Origins of the Best Practices Project

The roots of this Best Practices Project can be found in the 1997 Communication for Community Survival Conference held in Stephenville, Newfoundland (one of the nine case studies explored in this document). At that time there was considerable discussion among organizers as to the need for practitioners in Newfoundland and Labrador to record and document their work such that others in this province and beyond, could learn from their experiences. Two organizers in particular, Bruce Gilbert and Fred Campbell, the co-authors of the case studies described in this document, discussed the possibility of designing a resource print manual and CD-Rom that could be made available to others interested in the themes of community development, participatory communications and adult popular education.

Although no action was taken on this identified need (for locally produced resource materials) at that time, the idea resurfaced several years later when Bruce Gilbert, now working for the Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador decided to develop these documents as part of his participation in the professional development and networking program, LEAD International.

The Conservation Corps Newfoundland and Labrador is a non-profit charitable organization committed to the conservation and enhancement of this province's natural and cultural heritage. One of its objectives is to assist those working in the environmental and cultural heritage enhancement fields, to improve their educational practice with a long-term goal of raising the level of understanding of sustainable development.

LEAD International is an organization based in New York and funded by the Rockerfeller Foundation which exposes Associates from over 40 countries to local and international environment and sustainable development issues through national and international training seminars. In Canada the program has been administered by the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy and has encouraged participants from all parts of Canada (15 per year since 1995) to study areas including: conflict resolution and negotiation; multi-stakeholder decision making; change management; cross-cultural sensitivity; and public presentation.

Once Bruce had been accepted as an Associate with LEAD he needed to propose a self-directed study topic to the LEAD Canada secretariat as part of his enrolment with the organization. The study topic also needed to be approved by the Board of Directors of the Conservation Corps, since they were supporting Bruce's participation in LEAD.

After reviewing a written proposal, both LEAD and the Conservation Corps approved the Best Practices topic as presented. Bruce's first task was to find some funding that would assist the Conservation Corps with the costs associated with the development of the print and CD-Rom materials (Note: this has since evolved to become CD-Rom and web page materials). After a short search the Hibernia Management and Development Company, a former sponsor of Conservation Corps activities, came aboard with a cash donation. According to the Corps' contact within the organization "HMDC certainly understands and supports the concept of sharing best practices".

Bruce's next step was to approach Fred Campbell of Ryakuga Grassroots Communications Inc., and to ask him to co-develop the resource package. He agreed and ever since Fred and Bruce have been working with many others, both directly and indirectly involved with the case studies profiled, to put together what they hope will be a useful and important contribution to the Newfoundland and Labrador community development community.