So I’ve been a bit absent from much of my regular writing life. Poems have gone undusted. I haven’t blogged in a while.
I’ve been working diligently as co-chair on a fundraising event for an organization that is near and dear to my heart – Portland Revels which produces the Christmas Revels among other seasonal events. Saturday night was Jubilee night, celebrating 20 years of reveling in Portland.
Like many things in life, this event took a lot of hard work, countless hours and sometimes days in organization, preparation and creativity. People rehearsed, décor features were developed, volunteers were rounded up, logistics taken care of. This took a strong cadre of people from the event committee to the volunteers that showed up for the evening down to the clean-up crew (it only took an hour.)
This strength in numbers is a great reminder to all of us who occasionally buy into the myth of the independent bootstrapper. This is an American myth — that success comes from the effort of the one important individual. Or that organizational or event success rests only on the shoulders of the founder or the creator. The Steve Jobs myth if you will. Unless you are truly engaged in a solitary art (painting, poetry, a sole proprietor consultant) this is just balderdash. It is a somewhat passé cliché to say “it takes a village.” But it does. No organization will flourish if only one person is committed to it. No event will be successful if only the party planner is involved. Too many times the unsung are truly what holds something together and propels it forward.
Founder organizations in particular may suffer when the founder leaves if the founder and the organization are too ego-identified with each other. If the organization brooks the passing of the founder, it may sill flounder. Unless there is commitment by others involved in the organization to keep the mission moving forward.
Throughout my adulthood observing volunteer activities and supporting nonprofit organizations, what passes before me are cadres of people invested in an organization’s success. They don’t always get the thanks or acknowledgement (other than occasional pat on the back). They may be left off of the list of “stars” or VIPs because their work doesn’t blaze into the night. It is the night. It is the backdrop that makes everything else work.
I may have more to say on this topic but for now, I raise a toast, to the best Revels party yet and to all the people who made it happen. You know who you are. You blaze in my night.