Monday, July 6, 2015

What Does it Mean to Thrive?


Weekends are great creations.

This one happened to be quite the exceptional one. Saturday started off with a workshop at work on the Theory of Change and how it applies to one of the Lonely Road's objectives of fostering thriving communities. It was the perfect Tori-style workshop, complete with sticky notes, huge sheets of white paper tacked up to the walls, and popcorn-style input from everyone present. It was a great glimpse into the deeper workings of the Lonely Road, but the word thriving has really stayed with me.

A big part of the workshop from my perspective was to really look at that word, thriving. Of the six words that make up the three Lonely Road objectives - Happy children, Thriving communities, and Effective development - three of those words have very unique properties, they are open to interpretation. 

So what does it mean to thrive? 

And how is thriving different from functioning? The Webster definition of thrive is "to grow or develop successfully: to flourish or succeed." And the consequent Webster definition of flourish is, "to grow well: to be healthy." When I picture the word thriving I picture a mermaid. The picture in my head is saturated with deep blues and greens, the mermaid girl is healthy with long, strong hair, full features, she is physically agile. Her surroundings are covered in fertile sea-greens, the sun is shining down through the water in patterned ribbons, and there are scores of rainbow hued fish all around her. The point is, thriving evokes a sense of surrounding as well. Both the subject and their background are flourishing, strong, and there is a sense of its organic nature. The scene seems like it was meant to be. 

So what does a thriving community look like? (A) There isn't one answer to the question. (B) There isn't an easy question to the answer. (C) We still tried to work up to one. What the focus group came up with was a popcorn of different adjectives and descriptive phrases. A few of my favorites were love, play, access to opportunity, freedom of choice, and social cohesion. 

We ended the session happily, knowing we were nowhere close to painting the perfect picture of a thriving community (nor should we be), and fully acknowledging the fact that not a single member from the community was present during the discussion. The session was, however, valuable in that it made the team really think. It made us think about what we are working towards. It made us think about why we are working towards it, and it made us acutely aware of our limitations, in the best way possible. 

Now, what does it mean for me to thrive?


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