2009 Retreat Wrap up

Thank you to everyone who came, listened and learned today.

Rosanne’s Wrap Up:

The book I want to share with you for the wrap-up is “Turning to One Another,” by Margaret Wheatley. I am a Margaret Wheatley fan, and my favorite book by her is “Leadership and the New Science,” which I learned about in a leadership institute years ago. “Turning to One Another” is another favorite of mine because it has such simple solutions to what we are dealing with in these uneasy times.

M W says she wrote “Turning to One Another” because in all of her studies about organizations, communities, people and cultures, she began to hear and see over and over again people who feel alone in our world. Her observation is that when the world becomes fearsome, as a result of what ever, we feel alone and we are distressed. In spite of technology that has given us social networking, connectedness, information about other cultures in the world, she observed we have also never been more fragmented and isolated from one another. She observed we are seeking consolation in everything except each other. She observed that people were choosing fear instead of peace and hope.

While this book was written in the wake of 9/11, much of what she says is even more graphic in the wake of the economic downturn, and in it she reminds us not to forget the true source of contentment and well-being. She is convinced that source is each other.

When we started planning the specifics for this conference last January, we wondered if there would be travel budgets for people to even attend. We decided that if we didn’t offer something really pertinent, and applicable for what was happening with the economy, what was happening to people in Kansas libraries, people would not feel it would be worth carving out money to come. We tried to anticipate what people would be thinking and feeling, and dealing with 9 months later. We had many conversations and discussions about feelings of fear, stress, aggravation, anger, isolation, loss, loss of hope. Those are the words that characterize the times we are living in right now. We decided on the theme of “We Can Do It!” because we thought people would need to know how to do it during tough economic times, and the committee wanted to inspire.

So what is Margaret Wheatley’s answer and advice to restore hope in the future and to find each other? She believes we need to reclaim simple conversation – to start talking to one another again. Talking – not emailing, not twittering, not texting, not Facebooking – talking. She believes that simple conversation is the route back to each other. She believes we must learn again how to work and live together in ways that bring us back to a life free of the distress and loneliness we are experiencing.

She addresses the difficulty in doing good and lasting work. She addresses the seemingly impossible task of creating healthy change. She addresses the feeling of being overwhelmed. She rekindles the desire to learn, to be free, to find meaning, and to ultimately find each other. She writes about optimism in the middle of daily disturbances.

She tells us where to start:

To acknowledge one another as equals

To try to stay curious about each other

To recognize we need each other’s help

To become listeners

To slow down so we have time to think and reflect

To recognize that conversation is the natural way humans think together

To expect it to be “messy” at times

To be willing to be disturbed – that our beliefs and ideas will be challenged

I believe we experienced during this retreat what “Turning to One Another” is all about.

Cynthia talked to us about remaining positive and told us to view the challenges we face now as “opportunities” we did not ask for. And, she gave us tips on making advocacy a priority, becoming active in the community, being visible, listening, and ways to understand.

Laura talked about the challenges KLA was faced with during her tenure as KLA President last year. Laura talked about how we had to “self-correct” and her role in implementing what was good for the KLA, that it was hard, but it was what was necessary and good for the whole.

Participants in the “No Cost, Low Cost Solutions” panel gave us lots of ideas to take back and use, tried and true ideas that you can take back and implement, starting on Monday. They helped us turn “We Can Do It” into “I Can Do It.” Marvelous ideas to take back and DO!

Jeff, Patti, and Terry talked about services they are providing to people seeking jobs. I listened to them and realized they are working with and helping people who are desperate. What a magnificent service and good they are providing! They are making people feel important.

The tour last night to the Andover library provided us with vision about what can happen in our communities and in our libraries.

Tony said to go back and teach, to be a model, for our families, for our libraries, for our staff, for our communities. She gave us tools and techniques to be a “lifter” instead of a “leaner.” She made us sing “Happy Birthday” to Diana like we mean it and so that Diana would “feel the love!” Tony talked about MMFI – the number one rule “Make Me Feel Important!”

As the world becomes more complex and fearful, for what ever reason – the flu, terrorist attacks, political radicals, the economy – we need each other to find our way through the turmoil and darkness.

I have a friend whose husband is a minister. She has two boys, and when they were around 8 or 9, they asked if they could sit in the back of the church during the worship service – alone. She told them as long as they behave they could do that, but one slip-up, they would be back up front in the front pew with her. One of their favorite things to do, was during the benediction, when their father would say, “…go in peace…” they would turn to each other and trying not to move their mouths, and very quietly they would say, “make me!” and they would dash out of the sanctuary, the first ones out, popping up and down, completely relieved the service was finally over.

My wish for you today is to go in peace, go with hope, go knowing you will be an instigator of hope in what ever you are confronted with and whatever you do.

Thank you all for coming and for being here for each other – speakers, retreat planners, and most of all, participants. Thank you all!

“There is no power greater than a community discovering what is cares about.”

– Margaret Wheatley


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