March 15, 2014
Tony DiGiovanni CHT
LO executive director

Tony DiGiovanni I would like to share a few diverse stories that are connected by the same thread.   

At Congress this year, a member approached me. I am sad to say, I had not met him before. He and his family operate a garden centre in the Niagara area.

He explained that he does not participate in many LO activities because of time and family commitment, but is a strong supporter of our mission and mandate. He went on to thank me.

During a particularly cold and late spring, when cash flow was absolutely stretched and the hope of a prosperous spring was fading, we sent out a note of encouragement. It made him feel less alone. It provided some reassurance that spring would finally arrive.

I was very moved by his reaction. As a community, we all have the opportunity to inspire goodwill and hope just by showing a little empathy.  This is the essence of membership. We exist to support each other.    

Last week the Humber College Alumni office called to ask if I would participate in a fund raising drive to support students at Humber. Since I graduated from Humber College over 35 years ago and the experience moulded my outlook and perspective, I accepted the invitation without hesitation.  

The caller then asked me a few questions about how life at Humber helped my career. It was interesting, because the things I remember most had nothing to do with the technical content of the material, and everything to do with how individuals inspired and supported my life journey.

Here is one example. There are many others. I remember the Landscape Technology Department hosted an industry conference about the ‘Future of Horticulture.’ As students, we were obligated to attend.

As I was walking into the lecture theatre, the coordinator of the program stopped me. He asked if I would moderate a panel discussion between the president of the college, officials from the conservation authority, a high level bureaucrat from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities and a board member from Landscape Ontario (Casey van Maris). I was 20 years old, absolutely frightened, overwhelmed and unprepared, and yet this coordinator believed more in my potential than I did.

Needless to say, the experience has remained etched in my memory. It was an amazing confidence booster. It reflected the leadership ethic of the teacher who I will always remember fondly as a mentor. This is the essence of life. We exist to support each other.   

Earlier this month, I attended the Georgian Lakelands Chapter outreach to the Huntsville area. The chapter, under the leadership of Lexi Dearborn and a wonderful board of directors, decided it was important to show members in remote locations that the Landscape Ontario community cares about them.

The room was full. The session was relevant and helpful. The attendees appreciated the effort. The mood was very positive. I was asked to say a few words about Landscape Ontario. I recalled a story about the origins of our chapter system.

Before Landscape Ontario had staff, the volunteer membership committee would travel to different areas of Ontario, check into a hotel and invite the landscape community listed in the local yellow pages to a meeting to discuss how to create and sustain an organization focused on helping and supporting others. It was clear that the actions of our pioneers and the actions of the Georgian Lakelands excursion into Huntsville was connected by the thread of care and support that is the essence of why we exist as an organization.

This last story is connected by the same thread. A number of years ago LO developed the Prosperity Partners Program. The program was inspired by Bob Tubby during his presidency. Its purpose is to enhance your prosperity by providing tools to improve your business skills. The Prosperity Partners program was designed to promote a common language of business between our thousands of members.

If we speak the same language, we will be more effective at communicating. The program is based on the idea that all businesses and organizations require competency in five general areas. By focusing attention on these five areas, we will grow in prosperity.   

The concept, however, is more than that. It is fuelled by an attitude of care and support for each other. In essence, the program communicates that we are each other’s prosperity partners.  

The committee is now investigating how to formalize that support by proposing a ‘peer to peer network.’ Landscape Ontario is already an informal peer to peer network. A formal approach should accelerate results. Please read Jacki Hart’s column on page 25 in this issue, and respond to her survey.  

Landscape Ontario is known across North America for the level of membership contribution, and for the remarkable sharing of information between members, even as competitors. It is this attitude of support and care for each other that make our organization unique. It is an attitude that generates goodwill and inspires the future.  

We challenge Chapters to increase membership

Starting this month, Landscape Ontario’s Membership Department has launched a program designed to increase membership numbers.

New LO president Dave Braun set a goal to grow LO membership by five per cent over his two year term of office.

The program outlines each Chapter’s membership numbers. There are both financial incentives and the opportunity to have bragging rights. Any Chapter that gains a five per cent increase from Mar. 1 to Dec 31, 2014 will receive $500, and the Chapter that registers the top percentage increase will gain an additional $500.

We will supply Chapters with handouts to distribute to members and potential members throughout the year.  

More information can be found at
Tony DiGiovanni may be contacted at, or at 1-800-265-5656, ext. 304.