For the next three weeks, the blog is going to be more active and quite a bit different. In case you missed my news, I've had the honour of being selected to join the International Visiting Leaders programme through the U.S.State Department. The IVLP is designed to let emerging foreign leaders visit a variety of regions in the U.S. and exchange ideas and perspectives with American policy leaders. Among the alumni of the programme you'll find Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Hamid Karzai, as well as many less famous folks who still went home with some new ideas and made their communities a bit better. I'll settle for making it into that second group.
My group is unusual in the IVLP -- instead of a mix of nations, we are five Canadians from a variety of backgrounds and regions in our own home and native land. We have a central theme as well, with our trip looking specifically at economic development and creation of entrepreneurial cultures in struggling economic zones. We start in Washington to learn about the policy instruments, but then head to cities around the U.S. to see how people actually make those policies real through community agencies and local programmes. We will soon be heading to, in order, Charleston, Albuquerque, Seattle and Detroit.
You'll meet my four travelling companions as we get to know each other, but I can already give you one spoiler alert. They are all impressive people, with a creative entrepreneurial bent. They are also clearly fun to travel with, and we've already decided that we are going to enjoy our three weeks together.
After a tour of Washington's landmarks and a briefing on comparative federalism, the policy part of our tour began today with visits to some key government departments. (the federalism part can be summed up quickly once one accepts that Canadians' greatest policy fear is that government will fail to act when needed, and Americans' greatest fear is that government will act when it isn't needed at all.)
Through the next three weeks, I'm going to share some thoughts on how some lessons, axioms, and anecdotes might apply to tackling our challenges in New Brunswick. And if three weeks of travel inevitably lends to some funny or amazing moments, I will share that, too. After all, I already stopped a few times and wished more New Brunswickers could be here for this. Maybe in some ways you can.