In September, the Rose Fellows went to a retreat in New York that began at the Garrison Institute, a former monastery that now hosts a variety of events focused on innovative thinking about sustainability. The peaceful setting and moments of silent reflection built into the agenda helped us reflect on ourselves and our work. My friend, and the Fellow in Yakima, Washington, Nate Poel wrote this about the experience:
This exercise was very helpful in clearing my mind of clutter and I left the Institute with several big insights:
- Invest in my coworkers and see them for their unique gifts and abilities. What perspectives do they have that I could learn from? Remember to nurture loving relationships and they will be there when you need them.
- Talk with maintenance staff before, during, and after a new development or rehab. They have more implicit knowledge about our buildings than I will ever learn in school.
- Get the information on how our buildings are performing to the actors, that is, maintenance, management, AND residents, in a way they can read and that incentivizes good performance.
You can read his entire blog entry here.
The high point of the conference for me was a question and answer session with “organizational thinker”, Peter Senge. Senge encouraged us to “go where the positive energy is” and “when you think about trying to convince someone of something – stop.” This advice was striking to a group of people who often feel as if they are fighting an uphill battle against naysayers and apathy. A few weeks after returning home from the retreat, I was reminded of this advice when discussing daunting challenges with a Mayor of a nearby small town. I told her, “You have to believe in the positive impacts that you don’t know you are having.” All of our actions, both professional and personal have ripple effects, and that sentence was a direct outcome of my time at the Garrison – though Peter Senge will likely never know it.
Senge shares many more deep thoughts in this video of the session.