Don't Walk By

Earlier in the year I attended a Melbourne Creative Performance Exchange gathering where Pete Williams, CEO of Deloitte Digital spoke about his work as an enabler of the Flowerdale community, after the Black Saturday bushfires. Flowerdale is demonstrating all of the principles of self-organising community development in its recovery and redevelopment efforts and Pete is using his extensive networks to assist the community make happen what they want to happen. Flowerdale is also one of three communities where our Uniting Church Camping organisation is operating temporary villages, seeking to balance logistical skills with its emphasis on community building.


One of Pete's key principles for being an enabler is the "don't walk by" principle. I don't interpret this as "whatever stimulus hits, you must respond to." Instead I think it's a dynamic demonstration of balance (or effective tension) between reflection and action.

Because of ties he has to Flowerdale and particular strengths he brings with him, Pete felt a deep and immediate call to action in that place. And it was in response to this call that he "didn't walk by."

This is not an action driven by guilt or any other "should" or "must" type feelings. This is action based on spirited encouragement - literally "a voice in the heart." Community and organisational development champion, Meg Wheatley, speaks extensively of the use of this principle to organise our lives (and the lives of our organisations).

The weekend prior to the session, the text read by Christian communities all over the world had the Jesus character encouraging his followers to rest and reflect. But, almost simultaneously, they feel a deep sense of compassion (read: spirited encouragement?) and act out of that to enable the gathered crowds. Out of a deeper understanding of "who they are" they take action. Sounds like "don't walk by" might be something of a timeless, spiritual principle (and certainly not just a Christian one)?

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