What Is Fresh Dialogues?
Fresh Dialogues is a series of grassroots conversations intended to inform, inspire, and innovate solutions to critical community issues. Each event tackles a single issue through a keynote session and/or a multi-sector workshop.
A keynote session features a renowned expert in the overall theme of the event (e.g., energy literacy, water rights, economic reform). In addition, community professionals from related fields help participants explore the issue from a local perspective.
Following the keynote, each sector (i.e., government, business, academia, and the nonprofit sector) is represented during panel discussions. Participants have ‘power talks’ with fellow attendees throughout the keynote session to internalize and share what they’ve learned; to identify potential actions at home, work, and play; and to foster potential collaborations within or among sectors.
A multi-sector workshop, if held in conjunction with a keynote session, builds on the experts’ teachings and provides multiple innovative and interactive opportunities for attendees to explore local solutions to theme-related challenges. A free-standing workshop includes a keynote presentation as well as panel discussions and facilitated exercises.
Importantly, the workshop portion of Fresh Dialogues ensures that representatives from all sectors can explore collaborative opportunities that will optimize creativity, innovation, and the use of natural, human, and financial resources.
Why Do We Need Fresh Dialogues?
Communities everywhere face environmental, social, cultural, and economic challenges that compromise their health and prosperity in the short and long terms. In keeping with FOF’s vision, we know that solutions can be found most meaningfully through grassroots conversations that inspire collective action.
To be effective, this dialogue must reflect current science along with the insights, ideas, and passions of community leaders from all sectors and a robust cross-section of residents. More specifically, Fresh Dialogues uses leading-edge social-learning and behaviour-change tactics and tools to inform, inspire, and illicit positive change at the individual, organizational and community scales. Intended outcomes are to:
- Build clarity around community sustainability issues (e.g., unique characteristics and assets that influence challenges and opportunities)
- Explore global best practices and successes that can be customized and applied locally
- Foster communication and collaboration among people from all sectors and the general public, thereby maximizing creativity, innovation, and buy-in
- Address unique challenges and opportunities through collective action to optimize the use of natural, human, and financial resources from all sectors.
Fresh Dialogues #1:
Waking the Frog: Solutions to Our Climate Change Paralysis
For this particular Fresh Dialogues event, entitled WAKING THE FROG: Solutions to Our Climate Change Paralysis, FOF partnered with the District of Lake Country. More than 70 people from all sectors and age groups attended the event, creating meaningful and productive dialogue.
Attendees included a group of local high school students from Students Without Borders Academy, the general public, city hall officials, and other sustainability enthusiasts.
The keynote featured venture capitalist, author, entrepreneur, engineer, and philosopher Tom Rand. He explained why climate disruption is our very own pot of hot water. Every attendee received a complimentary copy of Rand’s book, Waking the Frog: Solutions to Our Climate Change Paralysis.
We also shared a supporting presentation from Steven Pacifico of Energy Exchange, a division of Pollution Probe. In his presentation, he expanded participants’ energy literacy and promoted a future in which Canadians are united in their energy prosperity, rather than divided by their energy options.
What Were the Results of the Event?
We're thrilled to report that 93% of respondents said their commitment to personal climate action has increased because of their Fresh Dialogues experience.
A big thanks to our guest speaker, Tom Rand, panelists, sponsors, and our partner Lake Country's Creekside Theatre.
Fresh Dialogues #2:
Canadian History: An Alternative Take on the Past for a New View of the Future
FOF’s second Fresh Dialogues event featured a keynote presentation by Alexandre Trudeau (yes, Justin’s brother). It was entitled Canadian History: An Alternative Take on the Past for a New View of the Future.
Keynote Presentation, Panel Discussion, and Workshop
Drawing from his experiences as an author, journalist, world traveler, and documentary filmmaker, Trudeau argued that Canadian history has been told through too a narrow prism. He believes that, “For too long, our national narrative has been distilled into something neat and friendly, something clean and nice, fitting the highest ideals of Western tradition. It is a story that makes our past seem comfortable and easy to deal with, and glosses over the brutality and severity that faced our forefathers. This gross simplification does no justice, however, to the preceding generations, to the strength and endurance that they showed in the face of adversity, and provides little wisdom or insight for the new generations.”
He goes on to say that, “Canada is an unfinished country, still in need of bold men and women.”
From pre-Columbian times, through the early explorers and into the complicated nation-building of 19th and 20th centuries, Trudeau told a tale of a different Canada than the one held up now in our comfortable times. He argued that to meet the challenges of the new age, we must make peace with our true past, no matter how raw and difficult it is, and then draw our strength from it.
After the presentation, Trudeau joined a panel of local history experts to discuss how we can apply what we’ve learned from the past to future decision making. Taking what was learned during the keynote session and panel discussion, FOF organized a workshop with local experts to discuss historical lessons learned regarding three important local issues: water management, food security, and community development.