The 2010 Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP) teams: time for a little more transparency?

Blandin Community Leadership ProgramTwo area teams of 24 people each (one team from Northfield; the other from Northfield/Dundas/Bridgewater) attended the Blandin Community Leadership Program (BCLP) this year (I blogged the application process here. I applied but didn’t get selected.)

But other than an April commentary in the Northfield News by Northfield Councilor Erica Zweifel, these teams seem to be invisible. No published photos on the interwebs, no story in the Northfield News like the one in 2004, Residents complete Blandin retreat, no blog posts of photo from the retreats or subsequent follow-up meetings.

So I was surprised to see Mary Jo Cristofaro write in her blog post that the "Blandin Foundations’ Leadership Team is pleased to sponsor an evening with Richard Heinberg, Friday November 12th, 6:30pm at the Northfield Ballroom."

And so I’m curious:

  • How was the decision made to sponsor this community event?
  • What other activities are people on the teams involved in?
  • Who are the people who attended this year? Group photos?
  • Who are the local leaders/organizers?


  1. Pat Benson said:

    Hi Griff,

    I was part of the 2010 regional group, 12 men and 12 women from Dundas, Northfield, and Bridgewater. I can’t tell you anything about the selection process, other than they strive for a diverse representation of the community. I can tell you there are a lot of people who could’ve been there and weren’t, but that isn’t a reflection on anyone’s role as a community leader!

    At the initial week-long retreat we learned about ourselves, our communication and leadership styles, how to be more effective, and the characteristics of healthy communities. The lack of transparency, in our group at least, is because I came home to catch up after a week away and didn’t follow through with a personal task to develop a press release. As time went by it seemed to me to be old news, and it just didn’t come up again in the 2 subsequent workshops. I apologize for that lapse, to my cohort and to you.

    Throughout the initial week participants were invited to build a list of pressing issues in our communities. At the end of the week we narrowed it down, grouped and regrouped until we had a sufficient number of people to work together on a specific issue.

    My group focused on regional planning within a sustainability framework, and met several times as a “Moving Forward” group to work on this issue. This group includes Bruce Morlan, Erica Zweifel, Paula Manor, Joe Gransee-Bowman, Charlie Stark, Rick Riesberg, Chad Marks, and myself. Bruce and Erica had the established relationships with local government, and carried the invitation for us. The rest of us extended the invitation to our contacts as it seemed appropriate.

    I think the main point of the group was to practice implementing skills from the Blandin training. I think most of us would agree it was difficult to meet, to find time and capacity to add another thing to our list of commitments.

    Transition Northfield already had the date and community discussion with Richard Heinberg scheduled, but we were in the early stages of planning the event. I’m in both groups, and at our final workshop I suggested a collaboration. The BCLP group added a component to gather community leaders for a specific, extended Q&A. We also wrote a small grant to get things rolling. Remember we all came home to our prior commitments, so this was a cosponsorship based limited capacity and a common thread to collaborate with others who could support our Moving Forward issue. The Blandin team framed the invitation within an economic context for community leaders, delivered it to local government officials, invited Blandin alumni to participate, and will moderate the final 30 minutes of Heinberg’s discussion.

    So here we are! Hoping the event on Friday results in networking, with the final result of a long term regional plan that is sustainable and works for the common good of our communities. Hoping all community leaders and interested citizens come, because having everyone’s perspective will enrich and inform the process of developing a plan. This isn’t about Blandin or Transition Northfield, it’s about working together as a region to plan a sustainable, resilient future. It’s about having that plan work for all of the interdependent communities in our region, best accomplished when representatives from each segment of the community bring their particular wisdom and perspective to the table. Our BCLP team and Transition have set the table, invited the community to be our guests, and identified a focus topic. Where it goes from here is up to the community!

    Pat Benson

    November 9, 2010
  2. Suzannah Ciernia said:

    Well said Pat. I was very excited to hear of this event – right here in Northfield! The reach-out between Blandin alumni and the grass-roots Transition folks was fortuitous. As a unique collaboration opportunity that touches on economic challenges, energy independence, business issues, rural issues, and empowerment of local communities, this event is the perfect blend of these two groups perspectives.

    And to have such a blue ribbon speaker available to us for Q&A in our own backyard is huge! I strongly encourage business and civic leaders to attend, and bring your questions. This guy knows his stuff. Eat some local chow and come on down to the ballroom at 6:30 (THIS Friday!) I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

    November 10, 2010
  3. BruceWMorlan said:

    Blandin Foundation asked us to form “Moving Forward” teams to get our feet wet on some issue. The Regional Planning chose to start the process by supporting this effort and I look forward to meeting and discussing the questions we have found on people’s minds as we work together to create a more sustainable and resilient community.

    Griff asks where the PR component and I, for one, do not know how to respond. I guess we are focused more on action than on applause. (Aw shucks, it was nuttin’. Just doin’ what needed doin’)

    November 10, 2010

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