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​.stni​cholas​mil​lville​.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://​robin​msf​.blogspot​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​2​/​v​i​s​i​o​n​.​h​tml, +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/​w​i​k​i​/​B​u​r​e​a​u​c​r​a​c​y​#​W​e​b​e​r​i​a​n​_​b​u​r​e​a​u​c​r​acy). 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​.quak​er​ran​ter​.org/​2​0​0​6​/​0​6​/​w​h​y​_​w​o​u​l​d​_​a​_​q​u​a​k​e​r​_​d​o​_​a​_​c​r​a​zy/). 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… 

Posted February 17th, 2012 , in Uncategorized Tagged ,

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 reas​dingeggs​.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.

Posted February 12th, 2012 , in Uncategorized Tagged

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/​w​i​k​i​/​N​e​w​_​J​e​r​s​e​y​_​S​o​u​t​h​e​r​n​_​R​a​i​l​r​oad
* Blue Comet: http://​en​.wikipedia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​B​l​u​e​_​C​o​met

In album Atsion Walk­a­bout (5 pho­tos)

Posted February 1st, 2012 , in Uncategorized Tagged ,


My long-running blog over at http://​quak​er​ran​ter​.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 Quak​er​ran​ter​.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.