Naked Leadership on QuakerQuaker This Week

On the blogs, Robin Mohr wrote about Friends leadership and vision and the "Nakedness/You're Not a Quaker" responses continue with two more follow-up's among this week's Editor Picks. Elsewhere, the Modern Quakers and Clothing project has been collecting some great personal stories. And on a housekeeping note, donations for QuakerQuaker have been pretty light lately; please consider helping out.

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Naked Leadership? [QuakerQuaker This Week, 2/26/12] – QuakerQuaker
Naked Leadership?
On the blogs, Robin Mohr wrote about Friends leadership and vision and the Nakedness/You're Not a Quaker responses continue with two more f…

Another Saturday at St Nick's

Most Saturday nights find me following my wife to St Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church in Millville NJ. I'm often chasing kids and this Saturday was no exception. Tonight I snapped as I chased. Most of these shots have a tousled head just off camera. It's a nice little church. You can learn more at their website at http://www.stnicholasmillville.com.

In album St Nicholas 2/25/12 (8 photos)

The interior from the balcony.

Vision and leadership: keeping the long view

In her latest post at http://robinmsf.blogspot.com/2012/02/vision.html, +Robin Mohr asks for "stories of Quaker leaders and committees/organizations that have functioned well together."

It was in college that I first heard Max Weber's idea that bureaucracies grow to eventually see their own maintenance as their prime objective (Wikipedia has a section on Weberian bureaucracy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureaucracy#Weberian_bureaucracy). At the time I assumed we were talking about governments but it didn't take long in the nonprofit world to see the phenomenon alive there as well. Resources go to the programs that can attract the biggest donor attention. Committee discernment gets short-circuited. Internal benchmarks become the measure even if the are disconnected from actual effect or mission. If a need arises from outside of the boundaries of the internal structures, it is ignores: there's little incentive to address it.

The only real solution is to keep remembering why we're doing what we're doing. It's the practice of self-reflection, it's the exercise of asking what we might be called to. Perhaps this is a leader's real job description.

I've been thinking again lately of the way the Society of Friends responded to the Tom Fox kidnapping, a story I recounted in "Why Would a Quaker Do a Crazy Thing Like That"(http://www.quakerranter.org/2006/06/why_would_a_quaker_do_a_crazy/). I think the underwhelming response was mostly a failure of imagination. Too many of the organizations in question had settled themselves into narrowly-defined mission silos of their own making. They didn't know what to make of the situation. I'd like to hope that a Rufus Jones or Howard Brinton would have cut through the slack, and I am encouraged at some recent conversations I've had with some emerging leaders, but as a student of history I know these are eternal problems that are always ready to return.

My theory of media and social change is that 90% of the time we're talking amongst ourselves, inviting people in to the conversation and building an infrastructure of community. It's one-on-one work, slow, people intensive (but then that's what makes it enjoyable, right?). The fruits of this labor become visible with unexpected opportunities–those times when we're called on by a larger public to explain ourselves or describe the world as we see it. If we've been doing our background work–planting the seeds that is the people of our community–then we will be ready to step up to the challenge. If we're not, opportunity slips away.

The history of Friends–maybe the history of the church universal–is one of missed opportunities; the miracle of faith is that sometimes we connect with one another in the love that is God and lay some more bricks and mortar for God's kingdom on Earth.

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What Canst Thou Say?: Vision
Without vision, the people perish. Mostly because they get eaten by tigers they didn't see coming. Isn't that a joke from Calvin & Hobbes? I've been thinking a lot about vision lately….

Seth Godin on the idea of the "book"

Godin tends to be too enamored by big ideas for my tastes, but there's a few ideas in here worth chewing over, specifically how the forced-scarcity of traditional book publishing is giving way to nearly infinite electronic bookshelves.

The structures of books certainly are bounded by the forms of their marketing. One limitation Godin doesn't mention is the 64 page minimum–this is what you need to be able to put a spine on the book, am essential feature if it's to show up bookstore shelves. One of my trickiest typesetting assignments back in my nonprofit publishing career was to stretch a 40 page essay to 64 so it could be a book. I used all the tricks of a desperate first year student with class twenty minutes off (the book went on to become one of our bestsellers, if I could have stretched it 96 pages we might have remained solvent).

This book just exaggerated a common phenomenon. Many of our authors had a few great insights that could be adequately shared in the first few chapters. The rest of the books wouldn't just be my calorie-free margins. There were enougn words to fill up a book but after 70 or 90 pages the reader would have read the most original content and could safely put the book down in the "to be finished later" pile.

Free of book limitations–and book selling limitations–most of these works would habe been far different. some of the more basic questions will remain with us: how do we get our works into the hands of readers, and how we pay the rent while doing it?

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The end of paper changes everything – The Domino Project
Not just a few things, but everything about the book and the book business is transformed by the end of paper. Those that would prefer to deny this obvious truth are going to find the business they lo…

Using apps to help kids with autism

Sounds like a therapy that can get pretty expensive pretty quickly, and the article shares concerns about just how helpful all of these might be. Still, I have to admit it's pretty amazing to watch my 6yo playing the reading games on reasdingeggs.com website and he's pretty instinctive with the touchscreen of my smart phone.

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Using apps to help treat autism | Macworld
Some parents of autistic children see benefits from the use of apps and technology; however, experts raise concerns.

An Atsion Walkabout

An unusually warm beginning of February so I took the boys up to nearby Atsion NJ. The abandoned rail tracks were part of the New Jersey Southern Railroad. The semi-famous "Blue Comet" train would have roared through here:
* NJ Southern: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jersey_Southern_Railroad
* Blue Comet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Comet

In album Atsion Walkabout (5 photos)

Reblogging

My long-running blog over at http://quakerranter.org has been out of the loop for awhile. I don't often have the time for long-form blogging. The style of classic blogging feels less immediate nowadays: Facebook, Google Plus, Tumblr, etc. are easier to post to and get more responses. The immediacy of the social networks provides mini ego boosts. The staff at the hospital where my daughter Laura was born last week invited me to bring my camera phone into the operating room to take pictures of the new one. The hospital had public wifi so it was just a click of a button to share it to Facebook. I was receiving my first rounds of aww's and congratulations before my wife has even been stitched up.

But being an early blogger (starting nearly a decade before Facebook became an open network), I know that the most influential posts took months and even years to make a difference. It's not very revolutionary to find out your friends are your friends, which is 90% of Facebook commentary. Personal change happena when you meet someone new; cultural change happens when you're exposed to people whose ideas are new to you. On the internet that happens at two in the morning when you wonder whether anyone has made a connection between two ideas obsessing you–the unexpected results in a Google search can change how you understand the world. It can starts you down the path of a new self-identity. It doesn't matter if the post is a couple of years old: what matters is that it's speaking to the spiritual condition of that searcher.

I know this (and I've written about it before) but I still tend toward short social media posts. So I'm going to integrate my Google Plus account with my WordPress-powered blog at Quakerranter.org. I'm picking Google Plus because it's where I've found myself writing the more thoughtful bits and pieces. A neat WordPress plug in called Google Plus Blog (link below) will help the integration.

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The Google+ musings of Daniel Treadwell
Google+ Blog Concept – Daniel Treadwell. View your Google+ Posts in the form of a clean and simple blog. Also home of the Google+Blog WordPress plugin.