Why don’t we include developers vested in the downtown in the City’s ongoing “engagement” process on Grow Bold? Why not bring developers to the table?
Why are we afraid to ask the private sector, experts in development, to participate openly in the process?
Why not bring developers together in a room (initially away from the public – away from the anger, hostility and venom) and ask for their “help” in dealing with the public fears on:
The loss of sunlight;
Increase in vehicular congestion;
Loss of green and liveable space;
Ensuring safe pedestrian flow and places of gathering;
Promotion of downtown businesses;
Ensuring sufficient parking for residents and visitors; and,
Any other big issue item….
Developers are not afraid of criticism. They deal with it all the time. And, they can be a powerful team to help with resident issues if we ask them.
Why not ask them to sign onto a Memorandum of Understanding to come up with a coordinated design away from the fear of public scrutiny and criticism, at least in the initial stages of brainstorming and design.
Challenge them to put together a coordinated plan or design, and more than one plan or design, which addresses the public concerns and ensures an integrated approach to responsible development rather than the “one-offs” we are currently getting with individual development applications.
Put their coordinated plan or design(s) before the citizen engagement forums. At least the residents would have something tangible to review and comment on.
Developers will listen, and even though they may not like the resident feedback, the hope is that their engagement gives them an incentive to incorporate good design ideas into their individual development applications.
Many have asked me why I run. Or, they say “you’re a big guy, how can you run?”
I don’t enjoy the pain. I certainly don’t enjoy cold dark mornings. I would much rather remain cozy under the covers.
Running is not easy. Running is hard. I started running by walking, and adding in some running steps. Over time, the walking steps decreased and the running steps increased.
Over a one-week period, I will run 3 times – usually 10 kms on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then a longer run on Saturday or Sunday, whichever day has nicer weather. Yes, I am a fair-weather runner. I hate the freezing cold even though I do it when I have to. The other days, I will do some other form of exercise with one day off.
My other forms of exercise are weight training to strengthen my upper body and lower back, push-ups, burpees (which I hate the most) and isometric exercises like planks and even yoga – all intended to help me strengthen my ability to hold my upper body upright for longer and longer distances. But, running has always been my preferred choice of exercise and all other forms of exercise are intended to complement and further my running ability.
So, why do I run?
Like most people, I want to carve out time in my day that is just for me. No distractions. No cell phone or email message beeps. No abrupt interruptions from co-workers asking “you got a minute?” Of course I have a minute. We all have minutes that are eaten up by daily rituals of doing something for others – all day long – and now – right now – as I run – there is no cell phone – no interruptions whatsoever.
As I run, I tune into my energy level, my posture, my breathing, my joints, my muscles, and my hydration and nutrition. As I run, I focus on all these aspects and I strive to create harmony between them – a balance between wanting to finish and finish well.
Health is a consequence of my running and running is a consequence of my health. Without one, you can’t have the other. Running helps control my weight and drives me to remain focused on good nutrition.
I feel rather naughty telling you that I get a “high” from running. All runners know exactly what I mean. You run the first little part and struggle as you get your pace and breathing under control and work out the kinks in your muscles until you get to the point when you feel unstoppable and free. Like you can go on forever. When you wish it did not have to end. It’s called the “runners high” and results from your body releasing a magical mysterious drug that can never be regulated or outlawed from the Olympics – Endorphins!
A google search tells us that:
Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. … Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine.
Wow! Our body is so amazing that it can alleviate pain naturally and it’s free!
Running is the satisfaction of knowing that “I did it”. That I ran the distance and ran it well. That I challenged myself and my limits. That I took my body on a journey and came out the other end feeling exhausted and elated at the same time.
Running is my peace. In the truest sense, running is “my time”. It is pure and simple. For that 1 or 2 or 3 hours, you will not get my attention. My mind does not care for the latest news blast, weather report or the latest political gaff – I just don’t care. I let myself go into a solitude existence – deep in my thoughts. The only thing I am concentrating on is my breath and every fibre in my body as my feet rush beneath me. I feel the wind on my face. I see people and cars and hear noise all around me but in some strange way, there is no noise and all that I see is a blur. So, don’t honk or waive at me. I will not hear you. I will not see you.
Some say this is selfish of me. And I ask “what is wrong with being selfish for the right reason”? To clear my head. To focus and put things into perspective. To re-connect with my breath and body. To re-energize my soul. What is wrong with all of this?
If I am not clear-headed, focused or fresh in my mind, then how can I be as positively engaged with my clients, my co-workers, and, most importantly, with those I love?
I just returned from the Pro Bono Conference held in Ottawa last week organized by Pro Bono Ontario. I attended because our law firm provides a pro bono legal services without fanfare. We provide pro bono legal service because it is the right thing to do.
I attended the conference in order to try and see how we can do things better. How do we act responsibly in balancing the “business of law” – paying our staff and overhead – with the desire to continue providing pro bono legal services responsibly? And, are there ways to do things better on both fronts?
I met many fascinating lawyers in public and private practice who educated me on what they are doing and what they plan to do. I came away with many ideas which I will take back to the lawyers and staff in my office.
It may appear to some lawyers that doing pro bono work is something they can’t afford to do. After all, they have to pay their rent, their staff and certainly themselves. And, I have never heard a lawyer say they have enough staff resources. However, I was surprised to learn that there are financial benefits to lawyers providing “free” legal services.
But that should never be the reason for anyone providing free legal services to someone who can’t afford it. The lawyer must have the right ingredients of head and heart to do it responsibly and effectively – for you and the client.
It is like volunteering. You get into it out of curiosity, friendship or a desire to give back. But when you get into the actual heavy lifting, you connect with people in a way that expands your vision, your opportunities and your sense of purpose in life.
At some practical level, pro bono work has been proved to improve staff and lawyer moral, which helps retention and productivity. Interestingly, it is expected by U.S. Federal departments in their R.F.P. forms for law firms bidding on engagement opportunities. I suspect this will expand into Canada and more and more into private sector organizations. Many of the big law firms have implemented, from the sophisticated and substantial to the unsophisticated and informal acceptance of pro bono work as a component of their work load.
Smaller law firms and many sole practitioners do pro bono work as well. They do it because someone’s story touched them in some way or they believe in the cause. I am sure that many lawyers sometimes agonize over why they ever got themselves involved in a pro bono file, but they soldier on because they believe they are doing the right thing.
Pro bono work can, with public and private support, advance the delivery of legal services not only to those that can’t afford them but also in creating systems – whether technology or structure – which can be used in delivering legal services efficiently to paying clients.
Some lawyers will see the expansion of pro bono work as a threat. Some lawyers will tolerate and modify the way they do business only to the extent they have to. And, there will be some lawyers that will take up the challenge and lead in the new economy of law.
I believe that client development in the future (paying clients that is) will demand a strong public service profile with competencies that include specialized knowledge delivered efficiently. Leading in the area of pro bono work will re-define the legal profession and advance access to justice for those less fortunate. Love it or hate it, pro bono work is here to stay and, over time, will force lawyers in public and private practice to evolve to stay relevant. Welcome to the new economy.