The Black Lives Matter uprising continues, and I hope everyone is doing what they can at an individual level. At some point I won’t mention it as the first thing I write, but I hope that what has happened these last weeks has shifted something in *everyone* to make racial justice a lifetime’s work.
This week I have read three articles that have stayed with me —
- Using a racial justice lens now to transform our future by Lori Villarosa
- The emotional impact of watching white people wake up to racism in real-time by Natalie Morris
- Extraordinary Time, Extraordinary measures by Darren Walker
- And watched this event live — RiseUp4Justice.
I’m also going to start participating in this free course — Modernity + Coloniality — on coloniality and decoloniality.
Many words are walked in the world. Many worlds are made. Many worlds make us. There are words and worlds that are lies and injustices. There are words and worlds that are truthful and true. In the world of the powerful there is room only for the big and their helpers. In the world we want, everybody fits. The world we want is a world in which many worlds fit.” - Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, “The Fourth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle”
What I’ve been doing
- The usual (many hours a week) of reading, editing and writing assessment papers for our immediate funding response. You can see below that since the 1st April we have had 9122 applications submitted. We now do two panels a week, on a Tuesday and Thursday and that averages out at about 250 assessment papers being produced a week, read, and decisions being made. This week I worked especially hard to get a couple of papers through.
- I had 18 hours worth of internal meetings — I am going to start counting this every week. These ranged from my weekly catch ups with those I line manage, to several wider UK Portfolio team meetings, to catch ups with the learning and knowledge teams in all four UK countries, to my fortnightly meeting with Dawn about our Fund-wide civil society strategy. I think people probably don’t realise that whilst I am still trying to stay plugged in to projects and my networks externally, I’m still doing an immense amount of work internally too.
- I spent a chunk of time reading through some of the Climate Action Fund draft papers that are going to a decision making panel at the end of June and offering my feedback. Liz from the Climate Action Fund team has started writing more about what they are doing, and it was a welcome break to be honest, to be transported into a world that is inextricably linked with beyond Covid, but not solely focussed on it.
- The brilliant Stuart Candy did a session with my team this week on ‘social foresight’ and ‘experiential futures.’ What I loved most about his session, was how it highlighted the ‘experiential gulf’ and the consequences of only focussing on our sense of what is real and important in the present.
- A group of people in my team have started doing an interview series called Pockets of the Future, which is us starting to gather ideas and questions from outside the fund about where civil society is heading, what it will need to support it to not only renew but transform, and what the Funds role in that could be. I’ve done a few myself this week — I especially appreciated speaking to Fadi, CEO of the Muslim Charities Forum.
- Linked to the above, we’ve also started a new internal newsletter called ‘Futures Digest’ where we share what the 4 different countries are sensing about what lays ahead, as well as snippets from interviews and links to articles we’ve read that pose useful questions about where we go from here.
- We are two week’s into the new weekly Show + Tells with the whole UK Portfolio team present. In 45 mins we whizz through slides that show the work 8 different teams are doing. It’s such a helpful way for me to stay connected to what’s happening across the team, but more importantly for each team to stay connected to the other. This kind of format also highlights the importance of delivering things —not being all talk and no output.
- It was the launch of Untitled this week. Two days of sessions with 53 people from across the globe, and with Dan and Tammar leading us through several workshops to stretch our capacity to imagine.
- We went into week 8 of the Scanning and Sense-making Network. The group has grown smaller the last few weeks, with less interviews being done, because so much of the organisation is maxed out with Covid-19 funding response. Next week we’re going to have a think about how we adapt it for a new phase.
An attraction for me of the event was the framing of linking care with climate as this is something I started shaping some ideas around last year. They made a video to introduce the event — “Care Work Is Essential Work. It’s Also Climate Work.”
“We spoke to care workers and advocates about their experiences in a world that was already in crisis. And they shared exciting visions for how care can anchor a new kind of economy.”
- I Co-facilitated the 5th of our Stewarding Loss circles, this one attended by people who have or are in the process of closing an organisation down.
- Rachel, Iona and I hosted an event on ‘Civil society and digital justice’ as part of the work we’re doing for Co-op Foundation and Luminate.
- Graham, Maureen, Ella and I did an event called Uncertain Times about how to navigate through a world we can’t control or predict, and in advance of us launching a series of tools in the world.
What’s been important this week
Just this. This is a time to be paying extra attention to how you’re supporting people.
- Also, Graham Leicester asking me the following question, when I described working 18 hour days, that are relentless and often where you feel like nothing is quite good enough. It’s been an important question to reflect on.
“What does progress look like?”
What I’ve learned this week
- It’s a challenge leading a team at a time of uncertainty. I found this article by Lara Hogan really helpful. She talks about 3 things your team needs you to do these days:
- Prioritise one-way communication that communicates out clarity and strategy with some routine cadence. I do a Friday email every week to the team.
- Do lightweight check-ins. She also talks about making sure everything is optional. The 8 weeks of learning talks I’ve arranged for the team about futures, foresight, narrative and strategic design are all optional, and I’ve been clear that there’s no expectation to do anything with the content after either.
- Also, work out what you need. I’ve found it difficult to think about another coach since Tazeen died but I think I may have found someone in the US, recommended by a friend.
The other thing I’ve been reminded of these last few months is that everyone needs different things in a team. Some people have wanted and needed to work a *lot* and that is okay. I generally feel like people who choose to do that often have to adjust their work preferences to suit the person in the team who needs clear boundaries around work and life, or who gets close to burn out. I’m someone that wants to support people to work in the way they choose.