A Gedenkschrift to honour Brenda Zimmerman

Brenda ZimmermanOn Tuesday, December 16, 2014, the field of social innovation in Canada lost an early and much loved leader with the untimely passing of Brenda Zimmerman.

On December 18, 2014, Michael Quinn Patton – co-author, colleague and friend – emailed a network of people worldwide connected with complexity ideas, systems thinking, social innovation, and developmental evaluation. People were invited to contribute short reflections on Brenda’s contributions and influences:

“…a kind of collage offering multiple perspectives and experiences, portraying the landscape of [complexity-focused] communication approaches and dilemmas, without reaching conclusions or recommendations, but rather acknowledging Brenda as a pioneer and aficionado in these early efforts. The format might well mirror her edgeware book (1998), done like a scrapbook of ideas, approaches, and tools for engaging complexity….

The aim is to be evocative and generative, not definitive, declamatory, or argumentative — an inviting and vivacious ecological landscape of ideas and images. 

This is a celebration not an obligation. Reactions, elaborations, critiques, concerns, affirmations — all welcome.”


Everyone who sent something is included in this volume.

The process has been emergent, adaptive, nonlinear, dynamic, complex, and co-created. The result is this Gedenkschrift: a memorial publication honoring a respected scholar, created posthumously. We so very much wish that this was, instead, a Festschrift, a publication honoring a respected scholar during his or her lifetime. Would that it were so.

Download your copy of the Gedenkschrift





To read reflections from many others in Brenda’s life, please visit our tribute page.


Follow, poet, follow right

To the bottom of the night,

With your unconstraining voice

Still persuade us to rejoice;


With the farming of a verse

Make a vineyard of the curse,

Sing of human unsuccess

In a rapture of distress;


In the deserts of the heart

Let the healing fountain start,

In the prison of his days

Teach the free man how to praise


– W.H. Auden

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