Friday, February 25, 2011

Plainly Speaking

I'm in Nashville this weekend, rendezvousing with Fellowship for Intentional Community Board members Jenny Upton, Marty Klaif, and Harvey Baker for mid-course corrections halfway between our semi-annual Board meetings (the last one was in Massachusetts in November, and the next one will be in Chicago in May). This weekend is styled an interim meeting of the FIC's Oversight Committee. In addition to this one in winter, there's another that occurs each summer.

I drove down from Rutledge this morning, pushing through 4+ inches of wet spring snow that fell in the night. Fortunately the snow relented after the first 100 miles, and the drive turned dry and blissfully uneventful the rest of the way.

En route, I stopped at a store in St Louis and traded out 23 jars of crystallized sorghum for ones that were liquid (they sell much better that way), and delivered Dancing Rabbit member Liat (and her stuff) to a friend's house in Nashville. Tomorrow the friend will take her the rest of the way to her new home in Asheville, where she's going to try out living in an urban group house to see if she likes that any better than life in a rural ecovillage.

After the weekend, I'll back haul six kilos of shiitake mushroom spawn and several cartons of empty gallon glass jars that used to hold apple cider (and are destined to get washed out when I get back to Sandhill, and then used to showcase next fall's sorghum). Harvey saves these jugs for me over the course of each year and hands them off when we get together for FIC meetings in Tennessee every winter. Reuse is even better than recycling.

I enjoy figuring out how to make the fullest use of each vehicle trip (make that high-priced gasoline count!) and embrace the opportunity to Christmas tree additional objectives on a space-available basis once I'm committed to using a vehicle for a business trip.

• • •
Participating in interim meetings is one of the highlights of my travel calendar. For two days I immerse myself in sessions with a small group of friends and like-valued network junkies as we collectively try to figure out what's best for the organization. These are among the people who know me best, and among whom I need to be least careful about speaking directly what's on my mind. As someone who's often in public and has learned (the hard way) the need to be mindful about how direct responses can be misconstrued, I highly value opportunities like this where I don't need to be so careful. The freedom I'm talking about is not about a license to rant or be critical; it's about not holding back or feeling the need to worry that if I voice a strong viewpoint that it may silence others.

As FIC's main administrator, my time huddled with Oversight recharges my battery and let's the Board know both what I'm up to and what I'm struggling with. I think of it as resetting the organizational gyroscope, and is precious to me personally because it reestablishes an energetic baseline. We talk about strategic planning and we talk about personality clashes; we discuss marketing campaigns and how to recruit new blood to the Board. We explore how it's a struggle to maintain motivation for FIC work when we're the only one doing it at home, and admit the reservations we have with certain personnel assignments. In short, we talk about everything. What a delight!

Tuesday I return home for five days of community retreat, and I can't think of a better way to get in the right mind set than to commune with my FIC Oversight friends, doing our work and celebrating our connections.

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