Tangent Consulting

July 6, 2010

A turning point in my life

Recently, I have had many requests for copies of the Castlemaine 500 Report – a report that I co-authored in relation to a community scale sustainability project that ran a few years ago in Castlemaine. You can read more about the project here.

Why was this project a turning point in my life? Here a just a few reasons …

  1. The failures of our efforts to bring about change (i.e. sustained reduction of household energy use) were confronting. I was lucky to have a client (thanks Bron) and a team (you know who you are) willing to go on a learning journey and explore ‘why’. After 12 months we responded to our observations and changed direction. We started to focus on the emerging stuff that was working … that leadership and capacity of the community itself.
  2. Our ‘inquiry’ lead to new ways of thinking and, for me anyway, a whole new worldview on ‘How Stuff Changes’ emerged. If there is 1 section of the report to read, I would direct you to Chapter 3 Principles: Getting the Mindset Right. Much of the writing in this chapter informs everything I do now.
  3. The people and community of Castlemaine. Let’s face it, relationships between people are everything and I have been gifted with a whole new network of people.
  4. This blog space emerged from my need to connect with others during the ‘dark days’ of running this project. Thanks to Viv McWaters, I started writing in this space and connecting to others around the world. Through blogging and ‘showing up’ and contributing to other people’s work, I find myself blessed with a worldwide network of great thinkers, writers and artists who I can call on at any time to collaborate with.
  5. In writing the report, Curtis Riddington and I decided at the outset to create a ‘remarkable’ report story – that is, something that would be ‘remarked on’ and even criticised. We employed a cartoonist (Simon Kneebone) and a design company in the Netherlands (Studio GloriusVandeVen). Our first drafts of the report were described as being ‘way too harsh’. In the end we toned it down and I regret we removed the stuff in the first paragraph about the importance of learning from failure.

In sum … Nowadays I expect to fail more and therefore I learn more . When trying to ‘change things’ I am a disrupter and expect criticism (keeping everyone happy when dealing with complex stuff is futile). Share everything, give it away and connect with others and often. Let go of control and be prepared to improvise. Before you try to change everything … start by simply opening your senses, slowing down and noticing more.

Cheers, Geoff

admin | Being Present, Facilitation, How Stuff Spreads & Changes, Lessons from C500, Sustainability


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