Moving past our buts to possibilities — ending homelessness

We are five days away from the Great Big Summit and there is still lots to do.

And it’s getting done.

Yesterday, after one final read through the Plan by a team-member, we pressed send and shipped it off to the designer to tighten up the layout.

I went through my list.

Agenda. Done. Except for tightening up the wording on the last item.

Speakers. Confirmed.

Speaker notes. Sent.

Key Messages. Drafted.

Q&A. Drafted.

Keynote Speaker. Organized.

At a Glance. In review, ready for print tomorrow.

Posters. Order today.

Attendee packages. Final copy ready for printing.

Website. Design approved. Ready for final copy today and tomorrow.

Video. Final shoots today. Edit over weekend.

And the list goes on.

In one month, we have managed to pull together the pieces of what we hope to be an inspiring event on Tuesday. An event that will galvanize community around the vision of ending homelessness, and spark collective impact in getting the job done.

Together we are stronger.

Last night, just before leaving the office, I stepped into the CEOs office to check on the change I’d made on the agenda. “I don’t think I’ve quite got the wording right,” I told her.

She looked at what I’d written and replied, “Hmmm. Let me think on it tonight. Maybe something will come to me.”

“Thanks. I just can’t quite hit on how to phrase this one,” I replied.

And she laughed and said, “Good thing is, you don’t have to do it alone.”

I let my need to find the perfect turn of phrase go.

I’m part of a team.

That’s the beauty of collaboration. Cooperation. Community.

Ending homelessness is a shared vision. It improves the lives of everyone. Not just those living beneath its burdens, but all of us in community.

The other day I received an email from a property manager asking how to deal with ‘vagrants’ hanging around a strip mall they’ve just taken over managing.

In my email response, I did not use the word vagrant and chose instead to educate with words that described homelessness as a societal condition affecting human beings. I also gave her the telephone number of the police district office and suggested she speak with the Community Resource Officer.

I could do that because I know I am not alone.

Ending homelessness is a collective responsibility.

It takes all of us.

Here in Calgary, our police service has taken a proactive approach to working with communities to help mitigate the impact of those who struggle with homelessness in their community and those living with the experience of homelessness in their communities. They don’t take an us versus them perspective. They work inclusively with agencies, communities, businesses, faith groups and individuals to find mutually supportive solutions.

Sure, as I write that someone is bound to say, “Yes but…”

And then rhyme off an incident they witnessed where maybe, compassion and inclusivity were not the key operational terms of reference.


But the fact is, just as I am not alone, and the CHF is not alone in ending homelessness, and the person experiencing it is not alone in ending homelessness, neither is the police service. They too rely on each of us, on businesses, individual citizens, communities, everyone to do their part.

And part of what we  all need to do is recognize our role as a collective. There is power in our shared vision of ensuring homelessness does not continue to destroy lives and undermine community. As long as we get our ‘buts’ out of its possibilities, we can do it.

There are many possibilities in ending homelessness.

The question isn’t ‘Can we?’ The questions is “What can I do?”

The possibilities are limitless when we share in the power of our collective impact and move beyond the reasons why we can’t.

We’re launching the update to the Plan to End Homelessness on Tuesday.

It’s not CHF’s Plan. It’s not my Plan or her Plan or his. It’s ours.

You can play a role. Come to the Great Big Summit on Tuesday and find out what you can do to make a difference.

Everyone is invited. There’s no cost to attend. But there is one if you don’t. And that is the one that costs the most. Your voice will not be part of the agenda. Your difference will not be felt. And we will not have the same collective impact without you.


10 thoughts on “Moving past our buts to possibilities — ending homelessness”

  1. may you have sunshine on your parade!

    I can’t make that day due to other prior commitments but I wish you and your team much success.

    It is an interesting question – whether this issue of homelessness can be solved or eradicated. Whether or not it is, I am confident things are regularly getting better and better because of the work of you and your ‘team’. Funny thing though, teams can manage without coaches or bosses, without shareholders – but they can’t manage without leaders. Leaders aren’t always out front. Often, they lead from behind (a Lao Tzsu influence no doubt) or from the middle of the pack, but they lead. They shine light. They ask hard questions – and, it seems, they worry about things being worded ‘just right’

    Lead on leader Louise!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I met yesterday with the woman who helped us write this Update. She is very excited about how we’re presenting it and hopes that we truly do create a movement — to inspire all Canadians to dig into their collective impact and make real change happen — I’ll keep you posted! 🙂


  2. I love your heart. I usually feel the same. Recently I started working for a hotel and we have implemented a program for the homeless, it is a program that discreetly provides rooms for some families down on their luck and I have been 100% in support of it. But we are opening up a store in the lobby and my boss and I are in charge of it so we were stockpiling our merchandise all in one room. Last week, my laptop and all my jewlery that was priced and tagged was stolen. The key that was used to enter our offices was used by one of the rooms registered to that program. It has been hard for me to still support that program was as much entusiasim as I did the week before. I know you could shed some encourging word to make me not feel so violated and want to support it. But I am out that money personally. And the kicker was it was just fashion jewelry. Nothing expensive but the whole lot cost me about $500. They get the room for free. Why does one have to ruin it for the whole lot? And people like you who loving take so much time and effort out of their own lives to create programs such as this.


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