This week I got to support Kevin (my supervisor at Neighbor to Neighbor) in a community meeting for the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition. This grassroots group has been working for roughly six years to make a community-based plan to make Corvallis more sustainable. They are interested in a broad range of stakeholders and components to the idea of sustainability. This week’s meeting was to solicit community feedback on the education task-force’s strategic plan. As an educator I was interested to see how the group intended to push sustainability in the schools. Even with a school board member heading the committee, it seemed like a bit of a stretch to me to think that what this group recommended would have an actual impact in the workings of the schools. Time will tell if/how their vision will be realized.
On a practical level, I was really nervous about charting for a group with SUCH a high priority of sustainability. Although I feel like using 3 vs. 10 sheets of chart paper will not ultimately make or break our planet’s viability to sustain life…this group is VERY committed to practicing what they preach. The chart paper and easel arrived via bicycle. As did the organic and locally sourced snacks (donated by our co-op). The transporters of these goods protected their brains with locally made bike helmets. Kevin had reassured me that I didn’t need to do anything different in terms of my chart writing to address these concerns. He shared that the validation of the ideas and the group record keeping was well worth the “cost” of paper consumption. That said, having arrived via car and wearing a mix of polyester and non-organic cotton…I was a little stressed about being accepted into this community. It struck me how critical understanding a group’s culture is, even for something simple like chart-writing for a meeting in my own community! EVERYTHING we do is so infused with our values and perspectives and as a facilitator, even as a chart-writer, those values and perspectives are on very public display.
Ultimately, things went really, really well. The group was incredibly appreciative of my work and impressed at how quickly and neatly I recorded ideas. I took pictures of the charts and emailed them to the group’s leaders to be transcribed. On my way out, an older community member and I started talking and I ended up giving her a ride home. For all of my “environmental shortcomings,” I was happy to at least carpool for half of the trip for the night’s work.
These are a few (two of the ten) sheets of charting we ended up with for the night.