One of the many profound thoughts from the recent SVN conference for me was spoken by Nina Simmons,
In nature, the places of greatest fertility are places where two ecosystems meet.
It resonated with me because I love crossing boundaries and bringing seemingly disparate ecosystems together. I think our differences are a source of strength not of stress and they ought to be celebrated because when we come together they make us stronger and richer in the truest sense.
There is a natural human tendency to restrict ourselves to our own habitats where people think, act or look like us but we may be doing ourselves a disservice if we do not allow ourselves to mix with those who are different. SVN is in a sense a habitat I am glad to come back to from time to time. In order to make it an even richer place even if less “comfortable”, SVN is taking laudable steps to bring various ecosystems together, to benefit from the richness that emerges when seemingly disparate social, economic, political and cultural segments intersect.
It is much more comfortable to stay around people who think and act like we do but as Joan Halifax illustrated at the conference, our comfort zone is a tiny dot, outside of which all the magic happens. An ecotone, the place where ecosystems meet has the characteristics of both ecosystems as well as its own, making the whole richer than the sum of the parts. We are individually enriched as is our world, when ecosystems meet.
SVN’s bridge project is an excellent example of bringing ecosystems together, crossing social, political, cultural and economic boundaries. I think it will contribute to driving the next phase in SVN’s impact, because of the resultant richness and improved “biodiversity”. We impoverish ourselves and close the door of possibility when we keep away from those who are unlike us. I was impressed to hear from Danny Kennedy that Sungevity received positive responses from Tea party members and I think that is only a tip of the iceberg of what is possible. ‘Weeds” are sometimes undiscovered vegetables and “enemies” are unknown friends, if not often mental constructs.
Our world is in need of fresh ideas, which will not come by following worn and familiar pathways. Creativity happens when we change habitats because we are forced to think new thoughts. The best person for a job may be someone from outside of the industry – their naivety opens them and everyone up to possibility since in truth, “all things are possible to those who believe.” Spending all our lives in an industry, we learn how the industry works but can rarely breathe fresh air into the space since we are often missing the wisdom that we only gain outside of the tiny dot that is our comfort zones. One way to come out of the rut and breathe fresh air into our lives and organizations is to step out into a different space among a different group of people, where mere survival sometimes requires creativity, fresh thinking and more wholesome perspectives.
At Zenith Cleaners, we benefit from not being a cleaning company and by not hiring “cleaners”. Our experience has been that non-cleaners clean better than “cleaners”, first and foremost because they bring a more holistic perspective to the art and are better able to think for the client. Due to our naivety and relative inexperience in our “industry”, we are continuing to test ideas around bringing ecosystems together in the hope that there will be miracles.
We increase our impact exponentially as we practice bringing seemingly disparate ecosystems together, as we become more comfortable with seeming complexity, contradictions and “requisite diversity.” In just 25 years, SVN has changed the landscape and there are still unexplored worlds which will be easier to reach as we continue to joyfully, lovingly cross boundaries and bring disparate ecosystems together.