Workshop 5 - Creating Community Margins, Part II
Like all living things, all businesses exist within ecosystems.
Quantitative measurement establishes the context for us to determine the POTENTIAL for impact. For example, if you have 300 friends on Facebook, you have more potential for impact than if you have only 3 friends on Facebook.
Community Wellbeing is an integral part of sustainable business.
Foundational elements: areas of opportunity that help us create community wellbeing
What kind of relationships are we talking about?
- Internal relationships begin with the steward of the business
- Ecosystem: Outside the boundary of your business, institutions and businesses within your ecosystem
- Community Network: these are people connected in the community that can draw on resources to make things happen, allowing you to get work done.
- Virtual Community (social media): Impact you can have globally in the virtual world.
What kind of learning is required?
- Competency: what you need to know to be an expert in what you do.
- Continuous Improvement: learning how to do your work better every day.
- Change management: rate at which the organization can move with change; getting things consistent and steady while being creative and managing change at the same time. There needs to be a balance between stability and change.
How do we find purpose in our work?
- Fulfillment/Joy: Deming says every human being has a right to joy in their work. People consistently say that this is more important than money.
- Living Wage: Your pay should match your needs where you are in life.
- Information sharing: everyone in the business understanding how things work. Information gives a person a sense of belonging and being able to act toward the betterment of the whole.
What does it mean to make health a priority in our businesses?
- A healthy Business Environment means the physical environment, air, workspace, etc, should be healthy
- Safety: The workplace should be designed to be safe and should promote safety.
- Promote Healthy Lifestyles: At the Green Garage, for example, we supply bike racks and a shower to encourage bike commuters.
How can we make our businesses more accessible to the community?
- Life at the edge - How easy is it to move in and out of your business and how easy is it for people to connect to your business and interact with you? The Green Garage Friday lunches are a good example of meeting people at the edges of our community.
- Diversity/relevance: There are many dimensions to diversity within your business's ecosystem. Are you relevant to the community that you are part of?
The Bob's Beer Co. Example:
- Ecosystem Relationship: Bob buys hops from a local CSA
- Competency: Bob is learning how to make his own hard cider
- Ownership: Figuring out how to bring employees into an ownership role
- Safety: Someone was injured last year, so Bob is working on improving safety procedures
- Life at the edge: Bob works with local artists to exhibit their work at his business on Friday nights
The sum of all of these foundational elements creates your business identity.
Community Margin Stories as told by some of our businesses-in-residence
FoodLab (Anna Springer/Jess Daniel) on Relationships:
Anna put together this detailed rubric describing the variety of relationships that FoodLab maintains with many members of their community/ecosystem.
- How many relationships are you holding intentionally?
- Make notes from your meeting with other people/organizations. They can help you to qualitatively evaluate whether or not your relationship is working.
- There are seasons in relationships: You might just be an a transactional level right now, not quite ready to develop a deeper working relationship.
- Food Lab has allies and partners - Anna identifies allies as those with whom they share values, and partners as those with whom they have a formal written agreement.
Final Five (Matt Dibble) on Learning:
- Adult learning is of primary importance to Matt. When he came to the Green Garage, the most important thing for him was to find and connect to a community of learners.
- Meetings and conversations that he has had with other learners has helped him immensely.
- Sources of learning for Matt: the outdoors, reading, consuming and processing of information.
- Staying in learning mode is vital to him. This can be a bit scary for him, trying to figure out how to keep moving in the direction of learning.
- He is learning to understand what he's good at, what he loves and where he wants to be spending his time.
- Matt believes it is important to give yourself the space and time to allow learning to take place.
- Kim notes: You have to allow yourself to grow as your seed grows - allow yourself to dream that big. It can make you a bit uncomfortable at first, but just as soon as you become comfortable with the step you've taken, you move onto the next uncomfortable step.
- As you learn, you learn how much you don't know.
Red Panda (Curt Malouin) on Purposeful Work:
- Curt came from a place where his work was not purposeful, so he resigned. He started his own business making guitar pedals
- He gets a lot of energy out of the fact that people take his product and make videos of what they can do with it. This is great feedback for him and very inspiring.
- This increased satisfaction with his work has lead to less stress and better sleep.
- His work no longer seems like a job because it's so enjoyable and energizing.
- You have to enjoy the work for itself, apart from any success that might come from it. Even if you don't have great success with your work, you have to really love what you do.
- it's possible to create a small niche, something that is meaningful to you, and through social media find people who share that interest. This community of people will be interested in helping you survive and succeed.
- Curt believes it is important to be very intentional about your work.
- It's better to build the capability to build a great product rather than to try to create the perfect product right up front. Build and develop your expertise first. Go slow to go fast.
- When you truly love what you do, you will produce high quality work.
The Sustainable Neighborhood Seed (Kimberly Williamson) on Health:
- Kimberly's goal is to create healthy communities. So, to begin with, she had to define what a healthy community really means. She started by getting statistics on chronic disease in the community.
- Because of the way we live and the way our communities were designed, it affects our physical health (driving everywhere, for example).
- We need to make it easier to make healthy.
- How can she, through her business, help people to improve their health through where and how they live? bike sharing, walking, building materials, access to healthy food, safety.
- We can be intentional and proactive about designing communities that encourage and enable healthy living.
- How much time do you take in your business to think about the health aspects of your work environment for your employees and community?
- Kimberly believes we need perspective in our working lives - are deadlines more important that our health?
Mt. Elliott Makerspace (Jeff Sturges) on Accessibility:
- The purpose of the Makerspace is to acclimate people to the idea that they can make anything they want to.
- Jeff says that he clearly needed to answer the whats, whys, hows in order to get started (and he is still trying to formulate answers around these questions).
- How do you make the tools to do this work accessible?
- How to define the entry points to things people want to do; start with simpler, smaller projects first in order to take that first step into more complex work.
- Proposing the why and getting feedback in order to make the why stronger.
- Defining the what.
- Important to Jeff that they offer peer learning that is multigenerational.
- Learning to prioritize access; this required a lot of conversation so that people understood their work and role in the Makerspace.
- They are located in a basement which is not very visible - some question as to whether they should move out of that space and into a more visible space.
- Makerspace hours are limited and Jeff wonders if they need to expand their hours and if that is even possible.
- Jeff values transparency in the decision-making process in all areas of their work.
- The edges are of great importance to Jeff: they allow the Makerspace to connect with people who want to do the same kind of work in their own community. This is part of his vision. They try to be broadly accessible and as easily replicable as possible.
- Jeff feels they haven't yet figured out the best way to communicate to others what it is that they do.
- Honesty and openness attracts people and invites them in. Jeff acts as the conductor but by being up front and honest about areas that need improvement, he can invite others to help and contribute to the success of the Makerspace.
Tom adds some additional thoughts from the conversation.
Where do we go from here?