I was going to write about celebration but reckon I'll write about ingredient number 11: Building Partnerships instead. It's down as a starting out ingredient but since we're into our fourth year of transition, take it as proof that there really isn't a 'right' way to do this!
This week I was in yet another productive meeting with Manor House Development Trust, Hackney Council, Groundwork London, London Sustainability Exchange and London Wildlife Trust. Well actually it was a meeting with eight lovely people. We have different agendas and priorities but we have a shared purpose - to produce a joined-up, million pound plan that will serve the most vulnerable residents in Manor House. Also part of our group are Haringey Council, Berkeley Homes, Genesis Housing, Homes for Haringey and Hackney Homes. Together we are called PACT. PACT was created for the Big Lottery Fund's one-off Communities Living Sustainably funding application which has been written about here. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
The great thing is, even if we don't get the chance to deliver the whole project, we've established strong relationships and some of the plans are sure to be used in some way. Annoyingly, because all this stuff is up in the air it wouldn't be politic for me to talk about it in much detail. Expectation management and all that.
It's quite an intense process. We're having to run our baseline assessment, community consultation and detailed planning all in a very short space of time. And the detailed planning has to keep on being revised and refined. I think we all came into this with our pet projects which we assumed would work alongside other organisations' pet projects. But now, we're realising that that's not good enough. We have to move beyond a jumble sale of great ideas towards something more coherent. We're having to drop our branding, shed our corporate egos and work out how things will actually inter-relate and add value to the bigger picture. It's quite good to have an outside agency, like Big, push us in that direction. It's not how I'm used to working. I'm outside my comfort zone. But collaboration is definitely the way forward. I have no idea how the other partners feel but I'm sure there was widespread excitement in the last meeting when we managed to synthesize some of the disparate strands into tangible outcomes that neatly mirrored our PACT acronym: prepare, adapt, connect, thrive. Or maybe I'm just a meeting saddo.
On a related (sort of) note, I can't stop listening to 'Candy Says' by Velvet Underground. It's a sublimely beautiful song about the famous transsexual and Velvet Underground muse, Candy Darling. The opening line, "Candy says, I've come to hate my body and all that it requires in this world" is very revealing and interesting. I'm sure there's some kind of overlap between the discomfort we may feel about being in our bodies and the discomfort we may feel operating and even perpetuating a system in which we don't believe. It highlights that disconnect between our behaviour and what we think we should be doing. The final line, "What do you think I'd see, if I could walk away from me?" is just brilliant. Surely, in a sense, we all need to walk away from ourselves to find that out.
Howdi Doo is the title of a Woody Guthrie song which is ably covered here: