After a year of collaborative work, the Mt Tabor Central Yard & Nursery Planning Group had the opportunity yesterday (12/17/08) to present our proposal to Portland City Council cocerning our plan for updating the central maintenance facilities and nursery. Much has been written about this process – a lot that is available on this blog (specifically in my Master’s thesis project for Portland State University), so I need not rehash many of those issues. But there are two things about yesterday that I feel that I need to point out.
First, the act of presenting in front of City Council is something I am troubled by. I’ve written a lot about hierarchical systems and the need to move past them, and testifying in front of council yesterday is very symbolic of why we need to do this. Part of me enjoys the pomp and circumstance (or at the very least, the formality of it) but it is INTIMIDATING! Even for someone like me, who is comfortable speaking in front of a large audience, I get shaky and nervous expressing my point of view in front of three powerful men with a clock ticking off the seconds of my allotted time (three men because Adams disappeared, Saltzman was a no show, and Fritz hasn’t been sworn in yet).
Maybe it’s part of life and I need to just deal, but I don’t think the setup encourages thoughful, honest interaction.
It is along those same lines that I bring up my second point about yesterday. Almost immediately after my testimony – which wasn’t much more than agreeing with what others had said and espousing the need for collaboration – I got an email from a trusted friend and fellow MTCY&NPG member, Pete, about my lack of honesty what I chose to emphasize in my testimony.
He and I have pushed, and screamed, and whined to break away from “traditional” collaboration models to move toward interactive communication using blogs, wikis, bulletin boards, online calendars, and the like, but never saw it come to fruition for reasons we can only guess at.
I appreciate that he is holding me to task on this issue, and in hindsight I would have reworded much of my testimony. But since I can’t go back in time (yet…), I’m jumping on the interactive communication band wagon and putting my thoughts on this blog.
I still hold to the notion that this process did a good job of including parties that traditionally wouldn’t have been included in the detailed conversations, and for that I am thankful. That said, however, we are missing an amazing opportunity to expand our collaboration to not only include more interested parties, but to do so in an efficient manner – efficient with time and efficient with tax payers dollars.
The path to true collaboration isn’t easy, nor is it well documented, but we have the opportunity to do so much more, especially in an environment conducive to thoughfulness, honesty, and collective expertise.