Monthly Archives: October 2015

Detour Ahead – Enjoy the Ride!

In the first few days after moving to Vancouver, my dad and I decided to explore the city, starting with Granville Island. Being new to the city streets, we decided to use the “Google Maps” application on my smartphone for directions. Two minutes in, my dad missed a turn and the GPS rerouted. Another couple minutes later, we hit some construction and the GPS rerouted again. On the new route, we faced some temporary road blocks so the GPS rerouted AGAIN. After a bunch of detours we eventually got to Granville Island, but by that time my frustration knew no bounds and I had developed feelings of dislike for the streets of Vancouver. The very same night, we were invited for dinner to a friend’s place where he asked us about the areas in Vancouver we had explored. Unknowingly, I started listing all the things we saw on our detour to Granville Island.  That’s when I realized that sometimes it’s not just about getting to your destination – it’s also about the journey. On our detour, my dad and I had the opportunity to see some different neighbourhoods and events taking place in the city. Not to mention, the beautiful scenery that accompanied the drive, the extra time I got to spend with dad before he left for Toronto, and that persistence and adaptation to changes (at least by the GPS) eventually brings success. – Enlightened group member.

This week our objective was to re-evaluate our communication with the community, that is, clearly presenting the purpose and objectives of our project to kitchen managers, and adapting to changes in our plan of action. Especially, since one of our assigned community kitchens is unavailable to participate in the project. The manager informed us that they were more interested in connecting with organizations that focused on the rights, issues and movements specific to the local community.  And this brings us back to the Ted Talk by Simon Sinek on ‘the golden circle’ and that,  “Connecting with WHY is essential to effective collaboration and project outcomes.” In our case, we and the agency may be sharing different objectives and purposes which further lead us on to different paths. Hence, we are currently in the process of  “re-routing” with the hope of improving our communication and project management skills on our way to the final destination.

Fostering project planning and development skills can be long and arduous, however if successful, the individual or group is left confident in its ability to tackle multi-faceted projects. For example, in the podcast, Dan Barber – an American, visits a goose foie gras farm, in France, that allows geese to roam and eat freely as well as mingle with wild geese that eventually join the farm. Dan takes this experience back with him to New York in order to start his own farm. However, due to little initial success, he decides to invite the French goose farmer to New York for some assistance, after which the farm runs smoothly. Similarly, in the film on “tiny houses” titled Tiny, Christopher attempts to build a very small house using a trailer. With minimal construction skills, initially, he faces countless obstacles. Eventually, he seeks assistance from an experienced man who has built a tiny house of his own. In the end, Christopher develops confidence in his ability to break-down and complete projects as well as learn new skills.

Both examples show how managing a project can be overwhelming initially, but can end up being incredibly rewarding and life-changing. When Christopher and Dan initially encounter challenges, they seek the help of people with experience in completing similar projects. This indicates the importance of experience while suggesting that the only way to gaining experience is going through the learning process. In addition, these stories emphasize the importance of flexibility in project development. Even when projects are meticulously thought out and planned, unforeseen issues may arise when acting on these plans. For example, if Christopher and Dan were set on their initial plans, they may have never achieved success. Because they were open to adapting different methods and perspectives, they were able to work past their problems and fulfill their projects. Similarly, we are constantly improving our approach and adapting to changes in our plans to successfully complete our projects. Because often times, a scope change, warranting flexibility, is necessary to proceed in order to increase the functionality of the project.

Currently, we have been able to schedule a kitchen visit, next week, with one of the agencies and we are eagerly looking forward to the opportunity!


Works Cited

Barber, D. (Interviewee), & Glass, I. (Interviewer). (2011, December 11). Act 3: Latin Liver [Radio series episode]. In Poultry Slam 2011. Chicago: The American Life.

Mueller, M., & Smith, C. (Directors). (2013). Tiny: A Story About Living Small [Motion picture].

Sinek, S. (Speaker). (2009). The Golden Circle [Conference recording]. In Ted Talk. Newcastle: Youtube.

Making the Call

Having just moved to Canada, on my first day of school, I found myself fumbling for some stationery. After, what felt like eons of searching, I turned to the guy sitting next to me and asked, “Excuse me, do you have a rubber?”. To my horrific surprise, his reddening cheeks burst with laughter and sentenced me to a term of embarrassment, while teaching me that what I was looking for was identified as an eraser. Eventually, I learnt that different people identify and interpret things differently and that it is crucial to be on the same page to communicate efficiently (or well, at least to save one-self from utter embarrassment) – Embarrassed group member.

This past week, our objective was to improve communication between the group. This was done by exchanging availabilities, designing a weekly meeting schedule, delegating tasks and setting short-term goals in order to complete our project in an effective and timely manner. The above, allowed us to search for additional community accessible kitchens, start contacting kitchen managers, and scheduling visits to the assigned kitchens in our neighbourhood. Since our contacting efforts were made closer to lunchtime, we were only able to connect with two kitchen managers.

Our approach included calling and emailing the facility and making the necessary arrangements. During this process, one of the kitchen managers initially agreed to a kitchen visit and later decided otherwise.The manager explained that his schedule had filled up and gave the impression that he perceived the kitchen was inadequate for the purpose of our project. He then redirected us to a city-run community kitchen.This indicated that there may have been some miscommunication regarding the nature of our project, although, we felt that we were clear about our purpose. Thus, a clarification of our interests in non-city run kitchens, of all forms, may have been required. A communication gap may have occurred due to some assumptions made based on the response received during the initial phone conversation. This is a reflection of how different people may have varying interpretations to what is being communicated.

Initially, we felt a little discouraged, however we realize that these are some of the challenges faced during community based learning. Moving forward, it will be important that we keep this experience in mind while interacting with members of the community. Especially during the interview process, where even non-verbal communication by the interviewer may be interpreted differently by the interviewee, further leading to a bias in information provided. Hence, neutrality in expression and reactions to survey answers will not only assure the collection of unbiased data but also prevent these individuals from feeling judged. If interviewees are hesitant or do not know how to answer a question, try asking it in a clearer manner.

Our experience can be likened to The Fish Bank podcast by Jensi Sartin. In this podcast, a fish sanctuary is created on the coast of Bali, Indonesia. The sanctuary received overwhelming support by the local community and after a number of years, the protected fish flourished, as well as fish in surrounding waters. This can be related to community kitchens as a whole. The fish sanctuary shows that by nurturing certain members of the community you can strengthen the system as a whole. In a sense, a community kitchen could be considered a human sanctuary that aims to strengthen those most in need until they are able to go out into the “wild” again.

We come into the equation as a sort of independent consultant to the fish reserve. Our goal is to identify ways these protective establishments can be supported and to reiterate their needs to an authority who can achieve this. What we aim to accomplish is somewhat like developmental aid consulting, in that we hope to serve and develop these establishments much like they serve and impact their surroundings.