Since lunch, 170+ women have been working hard at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Appreciative Inquiry Summit. We’re imagining the community we want to see and how to get there. It’s not easy to herd so many minds and bodies but we’re managing.
Similar themes of a future are emerging with just enough panache to spark laughs and awed silence. Through mock-ups of Facebook pages, newspaper headlines and other visuals (rainbows, growth, umbrellas), expectations affirm a confidence that we will reach a pinnacle, that we can reach a pinnacle – and stay there. My favorite slogan/headline to foreshadow the future is a future tweet that says, “No more money needed – all needs met.”
The effort, however, is not without its challenges. One I see is making sure that in every idea we consider, we consider how to be sure that we neither overshoot and be so ambitious that achievement is illusive, nor underestimate the challenges. For example, some well-known concepts (mentoring, conferences, mission trips) appear repeatedly, but why? Have they not been effective in the past – if not, how can we make them more effective when we implement them? Or should we be thinking more out of the box?
Two action ideas that stick with me so far are engagement ambassadors, charged with making sure that at events, no attendees sit idle, and Pajewma parties, an idea which I’m not sure would attract me as an attendee, but as an idea, it’s simple, familiar (as in comfortable and easy to understand and open-ended), potentially a lot of fun and something for adults that is not tried enough (injecting youth and silliness into otherwise serious pursuits to connect and get things done).
As I sit here with an hour to go before we wrap up, there’s an enormous “opportunity map” in the front of the room. In the center, it reads “strengthening our Jewish community by empowering our women.” From that center cloud radiate many lines with the ideas to be implemented written on them. The ideas that will move to an implementation stage will be those with the most “dots” – each participant was given five dots to place on the ideas they most want to see become implemented. I cannot see which ones are emerging yet, but what’s a wrap-up blog post for?