Thursday, October 29, 2009

Are you Dandelion Seed Company?

Well, have you been practicing creativity? Are you following Jesus? Are you growing meaningful, transparent relationships? If so, then you're living like the company.

The Dandelion Seed Company is a network of relationships. It's organic and grassroots (translate: things happen when people get ideas and act on them). As a Dandelion Seed Co leader, I get really excited when I hear about people in our network pushing out the very things we're called to be and do as a group. These projects and events don't need to be "officially" DSC events for the Dandelion Seeds to be spreading and taking root.

Here are some examples of grassroots DSC activities that have been happening:
- a while back the DAM group (Dandelion Artists of Michiana) were asking each other questions each week about how they were living out their mission (Questions like "Have you done something creative this week?" or "How have you practically followed Jesus this week?").
- Members of the Charlottesville Project have supported each other's concerts, even collaborating a bit with songs and art (a recent concert included art by Christa and Carrie, music by Annie, Kimberly, Jonathan and Carrie). We've also had discussions about the message of Jesus, and what God is doing in our lives.
- Grant Beachy recently put together an amazing project to raise money for the Window in Goshen, the Live at the Brew series. This had nothing officially to do with the DSC, but it's the sort of thing we're about, and it incorporated music, design, community building and desire to help those in need.
- At the beginning of the month people from the Magi Tribe in Asheville, Goshen, MI, and VA went to a U2 concert together. The discussions are still going on from that experience -- discussions about calling, spirituality, creativity, scale, mission.

There's a lot more examples, and maybe you are more of a Dandelion Seed than you thought -- or you may be realizing you've got seeds (of creative projects or gatherings) that it's time to throw into the wind or plant. Do it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Top Down Leadership and this blog

I believe the future of the DSC is hidden in the "latent dna" of the people who are connected to it. In other words, if we're going to become a grassroots movement that changes people and culture, it will happen because the seeds that are in us are watered and grow, and take root in the ground of now.

In top down leadership mode, the leader controls communication, makes sure that everything that is seen or heard publicaly is spun in such a way that the "company" looks good.

In contrast, we're working at getting honest about where we're at and challenging people at all levels bring their perspective to bear on the challenges at hand.

One thing that needs to change is that the vision needs to become simple and clear, and we need to begin to recognize both how we're living that vision now, and how we're falling short of it (so we can grow and change). Follow Jesus. Practice Creativity. Develop Community.

The vision is in each of us, and will come out in a different way in each individual. We'll discover who we are as we bring our piece into the public sphere.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Top Down Leadership and Jesus

I've been reading about new models of leadership based on recent scientific theories about how the world works. I'll get more technical about it later. Read "Surfing the Edge of Chaos" if you're interested in the concepts.

Here's two different ways to think about how leadership functions:
1. The leader is at the top of the organization. They bring the vision which then filters down through the ranks. The leaders create buy in and motivate people to do the things that will move the vision forward. In this model the leader is responsible to bring the vision, the plan, the strategy and the motivation (positive and negative) to carry it out. People excel by doing what they're told and being loyal.
2. The organization is an organic unit, full of varied and untapped intelligence and potential. There is latent dna in each member which, given the right conditions, can bring incremental growth. The leader's job is to create a context in which peoples' creativity will come out, and this latent dna is discovered and embodied in real ways. This usually means moving closer to chaos which causes each person to creatively engage the issues at hand. The leader "holds the collective feet to the fire," meaning that they keep the people in the tension and discomfort of the real situation until creative solutions emerge from within (rather than from the top down).

As I've been reading this stuff I've recognized a lot of top down assumptions that I still carry and am working at allowing God to transform. I've also reflected on some times that I or other leaders I know have been willing to face the tension and call others to face it as well -- and have seen the creative fruit and effectiveness of activated people.

I believe the DSC is uniquely positioned to become more of an organic unit where grassroots change happens. I'm convinced our loose network of relationships can become part of a powerful, culture-changing movement if we don't run from the struggle but allow ourselves together to face the chaos and look deeper in side ourselves, each other and Jesus to discover our message, mission and creative approaches, solutions and projects.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Two Questions

What are your thoughts about/answers to these questions? Let's tap the "distributed intelligence" of this network:

1. What differences has following Jesus made to you (think specific, think story)?

2. What was/is the message of Jesus?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Report on U2 and the Cville gathering

The informal post-U2 mini gathering was good. We had Dandelion Seed people from In, MI and NC visiting Cville to hear U2 and hang out.

Some of us had great spots right next to the stage, others were way up high and had drunks falling on them. The view was actually pretty good either way. The set design made it work well in different ways depending on how close you were. Muse was good, but their set was short.

We had good conversations about art, Jesus and community, triggered by the show, a book (Forgotten Ways by Allan Hirsch) and a movie (It Might Get Loud). A couple of questions on the table:

1. Can you live a healthy, balanced life and play a key role in starting a movement? (Seems like it's rare).
2. Why have DSC members had small artistic successes? Is it because we choose relationships and quality of life? Is it either/or?
3. Does art have to come out of suffering and struggle? (Jack White makes trouble if he's not in any, so that he can create out of it.)
4. Movements usually have a simple core with a message that anyone can understand and pass on (not just some elite group of trained people) which is part of what allows it to act on and transform culture. If Jesus started a movement, what is the core message? If the DSC is to be a movement (organic, relational, viral) what is it's core message?

We spent time sharing about our lives, projects, challenges and struggles and praying for each other. This was simple and good. People's willingness to be vulnerable and real was evident, and it makes a difference. The DSC is a network of relationships first of all, so it makes sense that we spend time building them. The deeper people are willing to go, the faster we get to the stuff that changes us and others. As we discover our message we'll rediscover our mission, and when we do new energy, miracles, relationships, and projects will sprout up from the grassroots and spread quickly and effectively through relationship old and new.