Janis La Couvee: Community Connector

picture of Janis La Couv�eI always enjoy a conversation with Janis La Couv’e.  She is involved in many diverse communities, online and offline, here in Victoria.  And, I get the feeling she brings all of her communities, all of her connections, to each conversation, a good thing.  Making connections is what Janis does.

Although, I’ve only known her for a couple of years, initially through the local Social Media Club, it feels longer, in part due to Janis active presence, online and offline.  I’m glad she agreed to meet with me, on a lovely summer morning at the Oak Bay Marina coffee shop, and generously talk about her community connector experiences.

Community involvement

Janis wears many hats today; business professional, arts patron, community builder, francophone, mother.  It’s her community hat that I explore in this post.

At an early age, in an isolated West Coast town, Uclulet, Janis learned from her parents that community involvement was key to getting things done.  Later on travel, re-location to the Victoria area, work, family, her involvement came through the local school PAC, the local neighbourhood association.

In 2003, she was selected to be part of the Esquimalt (municipality) Vision Committee, a 6-month engagement that strengthened her resolve for consensus building (vs. majority rule), finding ways to bridge differing personalities and interests, and how shift is possible, we don’t have to be prisoner of past behaviours.  This short video clip on participation, and working with others, builds on these earlier experiences: (video not displaying? click here)

Connecting and developing local community


Janis is wise about how to connect and build healthy community.  Here’s a baker’s dozen of her insights:

  1. Individual change is usually not sustainable, unless you are a very charismatic individual
  2. Sustainable community change happens through group effort; inclusion, collaboration, re-generation
  3. Build trust in the community by 1) being consistent, by showing up on a regular basis, and by 2) keeping one’s commitments; quantity and quality
  4. Promote the ordinary over the celebrity.
  5. Have local community role models; bring role models closer to home
  6. Keep decision-making out of the hands of a few, and in the hands of the many
  7. All people have something to contribute, even a little; and ask yourself where your contribution will can make a difference, appreciate what you can offer
  8. Who will be tomorrow’s volunteers?; a lot of volunteers today are seniors, who will replace them?, how can we create the conditions that will get the next generation (boomers) active in volunteer roles?
  9. What’s happening locally is what we have the ability to inform and be informed by. and the most chance of taking into an offline world, too
  10. Educate people, increase public awareness, about the process of community change; why process matters, and why their engagement matters!
  11. If you’re a property developer, remember: you won’t get far with your proposal to the city, unless the neighbours and neighbourhood are behind you, first
  12. The more people represented in the community process, the stronger the community

And, with optimism, she sums up her vision for local community in this 1 minute video clip: (video not displaying?, click here)

A bit more about Janis

Janis describes herself as a web weaver, a process junkie, and relishes the opportunity to be the answer man (or woman in her case) (an advice column she recalls, in an old newspaper), the connector of people & the information they need.  She tells me her public social nature is an intentional response to balance her inner, more solitary, inclinations.  Okay.  She is definitely an independent thinker; knowledgeable, direct and honest.

In addition to her parents, her strongest influences are people who are very involved in their community, and always have been.

I’ve just offered a snippet of Janis, here.  I know there are many perspectives on her. She is a heavy social media user.  Maybe, connect with her (eg., @lacouvee on Twitter) , and/or learn from her?

And to you, the reader:


What’s your insight, or inspiration, for being a local, community connector?

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