CE Strategies Gets Tips on Efficiency, Intention and Impact from Local Mentoring ProgramBy Nancy Saunders
What started as a home-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) business, CE Strategies has expanded steadily over the past twelve years in both staffing and specialization and now provides a wide variety of innovative services. The Thunder Bay-based company offers GIS and Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping and training; project management; land-use planning; traditional knowledge data collection and preservation; and capacity building and community planning to support communities and organizations in making informed decisions.
The company’s versatile web-based GIS interface, called MapAki, is “a user-friendly tool that can support communities in reaching their goals of self-sufficiency. Every project that uses real world values and locations can use MapAki to transform how the data is accessed and used,” reads CE Strategies’ website. “[MapAki] provides a way for you to view, analyze, and update your community’s data ... that can be easily layered together to help make informed decisions ... We are incredibly fortunate to have worked with over 40 First Nation communities and their supporting organizations, along with municipalities, educational institutions, and non-profits.”
Shannon Bateman, research coordinator with CE Strategies, describes how the company works with communities to document various values. “[We are] a community enhancement specialist. We do all kinds of mapping projects related to land-use planning. Whatever our clients need, we use the mapping tools we specialize in. We specialize in traditional knowledge documentation; there is always a cultural documentation element in the projects we do. We work with the community to document traditional knowledge. Clients can pinpoint places of importance and interest on a map, then it is all digitized and uploaded to the program. It is a way to access the cultural aspects of land within a territory,” says Bateman. MapAki is a secure site that is password protected, with clients providing access and log-in credentials to selected users.
“In the past decade, we have had the privilege of conducting traditional knowledge interviews in over 35 communities across Northwestern Ontario. Having sat down with over 300 Elders, we have established a proven methodology that respectfully documents the invaluable stories told by Elders. The knowledge that is shared in interviews remains with the community and can be used to guide important decision-making in addition to teaching future generations about their history.” – CE Strategies
When looking for new methods to promote the company’s services, Bateman set up mentoring sessions with Digital TBay’s Digital Service Squad. Bateman met with Palash Bakshi to discuss ways to prepare and share aerial footage collected by the company’s drones. “We do a lot of different things here, and we’re not experts in videography but we take a stab at it. We have really high quality aerial imagery that we collect with our drones. It’s really beautiful, and people like to see it. We talked about how to shape that after, in post-production,” Bateman explains. Bakshi answered Bateman’s questions about videography and provided support and suggestions.
Bateman also met with Brook Dallaire to discuss social media strategies including tips on content creation, scheduling posts and how to grow their audience. Bateman came away from the session with a greater appreciation for the importance of a social media content calendar. She and Dallaire discussed the company’s overall goals and ways to achieve them. Together, they looked at some of CE Strategies’ posts and noted which ones had been successful. Dallaire provided tips on how to be more organized and pointed Bateman in the direction of social media planning tools. “We talked about creating posts with more strategy and intention, and not just posting for the sake of posting. It was nice to ask whatever questions we had. I would definitely use it again—we were able to ask an expert, and get genuine feedback,” says Bateman.
Sasha Wilson, project coordinator intern with CE Strategies, also booked a Digital Service Squad session with squad member and digital media developer and designer Dylan Uurainen to discuss project management. “I was interested in talking to Dylan about trying to find efficiencies, and the best ways to approach projects. A big focus was on looking at the project management software we use, and how we can make that better. Dylan gave me a lot of tips and it was very helpful,” says Wilson. “One of the biggest things was automation; it was a bunch of tech suggestions—making sure we don’t duplicate the efforts we put into our projects, and integrating various systems so that we don’t miss updates across the board ... We have taken some of the recommendations and implemented them. We’ve become more efficient based on what Dylan taught me.”