(Part 7: Community-Driven Tour 2008. To read these posts from the beginning of this 2+ month tour, click here.)
Three full moons have passed since we left Tucson on September 12. We have driven two oil changes worth of miles. We have slept in 2 countries, in 12 US states and 1 Canadian province, visiting 17 communities for workshops and meetings. And we are not done yet.
We have driven as far north as Canada, as far south as North Carolina, as far east as the Atlantic ocean.
We attended a reading by a sour New Age philosopher at Malaprop’s – a magnificent independent bookstore in the robust downtown of Asheville, North Carolina, where book after book ultimately leaped into my possession. We spent a misty night at the lakeside home of a friend outside Knoxville, Tennessee, waking up to the quiet beauty of the waterfront wrapped in fog outside the window.
We have photographed stream after stream, barn after barn. We have had home-cooked meals in the homes of old friends, and have spent hours playing with their dogs.
Autumn’s arboreal rainbow has been the backdrop for every moment of the 2+ months of this journey so far, like watching a movie forward, then backward, and then forward again. Leaving Tucson and heading north in late September, we watched the leaves begin turning from green to gold. In early October, heading from Connecticut across western New York to Canada, the leaves peaked in brilliant golds and reds. Driving through Ontario in mid-October, gold and then brown leaves began falling from the trees. Heading south towards Pittsburgh and DC, those leaves were now reattached to the trees. And arriving further south, in Williamsburg, Virginia in early November, we found the season back in the full peak of gold and red with bits of green still hanging in there. This single season circled back twice for us, and we have been filled with awe and gratitude at every step.
There have been traumas – Dimitri’s dad, and then watching from a distance as the mother of a dear friend, Mark Myers, suddenly passed away as well. There have been minor inconveniences like head colds and bug bites. And there have been the highs of an election that brought words like “vision” and “possibility” to the lips of everyone we have met, and whose results left us crying in our hotel suite, receiving and making joyful phone calls to our kids and friends spread across the country.
We have met almost 1,000 people at 27 workshops and meetings. And we are not done yet.
Through all the sights and sounds and tastes of this fabulous tour, the most energizing part has been the work we traveled all this way to do in the first place, and the result of that work. We came to share a singular message, whether we were teaching Governance or Community Engagement:
Visionary community change is not only possible; it is practical and doable.
It is possible because it is not scientifically impossible. We have seen visionary results occur repeatedly in our work, and in the work of others.
It is practical and doable because there are easy-to-use systems for doing it, which is what our workshops shared – the practical side of creating visionary community change through the day-to-day work of our organizations.
Several people have asked us what we have observed across the diverse communities we have visited. Our response is this: Everywhere we have been, to the workshop, to the sponsor, and to the individuals attending, the desire for leveraging the work organizations are already doing, to create more significant community change, is undeniable. People are craving concrete, practical, doable approaches, aligned behind the intent of creating a more compassionate, vibrant, healthy, resilient world.
The result has been universal enthusiasm for the possibilities inherent in Community-Driven approaches. That enthusiasm energizes us to begin preparing now to do this tour again next year!
It also energizes us to have the Pollyanna Principles available to you by Christmas. It energizes us to begin the Community-Driven Institute’s classes for consultants next year, as the next step in changing how this sector does its work.
But for now, the tour continues, and we are most energized about our next stop – Lincoln, Nebraska. In Lincoln, we will not only do two workshops, but we will begin talking with community leaders about building a Community-Driven management support organization, to provide Community-Driven education and other resources for Lincoln’s community benefit organizations.
We are in St. Louis today, to spend the day with my darling friend, artist Jeane Vogel, who is always pushing me to think think think about the extent to which art is life is art. She has a show opening tonight; what a treat to be here for it!
And so, ten days before it is over, we can declare that the Community-Driven Tour 2008 has been a wild success. We have been honored to have been welcomed into so many communities, by so many incredible people, doing such extraordinary work. Each and every person who has had any part in this tour has our gratitude, beyond anything you can know.
Life is good indeed.
(Read the next installment of our adventures on the Community-Driven tour!)