It’s funny how things bump into each other. Conversations I’ve had recently took me back to Hällefors, Sweden. [see: Moving from steel to meals, previous blog entry] A number of these conversations were sparked by a newspaper article in the Wausau Daily Herald. It was not only the content of the article that started some grumbling, also that the newspaper reported on an event that they created.
In a nutshell, the newspaper invited a number of people they had identified as community leaders to discuss ideas to better the community. The twenty or so who showed up were guided through a discussion process by Dr. Eric Giordano, director of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service. The ideas included making government more efficient, marketing the area, developing infrastructure and working on social issues. They tagged this list Agenda 2010.
In the community conversations following, there was much speculation about what shapes the output of such a meeting: who was (or wasn’t) at the table, current events, discussion format, etc. I was intrigued by the purposeful EXclusion of elected officials.
Even more interesting to me was that much of the reaction seemed to be about the process rather than the output. Different groups, different individuals, same themes, and echoed in some comments I saw on the newspaper’s weblog. The themes I heard:
- Who said these are our leaders?
- What was the newspaper trying prove or accomplish by holding this meeting?
- Don’t they know we’re working on building community?
Underneath much of it I heard – “I have something to say, too.”
I contrasted that with Hällefors, where a process was designed to include as many people as possible, in the conversation about what kind of community they wanted for their future. In Hällefors, they used a process based on The Natural Step. [Video: How does The Natural Step work? Karl-Henrik Robert, founder, The Natural Step]
So I’m wondering…
Whose job IS it to decide for any community, what it should be 20 years from now?
Whose job is it to decide what parts of the community system are represented at the table?
Whose job is it to pull people together to talk about the future of an entire community?
Who are your leaders, and how do you know? What does a leader do?