Despite the mysteries and complexities of addiction, we do know quite a bit about how it starts: in adolescence, typically, with a series of situations and events that tend to lead people toward addictive behavior. And we also know a great deal about how to stop addictions: through education, healthy relationships, mentorship, and meaningful experiences.

In this workshop Ross explored the matter of addiction: what it is, how to understand it, how to deal with it. He discussed different kinds of addictions: drugs and alcohol, technology addictions, addictions to risk and recklessness. He explained the skills and knowledge required to be safe and self-aware, and to understand new developments in addictions research. This was an open forum for discussion, debate, and learning.

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


Other Projects

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Amazon Field School

Education as Personal Odyssey

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Wallace McCain Institute

Cultivating Personal Development