How do you get 180 Jewish women in one room for a full day? Hmm – I could say – tell them they can talk and there’ll be coffee. But the busy women of NE Ohio can figure out how and when to do that on their own.
Instead, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Appreciative Inquiry Summit is about making us feel like there’s something bigger than ourselves that we’re going to create, contribute to and implement in a way that enriches the community. And not just the Jewish community, but the women’s Jewish community, the overall community and the overall women’s community.
We are 27 tables with six women at each (some more), being led by Ron Fry, Chair of the CWRU Weatherhead School’s Organizational Behavior department in the AI process. We’ve introduced each other and been given a chance to both listen to the accomplishments and strengths and personalities of each other but also a chance to hear ourselves work to describe the same in ourselves – for some of us, an unique and new experience.
We then took the common themes of our stories about the successes we’ve felt we’ve had and presented those themse to the entire room in bullet points (or poems, from one group!) listed or drawn on an oversized-hand (“yad”). Those yads now adorn the glass windows that surround the room.
From here, we’ll move on to imagining our future, presenting those images and strategizing on how to implement! Holding my breath that it will all fall into place, but as one of my tablemates says, messy vitality may be the real watchword of accomplishment – it’s not always neat and clean energy that gets us to where we’re going, but get there we do. Especially when you’re talking about 170 of us.