I’m generally not fond of meetings that start at 6:30 or 7:30 in the morning, but lately it seems I’ve been going to more and more of them. When my alarm goes off, I often ask myself, “Why am I doing this again?” But then I get there and remember, “Oh yes, this is why.”
That was certainly my reaction one day last week when I attended a meeting whose purpose was to talk. Just – talk.
Actually, there was a bit more of an agenda than that. The meeting was a Stewardship Dialogue sponsored by the Stellar Impact Foundation. I’ve crossed paths several times with one of the founders of the organization, and we’ve had several conversations recently about work I’m now doing that began with my trip to Uganda last October. It was during one of these conversations that she invited me to the next Stewardship Dialogue.
The name is pretty self-explanatory, and even though I’d never heard of a Stewardship Dialogue before, I was intrigued with the idea. Especially since the point wasn’t simply to talk, but to put the talk into action. The meeting was an exchange of thoughts and ideas about ways to bring about change in our communities and in the world.
There were eight people at the meeting I attended. Most were “regulars,” but one or two others were first-timers like me. Some worked for companies large and small, some were in the non-profit sector, and some were self-employed entrepreneurs. There were five men and three women in the group, which is not the gender breakdown I would have expected – although I hope I don’t sound sexist or judgmental for saying so.
What I found most fascinating and encouraging was that the group represented people with vastly different backgrounds and interests, but who were eager to talk with each other, learn from each other, and be inspired by each other. Although each of us had a cause or mission that was important to us, none of us shared the exact same hope or dream. Yet what was expressed by anyone was of interest to everyone – and was valued by everyone, not just those whose specific goals or intentions matched our own.
As one person put it, “This is a place where you can be you without rehearsal.” Meaning you didn’t have to plan out what you were going to say, or prepare a compelling argument or a convincing sales pitch. There was no competing for funding or resources or personnel, just a sharing of thoughts and ideas and suggestions – things that you yourself don’t lose when you give them to someone else.
As I understand it, there are plans to develop and expand the Stewardship Dialogues and to provide opportunities for people who do have similar or complementary goals to get in touch with each other and work together. At the very least, they can help and support each other rather than duplicating each other’s efforts or canceling out each other’s impact. And at best, their results and effects will grow exponentially as they pool their resources and efforts in a common goal. The whole is, after all, much greater than the sum of its parts.
I like that thought. And I like being part of a group of people whose purpose is simply to talk and to listen to each other so that everyone is able to accomplish much more than they would be able to do on their own.
It may start with a simple dialogue, but it can grow into conversations and crusades that change not just the community but the world. In important, life-or-death matters such as hunger, homelessness, poverty and disease.
That’s certainly something worth talking about, especially when talk turns into action that can be seen, heard and felt around the world.
You’d have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat that.
To learn more about Stewardship Dialogues or the Stellar Impact Foundation, call Christy Morrell-Stinson at 612-321-8753.
The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 15, 2012.
© Betty Liedtke, 2012