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Bloggers Series: Brian Hoessler on the Strong Roots Blog

Hi everyone, my name is Brian Hoessler and I am an independent consultant in Saskatoon, Canada. Through my company, Strong Roots Consulting, I work with non-profit organizations and community-based initiatives to build their capacity through research, strategic planning, and evaluation.

Rad Resource – Strong Roots blog: The website for Strong Roots is also home to my professional blog, which I use to share ideas, resources, and news with the non-profit community in and beyond Saskatoon. It also provides a behind-the-scenes look at the ongoing development of my consulting business, having just started it this past July.

Lessons Learned – why I blog: My reasons for blogging include a bit of everything – sharing tips and resources, demonstrating my knowledge and skills to a new community (I’ve been in Saskatoon for less than a year), and supporting my own professional development. As someone new to the consulting field who is just becoming comfortable with the term “evaluator”, I also use my blog as a space to reflect on my practice and think about directions to take.

Hot Tips – favorite posts:

  • When Does It End? – This post demonstrates how connecting with an online community of bloggers can lead to fruitful thinking. A post by Chris Lysy at freshspectrum (via EvalCentral) prompted me to write about how a dose of evaluative thinking can help determine when a program is failing, even if things look good on the surface.
  • En Route – A demonstration of how I think through writing, in this case a reflection on the term “evaluator” and how I identify (or not) with the field.
  • AEA Conference Day 1 – When I attended my first AEA conference this past October in Minneapolis, I decided to post daily to share new ideas, resources, and personal insights. It was sometimes difficult to find the energy to write after a long day of workshops and sessions, but I’m glad that I kept it up!

Lessons Learned – what I’ve learned: I’ve found it useful to keep a couple of drafts or expanded outlines at hand – sometimes I’ll come up with an idea for a post but don’t feel like writing it out right then and there, or I’m in the mood for stringing words together but have nothing pressing to write about. Breaking the blogging process into two parts, idea generation and writing, can help lessen the anxiety of seeing that blank page!

This winter, we’re continuing our series highlighting evaluators who blog. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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