Because We Can! A Tribute to Senator Scott White

Senator Scott White

Scott White: waving to voters the day after he was elected

On Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 2:14PM Pacific, I published a blog post on the iSector.

On Friday, October 21, 2011 at 6:11PM Pacific, I got a phone call from my dear friend, Alison Carl White.

On Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 8:24AM Pacific, I was running around the seawall in Vancouver, B.C. in gale force winds and torrential downpour.

This three moments are inextricably linked.

The iSector was the outgrowth of my long-held belief that the name of our sector–currently, the Nonprofit Sector–does a huge disservice to what we are trying to accomplish. I can’t say I love the name ‘iSector’, and I will continue to search for a better name, but at least it gets us away from referring to ourselves as the ‘Non-Progress Sector’.  Publishing that post was a big moment for me.

The phone call from Alison was another big moment, but in a very different–and tragic–way. She was calling because she had just learned that her husband, Senator Scott White, had died. Alison is 39. They have two young children. Scott embodied health, energy and leadership. To say this was a shock would be the understatement of 2011.

What struck me most about Scott was his belief that so much was possible. While most of us would scratch our heads, shuffle our feet (looking a lot like Eeyore), and wonder how we’d get out of this mess (insert whichever mess might cause you consternation, e.g. education, transportation, the environment), Scott was bounding along in pursuit of a better path forward (sort of like Tigger, with the brains of Owl).

I imagine Scott knew a roadblock when he saw one, but he never seemed to focus on its presence. He always seemed focused on how to find a dignified way around it that would make the world a better place. He was pragmatic, for darn sure. But he was also an optimist.

And this brings me back to that gusty run. As I came around the point, it blew so hard I actually fell over (not a pretty moment). I was so wet that my shoes were making a bizarre squishing noise every time my foot struck the ground. You’d think I would’ve been cursing this run.

Instead, I was grinning ear to ear.

Why? Because I could be running in that crazy weather. Because I had a choice. Because it was possible.

In moments like these, I now think about Scott. I think about what’s possible. I try to think bigger. As big as Scott thought about what’s possible.

I believe it is possible for us to  truly make the world a better place. Call me a Polyanna. Call me naive. I really don’t care.

I believe–regardless of tax status and official sector name–that if you get up every morning set on making the world a better place, that you can. And that you do.

On that run, I had a vision of a sea of people with t-shirts, badges, ball caps, tattoos, and buttons that all said: Because we can!

Because we can make the world a better place. If we couldn’t, why bother trying?

We should try. Every day. In ways big and small. We should try.

We should make the world a better place, because we can.




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  1. Well said, Erica. An eloquent call to action!

  2. Shauna Causey (@ShaunaCausey) says:

    A powerful and beautiful post.

    I am sure Scott had an overwhelming flood of people telling him what he couldn’t do. The fact that he still had that attitude and it reflected and inspired so many others (and our community) is truly remarkable. Thanks for sharing, Erica.

    • We need more people like you, Shauna, who stay positive no matter what. Thanks for stopping by and for all you do!

  3. Thank you Erica for this wonderful reflection. YES, because we can. I had one of those moments of clarity this week while chopping vegetables (I am just grateful for whenever it shows up!) about how each one of us here has a particular, unique role to play in the on going creation of our world. When we each can relax into and contribute from our gifts, we bring the best to our world. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Scott White.

    • The concept of “contributing from our gifts” is so powerful, Catherine. I had to re-read it because it seemed almost like a typo at first but it’s so not! I’ve never thought of contributing ‘from’ my gifts as you generally contribute ‘to’ something. That vegetable cutting offered a lovely re-frame. Here’s to more veggies and a better world!

  4. Never met Scott, but I know Allison. Scott’s passing and the loss of others help me keep perspective and focussed on doing. Your post is a reminder for some and a head’s up for others. And, the thought of you topling over in the rain in Vancouver, gave me a good chuckle (not in a cruel way). Thanks.

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