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…
Tag Archives: Community
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.”…
Today I am energised and joyful. Thank you to the folks committed to striving for “Excellence in Ireland”. I joined them in London. There was no better way for an Irish-American expat to spend Thanksgiving 2010.
Imagine optimism, ambition and a call for excellence by committed Irish folk and their supporters on both sides of the Irish Sea and across the Diaspora.
Imagine Enterprise Ireland presenting great news: 139 Irish companies entering the UK market in the last 18 months; an additional 78 to Europe. This is a committed group with a structured program of expanding markets for Irish businesses. Imagine that Irish construction companies expand their capacity and strategically market with Portuguese and Spanish companies to open markets in South America, it’s happening! This is not a bunch of bureaucrats ticking boxes; this is a dynamic group – aggressively bringing Irish business to the world stage, where larger markets and opportunities abound. Then imagine a technology product that is bringing the story of our innovations worldwide – via live feeds, videos and conferencing – not a boring report in sight!
Imagine a commitment to sustain the unique identity and contribution of the Irish to London illustrated in talks by our host at the Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith and by a representative from the Federation of Irish Societies. The cultural centre is committed to programming that brings the richness of Irish culture to Irish emigrants, their descendants and a wider UK audience. How Irish Are You? www.howirishareyou.com is an effort to have UK Irish emigrants and their descendants “tick the Irish box” on the UK census in March. An undercount in the last census impacted allocation of funds to specific community needs – getting it right could have an impact on funding from leaner budgets going forward.
Imagine a movement to bring the vote to all Irish citizens living abroad. Ireland and Greece are the only EU countries who don’t give their citizens abroad the vote. Imagine that if you are forced to emigrate for work, you would be ensured a say in electing and empowering new leadership who will pave the way for a recovery that could bring you or your children home.
Imagine a social network of Irish people worldwide, helping each other find jobs or comfort in the diaspora. A message delivered via video at the London launch of www.Rendezvous353.com came from Jordan. (paraphrased) I’m sorry, I’d love to be there but we had a previous commitment to raise a glass and watch “the game” among our Irish friends here. Imagine mining the site for Irish business & social contacts worldwide!
Imagine a book of the found photographs of Father Francis Brown whose chronicle of Ireland and her people between 1894 and 1937 has just been published; priest, philosopher, WWI chaplain – a Renaissance man and lover of all places and things Irish. His grand-nephew has preserved this bygone era. A bold footnote to our meeting and – a reminder of what we love about the place the people entirely unchanged by current politics and economics.
Imagine frank talk by a Belfast entrepreneur who told us about Northern Irish Connections. Beyond this effort to engage the Diaspora with an ambitious program to highlight and report back how best to reach folks who will add value to our island world; he peppered all our conversations with reminders of the subtle adjustments to language and simple nuance which will help us move from the still strained and sensitive relationships of the peace process to the more easy comfort we will need for the prosperity process.
Whatever you can imagine and visualise, it can happen; I’ve shared their vision – and an Ireland of excellence is within our reach. Start grasping.
To lend a hand or add your voice to embolden our leadership in this prosperity process, contact me email@example.com, comment here – or join www.RendezVous353.com for links to some of these folks and their efforts!
Father Browne at Home is available from the author; contact me for further information.…
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.…
If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would be not be one cheerful face on earth. Abraham Lincoln
This timely reading from a book of daily meditations was followed by: “If Lincoln could achieve all that he did feeling such depression, can I not bear feeling down in the dumps occasionally without being driven to the insanity of….?” fill in the blank with whatever your personal demon, overeating, drinking, gambling; workaholism, irritability, controlling, fits of rage…
Thursday night I broke bread with fifteen friends and colleagues – a summer social barbecue, to wind down another year of breakfast meetings for a small cross border business group in the Northeast of Ireland.
These fifteen are among the most positive of about 25 who meet from time to time during the year. Monthly, in fact, at 7 am for a networking breakfast in either Dundalk (County Louth, Ireland) or Newry (County Down, Northern Ireland). There is much for this group to be pessimistic about. The economy is faltering, we are sole practioners or small business owners – many of whom started new businesses following career setbacks and redundancies. All of us struggle to live and work a “new way”. Many thought they would be in corporate jobs, large professional practices or civil service. What we have in common is that we wake up every morning, put one foot in front of the other and just do the work of doing the work.
I am grateful they embraced me warmly and shared their knowledge – experience, strength and hope – when I came to Ireland two years ago. They have carried me through low times, and I hope I have done the same for some of them. The shared commonality of our experience is what has sustained us as a group. We celebrate each others’ successes and mourn and learn from the losses. We encourage, coach and cajole. You cannot help leaving a meeting on a positive note. I have gone to meetings while in the depths of personal and professional loss and I have been uplifted – either by someone’s success or the knowledge that they too have come through what I am now experiencing. I am never alone. In the sentiment of Lincoln’s quote – whatever the emotion it becomes “equally distributed to the (this) whole human family”.
Who are your fellow travelers? What human family are you choosing to embrace? Who brings the light of sunshine or optimism to your day? What I was reminded of that evening was that this was no accident. There are days when I think how lucky I am to be part of this group – and then I remember: I went looking for them, I go to meetings on dark, cold and wet winter mornings and I just keep showing up. So do they.
Choose to find a home among like minded folk. Not sure where to start? Pick up a copy of the Artist’s Way it will embolden you, find a 12 Step group, go to a Toastmaster’s meeting, try a business or social networking group, take a class, go to a house of worship you’ve abandoned or try a new one. Or write me. Just stretch – a little. Take a step outside of your comfort zone. You will undoubtedly be rewarded.…