Climb Aboard the Great Community Summer Tour Bus!


I often feel that as P2 practitioners we’re given an incredible gift of being able to hear diverse perspectives and differing views.  We get to facilitate conversations all over the place, with lots of different people, online and face-to-face.  And at the end of a project we get to go back and re-listen to all of those conversations, thoughts, ideas and stories when we dive back into the notes to do our analysis and reporting.  Our heads swim with the wealth and depth of the data that we’ve gathered over the course of our engagement activities. 

It’s a gift, but at times I find it’s also a challenge when I come across those who haven’t had this gift of being able to listen to and understand someone different.  It’s difficult to listen to people make assumptions and judgements about others without any substantive first-hand knowledge about those people, what’s important to them, what they care about or how they actually think.  What’s most surprising to me is that in fact people have more in common with others than they think or may realize.

I feel that it’s a gift we need to not keep for ourselves, but to pass on to others. 

So my inspiration for a great summer picnic conversation is a Great Community Tour Bus!  Picture this a bus would drive around through different “neighbourhoods” picking people up and dropping them off along the way. As the bus travels through areas where riders live they would share the answers to these questions with visitors from other neighbourhoods:

1)    Tell us what you love about living here

2)    Tell us what’s really challenging or hard about living here

3)    Tell us your hopes

Come on the ride, enjoy the sunshine, meet your neighbours and share your stories.

What conversations do I hope to have this summer? What questions do I want to explore?

What I’m looking forward to exploring and answering are these questions:

1.     What are some of our common, well-intended practices that isolate people from each other and cause unintended consequences of “otherizing” people?

2.     What can we do in our practice to bring “others” together?  If we can’t do it physically, how can we do it virtually, or in other ways?

3.     How can we share our gift of hearing and understanding others, to others?

I’ve always wanted, in one of my next lives, to be a tour guide, exploring and appreciating the world and taking others with me. So if anyone wants to try this out and needs a tour guide, pick me pick me!  

Recently I came across a great TED Talks by Elizabeth Lesser called “Take ‘the other’ to lunch." If you can’t find a Great Community Summer Tour Bus to hop on, her lunch suggestion is a great alternative!

What goes well with my picnic conversation?

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love to cook, but I always find that food made by someone else always tastes better, so this is a BYO.  Bring along your favourite food and drinks so we can share our food and our stories.  This is my favourite summer recipe (I actually got it from Erin!): 


2 avocados
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tsp salt

Mash all together and serve.

Helpful Hint: save a pit from one of the avocados and place in the center of the dip, this prevents it from turning brown.

Enjoy your guac and your summer!




Tannis Topolnisky