I’ve just returned from a conference on coworking, which gave me reason to revisit the relevance of the ‘sharing economy’ and ‘shareable cities’. While we’re seeing a huge upsurge in sharing of spaces, vehicles and everything else through clever use of technology, not all of it is positive. It’s timely for Geraldton to consider the question: “If we are going to benefit from more sharing, how do we ensure the outcomes are positive for our local community and economy?” While no-one may know the answer to that question yet, but we need to be asking it or risk being surprised by the downsides of sharing in our city.
In conversations with a friend about our slightly different perspectives and approaches, I looked up definition and etymology of Leadership: “guide”, “cause to go with”. What I freshly appreciated from this was the emphasis on the relationship to the ’other’ who one is causing to go with. That is, that leadership and “followship” co-arise in the same moment, the relationship may be more mutual and reciprocal than paternal, and there’s the possibility that the meaning-making, identity and intentions of the follower may be more important to the relationship than the ‘vision’ of the aspiring leader.
In this post I share a few thoughts and observations from entrepreneurship, herding chickens and fighting on the mat, as they related to the dynamics of leadership and fellowship.
#PUBLICsymposium was an amazing event, and a rare and much appreciated opportunity in WA. A deep bow of gratitude to FORM and sponsors who footed the bill for most of us.
Here are some of my reflections after Day 2, which add to the reflections from Day 1. The same disclaimer applies as for Day 1: I wasn’t paying much attention to the visual art aspects, and didn’t attend some of those sessions.
- Form enables function. To balance my pun from Day 1, form (and FORM!) enables function. Even when there is so much emphasis on the digital and virtual, our awareness of the influence of physical spaces (including built and natural) on our learning and creativity is increasing. We heard evidence and stories from multiple presenters about how creativity is learned and realised in enabling spaces: coworking and innovation at Brodie’s Spacecubed and Leon’s Creative Factory, good design through Carly’s Open House of architecture, and Paul’s emphasis on the characteristics of a high functioning classroom ‘space’ for creativity. Without physical form, our embodied learning would be disabled.
Rather than tackled the impossible task to personally condense the first day’s messages and ideas from dozen civic leaders’ life’s work from Day 1 (and which the ‘crowd’ has done well through the event’s hashtag #publicsymposium ), this post is to articulate a few personal observations and ideas-in-formation.
A brief disclosure, first, because I didn’t just attend this to learn about public art or creative interventions that could be replicated, adopted or adapted in Geraldton. My intention in attending (thanks to FORM’s sponsorship as a community champion) was to be at perhaps the first place or time (ever, yet) in WA that questions of how we (humanity) can sustain, grow and share learning across each others’ city-scale innovations and transformational initiatives. It’s that line of inquiry that guides my own work.
Thanks to feedback from some wonderful people, I’ve updated the question shared in a previous post. I expect many more iterations to occur!
The summary of the final submission for a Churchill fellowship, and trajectory for my professional work is below.
Thankyou to Andrea Selvey, Will Varey, Ann Larson, Scott Ludlam and the Pollinators members and community for their invaluable contributions. Without their support I wouldn’t even be in the position to do this, and the inquiry would be being made with a different (and less coherent and contributive) appreciation, ethos, orientation and understanding.
Geraldton’s Community bank branch an amazing array of services, grants and funding opportunities for community groups. The image attached is an unofficial attempt to highlight how some of these work, centred around a member-based, NFP community organisation.
As a voluntary Director, shareholder, and business and personal customer I am still working out how to make the most of Bendigo’s services.
While not all are captured (e.g. telco, insurance etc) the illustration does include:
- Bendigo Bank Community Bank model — 50% profits go back to community projects (50% to Bendigo corporate shareholders)
- Community Sector Banking products — 50% of profit from fees go to a consortium of 20 NFPs who half-own the service
- redy digital payment solution — 0.5% of retail transactions are available as ‘creds’ to donate to community groups
- act. banking products — 0.4% of monthly balance available as “Impact Dollars” to donate to community projects,
- Community Enterprise Foundation — grants available to community groups through Bendigo Bank’s corporate philanthropic arm
A question for anyone reading is: Knowing this (and given rates, conditions and service are the same of better), why wouldn’t you (or your business or community group) bank with Bendigo?
And in response to some likely questions for me: “yes”, I’m inquiring internally at Bendigo as to why there is separate branding and ‘currencies’ for each of the 5 or so different ways that money goes back into community groups and projects!
Arriving in Geraldton from years in Sweden, UK and traveling, I was holding a question about “the conditions that are enabling of sustainable human communities. My 5 year inquiry has taken the form of action-learning, contributing to projects and ventures that I (and others) assessed as high-leverage contributions to Greater Geraldton moving closer towards being a sustainable community. And, since 2011 my efforts have been primarily focused on growing Pollinators Inc.
In that 5 years, by my assessment, I’ve invested much more in the ‘action’ than then ‘learning’. In the last 2 years Pollinators Inc has grown, gained momentum, and is moving beyond being a ‘startup’ social enterprise (i.e. nearly having a stable business model, with core services mostly independent of grant funding). That growth has taken a big investment of time and energy from a range of individuals and organisations and at times has felt a little…isolating. Strange term to use when we’re growing a ‘community’ that’s very connected, but we have consciously focused on making the enterprise work locally, so the isolation has been relative to the capital city and international networks of coworking, social innovation, social enterprise etc.