Monday, July 11, 2016

Doing the Work

Thomas Edison made the point with his quote:  "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." 

I'm sitting in a community now that is struggling with some financial issues.  A bunch of visitors and newcomers have all these great ideas for new businesses and making money.  They are more than happy to tell us what we should do.

The problem here certainly isn't a lack of good ideas.  The problem is (and I don't just see it in this community but in lots of places in communities and social change situations) that ideas are easy.  But things don't happen because someone has a good idea.  Things happen because there are people willing to do the work to make them happen.

I've heard a story from Twin Oaks about the solar panels that are near a community entrance.  The community gets a certain amount of its energy from them.  The story is that they are there because one member wanted Twin Oaks to have solar panels and proposed it, and then met with the people who had problems with this, and reformulated his proposal, and then dealt with those who had difficulties with the new proposal, and kept on and on doing this for months.  He finally came up with something that everybody was okay with and then they were able to get these solar panels. 

I've heard this called 'shepherding the process'.  You take responsibility for making it happen, you talk with folks, you work with folks, you do what you need to do so that it gets done.  This is a lot more work than just putting out an idea, but this is what makes things happen.

A related thing that I've noticed is visitors coming to dinner at the community that I'm in now and wanting to talk about how the community works as we're trying to clean up after dinner.  If you want to make a good impression on a community that you're visiting, offer to help.  They may not need it, they may not want it, but it will be noticed.

There are those who come up with the ideas, who can expound on how communities can work and how we need to change the world, and there are those working to build communities, to keep communities going, and to create a better world.  Obviously, I'm part of the former (this blog is an example of that) but I also try to be part of the latter group.  I want to see change happen and that means that I know I need to do the work to make it happen.

Nothing is going to happen without the willingness to work.

Quote of the Day:  "Grace happens when we act with others on behalf of the world." - Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown


Optimistic Existentialist said...

I agree 100%!! Talent without effort is meaningless :)

vera said...

Yeah, lots of good points. But there is a danger to this "shepherding the process." You may end up with something everybody is ok with, but it no longer pulls at your own heartstrings. And if you are the one who is to make it happen, that's a problem.

I think that "them that do the work get to choose the paint color" should be inserted here somewhere... no?

MoonRaven said...

Hi Vera,

Sorry to be slow in responding but life here has been pretty busy.

Unfortunately, what you're describing is often part of the communal process. Witness the name 'Twin Oaks', selected not because it was the best liked, but because it was the least disliked. I feel like this is part and parcel of community building--I see it as a balancing act.

The problem with the folks I've seen that tried to enforce the "them that do the work..." is that they ended up without a community.

vera said...

I got that "rule" from a little book about a sailing boat coop. Worked for them... another rule I recall is... if you criticize the food someone cooked, wrap up with "good, though!" or you may end up with a food fight. :-)

Are you still at Ganas?

MoonRaven said...

Yep. Still here. Still trying to build a commune in the city.

Where are you these days?