June 15, 2020
Jacki HartWithout a doubt, the Landscape Ontario community has shone through the crisis of April and May that struck our profession at the worst possible time of year.

I am impossibly proud to be an LO member.

Over the past two months, not a week has gone by where I haven’t felt both grateful and impressed with the sincere dedication of the LO staff team, the volunteer COVID-19 Task Force, those allied with the industry, the garden communicators, the allied professional business coaches and many more.

There’s a long, long list of leaders who have stepped up amidst rapid and uncertain change. It’s an impressive and long list of entrepreneurs and volunteers who have come together to give dozens (if not hundreds) of hours dedicated to finding clarity on rapidly changing, complex and time-sensitive issues to support members.

Some researched tirelessly and posted resources. Some ‘pulled strings’ to get answers from politicians and community leaders. Some worked hard to reassure, and others advised on next steps and how to create new plans.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He was referring to the unlikely trio alliance created between Great Britain, the U.S. and Russia in February 1945 — when among other things, they agreed to collaborate to form the United Nations. Amidst a crisis, they came together to create opportunity.

In my opinion, Landscape Ontario has just shown the same leadership blueprint for stronger members and an improved professional community for the future. LO has demonstrated how to rally in a crisis — with humility, sincerity and patience.

If any of you ever doubted the value of LO before, I hope that you never will again. If I’m correct, then Tony DiGiovanni is our Winston. He’ll possibly be cross with me for saying so, but every cause and every army has its leader. And Tony has truly led the collaboration and mutual improvement ethic, which has equipped and empowered our members to succeed as best as possible this spring.

In the midst of an unpredictably and rapidly-changing business and health landscape, Tony mobilized LO’s leadership team (welcome aboard, Joe Salemi!) and the staff to swing into action swiftly and effectively. In doing so, they have equipped members to do the same. AND, this has raised the profile of our profession with politicians and policymakers alike.

LO has been the broker of an unbelievable amount of valuable and important information, at a time when we needed it the most. In an instant, LO jumped into the webinar business (thanks in large part to the lovely Keri MacIvor!). The countless webinars are a blur. And we now have online training modules up and running as well.

Personally, I connected with LO’s Peer to Peer Network members by hosting twice-weekly ‘coffee chats’ via Zoom with up to 35 peers at a time — and facilitated great mentors and resource people, like Dave Wright (LO president), Mark Bradley (LMN CEO), Scott Wentworth, Frank Bourque, and Alan White (LO Task Force chair).

Our community has come together like never before. We keep moving forward even when we don’t know what that really looks like. Thank you LO. Thank you outdoor profession entrepreneurs. We’ve GOT this!

Safety compliance in a new age

As we move through the various phases of COVID-19 restrictions and openings, there are many challenges still ahead with respect to keeping protocols in place for worker safety, team health, and family protection.

Complacency is going to be tough to avoid. As the weather warms up, masks and gloves will become less and less manageable. As more people venture back outside, social distancing will become harder to ensure and enforce.

Now that you have your policies and procedures in place, I think the next challenge is to keep staff, clients, sub-trades and suppliers engaged and compliant in the longer term.

We can all see and hear the risks that our ‘normal’ PPE protects us from, but we can’t see the risk of COVID-19 unless we’re watching the news, or have loved ones amid outbreak situations, whether at work or in long-term care residences.

Please keep an eye on complying with all of your policies and procedures. Complacency can and will creep in… it’s human nature to go back to the old ways.

Owners and managers of Landscape Ontario members can join the Peer to Peer Network for free. Email signup.peer2peer@landscapeontario.com.
Jacki Hart CLM
Prosperity Partners Program Manager