During the 11 years I worked at Hallmark Cards, I often found myself at the intersection of incredibly creative thinkers and astute conventional professionals. The constant tug and pull between left-brained logic and right-brained imagination may have been key to the success of the 111-year-old company that I still so admire.
My colleague and longtime Hallmark creative guru, Gordon MacKenzie embodied this duality. Gordon would challenge each of us to explore new ways of thinking and maintain creativity amidst a corporate world, a challenge he extended not only to my colleagues but also other companies through creativity workshops. His much-loved book, “Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace” still has a special spot on my office bookshelf which I reread periodically. It is a constant reminder that high-functioning systems – corporations, as well as communities – need that yin and yang to not just survive, but flourish.
I try to keep that perspective in all the work of the Community Foundation.
Efficient, effective, and well-planned charitable giving is one side of the scale. Sharing ideas and knowledge while connecting and helping people, organizations, and communities exceed their expectations is the other.
Just last year, the Community Foundation added an occasional series highlighting how these two functions of our foundation come together.
“Community Voices,” as the series is known, gives perspectives from organizations we’re honored to support, about how investments in people and programs are positively affecting our community.
In these currently virtual convenings, partners of the Community Foundation across a variety of fields -- from mental health counselors to mentors to museum leaders -- have shared how our region’s needs are evolving, their work is reaching others, and what possibilities still beckon as we create our future together. What excites me most is when these live discussions generate new ideas and collaborations, as we’ve already seen through four discussions with more than 15 cause leaders since July 2020. By giving time and a forum for voices to be heard, the creative reciprocity of human interconnectedness can take place and drive solutions. It has been exciting to witness the “sparks” happening during the Community Voices programs and new partnerships happening!
This October, we are inviting our community to once again join in on the conversation, this time highlighting the diversity in thought, perspectives, and opinions that enrich our region.
You’ll hear from leaders with Project Pride SRQ, The Bay Park Conservancy, and Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative about how they are connecting people and ideas to build a more equitable community for all.
The program will feature Donna Hanley, a Board member with Project Pride SRQ; Jeannie Perales, Chief Experience Officer at The Bay Park Conservancy; and Michele Des Verney Redwine, Executive Director of the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative. The conversation will be moderated by Mercedes Soler, President and Co-Owner of Solmart Media and a board member of the Community Foundation.
Through these convenings and beyond, I believe it is imperative that we share the wisdom we each have learned with one another. By doing so, we help create dynamic platforms for learning and innovating with others, which will begin the process anew.
Our community will thrive, not just survive the pandemic, because of our intrinsic motivation – and determination – to master new skills and achieve new measurements of success. Flourishing means more than just drawing on our grit and tenacity. A delicate balance between the creative and conventional is needed to center the tug and the pull to meet our community, in this moment and in the next.
Now, I invite you to share your thoughts. How have you found balance in your work or interests during this trying time? Are there any lessons you’d be willing to pass along? I welcome you to send me a personal message. Let me know. We’re listening, always.