Jump into work head first

Not that long ago I came across the poem “To be of use” by Marge Piercy. I barely got through the first stanza and thought she could be writing about YNPN Twin Cities. The entire history of our organization is filled with people who “jump into work head first/without dallying in the shallows”. It’s in our DNA. It’s what inspires me at every event and with every interaction. I read the poem as a reflection of pieces of YNPN-TC’s vision to connect through purpose and lead together.

When members saw a gap in the leadership development opportunities of young nonprofit professionals, YNPNers came together with a clear purpose and created a Leadership Institute that has just launched. 

We are leading together by hosting the YNPN National Leadership Conference this June, another huge undertaking. Many, many people have been involved and are working to “do what has to be done, again and again” to make the conference a reality. As the poem says, they are the “people who submerge/in the task, who go into the field to harvest/and work in a row and pass the bags along,/who are not parlor generals and field deserters/but move in a common rhythm/when the food must come in for the fire be put out”.

And you can be part of this amazing work, too. Join us and jump in. We need everyone together to make our community great. Your perspective, talents and voice will make YNPN-TC even more awesome. 

To be of use
by Marge Piercy

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
they seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muk to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again. 

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real. 

"To be of use" by Marge Piercy © 1973, 1982.
From CIRCLES ON THE WATER © 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. and Middlemarsh, Inc.

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