How the Cochrane Ideas Group got started and who we are.

CR Cochrane Times, 2014

Warren Harbeck, Brooks Tower and  former Cochrane Anglican minister, Derek Dunwoody and others decided in 2000 to start what has become a flourishing monthly discussion group in Cochrane.   Five years later David Sweeney took over coordinating IDEAS, and eventually Andy Marshall joined as well.  We are now well into our 20th year and have grown to a team of five in our coordinating group having added Heinz Unger several years ago, and last summer we were very pleased to welcome Cheryl Harding and William Hawkins to our team.

We meet 10 months a year (skipping the summer months of July and August), on the second Friday of each month.  We announce the topic well in advance so that people can develop their own thoughts and come prepared to speak.  The speaker(s) initiate(s) the conversation for 20 to 90 minutes. Unless we have a really large crowd, we usually sit in a circle so that everyone in turn around the circle has a full chance to offer their thoughts – or pass if they do not wish to speak.  This is a chance for us all to opt out of the passive observer, spectator mode so prevalent in modern society and become an active participant, an active contributor.

How are topics chosen?  Most evenings are led by local individuals to the Cochrane area, some are highly qualified on their topic whereas others have become very motivated about a topic they have read about and would like to discuss their thoughts as well as hear what others in the community think of the subject.  And once or twice a year we invite a well known individual from Calgary, or even a nationally known person, to speak.

We strongly believe that if we are to survive over the coming decades, it will, in part, be by networking – by bringing us together, connecting with more and more people, slowly breaking down the barriers we put up in order to live in cities and towns..  As Jean Vanier said: our deepest need is to belong.  Hence our interest in aiding in the promotion a deeper level of conversation.