“How are you?” It’s a simple and powerful question.
I’ve been paying close attention to this question lately, and here are a few things I’ve found:
1. You have a choice in how you respond to this question.
2. You have a choice to authentically ask it of other people.

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Community Change source gerson.org

Making Change

When we see change happening in communities, in organizations, in people’s lives – what is supporting that change to happen? What are the factors that cause change? We’ll be digging into that topic during the April edition of Creating the Future’s Making Change Program (live in video, recorded as a podcast). I’m honored and SO excited to join Creating the Future Co-Founder and Making Change Host Hildy Gottlieb, and Creating the Future Fellow Lisa Humenik to discuss creating change in and with communities. If you watch the live video, we encourage you to participate in the conversation via Twitter #ctfuture, or post comments to the blog page real-time. The conversation will continue after the live video as well.

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Collective Soul

Collective Impact is a buzzword and framework formally defined as “the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to coordinate their efforts and work together around a clearly defined goal” in Kania and Kramer’s  Standford Social Innovation Review Collective Impact Winter 2011 article. Through their research, they identified five factors for collective impact success as: common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforced activities, continuous communication, and backbone support.

For me, these factors may be part of the means to achieve X. But what is X? What are the ends we are aiming for? Here’s what I find matters most in my community engagement projects:

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Allowing Time to Marinate

When a recipe calls for marinating in the fridge for a few hours or overnight we follow the instructions. The process cannot be rushed. Slowly and naturally, the food absorbs whatever concoction in which we immerse it. But that step takes time, and it is simply time to be. The very same process applies to our own marinating when we allow ourselves to be. All too frequently this is overlooked or rushed. Immediate responses and feedback are often requested by others, or of ourselves, in order to get going on the doing machine.

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On the Chairlift

Connecting on the Chairlift

My husband shifts gears when winter comes to our mountain town, blanketing it in deep powder through April if our collective community snow dance pays off. He winds down his construction projects until spring, and spends the winter months sharing his gifts and passion for skiing and snowboarding as a snowsports instructor. He completed the necessary training, memorizing, drills and mastery of technique in order to be certified in all disciplines as governed by PSIA and AASI. Fifteen years later, he’s still teaching, both students and new instructors, but his approach is not formulaic, and does not follow specific linear steps. His approach is 100% relationship-based, heavy on listening, and heavy of co-creating the lesson with the student.

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Experiential Learning

Board members are community members, however broadly or narrowly you define community, and they are passionate about your organization, its programs and services. Board members are sharing their time, wisdom, skills and much more with your organization on behalf of the community.

What if you offer board members new ways to tap their passions, re-energize, and increase community engagement with your organization? What if you take the often dreaded and always on fire “fundraising” topic off the table for a while and see what happens when you engage your board members in new ways?

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Self-Labeled Pragmatic People

A common self-label I hear in conversations is “I’m pragmatic.” This is the response served up when I’m asking questions about a shared vision, or what the community would look and feel like if there was an abundance of resources and the individual/organization was 100% successful in everything they were setting out to achieve. Words mean things, and that means words mean different things to different people.

PRAGMATIC – def: When we deal with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations.
PRACTICAL—def: Concerned with the actual doing of something rather than with theory and ideas.

Yet is it not sensible and realistic to start with what we are aiming to achieve before we actually do something?

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Changing the Questions Starts at Hello


Last month I wrote an article for Creating the Future’s monthly journal about what happens when we frame our conversations with different questions. What happens is it changes everything!

A little back story: Creating the Future is a living laboratory for accelerating change. As a Fellow with Creating the Future, we envision communities where people are living well, individually and collectively. We know such a future is possible, simply because it is not impossible. When we change the questions embedded in the day-to-day work of individuals and organizations everyone naturally brings out the best in each other and in our world.

Creating the Future is home for me, sharing and learning from my fellow Creating the Future Fellows who are located all over the world. Each of us is aiming for what is possible every day in and with communities, organizations, individuals, and ourselves. Simply put, it is how I BE.

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