Connect with me
- New Year, done different?
- Peace to Prosperity – the Space Between
- The Prosperity Process II, Creating a Culture of Continuing Education
- Emerald Valley – One year old!
- Cross Border Development Zone, Business led!
- On Communities Growing Professionally…
- Storytelling…What it Helps to Know
- Storytelling…Why We Tell the Stories
- The Prosperity Process, A Conversation in Three Parts
- On Authenticity…
Category Archives: Growing, Civically
A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
People often ask me what BizCamp is. An unconference. What’s that? Quite simply: it’s a labour of love.
Congratulations to the BorderBizCamp team; the day was brilliant, every detail was attended to and operations ran like a well oiled machine. The speakers were outstanding, the range and quality was excellent.
It was as it should be everywhere. A small group of motivated and determined business people took what works best about their relationships with each other, the local enterprise agency and the M:TEK location and modeled it for the world. You genuinely brought the best out in everyone.
Thank you also to the Monaghan Enterprise Agency staff for volunteering on the day; business is business and I have often heard it said that agencies “don’t get it”.
Not this MEA team; look at enterprise defined and it could be seen in the energy and enthusiasm of every volunteer.
[ √] A project undertaken, especially one that is important or difficult or that requires boldness or energy;
[ √] The participation in such projects;
[ √] A company organised for commercial purposes
[ √] Boldness or readiness in undertaking; adventurous spirit; ingenuity.
Among the synonyms suggested:
[ √] plan, undertaking, venture
[ √] drive, aggressiveness, push, ambition
They definitely ticked those boxes.
Thank you to the sponsors who fed us and to the young volunteers. In the end it’s about the children. They watched more than 100 people come together to create a prosperity to allow for enough jobs on this island. They’re entitled not to have to leave home!
“The Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals”
A frequent challenge to my work with clients re-entering the job market is confidence. Otherwise skilled, even expert in their field, I am met with: “But I don’t have a degree”.
Sir Ken Robinson, renowned educator, education policy advisor and author, describes college degrees as currency.
A university education was once a guarantee of a job. Why? Because a relative few attained the distinction. Greater numbers now achieve graduate and post graduate degrees. Few would question the benefit. Even fewer would discourage their own children from pursuing one.
This “over supplied” currency is, nonetheless, devalued. A degree is no longer a guarantee of work. Perhaps not a bad thing. Education, like the pursuit of any skill set, is just a process.
Let’s learn to value skill, not the degree, as currency.
Proven results are the only measure of value. Nearly every banker, regulator and complicit government official responsible for the recent economic meltdown had a degree.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were college dropouts. They are admired as “self made” men. After the fact. Let’s choose to suspend judgment before the fact; no one needs a degree to excel.
Employability needs to be the currency of the 21st Century. What has greater value: employability or a degree?
Education often happens “at home”. Do we devalue second language fluency because it was learned there?
Computers, the smart phones, games and medical devices are now an integral part of our lives. More importantly they drive our economy.
They are run by a language. We think of it as complicated. It is not. Fluency and proficiency in this coded, binary language can be achieved by 6 & 8 year olds. They learn to think, develop and create in that language.
Their computer ceases to be a time trap of numbing games. It becomes the canvas on which they can create their own game (or hack the one they are playing to win).
These skills can be self taught. Apprenticeships in this field are simply trial and error. They rely on a community of peers, on and offline. There is a vast shortage of programmers and developers on this island and worldwide. There are lucrative jobs to be filled.
Self taught fluency or competency is not limited to programming or web design. Leadership, sales, logistics – these are all skills learned “on the job” by experienced workers who started employment and rose through the ranks. No degree.
Collectively a community needs skilled joiners, plumbers and electricians to build our homes, farmers to see that we are fed, and merchants to procure the goods we require. Most learned from masters and mentors, formally or informally apprenticed.
Physicians “practice” medicine. Their skills are developed after their studies, in training best described as apprenticeships.
The artists, artisans, musicians and writers who enrich our lives are judged simply by their work product. It is the only measure of success. Their distinction is excellence.
My point about the Titanic?
Simply that the loss of so many lives was owed to the judgment of experts that “enough” lifeboats would be redundant. Her sinking was owed to a series of failures by the professionals into whose hands she was delivered.
What do we honour 100 years later about the ship herself? To quote the locals, descendants of the skilled tradesman who built her:
“She was fine when she left here”…
A post On Becoming Empowered Citizens ( http://goo.gl/prCgg ) described my sense that Ireland was, metaphorically, in an adolescent place ready to rebel against the authorities such as the church and state, and reclaim the power relinquished to them in absolute trust and obedience for generations. The recent election certainly reflected a beginning.
That spoke to the way we have handled our political response to the economic crisis, however, we proved ourselves fully adult and authentic in our political identity as citizens of the Republic of Ireland.
The high points of the recent visit by the Queen have been well reported. Coverage of the ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance was as moving as my own first experience of it. I’ve little doubt the British head of state mourned the loss of her dear uncle and the British young who served their country. She did so while honouring the Irish who died. The capacity to hold the grief on both sides is born of maturity.
I was pleased and proud to count myself as an Irish citizen most significantly during her visit to Cork. Her warm reception during the walkabout, not possible in Dublin, was a fitting appreciation for her effort to come. The maturity of calling a demonstration not in protest but in celebration of Cork’s Republican past a respectfully short distance away, was heroic and historic.
The peace process is clearly that, a process. We are not all at the same stage of acceptance, of reconciliation or even in agreement. But the gathering at Sullivan’s Quay was a respectful acknowledgment of our shared process. While accepting the reality of the democratically elected government’s invitation, there was a positive assertion of another narrative. We as citizens of this Island – whether North and South of the border each have our own narrative. Respect for each other and our stories is all that is required for the peace process to move forward.
The leadership of Sinn Féin has clearly struggled within their ranks to move their narrative to a place which allowed for the respectful treatment of this particular foreign head of state. Perhaps there is a lesson in that struggle for us all.
The words spoken were clearly well chosen and even well rehearsed on all sides. I believe that will be the way that we move the conversation forward. I would support all friends, colleagues and readers to come together and develop a language for the respectful treatment of each other’s stories. None of us can afford to take offense when it is not intended, nor can we be unthinking in our choice of language.
Let us choose our words carefully, in English and in Irish. Let us choose to be inclusive and respectful of our individual sense of our identities. Let us move forward in a way that allows us to never have to say of this period that there is much “which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”…
I believe the citizens of Ireland in the Republic and in Northern Ireland – if empowered to witness a mature belief that we deserve governments and institutional authorities that are competent, responsive and respectful of the citizenry, will finally elect worthy representatives.
When my adolescent children were rebelling, I would assert my authority by saying “this is not a democracy”, well my fellow Irish men and women – this is a democracy – on both sides of the border. We get the representation we deserve.
I believe that culturally and anthropologically, Ireland is in that same adolescent place. Seen in this light, we can collectively rebel against the parents, the government and the authorities to whom we had relinquished our power. We were dependent on institutions charged with our care and security and they have failed us. We believed and behaved as told. We didn’t question, we believed the financial institutions would hold, the church would educate and protect our children, our pensions would be secure. In failing us they have abused us. Would I expect a child who I had bankrupted, lied to and left homeless to respect and obey me? No.
What I am asking you to do is to join me in becoming empowered citizens. Seizing this moment for Ireland would be to require institutions to serve and protect us. Representatives would be forced to answer to the citizenry. Citizens would have to let go of “I am powerless to change it” and go to the polls to choose competent, respectful and responsive leadership.
Who is she, why does she care, and where does she come from with this? “Myth lets you know where you are across the ages of life “ *
When I emigrated to Ireland, my Jewish friends in the states would say “She is making Aliyah! But to Ireland…”
It was said with an understanding that people who seek a new homeland are in fact following the commandment given to Abraham in Genesis “Go forth from your land,your birthplace,your father’s house, to the land that I will show you”. What was understood by these friends was the psychological, mythological understanding of Aliyah – not a literal read of the text.
What I believe is that this is the metaphor for the heroic journey we are all called upon to make at some point in our lives when we live authentically and leave behind our dependencies on an old way of being that may not be working for us anymore.
Personally, I thought I had to live the way my parents had prescribed, where they had chosen and to please their vision of who I should be. When I came into being as my own person, an authority for my own life, responsible for my own happiness I grew up. In my forties. Adolescence seems about right for this ancient land with millennia ahead….
Join me, at the polls and in the public spaces, on our collective heroic journey to require competent, responsive and respectful leadership.
* Joseph Campbell illustrates this developmental truth in his own words:
Five minutes, too dear? Start at 3!
This evening Jews all over the world began the celebration of Chanukah. Not a celebration of rebellion or the overthrow of the Greeks – we celebrate the re-dedication of the temple. The miracle celebrated is one of faith and light - the oil found when the temple was reclaimed was only enough to light the ritual lamp for one day; it lasted eight. We recall this by lighting candles every night for eight nights. On the first night one, the second two and so on. The holiday – at this darkest time of the year reminds us that with faith and a commitment to re-dedication every night brings an ever increasing amount of light.
Perhaps that is a lesson for all of us in Ireland in this the bleakest of times. We are required only to reclaim our power. To re-dedicate ourselves to the work of living this one day. Our energy – our light is likely to last another day and another, and my guess is it will miraculously last as long as need be. It was true of our forbearers let it also be true of us. We needn’t be invested in the outcome, we need to be invested in the process.
In another bit of ancient wisdom: Ours is not to complete the task, but neither may we desist from the labour.
As with every Jewish holiday it is begun with a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank you to the creator, for giving us life, for sustaining us and for helping us to reach this moment. I do not know why this had to be our moment in history, but I have every confidence that as long as we are choosing life we will be able to sustain each other in reaching the next moment.…
While we’ve never met I felt compelled to write. I read your letter in the Irish News and I am sorry it was a problem for you to have your children participate in Remembrance Day activities at school.
First let me offer that what I say is coloured by a the fact that while Irish and living here, I was reared in America. It was a gift that my grandparents left in 1908, I knew nothing of the troubles. I am sorry for the trauma that characterised your upbringing and sadly continues into the present lives of your children. I mean to neither minimize that pain or deny its legacy. For you personally and for us all.
That said, as an American I witnessed the horror of having my peers return from service in Vietnam, wounded if not physcially then spiritually by the horrors they experienced. They witnessed the destruction of entire villages – napalmed out of existence – and some barren to this day. Children raped and murdered, comrades killed and captured. Those who returned met with having their experience ignored at best and villified at worst. Many were called baby killers by protesters meeting planes.
We did, however, learn an important lesson. While a majority of us did not support the imperialism to which you refer – by the time of the Kuwait and Iraq invasions we collectivley responded with “I support the soldiers not the war”.
And this is my point. These young men and women are every woman’s sons and daughters. No woman experiences labour and delivery and sleepless nights for two decades to think of her child as mere cannon fodder.
So I would ask for you to let go of your hatred of the British for long enough to love for a moment the children of heartbroken mothers lost on the fields of Europe – 50,000 of them Irish in WWI alone. I would ask you to remember the Irish soldiers who served in the liberation of Italy – Ireland was neutral, but many served with allied forces, US and British. I would ask you to remember the Irish messenger, a former war chaplain, who brought Churchill the news that in the name of those fallen in WWI, Ireland had no more sons to give. Young Englishmen died in their places.
I proudly have a poppy and pray for peace. I wear my poppy in solidarity with the mothers who paid for my freedom with the blood of their sons and daughters. Because before I am a citizen of Ireland or America, before I am a Jew reared Roman Catholic, before all other things I am a mother. Blessed to never have had to sacrifice a child.
For an earlier blog post on Remembrance, Poppies & Homelands: http://www.eveearley.ie/?p=255…
I recently heard two successful entrepreneurs talk about philanthropy. Interestingly, both said they didn’t realize they were “entrepreneurs” or “philanthropists” until they read it in the paper.
Both were uncomfortable with the terms. There is wisdom gleaned in the precise use of language. What made them uncomfortable about the labels? We are all uncomfortable with labels and in the matter of giving they and most would probably prefer to remain anonymous. Perhaps neither wanted attention for simply doing the right thing. Unspoken was “it’s not about the money”.
Maimonides, a twelfth century philosopher and biblical scholar spoke at great length about the ethics and moral imperatives of charity. He described what we intuitively understand. There are levels of charity – the lowest is the donation you make, unwillingly. Higher is when you give and the recipient knows you. Higher still is when the giver and the recipient are unknown to each other.
I am sure that these and most donors would like to count themselves among this group.
But these people come to the table and identify themselves as philanthropists, uncomfortably – because they know that their gifts and actions will spur others on; if not to actually give in the moment than to think and rethink their relationship to giving. I hope they come to be more comfortable with the term; they serve us well in the role.
Entrepreneur, however, is a label I would like to encourage them – and all of us to embrace. They seemed uncomfortable being cited for simply doing the work of their lives, going to the job of their choosing –they happened to be their own bosses. And decades ago – it was an alternative workstyle.
Today, it is a career choice for many. That choice – to do what they love, and to do it well, empowered them to be the generous donors they are.
No matter that they can no longer remain anonymous. Maimonides goes on to describe the highest level of charity. It is a gift, loan, or partnership that results in the recipient supporting himself instead of depending upon others.
So, thank you to all entrepreneurs, not for the donations, but for creating jobs and partnerships. These two men have empowered families and revitalized communities throughout the UK and beyond. Most of the recipients have never considered that they have received a gift and in the end it is I and my fellow citizens who have benefited.
The word for charity as written biblically in Hebrew is rooted in the word justice. Giving is just.
Living in Northern Ireland on the eve of BizCampBelfast.com – a free conference where 400 people are registered to talk about how to rethink business, how to support emerging businesses, how to become entrepreneurs. No money will change hands but, I am seeing charity and philanthropy being practiced in its highest form.
I think it no accident that Maimonides defined this measure of charity and justice about 800 years ago; how better to ensure this peace than with people committed to this kind of giving.…
November. Conscious of and indebted to the efforts of veterans worldwide – I remember. An American expat living in Ireland, in matters of politics I have pacifist leanings. I am, however, untroubled by my passion for honouring the military and sacrifices made on my behalf. Generations of sacrifices.
American veterans, British veterans, Canadian, German, Italian, Japanese, Israeli and Arab veterans, I make no distinction. Every one was called upon by his or her motherland to serve.
Service. Few of those who served or died had a say in the arguments, feuds and passions that led to the conflicts. Some followed reprehensible orders, all faced circumstances I have not. I, therefore, respect their service, even when not in service to my ideals.
On the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour every year, I am proud to say that I have thought of, prayed and cried for the sacrifices of all veterans. Perhaps due to my age or the fact that I am an American of Irish and Italian descent who is Jewish, my mind goes first to the soldiers who liberated the concentration camps. Beyond the dangers they faced in their war efforts until that day – most took to their graves the horror of what they witnessed, and only in its aftermath.
My uncle was an Italian soldier who spent most of WWII in a Russian POW camp. Was his sacrifice less noble or costly because the leadership of his homeland chose the “other” side? I have a dear friend, an Israeli veteran whose service in the Lebanon war haunts him to this day. You get my point. Veteran’s day is complicated.
I never thought that before, it was driven home by an effort to obtain a small red poppy for a British expat friend in the states. I live in Carlingford, on the border with Northern Ireland, the UK. I assumed that in my travels I would be able to make a donation and pick up this token of remembrance known all over the British Isles.
Not so. “Ah sure, but you wouldn’t want to be trying to find that.” “No lass, we wouldn’t be wearing that around here.” “You’re brave to be asking for one of those.”
I have learned to challenge that response. 50,000 Irish soldiers died in WWI and many now serve with UN peacekeepers. I am sorry for the legacy of the British occupation. I try to be sensitive to both sides.
That said I am outraged by the intolerance and disrespect of the young men and women who serve their homelands, anywhere. Especially here.
August (2009) marked the 30th anniversary of the massacre of 18 British soldiers in Northern Ireland. I can see it from my home. There is now an uneasy peace in that conflict. Those 18 mothers and their sons deserved to have their memories honoured. We in the Republic were largely silent.
We should not celebrate the wars – victory or defeat – but we must celebrate the gift of the young lives they and their families have given. Their gift is literally our present.
I have a US homeland, the gift of brave grandparents who emigrated. Ireland is now home. My Irish forbearers were driven out by the policies of the British. Can I hold that against a British soldier? The Irish government generously regards this grandchild still a citizen, their soldiers serve bravely with UN peacekeeping troops worldwide. Can I blame an Irish soldier for the Republic’s neutrality in the face of genocide? The genocide that left my Jewish children deprived of extended families that exist no longer? Here as a Jew I am pilloried as an extension of the Israeli occupation. I have no connection to Israel, should I disdain the service of her young?
Jews trapped in European homelands 70 years ago were citizens of countries and dependent upon the protection of soldiers in whose armies many served. Later they were grateful to soldiers of other homelands who liberated them.
Whose soldiers and what sacrifices would you have me forget?…
My grandmother was a simple woman. She shared her wisdom with “old sayings” that come to me often. Her response to my pained experience of mastering the sewing machine: “it’s a poor workman who blames his tools”; on my frequent whines about my lot in life: “offer it up”; on any matter of importance: “two heads are better than one, even if one is a cabbage”.
This one was confounding. Was my opinion as valuable as veg?
Creative problem solving can’t happen in a vacuum. That was and is the most important lesson she offered. It is what I seek to offer via this blog. “Who does she think she is?” is the message I often hear when I raise issues. And the answer is: “No one and everyone”.
Once uttered, thoughts, threats, fears – all lose their power. No more nighttime monsters under the bed. When we give voice to an issue, we throw open the windows and let in the light. The situation may remain scary – but we are no longer alone in the dark to imagine the demon, or to slay the dragon with limited weapons at hand. We’ve called in reinforcements. Reinforcements with a fresh perspective. They may be unarmed ones or ones who clear the debris obscuring the escape, the ones who resupply, or the ones who rework the strategy. Perhaps, even a peacemaker who will whisper our demons to sleep.
So lest I be misunderstood, I am merely an observer. At best I seek to point out that we are undermining our collective potential. At worst, think of me as a mild annoyance. Often, it is my ignorance that is displayed – and feedback serves to educate me.
The mission here is to create a forum. A conversation to get us thinking about ourselves and our communities in a new light. Think of this place as a fertile field. Our children are the seeds. Their yield will sustain our communities for another generation. Will they grow in seasons of dearth or abundance? Will we leave overplanted fields stripped of nutrients? Or we will hoe, clear the rocks, enrich and prepare a better field to insure success. We can clear the plots defined by our acres and that is good. How much better would it be if we collectively prepared our own and helped our neighbors? Village wide, county wide, country wide and worldwide.
The agricultural metaphor is not born vainly of poetry. A client – twenty years ago, was delighted that we’d produced a resume she’d struggled over for months. She smiled when I abbreviated my grandmother’s thought – “two heads are better than one”.
“Even if one is a cabbage.” She startled me, I’d never heard that part elsewhere. “Did it make you feel as dumb as a vegetable?” I asked. “No” she said – pooh poohing the sentiment.
Her grandmother always generously finished the thought with, “because if all else fails, you can eat the cabbage”.
Food for thought. Wise women.…