Can you imagine a catcher without a pitcher? Lennon without McCartney? A working functional democracy without a responsive, talented public service?
One of the many weaknesses of my early advocacy career was ignorance about the individuals who make up what many of us consider the faceless arm of government – the bureaucracy. I never suspected they woke up in the morning wanting to make a difference in the world. I didn't appreciate their skill at implmentation.
Any social innovation that wants to go to scale must address system change and structural improvements. Otherwise an advocacy victory remains unfulfilled and hollow. That's where the public service comes in.
As a former skeptic I have learned to look for and appreciate the vital role public servants play in ensuring advocacy proposals become solutions. Here are two recent examples. Last week the BC government was named one of Canada's top 100 Employers for the second straight year. Then there are the BC Premier's Awards for Excellence in the public service. These are awarded annually for cross governmental integration; innovation; leadership; partnership; organizational and service excellence. They have created a U-tube site for the nominees. The following are a sampling of what you'll find:
Bruce LaHaie's restorative and sustainable forestry work with the Gitsan and Gitanyow First Nation. Collaboration, dialogue and capacity are not just fancy words. LaHaie, Stewardship Forester, puts them into practice. For readers from outside British Columbia this 2 minute video is full of beautiful totem poles standing nobly in the background.
Pat Parkinson's fast paced juggling to design BC's ground breaking carbon tax program. This is a program new to North America. In 5 months she had to design and implement a whole new infrastructure involving broad based communication, new legislation. public education and staff recruitment.
Tracy Cooper from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure who fabricated and produced the Olympic Rings displayed at Coal Harbour and the Vancouver International Airport during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Homelessness Intervention Project (HIP) led by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development, a cross government initiative to provide housing as well as the back up supports people with addictions, severe mental illness and chronic health challenges. Working with community agencies and resources over 1000 people were supported in 2009 alone.
These are the talented men and women who 'catch' all the decisions, political and otherwise we send their way. Then they operationalize them without fanfare. Enough to make their family and friends proud. Including me. Bruce LaHaie is the son of my closest cousin Ken.