This time last week I wrote a fairly candid post about the Government's Youth Mental Health Social Media Innovations Fund, in particularly Lifehack, the "sustainable technology solution to combat New Zealand’s youth mental illness problems". Today I met with them.
I won't go into the content of the meeting. That would be, at best, tedious for you and, at worst, onerous for me. But I will share my reflection on the "launch >blog > tweet, tweet, tweet > email > meet" process of the last week.
Firstly, we disagreed and allowed the disagreement. I've blogged before that I believe that where communities struggle with diversity is in their need to hear or to speak with one voice and that they need to decay agreement.
...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I don't make a habit of talking up Christmas, which won't surprise those who know me well. I see it as such an unauthentic tradition, that I described to a friend yesterday as a clusterf**k of symbology, religion, capitalism and marketing, not to mention unreal expectations and awkward social situations.
You'd think we'd have gotten bored with it all after 2011 times but, no, the hype still goes on.
Arnold van Gennep and Victor Turnerm developed the term liminality to “refer to in-between situations and conditions that are characterized by the dislocation of established structures, the reversal of hierarchies, and uncertainty regarding the continuity of tradition and future outcomes”. (Wikipedia)
Meanwhile, in colloquial speech, "limbo is any status where a person or project is held up, and nothing can be done until another action happens". The traditional meaning of limbo has a theological context similar to purgatory, or the place between heaven and hell. (Wikipedia)
Theology aside, I was recently discussing liminality and limbo with my friend Amy who is focussing a Masters in Fine Arts around them.
I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by a number of significant unexpected events lately, both good and bad, leaving me in the position of having to take charge in some way.
I won't elaborate on detail — suffice to say the events have ranged from death, sickness and conflict to new opportunities, connections and conversations.
In all this I've noticed common themes and disciplines:
Last night I got a call about developing and delivering some diversity training for an international organisation in eastern Europe. My initial reaction was to decline the work — too far to travel, too difficult to organise access etc.
But on second thought I created a contingency. I spoke to a colleague about delivering the training. I now have the option to develop and deliver the training if I can negotiate my access needs, or develop the training and send my colleague to deliver it.
It would have been easy to fall into the certainty trap: saying that I definitely would or wouldn't do it. Instead I said maybe.
I spoke to Gareth Watkins at the 2011 2nd AsiaPacific Outgames Human Rights Conference held in March in Wellington NZ...
(Sorry there's no transcript if you can't hear it! Working on it!)
Address to the Creative Spaces Network Forum convened by Arts Access Aotearoa Wednesday 8 June 2011 Museum Hotel, Wellington
Kia ora tatau katoa te whanau tapatapahi ana. Greetings my creative family. If this was an episode of “Stars in their Eyes”, I’d be saying, “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be the Shirtless Dancing Guy.” But I’ll keep my shirt on. And I won’t dance.
This year I’m heavily involved in some exciting new and creative social change projects. I’ve been running the inaugural “Be. Leadership” programme since February; I’m designing an online social change toolkit with the Ministry of Social Development as part of the NZ Government's Campaign to Improve Attitudes and Behaviours Towards Disabled People; and I’m a member of a Ministry of Health National Reference Group to support a new model of delivering disability support. To top it off I’m a judge of Arts Access Aotearoa’s Big 'A’ Awards and have a huge bound volume of 22 applications sitting on my desk, begging me to wade through it.
The common denominator in these things is that, not only are most of the projects themselves firsts, but they are all areas of work in which, to a large extent, I’ve never been involved before. Hence there is the huge likelihood that things will go wrong. That’s had me feeling slightly on edge.
As luck – or destiny depending on your frame of mind – would have it, I happened upon a fantastic TEDTalk a couple of weeks ago by Kathryn Schulz, entitled “On being wrong” (embedded below). Schultz confronts directly the human need to be right all the time, exposing it as a fundamental flaw in logic. She acknowledges that, though we often grudgingly admit we learn from our mistakes, we still feel bad, embarrassed, even a failure, when we are wrong.
I employ several people on a part-time basis to provide me with the support I need to manage my unique function (impairment); my professional obligations as the director of a for-profit company and a social profit (non-profit) trust; and my home environment, which doubles as an office.
Last week one of the key people, Amy who has worked with me for over two years, left to go overseas. So I've had to recruit, induct and get used to someone new being in my house at 7am to help me get up in the morning.
In fact it's been even more complex than that. After shortlisting and interviewing three great people, I decided to split the role and employ two people – Susan and Colin. I decided to ask Susan to work for me in the morning and Colin in the afternoon, to give me support twice instead of just once a day.