Friday, March 6, 2015

Board Member Proximity

On Saturday we'll be making the four hour drive from Gainesville to South Florida, as one of my friends- and board members is getting married. It will be good to see her and it seems like it's been years. Some time ago she made the big move to the West Coast- and I don't think she's been feeling as connected to me and the Foundation we're building. If I had to guess, I'd say that not being involved with the day to day operations may have made her feel isolated. We're all here- planning, scheming, reconciling, brain storming- and she's not even in the same State. By the same token there's few people that can compare in terms of hard work, creativity and drive. And she understands me best- what drove me here and what I'm trying to accomplish. Also on Saturday I will be meeting my Creative Director for the first time. It's hard to believe that we've never actually met as we worked together for almost a year. It's funny- as we talk on the phone almost daily and we make it a point to check in with each other- I feel we developed a pretty close relationship. We interact more than I do with some of the volunteers that are actually here in town.  We have plans, both inside and outside the foundation- it helps I guess that we both speak Polish and respond to each other's humor- although I've never sought out a "Polish connection". I'm a big fan of developing projects through diversity and differentiating perspectives. On Saturday all of our key players, minus one- will be in one city for the first time. It will be exciting to get one of my dear friends get married. It will also be great for us to reconnect or in some cases connect. It did make me think again about physical and mental proximity. Do we really need to be in the same room to accomplish great things? Certainly not, I've always recruited volunteers who were from all over Florida and beyond, as I firmly believe that this idea is greater than Gainesville. We live in the age of the internet, it shouldn't be hard, right? But sometimes it is. I see that the people who are not connected to anyone or live the furthest are often the first to drop off. I also find that it helps to meet. Make an effort to come to a physical location, especially the decision makers. Those of us that had to drive an hour plus to get to Gainesville are in a way reaffirming their commitment and interest every time they made a drive. Now I understand why it was so important for us to have those monthly meetings. We set each other off, get each other wired up and refocused on the cause every time we're in one room together. We don't get the same energy levels when we do a Google hangout or a "Go to a meeting" conference. I do think it's important once in a while to reset, refocus, reanalyze and regroup and get everyone back on the same page. With others- it helps to have a personal connection, some reason to interact and look forward to talking to them outside of the non profit mission. When things started to fall apart for us briefly last year, with people quitting and projects dropped we opted there was no use to have those set meetings. As they are picking up again, with a new strategy and a new mission, one of the main things our Resource Director is pushing towards, rightfully so is space. A place that is ours, that is fixed that we   can strategize in, bring each other up to speed and again, so we don't lose that connection, that flow and have that proximity that gets our creative juices going. I certainly don't mean to say that a regular office is a must- I know my Creative Director would hate a regular desk type of a job, but it's good to have a base. And it's good to meet. For now we'll be driving - to see our friend take a giant step as we all cheer her on- and to interact in a setting outside of deadlines, press releases, copy editing and all that other fun stuff we stress over all week long. And with this- have a great weekend- as I will not have access to my computer until Tuesday.

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