Category Archives: Jessy Bradish (Canada)

Oh Canada, Our Home (on) Native Soil

My first week in Canada, and so much has happened. I knew it would be a magical internship when I got a first-class flight on frequent flier miles. Who knew they still serve food on airplanes? Looking out the window at the sun shimmering on countless lakes, sipping whiskey and snacking on shrimp, I predicted – this is fate.

Sure enough, my first week was already shortened by their kooky holidays. We had Friday off because of Canada Day – their version of Independence Day, sneakily planned to happen three days before the 4th of July. Figures. If you can’t do it better, might as well do it sooner.

All funning aside, Canadians really do a great job at celebrating their national holidays. Look at all this birthday spirit! I’ve never been downtown for a 4th of July event – I’m not interested in accidentally getting punched in the face by a drunkard – so I can’t really compare it to anything US-side. But the only time I’ve seen this many people in body paint and flags is on TV at a World Cup match. I doff my hat to ye. And to think some people don’t believe this is a country!

Oh, right, and I also started my internship. I’m working for a renewable energy nonprofit in Vancouver Island, Cowichan Energy Alternatives, and organizing an awesome conference about sustainable biofuels, among other things. It’s the Collective Biofuels Conference’s fifth year, and its main goal is sharing information about community-scale biodiesel, from grass-roots initiatives to successful business case studies from across North America.

The conference will cover feedstock collection (since locally produced, sustainable biodiesel is produced from waste vegetable oil collected from restaurants), safe biodiesel production (since a lot of producers are messing around with explosive and poisonous chemicals like methanol and lye in their garages) as well as speculation on future biodiesel sources (what’s happening with algae, anyway?). We’ll also talk about alternative fuels like straight vegetable oil and ethanol.

Speaking of ethanol – we’re going to have an international film premiere, and I booked the gig! Josh Tickell will be premiering his new movie, “FREEDOM” on Friday night to kick-off the CBC. Josh is a professional speaker, author, filmmaker and alternative fuels enthusiast, whose 2009 film, “FUEL”, won the 2008 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, and was described by the Seattle Times as “Dynamic, stirring…a must-see, and not just for environmentalists.”

“FREEDOM” takes a hard look at North America’s ever-growing addiction to foreign oil, and delves into the pros and cons of the “black sheep” that is ethanol. And from early responses, it seems like our environmentalist attendees are not buying this sheep’s wool – it’s going to be an interesting Q&A, to say the least!

Summer in the Field Blog prizes – for the Posts with the Mosts (entries)!

Hey all you Blogging Fiends,

Hope you’re having amazing experiences in the field, and recording them for fame and posterity online! We’ve had some awesome posts from 10 bloggers stationed in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Peru, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Yucatan, Mexico. But we want to spice up this Summer in the Field Blog even more. So in the spirit of American capitalism, it’s time to get competitive!

Joking. But seriously, the Digital Learning Commons (the rebranded Digital Media Commons!) will give iTunes gift certificates to the top 3 summer bloggers – based on the number of posts – so hit it hard and win some free cash! Plus, all the music you buy can be played on the new MIIS Radio, which will begin broadcasting this fall.

Check out some of the posts we’ve received so far – from Quinn Van Valer-Campbell in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tina Novero and Team Peru in Calca, Peru, and Tanilee Eichelberger in the Yucatan region. And don’t forget to check out the blogging tips page for inspiration! If you haven’t registered for the blogs yet, get over your shame and learn how to get started.

What are you waiting for? Go type your way to the top, get that ca$h money! (coupons)

<3 Your DMC/DLC Team

Home – where my heart’s escaping…

After an awesome three weeks of playing international development professional, I headed home to Chicago. The Midwest in summer is amazing. There are more street fairs and outdoor events than any human could possibly attend. Art shows by day, free concerts every night, food, music and film festivals, fireworks off Navy Pier, hundreds of theater venues and thousands of bar restaurants vying for sidewalk seating. We Chicagoans only have a few short months of outdoor time every year, and we will milk every minute!

Biking down Lake Shore past volleyball and softball leagues, party boats, family picnics and bums playing chess, I miss this sweetly sinful city. I miss the art, culture, food, danger. I love Monterey, but it’s homogeneous like tapioca. Chicago’s my safety blanket – a tapestry of segregated ethnic identities that are sewn together into a patchwork quilt. In Chicago, you can drive through Ukrainian, Chinese, Russian, Thai, Orthodox Jewish, Indian, Mexican, Pakistani, Irish, Italian, and Serbian areas, along with another few dozen I don’t even know about. Eat authentic food from any region of the world, catch a free lecture and a five star meal or a foreign film and dinner from the tamale guy(s) (stalk them on twitter at tamaletracker).

For the young professional (hipster?), if you’re bored of watching burgeoning bands in basement venues with exposed brick walls and cash-only bars, there’s always the soap opera that is Chicago politics to keep you entertained – with such storied debaucherous characters running the city, you’d think we lived in Gotham. Current sagas include: Rod Blagojevich starring in Still Not Guilty?! The sequel, Rahm Emanuel in Replacing Daley: Dreams of a Battered City, and Toni Preckwinkle: Striking Fear into the Hearts of Scoundrels.

I can almost forget the 100-degree-colder winter weather (no exaggeration, Chicago can get down to -30F with windchill), the months of miserable hibernation when leaving the house knocks the air out of your chest and you can feel your bone marrow pulsing. Almost. It’s the only thing that keeps me away (and the rents so low). But once I’m a jet-setting environmental policy guru, I’ll be able to live out my snowbird fantasies, splitting time between Chicago and California.

Because as much as I love the left coast, there’s something endearing about beefy sports fans full of hot dogs and hometown pride, and a city whose history is full of hubris and horror, and the food pyramid is built from beer and cheese.

The Midwest will always be a touchstone for me, and it’s nice to remember my roots as I leave all too soon for my summer job in Canada, working media coordination for a renewable energy nonprofit.

What is my development philosophy?

After three weeks in Washington D.C. in the Development Project Management Institute (DPMI) certificate training program, I feel like I’ve learned and forgotten a lifetime of career advice. Learning and doing intensive group work for three weeks straight is a process that’s stressful, exhausting, and intensely rewarding at the same time.

I’ve designed infrastructure programs for Kenya, competition-based water access projects for Southeast Asia and mediated brainstorming sessions of social enterprise leaders (or fellow students role-playing, anyway).

A time line of personal and world events created a sense of shared history for DPMI-ers.

I learned the power of the icebreaker, shared time line exercises and appreciative interviews. I can lead a Future Visioning process (maybe), map an organization’s core competencies and discuss strategic partnering for grants. I know that it’s important to have a strategic objective with clear indicators and intermediate results.

You shouldn’t start with the solution (but we often do). Recombination is what makes innovation, not reinventing the wheel. The power of group think – but participatory decision-making is not always the answer! Contestation can lead to improved results, but so can collaboration.

I’m still not sure what my development philosophy is, but I know it’s important to have one. And be open to what works. And have an exit strategy that’s sustainable. As I exit D.C., I hope I’m able to retain a fraction of the tools, knowledge, and networks I gained. Three cheers for DPMI, there was a lot of groan zone happening, but it was to achieve amazing results!


A week into DPMI, and my brain can’t stop exploding. The first week of the Development Project Management Institute (DPMI) we learned about problem trees, results frameworks, performance management indicators and log frames.

In short we were building our capacity to use needs-based assessments, adaptive management and project evaluations, incorporating organizational values, stakeholder input and socio-cultural concerns into a mission-based strategy.

Are you even trying to understand these concepts anymore? Try doing it for 30 hours straight in an intensive collaborative process with experienced development professionals. This was the first week of DPMI. We were converts.

5 days, 8 tools, 1 outcome: a more rational, quantifiably justifiable, rigorous development framework, built on the scientific method and personal belief plus collaborative teamwork. Country development schemes arose from the brainstorming processes, teams ended malnutrition in Peru and improved eduation in Afghanistan by applying the logic structures we learned. Will pothole repairs improve foreign investment in Kenya? Maybe not, but I feel like my team had a convincing argument for improving the baseline for the backbone of a nation’s transportation system. Check out our presentation on restoring democracy through pothole repair here.

I’m still recovering, and it’s Wednesday. Maybe because D.C.’s an amazing city, and I spent all weekend touring around. There was an awesome mixer for micro-finance giant Oikocredit at a cool bar, the Science Club. And I put on my fanny pack, my visor and my biggest camera to tour the capital’s sights, from the Lincoln memorial to the Vietnam war memorial.

Vietnam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Soldiers at NamMorial

Soldiers seeing the Vietnam Memorial for the first time

The Vietnam memorial was built before the WW2 memorial, partly to heal the wounds of this ‘conflict’. You can see yourself in the shiny granite as you read the names, and across the quad there’s a statue of three soldiers – white black and latino – coming across the memorial and realizing what it is for the first time. I may have teared up hearing about all the sentimental tokens people have left at the wall over the years – all of which are cataloged and stored in the Museum Resource Center. Here’s an article about one veteran’s artifact and the personal journey it represented.

WWII memorial

Kilroy was here

Kilroy was here

The World War II Memorial also has interesting history behind it, situated so that Lincoln and Kennedy can look at it, as well as the White House. It wasn’t just gruesome murals of officers driving soldiers to their deaths, there was a lighter side hidden around the East wall. The cartoon seemed vaguely familiar, but the phrase “Kilroy was here” was Greek to me until the tour guide explained her version of the history. Kilroy was a shipyard inspector who scrawled Kilroy was here on ship parts during the war for accounting purposes – and his name started showing up around the world. He went viral in an analogue world, as GI’s started tagging this expression around the world. At the end of the war, soldiers would write “Kilroy was here” on buildings so that subsequent waves would know the town had been secured. Ask your grandparents if they remember Kilroy!

D.C. isn’t just about war – apparently there’s a Peace Memorial on Peace Street. Of course only a bunch of ladies would care about peace (sarcasm).

Overall, D.C. is pretty cool, once the sun goes down and the humans come out. With all the historic buildings, free museums, and even the city’s bike sharing scheme, it’s an awesome place to be in the summer.