Category: In The News

Thoughts on being a Do Gooder #12daysforgood

As I embark on my 12 day journey of highlighting my Do Gooderness (is that even a word?) and help to inspire others to follow suit I wanted to reflect on how being a “Do Gooder” has been ingrained in my identity since I was just little lady.



The focus of this years #12daysforgood campaign through House of Friendship includes volunteering and donating of money, and it goes beyond this to include justice, helping your neighbour and bringing joy to those around you. I like to think that this is the motto I live and have always lived by. Whenever I have time, money, knowledge or anything else to offer that will make the day or life of someone else better I do not hesitate to do it.


Although I haven’t “officially” launched my #12daysforgood campaign as I just got back from visiting my grandmother last night at midnight it has been in my thoughts as I interacted with the world. Every door I held open, or smile I offered was done to bring joy to the lives of folks around me. I couldn’t be more excited to fit in 12 good deeds over the next and final 10 days of the campaign.


I have my mother to thank for my keenness to be a Do Gooder. As a child I went to elementary school an hour early every day to help my mom put together food for the breakfast program. I had toaster burns and sticky fingers for 7 years from putting Cheez whiz, peanut butter and jam on toast and crackers (mmmm Cheez Whiz). Watching my mother work so hard to make sure that program was a reality showed me how important it is to work in our communities to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to Belong and Thrive. One of my earliest memories of being a Do Gooder when I was about 6 was when I saw a student get on the bus in the winter without a winter coat I didn’t even hesitate to give her mine, and needless to say even though my mother likely didn’t know how to react to see me getting off the bus in a wool sweater completely covered in snow she knew that I had done the right thing.


So now, here I am 20 years later thankful for the opportunity that House of Friendship has provided me and the community, to reflect on the good that we have done, highlight the good we are currently doing, and look closely for the good we can do today.


So Cheers to HoF and I hope that all of us are able to find 12 good deeds to do this Holiday Season to make our community shine!


Check out what I’m talking about at @HOFKW or

Check out Juanita’s thoughts on being a Do Gooder (one of the another amazing Do Gooders!)

Or follow all of the Do Gooders at once on twitter! (thanks Juanita)



The simile of Motorcycles and Community Based Research

In an attempt to keep my blog momentum going from my recent motorcycle adventure I asked myself what is it that I love so much about riding a motorcycle, and what does it have to do with my other all consuming passion Community Based Research?


On the surface you may think “what are you talking about? Riding a bike and doing research have nothing in common!”


Well after 14,000 kms to ponder this very question here is my simile for you.


Motorcycles are like Community Based Research because….


1)   it will always takes you longer to get anywhere than you initially plan.

2)   the people you trek with or meet along the way will be the foundation of a successful (and memorable) journey.

3)   The journey is just as important as the destination.

4)   Practice doesn’t make perfect – the world will always have new variables to throw in the mix.

5)   The map you create before leaving may be altered along the way – flexibility is key


Perhaps now that I have written these down they will stop running through my head every time I participate in either riding or researching!


I hope you have enjoyed reading my ponderings as much as I did thinking and writing about them.



Anything you would like to see me blog about? Shoot me a message at


Community psychology used to build efficient networks for social change


Natalie Brown’s business is finding out who is throwing babies into the river.

It’s an analogy she learned from one of her professors in the Wilfrid Laurier community psychology program, and the recent graduate uses it to describe her consulting firm, Common Thread Consulting.

“Imagine a river with all these babies in it, and we’re all down river frantically pulling babies out of the river,” Brown said.



“But none of us has time to walk to the other end of the river and say, “Who is throwing the babies in the river?’ “I like to think that I’m that person.” Brown specializes in facilitation, research and action that helps non-profits, government agencies and businesses to become more efficient as a community. It’s the service providers who are spending all their energy pulling babies out of the river.

“Sometimes people are just on their roadrunner legs, going into the community and doing the great work that they do.

Sometimes we just need to step back and ask, ‘Are we doing this as efficiently as we can? Is there a way we can improve overall community efficiency by working together?’” she said.

Because she is not a service provider, Brown can step back and look at the root causes of an issue, and the most efficient way to deal with it.

Celebrating the one-year anniversary of Common Thread today, she is already developing a roster of clients.

She worked with Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Institute to help them decide how to build an awareness campaign around intergenerational relationship building. She also helped to plan and run an event called One Small Act.

“I was with them through every step of the process,” Brown said.

For Peace Ranch in Caledon, which provides housing for people with mental health issues, she came in to evaluate their fundraising program.

“My slogan is facilitate, research, act. I take those three processes and I link them together.”

Brown moved from Owen Sound to Waterloo in 2003 for an undergraduate degree in psychology and then earned her master’s in community psychology, which looks at systemic issues, social justice and collaboration at a community level. She’s also a certified professional facilitator.

During grad school, Brown worked with a professor to create the Centre for Community Research, Learning and Action.

“Laurier has the only English-speaking community psychology program. We tend to stay local, so a lot of the graduates are floating around in the community and understand where I’m coming from,” she said.

“We’ve been very lucky. A lot of our executive directors are community psych graduates . . . and they’ve been influencing their organizations from that view point — collaboration, inclusiveness and diversity.” After graduating in 2009, Brown started contacting some of the people and organizations she had worked with during her student years. Many of them had projects they wanted her to undertake.

So she went to the Waterloo Small Business Centre and got started, registering as a business.

“The common thread of everything I do, and why I named my business that, is this relationship-building piece and allowing myself to work with the clients, and not for the clients,” Brown said.

In addition to her work at Common Thread, Brown is temporarily working fulltime at the Alliance for Children and Youth.

She also sits on a number of boards and committees, including the CCRLA at Laurier, the Volunteer Action Centre business council, and the Community-University Expo.

“I’m kind of a workaholic,” she admits.

But the community networking isn’t just about earning new clients.

“The thing I love about the business is that it’s a place where I really get to let all my passion out. I’ve found that place where you can be yourself, and really do what you love,” she said.

“Waterloo Region is a community rich with change and positive momentum. It’s a fabulous place to be.”
Common Thread Consulting


Get in Touch

At Common Thread Consulting,
our vision is a community that is interconnected, capacity rich and efficient in implementing
positive change.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.


“I have had the pleasure of working with Natalie on two community development projects in the K-W area beginning in 2007. Her ability to understand and mobilize community resources and networks is unprecedented. Natalie’s passion and compassion for this field makes her an asset and “spark” to any project.”
by Sherry Elizabeth McGee