As a volunteer, I’ve been involved with organizing events and conferences, and in starting up organizations, for many years.
I currently focus, however, largely on other projects.
In much of the previous, large-scale volunteer work, leadership succession has been at the forefront of my thinking.
If my organizing efforts are going to have long-term impact, I will have contributed to ongoing processes, of leadership succession. Such an approach entails working productively with the passage of time, thus keeping entropy at bay.
Many ways to organize
One area where I remain active as a volunteer involves collaborating, with other graduates of a high school that I attended in Montreal in the 1960s, in the organizing of luncheons in Toronto and Kitchener. We’ve been organizing such events now for several years. A key feature of our get togethers is the sharing of stories.
There are many ways to organize high school luncheons. At this post, I will refer to one way that I have found works well. It’s one way to go about organizing events.
Basically, I refer to a flat-hierarchy approach to planning. We make it a point to get input, on all matters related to scheduling and choice of venue, from as many people as possible.
I coordinate but do not drive decision making; the group as a whole drives the process.
That is to say, as a person who coordinates our get togethers, I implement decisions that are based upon input from as many people as possible.
I have learned, in this context, over many years of organizing – through learning by doing – to take care in how I use, or do not use, my influence as an organizer.
In some cases, not using one’s influence is the best way, in the long run, to go about doing things. That is a key point. That point has prompted me to write this post.
We warmly welcome new members
As well as seeking input from as many people as possible regarding scheduling and venue, it’s absolutely essential to welcome new members to the group.
I like to say that each person who joins us for lunch for the first time is the star of the show.
Each of us has many stories to share, and each story matters.
In fact, in the wider scheme of our get togethers, each of us is the star of the show.
I mention these things by way of passing along a few things I have learned, over the past forty years, within the context of a flat-hierarchy approach to community self-organizing. I began to get involved with volunteer organizing efforts in my early thirties.
Community self-organizing is a domain in life where, in a civil society, freedom, trust, honesty, and mutual respect are capable of flourishing. Such a flourishing is no small thing and warrants celebration.
The subtext is that we all have a tremendous amount to learn from each other and by working together we can accomplish a tremendous amount of good things.