Rachel’s report back on Leading Social Change spring gathering

Here’s Rachel’s report back to all the participants of the Leading Social Change program.

“Many thanks to Pennie and Phoebe for organising our spring equinox get-together, and Pennie for her generous and fun hosting. We all had a wonderful time sitting out on Pennie’s deck with a fire nearby, and it felt magical. It was hard to believe we were in a suburb at times! We missed those of you that weren’t able to come along, and hope you can come along to our Beltane gathering.

Aside from finding out what everyone has been doing since our last day together in July, we all planted some seeds (pumpkin, rocket and calendula), along with an intention for spring.

Here is a brief summary of what everyone has been doing. Thanks to Mark, Laura and Sarah for sending on their news. I have included it in this email.

Peter talked about his winter sabbatical – including meeting up with Steve on his travels. Peter is helping his adult children to increase their fitness for their trek in Nepal later this year. Peter has been busy with Healthy Soils.

Michael has been working with another farmer in the region to develop a farming apprentice scheme. It will build/transfer farming skills, help new farmers to gain some experience as well as capital for later starting their own farms. He has also started planting some vegetables, which is a less familiar growing process for him.

Has not been very slow! She is working with the Chorus of Women who will be performing at a local church in October. This is creating some personal challenges for some of the choir members who are not religious, and for those who are religious performing in front of an audience that will have a significant number of non-church goers. She is wondering if spring is re-energising her.

John is still thinking about options for internships on the farm. He will be doing a permaculture design for his farm as part of his university course.

Has taken on leading a group of Dickson residents who are appealing a planning decision to allow a high density development to go ahead. While the appeal is taking a lot of Jane’s time and energy, she is also discovering the diverse interests and backgrounds of people in her local community.

Barbara has regained some energy with the change of seasons, and also has the agreement of the Greens to support an amendment to the draft waste management plan for the ACT.

Is having some serendipitous experiences with her Wagga project. She may have found a site for her project and to live.

Is very excited about her honours thesis and is enjoying the drafting of it. Phoebe will have finished it in 6 weeks. She attended the City Farm meeting, which had about 70 attendees. Some committees have formed as a result of the meeting.

Is making some progress assisting clients that have an intractable neighbourhood conflict. She has had good feedback about the personal impact the peer mediation program had on the participants. She spent some time at another school that has been doing a project on conflict. These are 12 year olds who are modelling how to lead social change in their school community!

Mark’s story is here

My project consists in settling back to my life in Paris and bringing in the learnings from my rich Aussie experience.

From the LSC group, I’ve become aware that to thrive I need to be involved in the community. I’ve felt so “alive” while being around you. When I read in the e-mails about all the projects you’re involved in I’m thinking: but why did I leave? I had just found out the right persons I want to be around!!

The other alternative (less extreme that quitting everything to come back to Australia straight away!) is to look for inspiring groups of people here in Paris! In such a big city it should exist! And I’m pretty sure some of my friends would get on board with me! But it is hard to figure out where to start looking…

And another main issue is that my job is already starting to take too much space over my personal life, just as it used to be… I spend too many hours at work and it leaves me with very little time and energy to get involved in other projects… For instance last week I had planned to go to a conference on community gardens around Paris but of course I had to cancel it because of I had too much work…

Having stepped back for some months, I am also now much more aware of what is not done properly in my company. Indeed, there has always been important management issues but I find it harder to cope with them now. Especially when I think of the definition of a leader we’ve been talking: “a leader leads by making others powerful” … This does not seem to be the way directors and managers deal with the team… Being aware of all this I am trying to speak out more than I used to, to show that I disagree with some things. As a consequence my manager told me that it seems that Australia made me rebellious and is now calling me Crocodile Dundee!

But there are also some nice things about being back to work: interesting projects (related to the evaluation of the benefits of recycling  paper or to the assessment of the environmental performances of insulation materials made of hemp or wood fibre to give 2 examples of what I am working on at the moment), friendly colleagues, (a salary)  and the feeling of being appreciated as a colleague.

And also thanks to the LSC experience I have these great little sayings popping up during the day like self n°2 or rule #6! I love it!

So my project for the next 6 weeks is to work on finding the right balance between my job and my personal life. But I am not so sure that this is compatible with working at my current company…I just came back so I still want to give it a try because I like what I’m doing and the people I’m working with. And I have recently read about delayed gratification so let’s see!

Kind thoughts to you all

A bientôt

To where has my project progressed?

Well, so far, mostly in my head, although small progress this week in the digging of a hole.  The boys needed to assist, and hence the slow progress.  I have refurbished the bathroom in the apartment, upon Laura and Laurent’s departure.  As a consequence we have a spare bath.  This bath is going into the hole and will become a berry bed/bath/bog.  Can’t wait.  My beautiful cross the way neighbour has offered us some raspberry plants and when I am ready to plant they will be ready for me to collect.  This is the beginning of the garden out the front for all to see and ponder as they pass by.  Much more to work on but slow and steady, as they say.  The hole was dug as my birthday present from my two older sons, Oscar and Hugo.

What would I like this group to help with regarding my activity, project, or intentions for the next six weeks?

Already I have had some input from Judy and Tom and Rachel.  Together with these three I have a lovely stash of manure and compost, all brewing as I write.  How gorgeous is this?  I look forward to hearing more Barbara about your conversation with Caroline.  I also spoke with her about your idea at the last Canberra Conversation.  I had not progressed with this information as she directed me to Heather Tomlinson (is this the correct name and spelling?).  This conversation led to a very different outcome, with many questions to be answered.  I hope that your renewed enthusiasm and the like minded people with whom you are now conversing goes really well.

My important intention for the next six weeks…I just wish I could be with you all tonight to share this beginning.

Love to you all”

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One Response to Rachel’s report back on Leading Social Change spring gathering

  1. Pingback: “What are you up to?” | Mark Spain's Blog

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