The Olympics start tomorrow

I haven’t been a big fan of the Olympics or maybe I should say I haven’t been a big fan of the IOC since the Mexican Games in 1968. (the Plaza de las Tres Culturas was the scene of the Tlatelolco massacre). Why any government or organization puts itself into that type of circumstance is puzzling. Then the IOC’s ban on blogging. The legalism of the IOC has certainly expanded and the only purpose that seems to be apparent is the need to protect the IOC and the corporate sponsor. Lost in all of this is the athletes. We have seen so many articles about everything but the athletes. It is now refreshing to be able to see something different and after tomorrow all of this corporate noise will become secondary.

For those that want the Olympics in their hometown good luck. The end result will be great and most are excited. It took 7 years to get here.

The 2nd Monday in February – a day off

Monday is the day I get off and today is the first day in weeks where nothing, absolutely nothing, was on the calendar as a meeting, appointment, conference call or emerging work to be done. One wonders sometimes what people do on their days off and why it is more important than you think to plan nothing.

When the kids were younger and at home there was always the family time. Home was the revolving center and the noise and energy was its heartbeat. It would be nice to repeat those eventful days. Then the kids move on and one should start thinking of what you plan to do. Sure you can always work. The in-basket and email in-folder is bottomless. Then there are the library of books, too many to count, that would be great to finish. And the list goes on.

It is important that sometimes you don’t need a planned day, that it can be moments of serendipity. Today I found a real great song that will be played dozens of time. There is a kids video “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” that I need to watch. (that is somewhat work related…) and getting back to reading a bit of ‘The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” by Michael Chabon. The sun is also out with the blue sky inviting me to a walk on the mountain. Some say the internet is a time waster. When you start following those items that you have an interest in, I really can’t see that as wasting time. If we had a limited capacity to learn then it could be considered wasting time. So far there haven’t been too many people that have had to shut down their intellectual curiosity for anything other than a lack of time. The best reason of all to be serendipitous are the words of Sandy Denny’s song “Who Knows Where the Time Goes“.

Coffee and the kitchen table

I spent this morning drinking coffee around the kitchen table with 4 young individuals from Oregon and Maine credit unions. It was great to hear their enthusiasm for the credit union system. They had concerns but they also saw that it took work and effort to effect change and help move the credit union system towards some fundamental goals. We compared notes and saw that a lot of our membership comes from referrals from members and people who know about the credit union in the community. That word-of-mouth event is key. There is no manual or how to here. It is plain and simple. The cooperative culture that is set in the branch is noticed by the membership to the point of telling others about the credit union. You can’t can this stuff. It won’t pickle. It just is.

The problem starts when the growth button gets pushed to the detriment of the  cooperative culture. There is a fine line here. Everything will grow. Vegetables grow. You can add fertilizer and whatever else to make them grow bigger and faster but there is a limit. If you push it too hard you vegetable is something else. This seems to be also true for an organization like a credit union. It can grow naturally or you can push it until it becomes something else. I am pretty sure we know what that something else is.

There is a lot of work to consider when growing your credit union. From our discussions this morning I think the next generation of leaders understand what it takes to create a strong and healthy credit union without too much manure.

The blinkin’ New Year

Finally 2010 has appeared and we are half way through January. My life has been somewhat hectic up to Monday. There was a court case pending (personal) that was adjourned for 5 months pending a mediated settlement. It was interesting to live under the cloud of a 10 day trial only to find that at the 11th hour all parties agreed to a decent 5 point plan. Why we couldn’t have done that a year ago is beyond me. It is nice to have that cloud disappear.

Christmas was good with our oldest son and his wife coming down from Prince Rupert and the youngest from Copenhagen. As soon as we are together it seems we are saying goodbye to each other.

The credit union had another good year. It has always had an ‘organic’ growth capacity of anywhere from 3 to 5%. It may not grow fast but it is growing. What isn’t necessarily measured or shown on a financial statement is probably of a greater benefit. We arrived at the $44 million asset mark with basically the same number of members 1,800. The number of employees has dropped and is now at 10. All of the back office development has paid off with some substantial savings in manpower. What I think this shows is that when you have a strategy and direct your resources to fufill that strategy you may set some timelines that are unreasonable. They may be based on a 12 month calendar which is not necessarily the timeline you will see the benefits. Maybe the timeline will be measured on when the experience level of the staff is on average over 3 years or maybe when the percentage of users of a certain product reaches 25%. One should not forget that the goals you set can move beyond a monthly measurement. We are still part of developing products and with MDI should have a Blackberry, iPhone version of our internet banking product in a little over a month. This mobile version will not have all the features of a desktop browser version but it will have the most popular ones and it should move to cover more features in the future. The next big change will be the transition to chip cards.

I was asked to sit on a provincial credit union committee to establish a future card strategy for credit unions. With the power of the embedded chip we really don’t know what will be in store for us as this new ‘computer on a card’ feature unfolds. And of course 1 Credit Union Conference is in Las Vegas in July. That will be the CU event of the year.

CU Water Cooler Liquid Lunch

Yesterday I was able to participate along with Morris Partee, Trey Reeme, Robbie Wright and Fred Brown on the CUWaterCooler internet radio show. The one and only problem was it was too short! We just seemed to get going and time ran out. We had some interesting discussions surrounding a variety of topics. Hit the site to hear the session. Congratulations to Matt Davis for starting the project. It is a winner!

Yesterday I was out and about and purchased a gift for the staff. This last year, 2009, has been a little stressful with the economic conditions and redefining some of our jobs. We’ve worked pretty hard, have met or exceeded our targets and are all looking forward to next Saturday’s Christmas party down at the Granville Island Hotel. So what can you do for staff that never seem to take their coffee breaks and are always giving 110%? Buy them a deluxe Royal Professional Saeco Espresso/Cappuccino machine. So far today everyone has had at least one very enjoyable cup. The downside in this is Starbuck’s, they won’t be seeing us very often. And someone said it would be really nice to be able to offer our members a fresh Cappuccino when we are sitting down discussing something with them. That is exactly what I mean about the people who work here — they are always thinking about the members.

Creating and building

At various points in our professional careers be it in business or volunteer work we are called to move a vision or strategy forward. Sometimes it is revitalizing the status quo. Sometimes it is building something from scratch. Rarely is it the creation of something totally new.

There is a difference between building and creating. Before you start on either path you need to know the difference. We tend to think in terms of creating something when we really only have built something. Being truly creative in business is not the norm. One example could be the use of debit cards versus cheques. Another could be the ability of accessing accounts by use of the internet. The concepts were totally different but after the idea came into play the process was built. Was the original idea creative or just a build?

Much of what I see in the marketplace is building on something previous. Sometimes it is the evolution of an older product or service, sometimes it is a greater number of features with a product. What have we seen that is truly creative?

What we need to do is continue the building but also be able to be creative. That means making sure the business has the ability to be creative. Creative concepts truly rejuvenate our entities. When someone says it can’t be done or that isn’t the way to do it, well, that is the time to get creative. We all have the same tools at hand, it is the creativity that usually makes the difference. It isn’t such a science but truly an art. Next time you need to move something forward think about it from this point — is it something I need to build or is it something that possibly could be created.

An unmeasurable benefit – knowledge

One of the most interesting aspects of working in a credit union is the knowledge that one accumulates about financial services. I spent some time with four individuals these past days giving advice on how they may want to proceed with some of their plans. It took a bit of time and it wasn’t difficult. On further reflection I wondered where they could have gotten those insights.

I am listening to the audiobook “The Outliers” on the commute to and from work. One chapter talked about the 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. It seems that anyone that has been in a profession for a period of time has accumulated those hours to become such an expert. We have all practiced our trade. But the key here and specified in the book was that someone was given the opportunity to becoming experts by allowing them the resources available to learn. That someone, who I would call an employee, should be given that opportunity within the credit union to develop and practice those skills that allows them to become an expert. It is not that everyone is going to have the ability to give every kind of advice or become an expert, that would be impossible, but when you have seen a circumstance or event take place and have learnt what the best way to approach the solution is, you will be called upon to share that solution.

What is difficult is to create that culture of learning in order for individuals to develop into experts in their field. It also comes at a price. Most individuals that are mentored will excel in a specific area of knowledge beyond what you are at. It takes time. 10,000 hours means practicing for 3 hours a day for 10 years! There will be but a few that arrive at the truly expert level. It is imperative that any organization practices the transfer of knowledge and gives the ability of all staff to acquire that knowledge. This should be the norm. This should be the culture that everyone understands it to be. ¬†Expertise is usually developed in a specialized area and financial services certainly is specialized. Maybe it isn’t all about ‘arriving’ but just that there is a ‘journey’ that counts.

One of the most surprising aspects of Twitter and blogs has been the ability to tap into a huge amount of knowledge that is current and relevant. Something is hot off the press everyday. Marrying what you experience in the workplace with the Internet offerings puts all of us in a remarkable environment. It is up to each person though to take the opportunity to practice and share the knowledge afforded them. For employers or bosses it must be a given. It is something social media does offer.

Too much to say here

First off, I can’t believe the time between posts. That needs to be fixed.

Tim McAlpine stated that William brought up a point about membership being optional. Interesting point in putting membership as an option instead of a given. Maybe the situation needs to be expanded.

We (credit unions) all have members, the law says you have to be a member to transact business with a credit union. Some credit unions have differentiated themselves by calling their members ‘customers’. The perception that seems to be driven here is that membership should have some value, it should be something that points you as being different. Membership implies ownership and with that you have some means of directing the course of the business usually by a voice at the voting booth. (there is another issue!) But membership in anything these days has a different set of values than when these organizations were originally setup. There is a book called ‘Bowling Alone’ which points to the deterioration of organized ways in which people relate to one another and are active in civil life. But that organized way of the past has changed. We can now begin the establishment of a relationship in a virtual world. Creating that type of relationship does not mean that human interaction in the future won’t include face-to-face events. It just means I don’t have to sign up for bowling by going to the bowling alley.

That may be the problem in the transition we are now facing. The membership (meaning) we required in the past is no longer a vital part of our future. Our usage of something is not dependent on us physically being there. We can be part of numerous transactions or events without leaving our home which in the past was not possible. Maybe the biggest issue is to create a new word that signifies this. The capacity to understand membership is difficult in our day and age and it comes with some baggage (we don’t have the time to belong to anything). Our interests don’t need to lie in a specific geographic area in order to see the value of a social networks. We need to view membership not as being optional but as being something different. The pillars are there for the older structures but they have also been expanded into areas we still need to determine.

Yogi Berra commented on the value of social networks by saying, “IF you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, they won’t come to yours.” If we don’t translate membership into something relevant it indeed does become optional.

AT&T versus Rogers

First this is not a post about Canada versus the U.S. It is a post about cellular and wireless service in two areas of North America.

Since getting an iPhone over a year ago it took some getting used to in changing carriers from Telus to Rogers. There is the good and bad in both but overall Rogers has been a good supplier of cellphone services as they are used by the iPhone. What one takes for granted is the availability of service access. In your everyday working world which is usually limited in a geographic area things are pretty good. The phone reception is always 5 bars and 3G is always available. When traveling in Canada it has never been a problem to have good service wherever I have been. The caveat here is that others may not have the good luck to be in a good reception area of Rogers. Peoples personal history may vary.

With AT&T it is a different story. No matter where I have been in the last 12 days I have never seen 5 bars. I constantly see the dialogue box pop up ‘Network Lost – Your selected cellular network is no longer available…” You have the choice to Dismiss or go to Settings. Dismiss is the only choice you can make if you don’t want to waste your time. I have yet to see 3G service, only E. To put it bluntly I am not a happy camper when using their services. Rogers hooked me up with a US plan before coming down here so the cost is expensive but not ridiculous. Without the plan it would be a nightmare.

What happened today really showed me the extent of why people are fed up with AT&T. I was in the middle of Santa Fe and at 11 o’clock had to make a conference call. But first I have to find an area where I could get some decent bars. Just behind the art gallery we were at was a residential street where I wandered about 75 feet up and down the block to make sure there would be good service for the duration of the call. At one end of the 75 foot walk the cell phone service would drop. Now if you have ever been to Santa Fe you know there are not very many tall buildings downtown. It isn’t like you are in the middle of Manhattan. The question is why is this service so bad? Aren’t the wireless wavelengths regulated by some public body that at least has some standards that are maintained? Does AT&T offer its customers a rebate on dropped calls? How can a company that is this large offer such crummy service?

Apple should allow a little free enterprise here. Owners of iPhones should be able to choose which supplier they want, not be forced to make due with a minimal practitioner. The only way we as consumers have a say in economic terms is to be able to vote with our dollars. When we can’t do that it really becomes a cancer to a system that we don’t need.

Why blog?

After these years of blogging the reasons behind it sometimes needs to be revisited.

I choose not to have a blog about business or under the banner of the credit union I work for. It had to be a personal view of whatever topic was to be written about. Being a spokesperson for your employer under the banner of an individual seems somewhat convoluted. Your thoughts would never be 100% yours. Similarily I did want to bring personal aspects of my life into play. The goal was to make it interesting, bring some discussion forward if possible and enjoy writing.

But there is this incredible challenge to somehow hold back at times in what is being written. You really don’t want to offend anyone by being too blunt. One’s pet peeves certainly aren’t everyones. Then there is the political realm. Some have called me a socialist, others a right wing capitalist. People’s politics are not necessarily linear either right or left and certainly not at the extremes. I’ve never met a true socialist or right winger, there is always a hint of the other realm when discussing something. When people really consider the actions of government and what it does to the ordinary citizen and themselves there is a commonality. Discount the challenges of an individuals economic status and means and most people are humanitarians. Maybe we all yearn for good and truthful government. We really are very altruistic.

When I look at the wealth of individuals I know it is apparent that we are doing pretty good these days. But that doesn’t give me reason to neglect those that are on hard times. There is no easy solutions for homelessness, drug addiction, problems with mental health, sickness, or poverty. Most of these issues don’t touch our lives and when we see them in our families or friends there is a silent pain created out of empathy. Those people that are not empathetic are of the greatest concern.

The ancient Greek poet, Pindar, has some wonderful insights that hold as true now as they did 2,500 years ago. Humans haven’t changed that much.

Forge thy tongue on an anvil of truth

And what flies up though it be but a spark

Shall have weight.

Pindar did have something to say about the challenge to sometimes keeping your thoughts to yourself. He did answer the question for me and put some meaning into why one blogs.

That which is not the grace of God is better far in silence.

The start of holidays

Finally made it to August and the start of 4 weeks of holidays. Tomorrow and Wednesday will be the errand days to pick up everything that we need before we head south. Luckily the U.S. dollar is cheap right now so it is like your holiday just cost you 20% less. It should be raining by Thursday also so the departure is perfectly timed. ūüėČ

Holidays do tend to go too fast. Before you know it you are back at work looking at an overflowing in-basket. But this year will be the strongest attempt to stay disconnected if only for my sanity. I think you can become too engrossed in your work so your personal life and what you really like doing gets put on the back burner. There is a huge backlog of books to read. I am currently reading The Greek Way by Edith Hamilton. It is a thorough exposition on the contrast of the ancient Greek culture with our modern concepts of life. It does seem much of the way we begin to think about the world around us still is influenced by this culture. The contrasts between then and now are not that great in certain aspects of your life but our modern way at solving problems, discussion and how we think is always changing. The Internet has started to make us realize the extent of individuals opinions and the ability to see this is slowly beginning to have some effect. I don’t think anyone knows where this will take us in the future.

Ad nauseam

It is a cloudy cool Monday morning and the list of things to do is just growing and well as thoughts around the following.

July and August on the Freeways. Once July rolls around the commuting time around here sometimes doubles. Everyone hits the road for the summer weekends and summer holidays. This morning CUWarrior tweeted “It’s easier than you think, people: stay in the right lane unless you’re passing someone”. He is right. What I love is those people that never use their rear view mirror and are oblivious to the line-up of vehicles behind them. Couple that with an extended cell phone call by the driver and you start thinking about alternate transportation such as bicycles.

Video killed the radio or Tweeting killed the blog. It does seem that conversations keep getting limited by the 140 character limit. Last week someone commented on a blog and before you knew it everyone had attached lengthy diatribes about the matter. It does seem if you have something to say that hits a nerve people will write something. Just typing this blog compared to quick Tweets does present a different challenge. Maybe blogging will become refined with people blogging because they really like to write. Maybe the next killer product will be a hybrid between Twitter/Blogging and Facebook.

The Olympics. I have to admit I am not a big fan of the Olympics. After the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City with the Tlatelolco Massacre, the Olympic games in Munich, and now the huge pool of tax dollars being spent in Vancouver for next year’s games, it seems it is something of a facade. If its intention is to bring athletes together, something is getting lost in all the money spent and problems surrounding these Games. What I would like to see is a list of all the individuals who attend the opening ceremonies that make up the 47% of tickets that were not available for public purchase. Our provincial housing minister stated that the homeless problem might be solved with $100 million which the government currently doesn’t have. Yet the bobsled run was built for $104 million. Here is your choice, homeless or bobsledders, bobsledders or homeless. We will end up paying for the event but thank God I am not forced to watch any of it.

BC Lions. Friday’s nights game was very entertaining. Sure we lost but it went down to the last minute. It isn’t everyday you get to see the backup quarterback and a receiver kick the punts. A smaller but very noisy crowd.

Beta testing. Got picked to be a beta tester for a wonderful program. It is always fun to really spend some time taking a program apart and thinking about its possibilities. And sometimes you get to uncover the easter eggs.

Upcoming summer week

Father’s Day and the first day of summer! Seems like yesterday it was Christmas. This means the kids are out of school cramming themselves into the malls, that the freeways will have all the holiday warriors with their campers out in the fast lane of the freeway and everybody you try to phone in the next 2 months will be on holidays.

The big event at work starts tomorrow. We begin upgrading various software systems in preparation for the launch of MemberNote3 on Wednesday morning. There is a lot of clean up work and final testing to do. We have notified all the members via email or text messaging that service will be a bit unstable the next few days. By the end of the week we should be up and running which will be a huge benefit to everyone.

I am taking Friday off to volunteer for a national church convention at UBC. Having never been an usher before this should be interesting. Maybe tomorrow I’ll head over to WalMart and get some tips from the greeters.

Mindmapping – why it works

One of my ‘hidden’ weapons when planning or just trying to get my head around anything is mindmapping. I know Doug True is a big fan of this. It all started in the mid ’70s when I attended a course out at UBC and was introduced to some of Tony Buzan’s books. His viewpoints on how our mind works were intriguing. So began the journey into using mindmaps. I still have one of my first mindmaps that summarizes a meeting. I can’t remember the details but from that mindmap there is certainly the expression that it was a good and productive meeting. They say the ultimate in mindmapping is to create one without words.

Then the personal computer age began and with my first Macintosh (LC – colour) a program called Inspiration appeared. I used that program for years but it moved into the elementary and secondary school realm and became less of a tool for me. Mindet MindManager is what I use now and it is extremely powerful and quick. There are a number of others and it is more a personal choice than anything else.

The question is why does something like this work. We tend to think in linear terms. A + B + C = D. We really push our minds into a box and quickly get into a rut of frustration when we try to deal with problems. A mindmap lets me move out of that box. By brainstorming and creating simple patterns, lines and text and using colour you are able to explore much more that you originally anticipated. One thing I must emphasize here is using colour. Colour can add an element that words can’t and using it expands on what you are attempting to say and solve.

Here is an abbreviated mindmap for The Mount Lehman Show. Any one of the solid coloured boxes can be drilled down to a further level. If you have never tried this before it does take some getting used to because it is so different. But don’t let that stop you from trying.

The ML Show

The family tree

On Sunday I was googling this, that, and everything and came upon a site which was about German speaking Russians. My grandparents on my mother’s side were German speaking and were born in Russia which I could never figure out. Well this site and wikipedia entry gave me some great information. As I read further there was an entry with my mother’s maiden name (Kelln) and the village where my grandparents were from (Holstein). Some of the information was familiar so I sent off an email.

Today I received an email from Edith Bottsford which detailed some fascinating information. The family has roots back to a Hans Kolln from  Meimersdorf, Germany before immigrating to Holstein. Hans was a merchant in Germany. He was a widower and with his 4 sons arrived in Holstein May 26, 1765. He would have been born in 1718. There is a family chart that I need to get which will bring the family tree forward from that time.

What is also interesting is that my father’s family, which are English,¬†¬†go back to a census in the 1750’s in London England where it is noted a Blishen lived. I looked this up when in London at the National Archives (also saw the original Doomsday Book there). The middle of the 1700’s is more than enough to find one’s roots.

As Canadians when we are asked where we are from the discussion usually leads to where your family is from. Up to now I was sure about the English side but not the German side. Now the answer can be I am a Canadian from English-German heritage or an English/German Canadian. It really doesn’t mean much as so many others can point much farther back. It just gives you an idea of where your roots are. Our youngest son lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. The circle eventually completes itself.

The Break-in

The night before last (early Monday morning) there was a break-in at the credit union. It has happened before and you know it will happen again but when it does happen it sort of freaks you out. The guy threw a large boulder through the front plate glass door, ran into the branch looking for computers and came away with an old HP scanner. There was a lot of glass and of course it happened at 3:00 a.m. so someone had to attend the branch with the police when the alarm went off.

The real freaky part is the video. You can usually begin to comprehend what has happened after an incident like this occurred but when you actually watch it, well I am not used to that. It is like reality TV where you work. I was thinking of downloading it to YouTube but just our luck this guy will have some rights and sue us. Today’s header shows the guy in action.

Wash day

I got the Beetle today so had a very nice drive to work. The thing really goes fast and it is a lot of fun to drive. It does seem in this hot weather that every tree imaginable drips some sappy substance. Maybe it is tree sweat. The problem is with all the trees at home and at work it is tough finding a place that you can park without being under some trees. That said it was time to wash the car and get it clean again. 

Besides being nice to drive it is nice to wash. It has half the surface area of the other vehicle and you don’t have to stand on the bumper to get the roof done. There isn’t a square corner of any sort, everything is round. Half the water, half the soap, half the time. Not a bad deal.

It got me to thinking about the various consumables we constantly use. Do we really need all that extra large, super size, jumbo, buy two get one free stuff? Most items didn’t exist 50 years ago or were with us in some other form and we seemed to get by. The General Motors incident seems to show that you should build a model on a¬†sustainable¬†level. Maybe we should rethink what we consume to something along the same lines. There seems to be limits to a lot of things we use and the sooner we realize that this is not a ‘bad’ thing maybe the better off we will all be.

We couldn’t wait so here it is…The Mount Lehman Show

At the staff meeting this morning it was decided to release our new SM (social media) site to the outside world. We have shared the URL with the staff, board, some families and friends but we wanted to make sure we were satisfied with the look and feel of the site before telling everyone.

The whole project started a few months ago with a half day session. All of the staff met with Nala and Tim from Currency to discuss and plan the future of our credit union. We were open to anything and came to the conclusion that if our credit union was going to have social media as part of its culture it had to be done by everyone. Everyone. If all the staff were the face and personality of the credit union then the only authentic method to show that to the Internet world was those exact faces and personalities. We also wanted this to be a community site. We have been part of this neighbourhood for 67 years and wanted everyone to be part of this.  This site is who we are and who the community is that we live in. 

We bought the cameras and software and everyone dove in. There wasn’t and still isn’t a lot of¬†structure as everyone contributes in some fashion. Everyone has as part of their job description now the responsibility of spending 2 hours per week on communicating through the credit union’s social media channel. The key understanding is simple, use your common sense. This is the result – The Mount Lehman Show.

We don’t know where this will take us or how it will end up, but the the journey so far has been unbelievable. Never in years of managing a credit union have I seen such energy and concern for a project. This site shows us and it shows some of our community. We thought we would run out of ideas. Wrong. We have more ideas that we could imagine.

Why is it working? I think a number of reasons. We have had a culture of innovation here so there was little hesitation to take this leap of faith. Technology is not a stumbling block, every staff member has an iPhone which really helps and we are a Mac credit union. But most important is that we all see the value in trying something like this. It adds to what we are by extending our relationships to members and people in the community. It really creates meaning for each of us in what we do and this is just another extension of that. It adds that important human dimension that we all seem to want in some form or fashion.

It is like climbing the first hill of the roller coaster. The ride has started and it is a lot of fun. We are learning more about each other as co-workers and as part of one team. Please sign up and be a friend. We are giving away an iPod shuffle to one person from those that sign up in the month of June. (We will be giving away some more neat stuff as soon as I get the order in). We hope you too can be part of this journey with us.

The good and bad and ……

Yesterday on my way to a meeting in Vancouver I headed down Hastings Street for a change. Hastings and Main is in the downtown eastside and is considered a ‘bad’ area of town. There the poverty is apparent with the unemployed, homeless and addiction in plain view. As I was passing Insite I Twittered and took a picture. No one responded which seemed unusual. After some thought that was probably because most don’t know about Insite.

Insite is the first legal supervised injection site. It is the only geographic area (the building’s large injection room) in Canada where it is legal to inject drugs. The reasons for this are many, the main one being that addiction is a sickness and this is a health issue with a health facility to attempt to assist people in beating their drug addiction. What it has done is save lives, lives of those who have this illness. Sure there are two sides to this story and some that would take a very different view but the fact remains, lives have been saved.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to tour the site when with the Watari organization. It was a life changing event. Hearing the stories of the individuals and seeing what was happening brought to light that we as a community need to come to grips with the drug addiction problems of the poor and homeless. There are some that say this is the addicts choice. Other will call it bad fate. Whatever the reason it doesn’t make sense to neglect the problem and do nothing and let people die. It makes me wonder when I hear about a 31 year old aquarium dolphin that dies in the arms of its 5 handlers and nothing about the individual who dies in the back alley of a downtown street, alone with no human¬†consolation.