To support local government redesign efforts and recognize the innovative work already underway, the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center has partnered with state associations to create the Local Government Innovation & Redesign Guide and host a yearly Local Government Innovations Awards ceremony.
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Last Thursday, I attended a conference called “Practical Leadership: A Balanced Approach,” sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center. The title was fitting, I thought, because the content was largely a balance between fundraising and mental health—two essential skills for today’s nonprofit executives, who now more than ever are being asked to do more with less. Both the tone and content of the conference helped folks come up for air, look out at the vast ocean around them, and also notice the beauty of the tides swirling around them.
Attendees could choose their own mix of breakout sessions, depending on what they felt they needed most. Based on my interests, I attended the following sessions: (1) Fostering Adult-Youth Partnerships, (2) Seeing ‘What's Right,’ and (3) Clear, Bold Communication (which ended up being about fundraising). The second session was based on the short video by DeWitt Jones entitled “Celebrate What’s Right With the World.” Jones is a veteran photographer for National Geographic, and in this beautiful film, he generalizes lessons he learned from photography that can be useful for anyone who needs to reframe and see their world in a newer, more positive light.
Here are the key concepts from the film:
* Believe it and you’ll see it.
* Recognize abundance.
* Look for possibilities
* Unleash your energy to fix what’s wrong.
* Ride the changes.
* Take yourself to the edge.
* Be your best for the world.
Check out the video here.
This video captures the overall tone of the conference, which was upbeat and refreshing. It's very easy to be cynical right now, and indeed many people are. However, I see this as dangerous. I think the scariest thing about cynicism is not that we stop believing in a solution but rather that we stop looking for them; this type of disengagement then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This can take the parts of our world that are "actually" bad and make them seem much worse, to the point where our problems seem overwhelming and we stop trying. Therefore, I believe being hopeful has some very practical benefits; it can help us see new opportunities, and it certainly beats the alternative.