In its early history, the Canadian Stuttering Association has developed (what I would describe as) four key principles of community self-organizing

I was very pleased to have the opportunity to attend the CSA 25 Anniversary Conference on Oct. 22, 2016 in Toronto.

As I have noted in a comment at the end of the blog post you are now reading, I was very impressed with the conference, which included a first-rate, highly informative keynote presentation by the Honourable Geoff Regan, Speaker of the House of Commons.

Community self-organizing

The concept of community self-organizing has been a central focus in my volunteer work in recent years and that is the topic of the current post.

Community self-organizing involves people coming together to represent their own interests. My understanding of this process is based on things that I learned as a co-founder 25 years ago of the Canadian Stuttering Association (CSA)?

What needs led to the forming of the CSA?

I would say the key need was for people who stutter to represent their own interests, instead of remaining silent and depending on others to speak on their behalf.

How do community organizations grow and change in response to changing needs?

A key part of the approach to governance, that many of us working together in the early years developed, is based upon four principles, which have become part of the built-in culture of the Canadian Stuttering Association. The following lost is not in order of importance. All four principles are equally important, and are part of the culture of the organization.

Leadership succession

Leadership succession is a key principle.

We have fixed terms of office for the national coordinator. In that way, the leadership of the organization is constantly renewed.

Continuous improvement

A second key principle is the concept of continuous improvement. We seek to work with all of our members, on a regular basis, to update our strategic plan and to follow through with the streps required to achieve each of our limited, finite number of strategic goals.


A third key principle is the concept of ownership. The organization belongs to all of its members. Input from every source is welcomed, and is sought. The members have a sense of ownership of the decision-making process. Anybody can step forward and begin to find a place in the decision-making structure.

Impartial forum for sharing of information

The fourth principle is that we provide an impartial forum for the sharing of information. We do not, as an organization, tell any person who stutters how they should go about dealing with the fact they stutter. We are here to share information. We are not here to promote a particular way of thinking, or strategy, with regard to how to address stuttering.

Speaking notes from August 2001 Calgary keynote presentation

In the event you’d like to read such a document, the speaking notes for a keynote talk at a Canadian Stuttering Association conference in Calgary – covering the above-noted four concepts (and three additional ones) – can be accessed here:


Years after the above-noted Calgary presentation, from time to time people have asked me for a copy of the speaking notes. In time, the talk will fade from people’s memories but in the meantime, possibly one or two people will find the notes of interest even now.

1 reply
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    By way of an update: The Oct. 2, 2016 Canadian Stuttering Association conference in Toronto went beautifully.

    I was very impressed.

    Great turnout, a great sense of good planning.

    It was wonderful to meet people I have known for years and also (equally important, when we look to the future) to meet people attending such a great event for the first time.

    I missed the first part of Speaker Geoff Regan’s talk, as I had to return the Zipcar, that I had rented in order to drive Speaker Regan from the Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport to the conference at Ryerson University. It was a delight to have the opportunity to speak with Geoff Regan during the drive from the Island Airport.

    Andrew Harding, National Coordinator for the Canadian Stuttering Association, recorded the Honourable Geoff Regan’s entire presentation, using a Zoom H1 audio recorder, I had recorded most of the talk on a Zoom audio recorder as well, but had missed the first part of the keynote presentation.

    Andrew sent me his Zoom file, of the talk, via Dropbox. It’s a great recording – both the technical quality of the recording is first-rate and so is the content. Geoff Regan is a great presenter – which is not surprising, give that he is the Speaker of the House of Commons.

    After I downloaded the file from Dropbox, I sent the following, Oct. 28, 2016 message to Andrew Harding:

    Hi Andrew

    I saved the Speaker Regan MPEG file to my drive. Great recording. The Zoom H1 does a great job. Great to see the photos also!

    Thank you – I much appreciate your help.

    I also much appreciate the great work that you and the rest of the CSA board are doing. I am very impressed. I am gratified as well, to know that the concepts that CSA volunteers developed years ago – for example, the concepts of leadership succession; provision of an impartial information-sharing forum; a focus on continuous improvement; and a focus on growth and renewal are all strongly in place. That is truly awe inspiring and a source of much inspiration for me. I am delighted to be able to look back, and see that our intensive work, 25 years ago, has been part of an ongoing project that continues to flourish and prosper.



    [End of text]


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