February 25, 2011 Jason

Local Linchpin – Janis La Couvée @lacouvee

OK – it seems like I’m a bit slow out of the gate on the local linchpins, but it’s not for lack of finding amazing people to talk about. This week’s amazing maven is the renowned Janis Lacouvée.

I met Janis virtually at first, through twitter.  She was a prominent voice in this burgeoning community, and when she sent out a notice about a local meetup(tweetup), I figured it would be a great chance to meet some interesting twitter folks in the real world.

What makes Janis a linchpin? A few years ago, at the first tweetup I attended at Cabin 12, there were about a dozen tweople there, and Janis informed us of a new twitter fundraising idea that she felt would be a good fit for our community.  Linchpins tend to think about what they can do for the community, not what the community can do for them. The other thing that linchpins do is rally/encourage/solicit/implore people to take part in the event.   In the time it takes to get a refill on your coffee, there was an organizing team of promoters, sponsors, bloggers, and general volunteers, willing to help make the first Twestival in Victoria an unqualified success.  Linchpins see the value in the people they meet, and encourage them to do more than the bare minimum.

We’re currently moving towards our third Twestival, and Janis is still leading the crowd, though she’s loathe to admit that she is the leader – she’s the “community contact.”

I asked Janis a few questions about being a linchpin, and this is what she shared.

A linchpin in my opinion:

  • Puts others first without regard to personal gain or notoriety.
  • Stays current, whether that be locally or globally, in a restricted field of interest or more widely.
  • Has an insatiable appetite for news and trivia (and not the kind common on the “news” but rather, the “news behind the news” or the “news that isn’t news yet”), and is constantly looking for the connections among people.
  • A linchpin does NOT need to be an “expert, guru, ninja or jedi master”.
  • A linchpin doesn’t need to know, but needs to know someone who knows.
  • A linchpin is the spark, or catalyst.

There have been many linchpins in my life – some I’ve known personally, others have been an example.

  • The late Bernice Packford Levitz, long time social activist
  • The late Roger Colwill, founder of Green Drinks Victoria
  • Guy Dauncey of Eco-News and EarthFuture.com
  • John Espley, Accent Inns and vice chair of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce
  • Ingrid Hansen, local choreographer, performer, dancer, puppeteer
  • Dan Pollock, activist and lecturer/instructor at UVic. Dan is involved in: the arts, local government, open data, biking and the local food movement!!!
  • Kris Constable, Ideas Victoria – internet security, short wave radio, craft beer, lawn bowling, general geekiness etc
  • Paul Holmes, Social Media Club, WordCamp, Social Media Camp and Idea Zone – need I say more? Also, local politics and the Reserves!
  • Doug Rhodes of Farronhill Consulting and the Hillside Neighbourhood Action Group – quiet expertise over many years in the area of local land use issues. On the City of Victoria OCP committee.

Advice:

You don’t become a linchpin over night. It’s something you cultivate over a long period of time. Some of the younger linchpins on this list have been active for decades already.

If you say you’re a linchpin – you’re not.

Stop worrying about whether you are or you aren’t, and go out there and make it obvious. People should be saying “why didn’t I just ask them off the get-go?”

Find other linchpins and help them.

Linchpins come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t dismiss people because of age, gender, race or because they don’t fit your idea of “success”.

Be humble, ask for help. People love to help, and if they don’t – move on and find the ones who do. Then acknowledge people for their help. Then help others as you were helped.

 

Thanks Janis, for being an inspiration to many, a guide to scores, and a powerful leader – er, “community contact.”

 

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