Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tarheel Transition

As a process consultant, almost all of my work involves traveling to the client and engaging with them in situ (much better than asking the group to travel to my situ).

Since hanging out a shingle as a process consultant in 1987, I've called Missouri my home the entire time, which afforded me the witty opener, "I'm from Missouri, and I've come to show you." OK, maybe it's not the funniest of one liners, but it was serviceable… until today.

I'm now a North Carolinian.

I piled what I could fit into a compact one-way rental Tuesday afternoon and drove away from Dancing Rabbit and into a new adventure. I'll be trying to reinvent myself in the coming months. Here's what I have in front of me:

1. Consulting/Teaching Transition
Though my work has been steady in recent years (unlike almost everything else listed below), I'm increasingly interested in handing off to others what I've learned, which means shifting purposefully from doing to teaching. The tricky part is that demonstrating what I can do is the main way I generate students, so there's a balance point. [For details about the facilitation trainings I'm offering currently, see my blog Facilitation Trainings on Tap from March 22, 2015.]

The context of my work has always been nurturing cooperative culture, as distinct from the dominant, competitive culture. Increasingly, my work comes in two flavors:

a) Process ConsultingFor the last 28 years my main focus as a consultant has been cooperative group dynamics. Mostly I've worked solo, but occasionally I partner up. Now, moving in with Joe and Maria, we'll be discussing whether it makes sense to form a process collective. They have both parlayed their experience (which includes being students of mine in the two-year facilitation program I run—but don't misunderstand; they were already the main facilitators in their respective communities before I met them—I was polishing diamonds) into occasional facilitation gigs in the region and would like to do more. Though neither has left their day job (yet) it may be a way to accelerate their facilitation careers and at the same time accomplish more of the handing off that I'm seeking.

Auspiciously, Joe & Maria worked with me to conduct sold-out pre-conference workshops (one on Facilitation & Leadership, and another on Conflict) at the recent National Cohousing Conference in Durham (May 29-31) and both were well received. In the days ahead we'll discuss what more we might do together.

b) Economic Consulting
In recent years I've gotten steadily more interested in opening a second front, turning my attention to the poor stepchild of sustainability: cooperative economics. For this, my primary partner is Terry O'Keefe, who lives in Asheville NC. While still 3.5 hours away by car, that's a helluva lot closer than Missouri.

We also did a packed-room workshop at the cohousing event, and it also was well received. Flushed with that experience, Terry and I need to cook up what's next in our efforts to light a fire among cooperative groups to take a pro-active interest in supporting their members having more economically sustainable lives.

While we're not sure what the business model is for our being fairly compensated for this work, we're both entrepreneurial by nature (read risk tolerant) and can't help ourselves from testing the market.

2. Home Transition
One of the casualties of Ma'ikwe's decision in Feb to end our marriage was that I no longer had a home. To be sure, I could have remained at Dancing Rabbit—both the community and Ma'ikwe were fine with that—but DR was Ma'ikwe's home before it was mine and it's too tender for me right now to be operating under her shadow. 

So I'm trying something new. I'll be experimenting in the coming months with what I can create with Joe & Maria: three people who care deeply about community, social change work, right livelihood, and leading an examined life. It's a great foundation. While I went through a period of wondering what the existential reason was for my being tested in this way, I've now worked myself around to being eager for the chance.

One of the larger unknowns for me is what I'll be able to manifest relative to connection to the Earth. Slowly, over a process of decades, that became an essential element of what made Sandhill Farm (a food-centered community) my home, and now I've moved into a house that does not include a garden. Maybe I'll wind up doing some canning from farmer's market surpluses in July and August. We'll see.

Chapel Hill is a great location for securing locally grown wholesome food, and there's a great local co-op (Weaver St Market) but I haven't been so removed from my food in over four decades. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

3. Partnership Transition
Obviously a huge shift happened for me when I lost my partner. I think being away from DR will make it easier for me to process my grieving to the point where I can again be open to a new relationship. I don't feel any hurry, yet I also don't want to be afraid to get back on the horse—despite suffering a nasty fall.

Among other things, I am blessed with many good friends (who have provided wonderful support for me the last four months) and I don't feel lonely or lacking in emotional depth in my life. My scars will heal and I'll get to the place where other women will be interesting again.

4. Health Transition
It has been an incredibly long haul trying to recover from back strain that originated in early October and persists to this day. But I'm determined to recover all that I can of my health and mobility. 

One of side benefits of my new digs is that I'm on the third floor and climbing two flights of stairs after pouring a cup of coffee is both aerobic and good for my right knee, which is still not 100% after I hyper-extended it in September 2012.

I am just about well enough to restart a regular (if gentle) yoga practice, and I'm looking forward to that.

5. FIC Transition
The year is about half over, and that also marks the halfway mark in training my two main successors in Fellowship administration: Aurora DeMarco as our Development Director, and Sky Blue as our Executive Director.

The trainings have been going well and I'll be ready to turn over the reins at the end of the year as planned. While I'm sure I'll still be involved in FIC affairs in the years ahead (I represent an enormous investment in relationships, after all, and it would be a shame to squander that asset), I don't know yet what that will look like.

In fact, there's a lot about my life right now that I don't know about. It's an interesting time.

1 comment:

Tree Bressen said...

Dear Laird,

My heart is touched by your journey. I bow to your grace in dancing with this enormous transition, or set of them as you are indeed reinventing your life. I honor the depth of your yoga practice, on the more than physical levels.

I also note one thing missing from your list that i think is important: please write a book with your process insights and examples.