Perhaps we should have started to think about ‘community’ ten or fifteen years ago but it’s not too late. If we made mistakes in the past, the biggest was not having a clear vision for our community, and this inhibited the decisions we needed to make.
The good news is that we get to choose the story of our community, but we must, as the late Dr. Stephen Covey suggested, start with the end in mind and write a fairy tale ending. We get to choose the characters; we might even get to choose the Hero.
4 Key Takeaways:
- The best time to build a community was 10-15 years ago, the next best time is Now.
- We need to start the story of community with the end in mind
- We do need to get serious about slewing carbon-breathing dragons
- We get to write a narrative with ourselves as the Hero.
About Bernard Joyce:
Bernard Joyce is from rural Mayo doing many of the things that people in rural Mayo do, like coaching GAA and soccer. He likes to run, sing, play a bit of trad music and has recently taken up Yin Yoga. Never really took to farming though so ended up planting 36,000 trees and now classes himself as a carbon farmer, though was spotted recently in Athenry Mart, eyeing a few Galway Sheep! Recently completed a MSc in Management for Sustainable Development with a dissertation on Climate Change Adaptation and Local Economic Community Planning. Volunteers as a Cool Planet Champion for Mayo and is actively involved with Grow Remote in promoting Remote Work in Mayo as a way of revitalising rural areas and getting cars off the road. Working at the moment on a project about Community Investment Models for Renewable Energy and building an app called Villigr to help get more people engaging in decision-making with support from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland. (Villigr.Eu)
Contacting Bernard Joyce:
By Bernard Joyce
There is a saying that the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is Now.
The same could apply to building a community, the best time was possibly 10 to 15 years ago. We had been on a bit of a binge of building houses and apartments up until then but when it came to communities, it was more of a demolition job. In fact, when the old brown stuff hit the fan, we ended up demolishing the houses and apartments we had just built.
The economically illiterate among us were offered the ladybird book on the miracle of unbounded economic growth as, “well, imagine a tiger, and now imagine a tiger that is Celtic, there you go, just enjoy it”…and then, “well it wasn’t a tiger anymore but, well, here is the thing, imagine a bubble, and what happens a bubble…? There you go again, but never mind, oh look! New BMW!”
The economists turned authors now cast the tiger as a wolf, in well, tigers clothing in the revised fairy tale. We were all scolded for straying off the path and not having noticed Granny’s excessive incisors!
But the Magic ReadyMix Porridge Pot stopped pouring its’ cheap credit and even cheaper concrete. Goldilocks, the Three Bears along with the Three Pigs were bundled into cheap hotel rooms until someone could write the Happy Ever After ending.
Dr. Stephen Covey, in his “Eight Habits of Highly Effective People” suggests that we should. “Start with the End in Mind” and that is not something we have been good at doing in Ireland. Too many stories have ended in tears, real tears.
We can’t, of course go back and rebuild community as it should have been. We only have, as the philosopher advises, the present. We must do it now, but we must start with the end in mind.
The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg fears that there might not be a fairy tale ending, certainly not for the children who are hoping to see out the end of the century.
We should have acted earlier, we should have kept people at work during the downturn by retrofitting our building stock, rolling out renewable energy, developing innovative solutions…but we didn’t…we have only now and lots of hindsight.
But now, we get to write a new story, we get to choose new characters, we get to set the scene but most importantly, we get to write the ending.
It is time for a New Paradigm for Community, one where we get to start with the end in mind. That end can be one of catastrophe, or can be a fairy tale ending, driven by our imaginations, where we get to slew the carbon breathing dragon for once and for all.
Dragons of course, only exist in stories, and tend to be a bit of nuisance until the hero finally emerges victorious at the end of the story.
When we talk to communities about what the next steps to make their town, or village, or city or neighbourhood more resilient, we don’t always know where to start. By starting at the end, we get to trace our steps back. There are many stories and narratives going on in our communities at the one time, there may be different visions, there may be complexities.
All that means is that our story becomes more colourful, the ending more powerful. The Hero may not emerge at the very beginning. That Hero might be You.
Take five minutes now to write the fairy tale ending for your community, then share it with 5 other people…and just wait for the magic!