It is hard to imagine the work we accomplished in our month in New Zealand. So much transpired, all so incredible it has taken several days of decompressing to even attempt to capture it in writing. The work. The people. The landscape. The thinking and being. Every moment in New Zealand was filled with pretty much all of that, all at once.
Over the next several days, I will attempt to share just a taste of our immersion into this amazing place, as we realize we have just completed our second Community-Driven Tour.
Funny how we never know we are at the beginning of something amazing until we look back. The beginning of this story starts about 10 years ago, when I met Garth Nowland-Foreman of Christchurch, NZ on CharityChannel. Garth and I found ourselves to be kindred spirits even as I was just exploring what has now become The Pollyanna Principles, the Community-Driven Institute, and my whole life.
Garth tried to bring me to New Zealand once before, but the resources couldn’t be assembled to make it happen. Since then it is clear he has been working every angle, including having us meet with one of his colleagues – Margy-Jean Malcolm – when she was in Phoenix for an ARNOVA conference years ago. (ARNOVA will play another interesting role in this story – isn’t it amazing how tiny the world is?)
The keystone in assembling the trip this time was a conference I would be keynoting. Unbeknown to us, Garth, Margy-Jean and another colleague, Aly McNicholl, had been moving heaven and earth for several years, to try to find a way to get us to New Zealand. When the conference came along, they seized the opportunity, and on March 1, Dimitri and I landed in Auckland.
Barely 24 hours on Kiwi soil, by mid-day March 2 we were setting up our classroom. And by 8am on March 3, we were back in the saddle, teaching a 5-day consultants immersion course for faculty memebers in UNITEC’s Graduate Diploma in Not-for-Profit Management. (To put that into perspective, this was the 3rd such course we had taught in a 7-week period. It’s been an intense 2010 so far. It doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon…)
To understand the power of this particular group of consultants requires two pieces of background information. The first is the power of UNITEC’s program – the only university-based Nonprofit Management program we have ever seen that is rooted first in values, then in management tools. When one enrolls in UNITEC’s program, the very first course you take – their “Nonprofit 101″ – is called “Values-Based Management and Leadership.” Really.
Within that culture, UNITEC’s faculty have been using my writings in their classes and in their consulting work for years – part of the build-up to our being in New Zealand in the first place.
The second important piece of background is the power of New Zealand culture overall. Around the world, one of the more positive things for which Americans are known is our can-do optimism. That frontier culture says, “Nothing is impossible. We can accomplish anything we put our minds to.”
I’d put New Zealand’s can-do against our can-do any time. The legendary image that captures New Zealanders’ pride in their ingenuity is the #8 Fencing Wire that was used to tame the land for agriculture and sheep-herding. The #8 Culture is one in which nothing stands in the way of getting things done. It is a culture that knows in its bones that there are practical ways to accomplish just about anything.
Is it sheer coincidence then, that our New Zealand Class was the CDI’s Consultant Class #8? Combine the Pollyanna Principles’ practical approaches for creating visionary social change, with a culture where #8 Wire makes anything possible, and you have nothing less than an unstoppable force for changing the world!
To read the next post in this series, click here.
Photo #1: Margy-Jean, Hildy & Garth
Photo #2: Aly