One of the most enjoyable talks I gave in the past 18 months was called Plant & Grow. I was invited to speak with the graduate and fast track community at BT. I remember the talk because the audience were a bright, energetic and enthusiastic bunch. They were interested in my views on networking.
I remember the talk because it was one of the first times I used the power of social media to learn from other people about what might help make this talk really interesting, and at least a little different. As a group we agreed that networking has far more value if you show genuine interest in people, and act like a bee, giving and taking. The networking butterfly flitting from place to place leaving business cards, though pretty, left us….unfulfilled.
I’m interested in gardening too, so with a name like Plant and Grow that’s another reason I can recall this talk so well. I also managed to get in a relevant reference to the late, great Joe Strummer and his powerful short speech titled, Without People You’re Nothing. For me it’s hard not to recall something fondly if it relates to him in some way.
And I keep moving on, and keep planting and growing. As you can see from the picture the garden peas are ready to be picked and eaten, seconds later. We’ve already had raspberries, rocket, and the garlic bulbs are drying as we speak. And there’s so much more to come through the summer, into autumn and beyond.
I recently became aware of a fantastic local community farm initiative, the Sutton Community Farm. 7.5 acres of opportunity just a few hundred yards from where I live. I hope this project is going to be a huge success and act as a beacon for community growing in and around London. As a business owner I think it’s right to help plant and grow in your local community and I sincerely hope that other companies are encouraged to join in and make a difference for the community, with the community, by the community. Engaging, purposeful stuff.
What local sustainability initiatives have caught your eye lately? And what kind of difference do you think a project like this can make?
I attended BASE in London recently, a very interesting conference with a few innovative twists. One of these twists was a series of round table discussions which delegates were encouraged to book up and run. Red rag to a bull for me, I couldn’t resist it, so I hosted a round table discussion on the behaviour required to make sustainability stick. A few kind, bright and interesting people showed up and we had a good conversation. Amongst other things we discussed productivity, engagement, value, and the emotional stakeholding we might wish to have within business. We (more or less) agreed that women collaborate better than men, and we ummed and ahhed about the end of the age of man…age…ment.
Rather than try to box off this piece of work, I’m experimenting. You can download the collective stream of consciousness and fill in the blanks yourself here. Notes from BASE Conversation We enjoyed the conversation so much we’re meeting again in a few weeks, I’ll keep you posted. Meantime your thoughts and ideas on how to fill those gaps always welcome.
PS. BASELondon is coming on May 27th – watch this space.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kate Davies, CEO of Notting Hill Housing Trust. Kate is a very interesting person. On her travels she has observed that in some countries, particularly Japan and China, there seems to be a greater sense of community connectedness than in Western cultures. Very simply the Japanese and Chinese people seem to appreciate that their behaviour has an affect on others. As a result they appear more considerate of others, at a local level and beyond.
The internet has allowed geographically disparate communities to flourish, I enjoy this ability to connect worldwide enormously. However I sense that local community connectedness is withering. Where I live now, it’s a quiet place with little traffic and so conversations with neighbours are pretty easy. They still don’t happen very often. As for action, well that’s rarer still. There is a neighbour close by who runs an afternoon tea once a year as a get together and fund raiser. Sometimes a few of us pass surplus fruit or veg across the fence, maybe even run the odd shopping errand. But that’s about it, and even that is probably more than what goes on amongst neighbours generally.
So I wonder if maybe the reason why we repeat these mistakes is something to do with the fact that we don’t seem to care about each other, as a community. If I don’t care about someone else then I’m probably not concerned about the impact my action has on that other person, or persons.
I’m interested in a project called The Big Lunch. It’s about getting to know the people who live around you, understand each other better, and do stuff for each other. Make connections, nurture relationships, think beyond the next pay packet. This is how a community in South London made it work last year. Encourage people to take a look and maybe use this idea as a way of reconnecting. You never know, if there’s a manager in your neighbourhood, reaching out might help him or her to learn that there are simple and easier ways to learn how to stop doing dumb things to customers?
This year The Big Lunch is on Saturday July 18th, why not put the date in your diary and get involved?