By Francesca Handy
Pamela Cooley has many roles – professional facilitator, mediator, ethical entrepreneur, humanitarian and mom – but if you ask her, she says the title of her kind of work is “just being human.”
The work Cooley has done, in Nova Scotia and internationally, earned her a spot as a speaker at the TEDxNovaScotia event this Sunday at Dalhousie University. The theme is Chances Worth Taking: Innovation at a Time of Indifference.
Cooley’s company, Choosethical Ventures Inc., is currently working with the salmon fishing industry in British Columbia. She started the company after realizing the power businesses have to make a difference while working with refugees of the Guatemalan war.
“I noticed the people that control the land win, so business can play a major part in changing the world,” says Cooley. “I wanted to work with companies that had an ethical framework and if they didn’t have an ethical framework then I would like to teach them how to have an ethical framework.”
Cooley says that the work she has done working as a facilitator and mediator with her company has taught her about the importance of collaboration. She hopes to send this message to her listeners at this Sunday’s event.
“Everything happens in groups, even if you have have an idea by yourself … there’s always somebody else who is a part of it,” says Cooley. “I’m talking about how important it is to understand that collaboration exists and if we learn how to do it better then, in my opinion we can save the world by collaboration.”
Cooley says she realizes that the message may seem farfetched, but technology has connected the world and created a “global community.” This has given individuals looking to create change a wider scope than ever before.
“If we don’t collaborate, particularly for the world’s resources, then we’ll be fighting for those resources eventually,” says Cooley. “If we don’t learn how to do this and do it and do it well then we’ll continue to fight
Annie Hinton, the spokeswoman for TEDxNovaScotia, says Cooley, along with the other speakers, were selected from a group of individuals nominated by community members.
“She has had such an impact on the Nova Scotia community as well as an impact throughout Canada,” says Hinton. “Her vast experiences really made her stand out, we’re really looking forward to her talk.”
The other speakers in Cooley’s session, Access to Change, includes Ian Kent, Willie Stratton and Blair Ryan.
Change at home
Cooley is the co-founder of CarShareHFX, a business she started nearly six years ago in an effort to reduce vehicle ownership in Halifax.
“Everyone was asking how we can reduce vehicles and increase mobility of people, and every city was doing (car share) so I thought ‘Halifax should do this!’,” says Cooley. “When I came home I read the city plan and that’s what it said so I thought car share would fit in.”
Statistics from Carshare Canada’s website suggest that car share companies have a significant environmental impact because members reduce their driving by as much as 50 per cent, reducing 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
The company also serves the community by making vehicles available to people who can not afford to own a car. According to Canadian Automobile Association’s 2013 Driving Costs report, the average annual cost of car ownership for a Camry LE costs $7,494.00 (based on 18,000 km of driving per year).
Cooley says the business now has 26 cars for its 1000 members at 23 locations in the city, including at Dalhousie University, and is still growing.
Spreading the message
Cooley says that she hopes she can inspire other people to make a difference in their lives.
“I tell people, ‘Look at your surroundings and what do you see around you that could be better?’,” says Cooley. “It’s all about human potential and creating a way in which you can make a difference.”
Cooley has coined the term ‘collaboration ready’ and says she wants to teach people from her own experience to be ready to work with others on an individual level, organization level and citizen level in order to make a difference.
“If I am walking into a room with people that I am working with thinking that I only have part of the story because the whole story is in the room and that we need to listen to each other,” says Cooley. “Then I think we’re all better off because we’re more likely to get what we want if we have the full story.”
Hinton says that she thinks listening to local speakers who are making a difference in Nova Scotia’s community will be especially inspiring to viewers.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to engage in exciting new ideas that come from Nova Scotia,” says Hinton. “We see these big ideas but it’s incredible seeing them close to home and how they can be developed in our own community to really make an impact on the world.