Sunshine Coast Leadership Initiative



APRIL 2009

Community Leadership
This year may be remembered as one of the most challenging for elected leaders since the 1930s. Certainly the lessons learned from the era of the Great Depression are being referenced in the public press and in political speeches daily. What are some of the challenges for our small communities, our rural areas and our regional organizations here on the Sunshine Coast in 2009? The impact of the economic crisis is already being felt by local families affected by lay-offs, a slow construction industry and poor returns or complete losses on investments. Which ever community or rural area you look at, the struggles will be felt at a community level. The need for services will expand. Affordable, secure housing is already a vital need for many. Safety from property crime, violent crime and stressinduced conflicts is a rising concern in many neighbourhoods. The volunteer base that provides so many services via committee involvement, volunteer fire departments, health and wellness activities, etc., will be stretched as families seek more paid work to make ends meet. Economic development, seniors’ care and local food access are also being brought to the attention of our leaders as areas of increasing need. The communities will look to their elected civic officials for leadership. How will we respond? Recent years of service cuts at the provincial and federal levels have left local governments with more responsibilities but with the same degree of resources. The methods Providing leadership to our resourceful community members, removing conflicts and duplication of processes/ services will help. We can leverage the resources we have as we become more skilled and creative at meeting each challenge. This will mean doing things differently or it may mean approaching our work together differently. The Sunshine Coast Leadership Initiative is one component of beginning to meet these challenging times. The skills and talents of our elected officials, who know their communities so well, can be part of creating and sharing tools to help us all become more effective, whether we are elected or volunteer leaders. This initiative will provide leaders with opportunities to enhance their skills, knowledge and talents to work together effectively and share their work with volunteers and key individuals in community organizations as the Initiative evolves. There are many tools available. Choosing those that work for our communities and implementing them involves risk and changing our own personal preferences. The Sunshine Coast Leadership initiative will provide resources to support community leaders in this time of transition. submitted by Betty Baxter with comments from Bob Curry photo: Kerry Mahlman, Lighthouse Learning Network Leadership Workshop, November’07

and conversations that we have had for years no longer seem appropriate. How do we meet these challenges in a new way? The Sunshine Coast has many natural and human resources with a broad and expanding base of retired residents. The percentage of well-educated, highly skilled people in the newly retired population is much higher than the provincial average. There is goodwill and a willingness to share experiences in all parts of our communities.

Local Partners of the Sunshine Coast Leadership Initiative Project
BC Healthy Communities Capilano University Sunshine Coast Community Services Vancouver Coastal Health – Community Development Vancouver Coastal Health – Mental Health and Addictions

Sunshine Coast Leadership Initiative
A Sunshine Coast Social Planning Council Project funded by the British Columbia Healthy Living Alliance

BC Healthy Living Alliance
is a provincial coalition of organizations working to improve the health of British Columbians. Members of the Alliance are committed to: Advocating for and supporting health promoting policies, environments, programs and services; Enhancing collaboration among government, non-government and private sector organizations; Increasing capacity of communities to create and sustain health promoting policies, environments, programs and services.

An initiative of these BC Healthy Living Alliance members

Leadership and the Social Determinants of Health
What are the social determinants of health? The circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, and the systems put in place throughout the life course, are the socio-economic circumstances of people’s lives. These circumstances are in turn shaped by a wider set of forces: economics, social policies and politics. To fully understand the social determinants of health one needs to look further upstream (structural roots of health determinants) as well as downstream (individual behavioural and community health determinants). The determinants of health upstream are broadly defined and include (but are not limited to): policies concerning the labour market; planning and government regulation; the educational system; public health; housing distribution; political institutions and governance processes; and other cultural and societal biases, norms and values. These structural components of our socio-economic system are powerful determinants of individual and community health. Downstream determinants of health include: physical environments, social support networks, social environments, access to healthcare, risk behaviours, personal health practices and coping skills, gender, biology and genetic endowment. What is the role of civic leadership in the upstream social determinants of health? Every aspect of government and the economy has the potential to affect health and health equity – finance, education, housing, employment and transport, to name just a few. Policy coherence is crucial – different government departments’ policies must complement rather than contradict each other. While health may not be the main aim of policies in these sectors, they have strong bearing on health and health equity. How can local governments influence the upstream structural social determinants of health? • Provide participatory governance mechanisms that enable communities and local government to partner in building healthier communities • Manage development to ensure greater availability of affordable housing • Support planning and design that promotes physical activity through investment in active transport • Encourage healthy eating through retail planning to manage the availability of and access to food • Reduce violence and crime through good environmental design • Develop policies and programs that focus on agricultural land tenure

Leadership development is an essential precursor to implementing and sustaining programs and policies needed to develop healthy communities. What is required is a leadership environment that is willing to explore ways to invest in regional strategies that move us toward healthy people in healthy communities, and local 1 World Health Organization governments that place the Commission on Social Determinants of social determinants of health Health: Final Report 2008 at the heart of their planning, Vancouver Coastal Health Population policy and decision-making.1
Health Report, November 2008

Health inequities in communities impact everyone, not only those submitted by Stacia Leech at the margins of society. The economic Determinants of Health cost of health inequity is great.

Good leaders regularly use one or more “Habits of Mind” by asking themselves: What do I already know about the problem? What do I not know? What questions do I need to ask? How can I draw on my past successes with problems like this? What resources do I have available or need to generate? What strategies are in my mind now? What am I aware of in term of my own beliefs, values and goals with this problem? What feelings or emotions am I aware of that might be blocking or enhancing my progress? How does this problem affect others? How can we solve it together? How can I learn from this? What can I learn from others that would help me become a better problem solver?*
*adapted from Learning & Leading with Habits of Mind Authors: ARTHUR L. COSTA, BENA KALLICK

An initiative of these BC Healthy Living Alliance members