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mid-week Connect: 10/25/23 ~ Canals across cultures

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

I am ‘on the road’ once again, driving from Florida to Pennsylvania in the next few days. Yesterday, I drove over a smallish waterway called the Cross Florida Barge Canal. It was very scenic and it got me to thinking about canals in general - which have always kind of intrigued me, and which are our topic for today’s Connect! This fits into Transformations because for millenia, canals have been transformative, in good and bad ways, for the landscape and the socio-cultural and economic dynamics of the areas where they are. Let’s see what cultural insights we can draw from exploring canals from several perspectives.

One thing about canals through history is that they have been, and still are, conceived and created based on a need - to get from Point A to Point B more quickly, easily and/or economically. Be it the earliest canals in Mesopotamia or recent enlargement projects for the Panama Canal, these manmade, functional waterways open up a route that was previously only available overland and often times across terrain not conducive to moving people or supplies or both.

Along with the benefits to canal builders and users, unfortunately a large part of the history of canals is quite shady, involving colonizers using local populations and their land in oppressive ways including exploiting natural resources and destroying natural habitats. It has for the most part not been the practice to consult with local groups or cultural dynamics before a canal is constructed - the main consideration being as I mentioned, getting from Point A to Point B.

In my own experience, here in the US, in Europe and in Africa, I have enjoyed visiting and learning about canals and their history. This helps connect me with that region’s peoples and cultures in a unique way since the purposes each canal serves are unique. There’s one insight for anyone interested in going across cultures - that exploring canals can help move you yourself from Point A (not knowing the local culture) to Point B (understanding some of what is going on, and connecting with local folks). Another insight which I myself want to be more careful about is that, despite being scenic or interesting, a canal can actually be a place of unfortunate happenings…just like when we enter new cultures there may be things which initially appear nice but in fact with a deeper understanding, have had negative impacts or aren;t something we should be involved with. Being aware of these perspectives can make canals both an enjoyable experience and a helpful caution if needed.

How about you ~ what is one canal experience you’ve had and a cultural insight you can draw from it?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more on real life canals and canal cultures.

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,



~ going way back: [a fun resource for all things oldest!]


[*] Related Connect posts: 9/30/20 - Moving; 11/4/20 - Opportunities; 2/24/21 Awakenings; (RAP) 7/13/22 - TRAINing

(use this link and scroll down to the date in my blog: )

[**] Through my business Global SKILLs and several partner subsidiaries I offer unique cross-cultural consulting and training including:

3 Dimensional Dynamics Model:

1st dimension = HOME ; 2nd dimension = HOST ; 3rd dimension = HARBOR)

PROACTive Framework:

PRO = PROfile, PROcess, PROgram

ACT = Applications, Collaborations and Transformations (which we explored this week)

~ contact me for more information on this model and these strategies and how you might use them in your current programming:

2023 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

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