XCHC 2nd Birthday
Nau Mai Haere Mai
Welcome to the Exchange Christchurch (XCHC) on the occasion of our second birthday.
The core purpose of the Exchange is “cultivating a creative ecology” and we do that at the XCHC by “enabling creative enterprise”. I would like to think that many of you are here tonight because you share that purpose.
Because, like us, you embrace the idea that enabling the development of our ‘creative self’ is a very meaningful way to make a valuable contribution to our community – this community, your community, and our community – Aotearoa.
We don't have to look very far to see how broken our national and local communities are – perhaps to understand that there is an absence of community in much of our country.
There are two key statistics that continue to remind me of the huge challenges we face in building, or rebuilding, the community of Aotearoa:
• More than 25% of our children live in poverty; and
• NZ has one of the fastest growing rates of income inequality in the OECD.
How are we ever going to arrest the drivers of these shameful statistics? How are we going to discover and implement new ways of living together that change these outcomes and assure the dignity, equality and wellbeing of our communities?
One of the important catalysts in energising such a shift are the many social enterprises that are challenging the status quo; discovering and testing alternative ways of assuring the physical, social, cultural, economic and spiritual wellbeing of our communities.
This XCHC is one such enterprise – a for purpose (and on-purpose) enterprise for social good.
For me, as Chair of this enterprise, I like to think that what we are doing here is totally in synch with my own purpose – ‘enabling community’. But what does this mean and how is ‘enabling community’ an integral part of what we are trying to do here.
Firstly, let me share what I think are the key enablers of community. Let me ask you five questions to focus attention on your own communities – to make you think about the nature of community within your family, your workplace, your social and cultural spheres, your city and our country:
- What is our shared purpose; what is the common intention that binds us together; and what are our shared aspirations for the future?
- Who is our community; who are the people that share our purpose; do we have the meaningful relationships that enable our community – trust-based relationships anchored in a shared intention for the future and nourished by the exchange of equitable value?
- How do we release the potential within our community; how do we collaborate to co-create a different future together; how do we learn from and with each other?;
- How do we participate within and with our community for the benefit of all; how does what we choose to do co-create equitable-shared value for all of our community?
- How do we assure the wellbeing and sustainability of our community; how do we co-create the platforms that enable and sustain the physical, social, cultural, economic and spiritual wellbeing of our community?
The five P’s – Purpose, People, Potential, Participation and Platforms – the essential elements of community. I like to think that at the XCHC we have a focus on all of these elements and that, as a community of creatives, we have a particular focus on potential – the individual and collective potential within this community and the potential for this community to influence learning, and therefore outcomes, within other communities.
Indeed the pathway we have chosen to manifest our purpose – to cultivate a creative ecology by enabling creative enterprise – is to enable the creative self.
To provide an opportunity for people to explore and develop their own creative potential; to learn from and with others in this community; and to share that learning with the wider community.
For me personally, understanding the potential for, and the importance of creativity, and in particular community-based creativity, to help us discover new ways of living – perhaps new ways of being – has been my gift from this community.
We are two years into our journey together – building our own community and enabling others, focussed on co-creating a sustainable creative enterprise for social good.
How are we doing?
We are still learning…and we have a growing community of creatives and supporters to learn with and from of which we are very proud.
Is it hard work?
Yes…holding true to purpose, seeing our challenges as learning opportunities and having the patience to let our future pathway emerge…is never easy.
Is the end in sight? Is the light at the end of the tunnel a way forward or an oncoming train?
We think it's a light but it still too distant to be absolutely sure.
Will it ever be closer or easier to see?
Possibly not…perhaps that's the beautiful uncertainty of creative endeavour…the creative energy that comes from a perpetual gap between our vision for the future and our current reality…and the learning that gap enables within a purposeful community.
And…can you help us?
Yes you can…quite simply by being an active part of our community; by sharing our purpose and participating in what we do; by encouraging others to experience what we have to offer; by joining our creative community; by renting our showcase space; by participating in our events or hosting your own event; and visiting our café.
Remember, we are a for purpose community. The time, energy and dollars you choose to invest in this community supports our purpose – enabling creative enterprise for the benefit of your community.
In closing I would like to acknowledge all those people who have made, and continue to make this enterprise possible.
To Camia, the founder and keeper of our purpose – without her vision, energy and commitment we would not be here tonight;
To my colleagues, the members of our board and our staff, both past and present, who keep our vision alive and well;
To our resident community, the creatives (past and present) who presence our intentions for this place;
To the event organisers who have introduced us to so many new friends;
To our café patrons and event participants who add so much to the vitality and ambience of this space;
To our funders (CNZ, Rata, CCC) - without their support none of this would have been possible;
And of course to all of you who have honoured us with your presence here tonight.
Finally I would like to leave you with an observation from a few of my favourite writers – a thought perhaps about your personal role and responsibility in building community…
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Tony Chamberlain September 2nd, 2016