Sustainability Task Force (AASLH), 2018/19
In early 2018, I was invited to join the Sustainability Task Force for the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). Drawn from an international pool of sustainability and heritage specialists, the Sustainability Task Force was created to make recommendations to the AASLH Council on how best the organization and its membership of historic sites, museums and heritage organizations could embrace the vision and goal of fostering a sustainable world. Our research, discussions and writing will result in a report for Council by mid-2019.
Keynote & Planning Workshop, Nova Scotia Museums, 2018
In September of 2018, I was invited to deliver a keynote address to the Association of Nova Scotia Museums conference. Facing serious threats from sea-levels rising, Nova Scotia museums and communities are taking stock of their options for transforming danger into a ‘culture of flourishing’. The Keynote address was called “Standing on the Shoulders of Ancestors: Linking Past and Present to a Sustainable Future”. Plus, I offered an all-day workshop on sustainability planning techniques for museums trying to approach their planning around the desire to be effective catalysts of cultural change and adaptation.
Presentation, Rotary International Conference, 2018
Rotary International (RI) is the global level of the Rotary Club network that is found in virtually every corner of the planet. RI organizes regular conferences to address vital trends and developments. In 2018, the RI Congress was held in Toronto. Together with my colleague, Candace Matelic, we delivered a session on the potential of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help guide the work of Rotary. For many decades, Rotary has brought together the power of business with the needs and creativity of communities, to build a better world. The SDGs represent the most significant consensus on an approach to meet the needs of humans on a planet with distinct limitations. It is a tool that can help Rotary better achieve its vision.
Sustainability Planning Workshop, Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice, 2018
In January of 2018, I was asked to deliver a workshop to museum professionals who are part of the Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice (CMCJ). Taking place in Toronto, most participants came from the Greater Toronto Area, but some came up from the USA, and down from Ottawa. This hands-on workshop was designed to introduce sustainability planning tools to museum professionals. One of the major goals was to have participants thinking about how they could create public programs that would have meaningful impacts in the culture – on various levels, including: individuals, groups, communities, organizations, cities and social/economic systems.
Coalition of Museums for Climate Justice (CMCJ), 2017-19
Beginning early in 2017, a small group of museum professionals who were concerned about the looming threat of climate change embraced social media as a way to generate reflection, dialogue and action. It seems clear that climate change is the most obvious manifestation of how humanity cannot continue to live successfully on Earth without some fundamental cultural changes – in values, attitudes, and systems. Under the guidance of Christine Castle, and with the support of Amy Hetherington, the CMCJ created a blog, a Facebook group and a Twitter following. I was an early and enthusiastic participant in contributing material and stimulating discussion on a range of topics related to museums and the living culture. This work consumed a lot of my time over a two year period – with lots of writing and planning/delivering workshops. It is a challenging process to encourage the ‘cultural sector’ to approach its work with a view to having meaning impacts on the living culture. Interestingly, it is not all that different than trying to encourage business people to think about how their work should contribute to a sustainable world, or all business will be short-lived.
Workshop, Western Museums Assn and Alberta Museums Assn, 2017
In September of 2017, I had the opportunity to work with my colleague, Candace Matelic, in delivering a workshop on “Fostering a Culture of Engagement & Flourishing to Address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”. This dynamic workshop both introduced participants to ideas of how the SDGs are a valuable tool as museums grapple with the cultural dimensions of a world that is seriously under threat from environmental, social and economic stresses. Participants came from both Western Canada and the Western USA to share their insights and experiences on contemporary issues in museums.
Indigenous Visual Culture Research Centre, OCADU, 2016
Last year, my colleague Gerald McMaster, was named the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Visual Culture. The appointment is located at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) in Toronto. I was asked to help create a strategic approach for the Research Centre. Specifically, the intent is to ensure that the Centre’s activities embrace sustainability as a core, cultural foundation block that will help link the arts (both historical and contemporary) to the issues of our day that affect both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Global Reporting Initiative Training Course, 2016
Through my involvement in Leadership for Environment and Development (Canada), I have been a co-facilitator of the Global Reporting Initiative training course. The course prepares individuals to conduct sustainability reports for businesses – assessing social, environmental and economic dimensions of their operations.
Edmonton City as Museum Project, 2015
Special Award: The Alberta Professional Planners Institute, at its October 2016 Annual Meeting, presented WorldViews Consulting and its partner, Calgary-based Intelligent Futures, with an Award of Merit in the Special Study Category. For more information on this project, have a look at the project overview Edmonton City Museum Strategy.
In a 2012 article, Vancouver City Planner Larry Beasley suggested that museums have the potential to become significant facilitators of change as our society and our culture undergo fundamental changes that will be necessary as humanity adjusts to living on a planet that has bio-physical limitations and sorting out the social standards that will have to be met. Whereas museums have historically have largely been seen as informal edutainment destinations for citizens to reflect on the achievements and knowledge gained by humans through years gone by, Beasley has suggested that there is an important new potential role to add to these time-honoured traditions. He sees museums bridging the gap between those who are creating change across our society, and the large public – bringing together the mix of specialists who can help the public to engage, process and reflect back in meaningful ways, a dynamic that is largely neglected, but essential for building cultural cohesion.
The need for this type of work has never been greater, since society is changing faster than ever before – as a result of technological development, but also because of the rapid movement of people around the globe, the expansion of our populations, the growth of our cities and more. But the population is rarely engaged in these processes. Museums could help to bridge this gap.
Inspired by Beasley’s ideas, as well as many museological initiatives in other parts of the world, the Edmonton Heritage Council (EHC) created the Edmonton City as Museum Project (eCAMP). Operating eCAMP mostly online so far, The EHC secured a grant to hire consultants to produce an analysis of the potential and to develop a strategy for a larger initiative. The team hired to do this work was the Calgary-based urban planning firm of Intelligent Futures, in partnership with WorldViews Consulting. This work was completed in 2015. Currently, the EHC conducting a series of experiments to better understand how best to create effective initiatives in which the museum is woven into the living community and not seen only as a physical destination for leisure-time experiences. It involves developing new ways of measuring ‘cultural engagement’, ‘success’ and ultimately wellbeing across the community.
Tom Thomson Art Gallery and Owen Sound Museums – Visioning Session
As the Tom Thomson Art Gallery and Billy Bishop Museum proceed through a merger, Douglas Worts provided a visioning session to assist the staffs to come together with a common vision that both feel ownership over.
Staging Sustainability Conference – Keynote Address on ‘Theatres as Agents of Change’
As part of the international conference “Staging Sustainability: People, Planet, Profit, Performance”, Douglas Worts delivered a keynote address on the topic of “Theatres as Agents of Change”, exploring the myriad ways of bringing the creative power of the theatre world to help create a cultural shift towards realizing a ‘culture of sustainability’. Held in Toronto, February, 2014.
BC Museums Association Conference – Keynote and Workshop on ‘Museums as Agents of Change’
Between October 23 and 25th, 2013, the British Columbia Museums Association’s annual conference was held in Parksville, BC. The conference theme addressed how museums can become ‘agents of change’ through engaging their communities in meaningful ways.
I delivered a keynote address, facilitated a 1/2 day workshop, and participated in a panel discussion with Dr. Robert Janes and Alexandra Hatcher, on the potential and possible approaches for museums that want to achieve such a vision.
A handout from my keynote address is available by – Worts keynote at BCMA – Handout.
Gooderham and Worts: The Family, The Business, The Community
On June 11, 2013 Douglas Worts delivered a lecture on the Gooderham and Worts Distillery, with a special focus on the entrepreneurs who built the business as they became influential during 19th century Toronto and the communities that were affected. This lecture was part of the Annual General Meeting of the Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, located on Trinity Street, in downtown Toronto.
Pyramid Planning Workshop at Montgomery’s Inn, Toronto
In early June, Douglas Worts lead a 2-day planning workshop to help staff at Montgomery’s Inn (a historic site museum in Toronto) consider how it might position itself as a facilitator of community well-being within its complex, urban setting. Staff, volunteers, farmers, local business people and more participated. Charlotte Young, a management consultant and ‘graphic recorder’, captured the process, its goals and strategies in a 4′ x 10′ mural that remains with the museum as it implements its plan.