Grass roots efforts have always been the ideal for me. You see, I have always been involved. I have always been the type of person who tries to help people find a middle ground. When factions form, and verbal attacks begin, I have always been one of those who tries to help the groups come together. I have done that throughout my corporate career. Many people who are close to me are not even aware of that. You see, I have not been the glory hog type. When consensus is formed I am thrilled. I am thrilled because the consensus happened. Many times the consensus was enabled because of my efforts. But I have always felt that it is far MORE important to give recognition to the warring sides that laid down their swords.
I used to be involved in many grass roots movements and efforts. That began when I was in junior high. Some of the movements have been political, and some have been other types of movements. I have tried to put my efforts where my mouth is. Even in church youth groups I was able to help the adult leaders and the teens find a middle ground. It takes work and effort, but seeing the good in others, and their strengths helps to build respect.
I have generally done the same thing throughout every volunteer group that I have joined. You see, there is usually a way to work things out. It is important to work things out. Now, I have no interest in being on the front lines in the form of serving as a representative or Senator (at the state or federal level). I do, however, have a strong interest in helping the people in my town.
There is a board in my town called the Redevelopment Commission. I first became aware of this Commission’s efforts a few years ago when I met one of the members. She owned an art gallery in our town, and was involved in helping the Redevelopment Commission’s efforts to develop the Heritage District. I felt as though she and I were in such lock-step as she described how this commission works with the local business owners (shops, restaurants, galleries, and other businesses). In partnership, they find ways to increase business in the ways that appeal to and please the citizens of the town. They attempt to bring growth opportunities to the community and keep our town vibrant and well-rounded.
This year there were 2 openings on the commission. I decided that I wanted to have my voice heard, and to provide a listening ear and helping hands to the citizens and business owners alike. No one approached me and asked me to apply. I had no idea if my particular combination of experience, education, and background would be “good enough”. Heck, I had no indication that anyone on the selection committee would think I was remotely “good enough”.
I was one of 5 people who applied for the slots. The town council (including the mayor) interviewed me (and the other candidates) on October 3rd, right before the town council meeting. During the town council meeting they announced that I was one of the 2 chosen for those two slots.
I was surprised and delighted that they felt that my background, experience, education, and goals would mesh with their goals for the commission. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview with the council. I loved the feeling I had when we discussed the issues facing the town and commission. I felt uplifted, valued, accepted, included, and so much more. They listened to my ideas, and they liked them. That was a truly great feeling. After all, who wouldn’t be pleased? There we were, sitting around a big conference table discussing town and business issues and potential solutions to those issues. They wanted to know how I had build coalitions and formed solutions across groups and factions.
Part of me said “gosh, they really want me?” Another part of me said, “well, why not me?” Regardless, I will be able to be a voice, a heart, the ears, and a pair of helping hands. So if you are feeling as though you will go nuts if something doesn’t change~ take a chance. You, too can grab a place on the team. Don’t stay on the bench; baby does not belong in a corner. I truly believe that the world becomes a better place when we use our gifts and get involved. Don’t stay frustrated. You could very well become the tipping point and catalyst for change in your town, group, family, company, or more. I plan to try to be that. Sometimes people really will see your heart and gifts.
I think I just may smile super-big when they swear me in!