I spent this year’s holiday break doing something a bit unusual—reading a newly-published book about my dad’s life work. Lentil Underground tells the story of farmers in Montana who rejected the industrial, pesticide-heavy trends in agricultural and charted a new, sustainable, organic course (before organic was even a word Montana recognized). My father plays a lead role in this story as a lead recruiter of others to the cause and as CEO of Timeless Seeds, the business enterprise that the movement grew into.
Reading someone else’s chronicle of your dad could be an unusual experience at times: apparently he has the carefree-but-earnest jocularity of a fifties sitcom?!? But it did get me thinking: how much of my life can I see in my dad’s experiences? Does the Minnesota nonprofit world have much in common with some organic farmers in Montana? After a little reflection, I think it does!Read more
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ― Lao Tzu
Emergence as evolution
As the founder of Minnesota Rising, a generationally-based group, I’m often asked about the point at which our Millennial generation will no longer be referred to as “emerging,” but instead could be considered “emerged.” While there will be a point in time at which, as individuals and as a cohort, we could be said to have moved on from the “emerging leader” moniker, that is not to refute that our journey and learning is lifelong and thus we will always be emerging into the next experience. For this reason, it will be increasingly valuable to have a sustaining generational cohort to help us mark, grieve, and celebrate transitions, and with whom we will be able to note our progress as individuals and as a group.Read more
As of late, I’ve been hearing a lot of requests for training on project management skills. Having been a project manager in fundraising for some years and having taken a lot of project management classes, I know that a variety of tools exist out there to guide people through project management. However, I find that even the “official” project management tools offered by the Project Management Institute, the association of professional project managers, can be overkill for everyday nonprofit projects.
So how do you sort through it all if you want to get organized? To help, I’ve pared down the list to focus on some tools that would be useful for common projects at nonprofits.Read more
On Twitter, I saw the picture of Mike Brown’s father holding a cardboard sign saying, “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!” A few days later, I watched the livestream of protesters being tear gassed in Ferguson, literally with my hand over my mouth in shock. There were the pictures of protesters doused in milk to ease the tear gas and the waves of police officers in riot gear with armored cars. Countless images of young black men with their hands in the air: hands up, don’t shoot.
I cannot get these images, and the real lived experiences of what was captured, out of my head.
The post-9/11 mantra of “if you see something, say something” made us fearful of the forgotten backpack and the unknown stranger. But seeing the images from Ferguson compels me to do something, say something, do anything, say anything that can help those strangers. I just don’t know what it is yet.Read more
A few weeks ago, strangers invited me into their home for dinner, and it completely changed how I understand community building.
In the nonprofit sector, we spend a lot of time discussing community building. We discuss everything from how to do it, to best practices, authenticity, intentionality, network-mapping, and lots of other jargon.Read more
It’s crazy that the idea of “work-life balance” even needs to be discussed. In a perfect world, a beautiful equilibrium across all facets of our lives would be so implicit that a phrase to describe it wouldn’t even exist. But we live in an imperfect world, and working in the nonprofit or philanthropic sectors means spending a great deal of time trying to keep bigger parts of the world in balance, often foregoing relative harmony in one’s own life.
In the past, I have struggled with a pendulum of all work or all play, a slightly destructive cycle that switches directions in full force whenever I’m overcome with exhaustion—a rhythm only recently broken by the birth of my son, and now all time outside of regular work hours are devoted to him. However, knowing my own penchant for the imbalance of work/life I was thrilled to learn that the first peer-led YNPN-EPIP Leadership Institute session would be about balance. Not only would I walk away with a toolkit for working toward balance, but I would also learn that I am not alone in my struggle to keep all parts of my life aloft.Read more
For most of my life I’ve considered the act of learning something that happens in a classroom: there is a teacher who has expertise and knowledge, and there are students who do not yet have that knowledge. Students sit quietly, take notes, study, and eventually learn new information and skills.Read more
Sometimes when you go through a process it gets muddy before it gets clear.
As a consultant for nonprofits with Aurora Consulting, when we do a strategic planning retreat with clients we often warn them things will get “muddy” for a time but we won’t stay in the mud. I’ve come to see it’s not about needing a new process that keeps things clear and organized. It’s about allowing everyone to dive into the mud, get messy, stir around, and see what comes out the other side.
I can also see how this is true in life. In small ways, such as organizing a closet, to big ways like finding the right path in your life or career.Read more
This blog is by Kylie Nicholas.
Getting to know Minnesotans as a transplant is tough. They’re friendly at work and polite on the streets, but it can take years for transplants to count more than a couple of native Minnesotans as true friends. It can be tough, but if you stick around until you break through you’ll make awesome friends AND get to live in the best cities in the whole world.
As a transplant myself, I’ve tried it all from signing up for socializing opportunities to desperate pleas for friendship. What I didn’t realize at first was that I needed to become more like a Minnesotan in order to break through Minnesota Nice. Here are a few of my favorite ways to make friends and fit in like an (almost) native.Read more
As young professionals, it's in our nature to constantly push ourselves to achieve. Working for nonprofits makes it even easier to get motivated by our organization’s mission (great) and forget to take care of ourselves (not so great). Though being driven is a major asset, lack of self-care can easily lead to burnout. We may never be able to shut down our engines completely, but finding ways to channel our energy and creativity outside work can create greater balance and harmony in our lives.Read more