Just before leaving the event in Slovenia Mary Alice Arthur interviewed me. Here is what I had to say in response to her questions about Participatory Leadership, practice and where the work is going from below. You can see a full harvest from this excellent event here and here's the link to the summary of the track Toke and I ran together 'Making An Honourable Living'.
Right before me my friend, mentor and co driver for the trip Slovenia was interviewed too on similar questions. Here is what he had to say ...
CBC Radio interview #2: democracy, unintentional racism, government power sharing, population decline ... and more ...
One of my earliest and most impactful mentors has been Toke Moeller. To say he has had an impact on my career and life would just be scratching the surface. One of the things he said to me the first time I met him around a fire in 2000 at a Slovenian Castle (you know, as you do ... ) was "keep good company".
The phrase has always stuck with me and played out in lots of ways, particularly as a mantra for who I hold close as friends in my life and who I choose to work with. There is now question that the results of my work are dependent on the quality of relationships I have with the people I deliver it with. Over the years I have chosen "my company" carefully and built relationships which enable us to offer services of an equal quality to any studio or bigger company. It is not by becoming bigger as a business that we can do this but by being more connected as friends, colleagues and entrepreneurs.
I wanted to introduce some of the brilliant people I get to work with. This is not only to showcase them and their work on my blog but also to make visible a business model that enables small entrepreneurs to collaborate and take their work to scale. There are notable omissions from this list. I have focused on folks I work with who are not facilitators / hosts / front of room. Check out the who page on my website for a full list of people and links to their sites.
Gary Blakemore - cutting edge music creation / production
I've known Gary since I was 18. He has always been one of those people who has blown me away with new music from across all genres. So when he got into music production and making his own music it just made sense to combine forces whenever possible. Any music, sound production or original music you hear on blogs and videos, that's Gary. Gary also produced and mastered my album with Marc Durkee - Everyone Else Is Taken .
Karen Densmore - top notch project management, strategic counsel and communications
Karen is the back bone of the many of the major projects you see on The Work page. She joined in the role of project management and communications and quickly became a key strategic thinking partner. She also supports with co-facilitation and recently added media relations to her tool box! Her ability to learn skills in response to the needs of the projects we have taken on together has been outstanding, especially when it comes to public engagement work. More on Karen on her website .
Katie Condon - managing partner and administration
Katie is my wife and life partner. She also has an incredible attention to detail. Her partnership, guidance and friendship are a massive part of anything I do. Katie runs my business; from bookkeeping, calendaring and contracts to helping me think through complex professional issues. She also has her own bookkeeping business where she provides cloud based accounting and some admin support for small to medium sized businesses.
Meg Craig Wiens - branding genius and fabulous website builder
Robert Wright - advice, coaching and therapy
Tim Reeves Horton & Justin Pickens, Picnic Studios - video
When I read the book ReWork (by the folks who made Basecamp) they had this whole section on "hiring mangers of one". It made total sense to me. I find I am working with brilliant mangers of one (or two or three but not big companies). To finish, here's a quote I took from their website which talks about it:
When you’re hiring, seek out people who are managers of one.
Usually I put a video up with the posts of my newspaper column. These thoughts are a direct follow on of thoughts from a recent video blog I did with Tuesday Ryan Hart about Systems Change and Social Justice. In this column I apply what we covered there at the high level to my thinking about my local community. Get ready to dig into the need for tough conversations in our closest relationships, unintended racism, and the breakdown of trust in government. You can read the column on the Lighthouse NOW website - or better yet get a subscription!
It is time for tough conversations which address the root causes for our current circumstances in Lunenburg County. If we don’t break the silence on fundamental issues we run the risk of making changes to current systems that make no real difference. All of our change efforts could be more like moving the deck chairs on the Titanic - they keep us busy but we still hit the iceberg. Let’s start having the kind of conversations that make us nervous, that is how we know they are worthwhile. Discomfort is a sign that we are doing something new, comfort means the status quo ways of thinking reign supreme.
I think they are personal conversations to have in the day to day of our lives. That is where real change happens. We must engage each other in our homes, cafes, pubs, during car drives or when out for a walk. Although I do not believe that breaking silence necessarily creates change, I do believe it is a pre-condition. If we cannot engage deeply with our current reality, it is unlikely we will be able to transform it and build a future that works for our kids and grandchildren.
I will talk about two of these core issues in this column and two in the next. I have included some questions to get our conversations going. This month, I talk about the break down of trust in decision makers and unwelcoming communities. In next month’s column I will talk about gender inequality and the distribution of wealth and power. I am sure there are other issues in our region - the purpose of this is to provoke conversation, rather than be a definition of what is important.
"If we want to get through change and not just be victims of circumstance, we are going to have to rise to the challenge. The natural humility of people who live in our region is one of the obstacles we face in the challenges of our declining economy, aging demographic and risk-averse decision-making culture."
This is my latest monthly column in the local newspaper. A short video blog introduce this months column followed by an excerpt below. Read the full column online here or even better get a subscription to Lighthouse NOW!
If we want to get through change and not just be victims of circumstance, we are going to have to rise to the challenge. The natural humility of people who live in our region is one of the obstacles we face in the challenges of our declining economy, aging demographic and risk-averse decision-making culture.
I went to see Billy Bragg play in Halifax a few years ago. It was a great show. I have been watching Billy Brag perform in all kinds of venues since I was about 14 years old. He gets the audience all riled up with his rants and brings some good tunes into the mix. His history of punk music combined with traditional folk makes him a unique mix of modern revolutionary and lineage holder. At one point he asked the audience what they wanted, a Bob Dylan song or a Carpenters song. The lights went up in the auditorium and people put their hands up to vote.
Then he stopped playing the Carpenters and sang the Bob Dylan song all the way through!
I have gone back to that experience a lot in the last couple of weeks. It captures something cultural for me. What is it going to take to get us mobilized? How bad does it need to be for us to rise up, take the bull by the horns and start getting change done en masse? What is a vision of the future that we would all want to strive for and be proud of?
I don't mean vision that we have to get to - but something to motivate us to move from here. We don't need a milestone that we measure ourselves against to find out if we did a good or bad job. We need something that invigorates our citizens, educators, local government and business leaders into collective action. An aspiration that sets collective direction.
For me, this is population growth. I can see a future of schools full of kids, a culturally-diverse community and brimming economy driven by local people's actions. That is what keeps me motivated day to day. I can see it happening within the next 10 years. I can see the seeds of it already underway right now in our communities.
What if we swapped audacity for humility?
What would we do if we were not afraid?
It has been incredible over the last 15 years seeing the Art of Hosting community grow all over the world. The question keeps coming up on what it is ... so here is the second blog post on it. The first one you can find here by guest blogger Toke Moeller. This post is an email exchange with one of the team of a training I am involved in around participatory leadership in the field of social justice and equity. Check out the website if you want to know more about that. Here's an edited version of the email exchange for those who want to understand what the Art of Hosting is, from my perspective. The titles in orange are the questions I was asked and the text below is the responses ...
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