As previously mentioned in a number of my weekly missives, I come up way short in the musical talent department. I did a stint in middle school orchestra but my secret desire was to be in a band. Not the marching variety, but the load up the van with your fellow musicians and a case of Raman noodles to play gigs (yes I just tried to use some band lingo).
Unfortunately this is a dream unrealized as I am tone deaf and lately go to sleep way before any such gig would start. To make matters worse our family has an actual professional recording artist in its ranks who is now out on tour on a regular basis. Nobody in the family even knew he could sing until college. I have begged him to take me on the road but the farthest I have gotten with that conversation is short visits on the super cool tour bus. I have considered stowing away but they always kick me off long before they pull out for the next city.
There is just something about being on tour that signifies taking your message out on the road and sharing it with others. Meeting people you would otherwise never come into contact with and building relationships no matter how temporary.
My favorite thing to hear a performer of any genre say is “I am getting ready to go back on tour.” It feels as if something exciting and new is just around the corner.
So imagine my astonishment when several days ago a friend ask when I was launching my next tour. For a moment my heart skipped a beat and I thought I may have possibly won some sort of fantasy band contest. But what they were referring to was my listening tour.
From the moment I arrived at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation I promised that I would be diligent about listening and responding to the community. I had forgotten in the early days I had used the cliché term of “listening tour” to describe my early efforts, and over the last three years have embarked on similar efforts around issues and topics that were impacting our region.
Most recently I shared with a group of community members that I would once again be intentionally listening and learning around the topic of sustainability. In April the Foundation made an agreement with the Lee County Board of Commissioners to acquire the Sustainability Plan and although sustainability is in the fabric of all we do at the Foundation I know there is much to discover on this topic.
I am learning a great deal from members of the Foundation team who have worked for years asking countless rooms full of people what sustainability means. Early on the answer was always different. Today the answer is becoming more consistent with some variation of “meeting today’s needs without compromising the needs of future generations.” This is significant progress. If you Google “what is sustainability” you’ll see what I mean.
While the consistency of the definition seems to be resonating, it’s much harder to understand what sustainability means and, more importantly, how you do it. That is the question and the work that allows me to the opportunity to finally say I am heading back out on tour. This summer the Foundation team will be loading up the proverbial van and continuing this important conversation around sustainability. We will share some of what we learn on this gig and our next steps in this space over the next few months and we look forward to connecting with some of you along the way. See you out on the tour. If you’re interested in joining me backstage, let me know by emailing me at [email protected].