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When Lin Grist asked me to write a blog about my experiences as a virtual participant, using technology to meet with other RSA Fellows across Canada, I was delighted! At first I thought, that living in a remote area would not be a challenge for me, but I learned on November 28th just before the RSA Canadian Chapter started its meeting…I was wrong! As I tried to connect, I encountered freeze frame video issues and the signal was being repeatedly dropped. Panic set in!

After 20 minutes had passed, I finally connected and caught the end of Natalie Nicholles’ RSA Global presentation - Creative Ideas can change the world. Afterwards, I watched her full presentation on-line, which is archived at RSA – Canada.  I believe Natalie posed an excellent question about the challenges we face living at a distance from each other.  How can Fellows deliver creative solutions to society as a whole not just globally or in urban centers, but also remotely? As a Fellow from Newfoundland and Labrador, I believe it may be challenging for me to  start initiatives here on my own.  However, I believe that connecting remotely through videoconferencing makes all the difference. We can initiate ideas and take action by connecting with  Canadian Fellows’ expertise virtually. We could provide ideas and solutions to communities to initiate small increments and positive changes for betterment throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, especially in remote areas of the North that could spread throughout the country.

So, why was it important to have a meeting? A meeting,  from my perspective, was necessary for us Canadian RSA Fellows to meet in person and/or on-line. We needed to make connections from coast-to-coast-to-coast throughout Canada.  Thanks to Lin Grist who set up the meeting in Toronto, and to Severin Wille for setting up the videoconferencing for us remote participants to meet the Fellows in Toronto virtually. I would like to say a big thank you to Severin for making this videoconferencing possible.  

I thought Daniel O'Leary's presentation on Wind and Solar Energy at the meeting brought an interesting perspective on how best we could sustain energy ourselves during global warming. He talked about the effects of extreme high and low weather temperatures, as well as weather related disasters in urban and remote areas.  Was this relevant for someone like me in a remote area? The effects of global warming sure are felt dramatically in Labrador, and more acutely where people live off the land.

Daniel Downes spoke about literacy, David Hurst shared his thoughts on The Ecological Perspective on Organizations and Change, and Brian Arthur Brown discussed sustainability.  Their presentations dealt with interesting topics relevant to today’s concerns.  Then we met as a small group and gave some input into what we should do as a group.  When the other small groups summarized their group discussions, I have to say a big thank you to Severin for moving the computer camera so that we could see the speaker in the room each time.  It definitely helped me and the other virtual participants become a part of the discussion. Severin did say other participants in the room didn’t seem to notice that we were there at all, maybe due to us being too quiet.  I think we all have to mindful of all those present in the room.  Of course, we virtual participants must do our part by being more vocal in the next meeting once the computer glitches are dealt with to make videoconferencing more user-friendly in the future. 

In conclusion, given my experience as a virtual participant, it was exciting to be a part of the RSA Canadian Chapter on November 28th and to see other Fellows at the meeting.  I believe with today’s technology, once I fix the minor technical issues and gain greater ultra-high speed connection on my end, it’ll be easier to connect.  I strongly believe an ultra-high speed capacity is a necessity for remote users.

Meeting virtually will make us stronger from all corners of Canada.  We were able to discuss ideas as a whole, which means the RSA’s mandate was met. It was great to participate from a distance, and I look forward to meeting with the group again.   

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