I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to write about working together and how Colorado Springs (and surrounding areas) do or, more honestly, doesn’t pull it off.
It is hard for me to put into words the feelings that I’ve had over the last few years about this without seeming downtrodden or negative. At the end of the day, we have incredible community spirit and so many wonderful people doing wonderful things here. There is, however, this permeating resistance that winds through the good and eventually ends up with those things simply not happening.
Sometimes the good things are pushed along the wayside for BIGGER things. Sometimes the good things get drowned like the person who dives in the water to save someone and gets pushed under the water from all the thrashing. Other times, like in many examples that I personally have crammed into my backpack of ideas, the voice is too small and doesn’t have the doers on board to complete the task and the idea flickers like a match that has tried to light, but never finds its spark.
The thing that probably bothers me the most is the need for ownership of the good ideas. I have seen time after time, really good ideas be born, only to flail about in the land of Not Happening, due to internal or external conflict. Much of the conflict has to do with the egoism that surfaces in groups who are trying to get things done.
In some instances, there is a person or people who decide that within a group who gathers to make something good happen, they must run the show or be the “lead” in order to show the shiny badge. The dictatorship model sinks the boat. The need for personal gain and satisfaction ultimately overrules the task at hand and soils the good. The result is frustration and cauterizing of an open flow of future ideas and communication.
Now, I don’t claim to know what is going on in the following example, but today I read Matthew Schniper’s blog on the Independent: Food fight: Manitou’s Local First Grocer battling internal tensions. Here is something I’ve been confronted with when exposing what is inside my backpack of ideas. I have long thought that we could have a most awesome and amazing Colorado Springs based brick and mortar shop for all things local. I’ve even let the cat out of the bag in order to share the idea and to get feedback, most of which was very positive.
I envisioned a warm store with wooden shelves lined with cottage foods, handcrafted alpaca yarn scarves, locally roasted coffee percolating, while people came in to sit and read books written by local authors, or inhale the smells of goat milk soaps. A cafe at one end with eggs from nearby chickens being scrambled on lovingly made bread
Being a self-employed stay at home mom with two kids has not lent to possessing much wealth. I have not earned my monocle and bags of money to sit atop, and therefore have absolutely no means to open such a place on my own. So, I looked outward. How would I possibly make the idea happen?
It had crossed my mind that perhaps opening a co-op type organization would fit the bill. Though, I’m still not sure that I would have had the wherewithal to make it happen this way, the primary intimidation for not doing it was fear that by opening up my idea to others and releasing ownership to others after growing my idea baby from nothing, would end in my ousting. Not because I’m a terrible person or have terrible ideas. I’d just been burned before by such things and really didn’t want to put my love and energy into something that gave others the power to kidnap my baby legally.
If I made her, I wanted to stay with her. I wanted to nurture her from infancy and raise her strong and healthy, watch her take off on her own and stand back while she became something that the community adored, not just an idea that I adored.
But I was too scared.
I have had experiences in the past with the egoism and the need to rule. The conflicts of even the most well meaning of community leaders in not bending or being willing to say THIS is our reason for being. Not my name on a plaque. Not my name in the newspaper. This wonderful idea is bigger than us or me.
Moreover, I have a personal fault in wanting not to be the star of the show or the ring leader. I don’t want to speak publicly or draw attention to myself. I am LLoyd Dobler.
This personality trait has caused me to often times neglect to follow through. I don’t want to have to convince others that the silent self is better for the big good. Over time, I’ve been more neglectful than not due to my past experiences. Frankly, I’ve been steamrolled a few times. Some have even had the best intentions – in thinking that they were the better person for the job. Perhaps because they are more connected, better community politicians, or know more of the important people.
My only hope in all of my endeavors, which I hope that I have personified, is the willingness to not be the star of the show. On twitter, for example, I have aimed not at self promotion, but of community promotion. I do not wish to overshadow the community for the sake of my own badge of award or whatever might come with it. Though I have received commendation here and there, for which I am so grateful and proud of, that will never, ever overshadow the mission at hand. It is about us. It is about who we can be and what we can accomplish together.
I wonder what the resolution to this is because it often keeps me from my best possible accomplishments, which is certainly a personal roadblock.
I’d love to hear your comments about this topic and impressions on what I have said. Join the conversation? I appreciate you having read.