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Better Community

Waterloo Author addresses crowd at Georgian College in Orillia

By Andrew Philips

Orillia - The co-founder of a charitable organization dedicated to fostering better community development says Orillia is heading in the right direction. Following a presentation at the city’s Georgian College campus Wednesday afternoon, Tamarack president Paul Born said Orillia continues to put the proper blocks in place toward creating a stronger community.

“It’s important to have a better understanding of how everything coexists,” Born said.

“Collaboration isn’t just about working together; it’s about common energy. It’s all of us working to implement a plan.”

Founded in 2001, Tamarack is a charity that helps people collaborate and to generate knowledge that solves complex community challenges, with a hope to end poverty in Canada.

Born, meanwhile, has written four books, including two Canadian bestsellers, and is internationally recognized for his community-building expertise. He has won awards from United Nations and is a senior fellow of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social innovators.

Born also cited Georgian’s Centre for Social Entrepreneurship as an essential part of the community.

“Think about all of the social entrepreneurship in your community and its value,” he said. “We try to talk about how we can help one another.”

Unlike business entrepreneurship that tries to generate revenue, social entrepreneurship focuses on developing new ideas, approaches and ways of delivering services to the community. The school’s centre also operates with a goal of providing non-profit organizations with creative strategies, generating both social and economic returns.

Born said when one takes into account all of the hospitals, schools and other organizations in a community, the not-for-profit sector comes out as “by far your largest employer” and thus, the social and private sectors are “actually good friends” when it comes to building the local economy.

“Tourism is good for the economy, but tourists are not going to come if you don’t have a hospital,” he said.

During his presentation, Born outlined how every community organization and individual needs to work together to create a foundation on which citizens can thrive.

“Because you have all of these great assets, it’s essential to collaborate,” said Born, who also heaped praise on the recently unveiled Sunshine Initiative, which features a bus on which residents can write their ideas for how to make Orillia a healthier, happier community.

“There’s a real value in working together towards a common agenda as a community.”

According to Born, that spirit of co-operation can help communities best assess where to spend money while creating a positive environment through “collective entrepreneurship.”

Born said his organization supports a model of governance rather than government since the former involves guiding the community toward a common cause through collaboration rather than dictating what should be done.

“He’s very inspirational for our students,” Mary O’Farrell-Bowers, Orillia campus principal and dean of human services, said after Born’s presentation.

“It’s why our (Social Entrepreneurship) Centre is so engaged in the community. We’re working with a lot of non-profits.”

Regional Canadian Mental Health Association support services director Jim Harris said he appreciated Born's emphasis on collaboration.

“People are busy because of the busy world we live in,” he said, adding that means it’s imperative people and organizations make the extra effort to work together.

Mayor Steve Clarke said Born's presentation provided a great deal of concrete ideas for community leaders to consider.

“I thought it was extremely relevant to what we’re trying to do in Orillia,” he said. “I was quite taken with the presentation.”

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