Senegal Proverb

I was reminded yesterday by my friend Bob Stilger of New Stories, of this proverb, spoken by another colleague and friend in Senegal, Cire Kane.

“Never do during the day that which will make you sleep poorly at night.”

It is a call to thoughtfulness and discernment. Of course, there are days and nights that won’t be so clear. Yet, I love the invitation to be clear and centered.

Thanks Cire. Thanks Bob.

Homelessness Summits

In the last three months I’ve connected with a few people and resources focussed on homelessness. It is compelling to me as an issue. NOT so much from the perspective of how to get all people into homes, though that feels important at some level in connection to basic needs, healthy, safety, and community. It is particularly interesting to me when exploring the underlaying assumption of what a home is and what it provides. Less about boxing all people into a kind of American Dream. More about reexamining the premises of wealth, growth, haves vs have nots, and an economic paradigm that feels increasingly tenuous.

Teresa Posakony and I joined with friends / colleagues Paul Horton and Faith Trimble for events in Olympia, Washington. There is an important harvest document about those multi-stakeholder gatherings here. I loved it that participants at the event that I was part of were able and willing to speak honestly about key questions and issues. From a more traditional business side, next to a park where many homeless people were abiding, issues of having public toilets. From other community organizers, challenges to the assumption that homeless people want homes.

From those gatherings, these particular agreements emerged:

Be willing to ask courageous questions

Create “meeting” spaces of co-learning and honest inquiry – where we can ask courageous questions without fear of retribution.  Show up curious – be willing to be wrong and open to learn.

Show respect even when it’s hard. 

Respect the speaker and the listener.  Listen to understand, not to respond.   As a speaker, keep storytelling/info-sharing relevant and succinct.  Find common points of agreement and concern.

Stay present and accept what “is”

“Allow” honesty, trust and authenticity to come into our meetings, encouraging people to share their truth, honest appraisal of the situation and their dreams.  – try to temper our “agendas”

Work together

We have duplication of services and different sandboxes in the same playground.  See what’s happening, and together see how to create a healthier ecosystem.

Acknowledge when our fears are paper tigers

We recognize scarcity can bread contempt – and choose to step back from that dynamic.  We recognize we touch on survival level issues and it’s easy to go into “fight or flight” – Thus we pause now and then to gather our thoughts and refocus compassionately and creatively on our efforts to build a resilient community.

Really imagine the community we want to live in

Be proud of who we are and all we’ve accomplished.  Work toward success for our local businesses (healthy economy) and solutions that build a vibrant, welcoming, safe, and pro-social (inclusive) downtown culture.  Improving the homelessness system is part of this effort.

Tom Atlee of The Co-Intelligence Institute recently recommended  book to me that I’m about to start. Tent City Urbanism: From Self-Organized Camps to Tiny House Villages, by Andrew Heben. I’m looking forward to digging in to this.

More to come.

Hosting Impact

I’ve just returned from two weeks in Europe. It included stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. As always, it is quite satisfying for me to feel the experience continue to ripple in me. The feel of architecture. Cafes. People watching. Navigating bikes and trams. Crepes, food. Sites. They are life-changing, as is the choice of a gentle re-entry to stacks of projects, piles of email, and regular life needs. The relationship of rest to action is one that I continue to learn about.

Impact Hub -- MapOne stop that I particularly enjoyed in Amsterdam was at the Impact Hub. Friend Tatiana Glad, Hub Maker, was our host (and rather fantastic tour guide). Together with my partner Teresa Posakony, we all offered a session on Chaos and Order with some of the Amsterdam Hub Team. Tatiana harvested some of that here.

It was inspiring to meet with these people. As always is the case, to create some minimal conditions to circle up, share stories, ask questions with each other, and further our learning together. To hear Tatiana tell some of the founding story of this Hub. To stay simple. It was apropos. The day previously we had visited the Van Gogh museum. From this, and a book that Teresa offered to the Hub Amsterdam people, Van Gogh was quoted, “How difficult it is to be simple.”

Ripple. Hosting impact. It has me excited to meet again with the local Impact Hub, Salt Lake City.


Fine Arts First at Viterbo

I worked this week at Viterbo Campus in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The project was again focused on Arts Integration. There were 30 people — Viterbo Faculty, Students, Teachers, SchoFine Artsol and University Leadership, and Community Leaders. We were together for the three days, exploring together essential items to include in a second application for grant funding. I’ve written previously about this group here.

At the beginning of the week, I heard an interesting story that I haven’t heard before about the Fine Arts Building. You see, Viterbo is a small campus. It was started 125 years ago by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, whose convent is through the courtyard and across the street. Forty years ago, there was only one other building on campus. The Sisters, with their commitment to the arts for the school and for the community, committed to supporting this building. I can imagine that there were several other choices. Perhaps a building to expand their commitment to education or to healthcare. They chose Fine Arts. I’m also told that the sisters ate from a food supply — canned potatoes, vegetables, etc — to help save for the building.

Rather impressive, no? I’m really impressed that in the context of prudence, practicality, and all the other pressures that may have been present, they chose to support the arts.