Leadership, sewing, and clowns

Leadership, sewing, and clowns

My 2nd Occasional, Not-Scientific-but-Definitely-True List of Inspiring, Courageous and/or Thought-Provoking Awesomeness. 

As I said in a recent post, sometimes, the medicine we need is just a gentle reminder about the kindness and courage that exists in the world. About regular people doing what they can–in their corners of the world–to contribute to a more just and humane world. So I sat down and started a list of some of the people, organizations, artists, activists and teachers who inspire me, and here’s the next installment:

Sewing as community-building: I heard LueRachelle Brim-Atkins speak about the Seattle-Limbe Sewing Circles a couple years ago. People of all backgrounds and ages gather to assemble colorful, hand-sewn feminine care kits for girls in Seattle’s sister city of Limbe, Cameroon. There are so many beautiful layers to this intergenerational, intercultural, international project, with sewing circles happening regularly at a church, a mosque, and a synagogue in the area. The sewing circles blend hands-on determination with an abiding faith in what happens when people come together to work toward a common aim. The project is practical, hopeful, and transformational. As LueRachelle says, “My whole life has been trying to make connections that other people don’t see as connected, particularly around religious communities. People get hung up on what they believe, and think that no one else’s beliefs are valid. I think that when people get in a room and do something together — working together, talking together, laughing together, eating together, crying together, whatever, as long as it’s together, that they can see that there’s not many differences, and the differences are not differences that matter.” If you like the sound of that and want to hear more, check out this beautiful profile of LueRachelle by Susan Kelleher in the Seattle Times. And check out the schedule of sewing circles here.

Laughter as humanitarian aid: Clowns Without Borders aims to “relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and other situations of adversity”. Because they bring joy and frivolity, it might be easy to underestimate the significance of their work. But imagine the healing power of laughter, especially for kids who have experienced the traumas of war, displacement, earthquakes, hurricanes, and beyond. Like Doctors Without Borders, they go where they’re invited, and they collaborate with local communities. Whether working with a shelter in Dallas, in the midst of earthquake relief in Haiti, or with refugees in the Balkans, the creativity, adaptability, and put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is commitment of their volunteer artists is phenomenal. Here’s a short video about one of their recent projects in the Balkans. I feel pretty sure that you’ll be charmed and inspired (even if, like me, you were a little freaked out as a kid by some of the circus clowns you met). And, in the bigger picture, this video feels like it starts to answer a question I keep coming back to: What would it look like if we cared about the fate of each other’s children as if they were our own? [And I was writing this today, I started reading about several other projects, and came across these two beautiful, thought-provoking posts about migration from a project in Mexico: here and here.]

Empathy as a tool in difficult conversations: Three minutes of delightfully animated wisdom about the power of empathy (and why sometimes our efforts to connect and console actually come off as snarky, distancing, and tone-deaf). One of many meaningful ideas from the work of Brené Brown.

YOUR TURN: I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What organizations, people, artists, activists, writers, teachers, ideas, etc. have inspired you, and why?


PS: One other thing.

If you’re looking to expand your own leadership capacity and you enjoy the camaraderie of learning alongside other great folks, this program might be a great fit:

Gauge Leadership Lab, A 12-week series starting March 15 (Seattle).

This program weaves together a powerful 360° leadership assessment, 1:1 coaching, three full-day workshops, and weekly assignments to amplify your learning and put ideas into action. Gather with a small group of peers to deepen your self-awareness, expand your capacity, and strengthen your network. If you’re interested, or you know someone who might be, let’s talk.

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Sara Lawson is a consultant, coach, facilitator, and the creator of Gauge Leadership Lab (Seattle series starts on March 15; London series starts March 28). She is passionate about the role that mission-inspired companies and organizations have in strengthening communities. She also knows that leadership can be fulfilling AND frustrating, even for dedicated, skilled, and creative people. You can reach Sara HERE.

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