Compiled by Sylvia Cheuy, Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement
It’s hard to believe that only a few weeks ago, Tamarack’s 7th Communities Collaborating Institute (CCI) drew to a close. While the experience is still percolating for many, we are pleased to share highlights from some of the CCI 2012 alumni blogs that offer initial reflections and a glimpse of this unique learning experience.
Wicked Problems: Collaborative Solutions – Jill Wyatt
The conversations here have given me much food for thought. One of the speakers, Tim Brodhead, talked about three forces impacting the social sector that certainly describe our work at United Way: the drive for efficiency, the imperative of effectiveness and the complexity that makes all our work so hard!
This new paradigm demands more sharing: shared knowledge, shared risk, shared trust, shared time, shared space. Collaborative work like this takes enormous time and effort, development of tremendous trust among partners and only demonstrates outcomes over time. Brodhead went on to name some of the challenges of collaboration, including the underestimation of time and effort required to create successful collaborations, the potential for creativity to be supplanted by group-think, and the stewardship of long-term trust.
Fellow-Travellers – Liz Weaver
Once a year, at the Communities Collaborating Institute, we get to stretch. We have a week to think, to reflect, meet others who may, at times, feel alone in the work that is collaborative. There is a tribe of like-minded folks who will share their wisdom, their frustrations, and give you a peek, if only for a moment, into their aspirations and hopes for their communities. That for me is the gift of the Communities Collaborating Institute. It’s not so much the insights of the speakers, or the challenge of absorbing so many ideas in such a short time, but it is the people, who journey with you through the week.
I think it is the total package which keeps me coming back – that and the fact that each year has a unique character – largely due to those who come to the gathering and share their gifts. Thank you to all of my colleagues attending the 2012 version. The paths we walk twist and turn but it is good to know we will meet each other on the journey.
Inside/Out – Scott MacAfee
We came as many independently sharing a single thought
We moved through each other,
Shared our full selves,
Had brain explosions,
Believed in barking dogs,
Owned our suck as well as our awesome,
And never turned back;
As we created this Perfect Space of limitless possibility
We gave all of ourselves and now are seemingly more full now than when we started
We leave as one, collectively sharing the same heart… Thank You!
We Need More Leaders – Mark Holmgren
In less than two days, I have had my mind challenged by the thinking and experience of Tim Brodhead (former CEO of the McConnell Foundation), Paul Schmitz (advisor to President Obama), and Meg Wheatley (author and teacher). I have also been fortunate as a “pod leader” to spend time and share reflections with nine colleagues from around the country.
Here are a few reflections about the types of range of changes our communities and organizations require to move forward toward a future where poverty, dis-ease, and polarization are problems of the past.
We need more leaders. We need more leaders everywhere in our community, from all walks of life, of all ages. The challenges we face will not be met by old notions of leadership as a position held by a few. Leadership is action and, as Paul Schmitz reminded us, everyone leads. One of the calls to action voiced by Paul was that a priority of all leaders is to help others be leaders, whether in our organizations, our communities, or our families.
Tim Brodhead urged funders and community organizations to work together as authentic partners. What I especially appreciated about Tim’s analysis was his observation that such partnerships need to accept the iterative nature of the work and the relationship around the work. This means that funders and organizations must be prepared to learn together and make changes along the way that further our chances of achieving successful results.
What a great two days… great food. The music of Michael Jones lifts my spirits, leads me to a peaceful place, and sparks my thinking. The energy in the rooms we work in is palpable and the sincerity of all who are attending is inspiring. I am glad I am here. I am glad all of us are here.