7 year twitch

I’ve been writing something today about the things people forget when they use the word ‘resilience’ – be that approvingly, disapprovingly, disdainfully or simply exhaustedly. I wanted to know when I first used the word in my blogging, so was searching the old Arts Counselling site, where I wrote when I worked for ACE.

It turns out Resilience was Wednesday Word of the Week a little under 6 years ago – 25th February 2009 to be exact. But that’s not my point here. (You’ll have to read the engage Journal ‘resilience special’ later in the year to see to what use I put that fact.)

I also noticed that it is exactly 7 years ago today since I started the Arts Counselling blog. It was born out of several things: a desire to use my writing skills more than I was, a need to communicate more often about the arts and what I was doing in my job, and a need to remind people that ACE was not full of faceless bureaucrats. Maybe it was also to prove that to myself.

The first blog was about 5 words that drove my work at ACE. (I bottled titling it 5 words in a nod to a favourite song, as the Go-betweens’ 5 words are ‘Bury them don’t keep them’, not quite the right message!) Those words were: passion, opportunity, responsibility, change and roots. Re-reading that first post and looking through the site was a useful refresher for me.

Firstly, I made a ‘note-to-self’ not to slip into the slack thinking that people at ACE might be more faceless bureaucrats now than they used to be. Although the diversity policy continues, I believe, to require a few faceless bureaucrats are employed, I doubt that’s really true. There are fewer people there full stop, and they may sometimes feel more ‘boxed in’ at times than I generally did, but the folk I come across still seem driven by a passion for the arts (and now museums and libraries of course). Even when frustrated or worse with funders, as one will at times be, it’s worth remembering that.

Secondly, I was reassured I was still living by those 5 words in different ways in the things I do via Thinking Practice, through my writing and through my board memberships. I think if you have a ‘career’ in the arts, you will want to step in and out of the circle if you have the chance, so you never get too comfortable. (Sometimes you need to step in and make a bit of trouble, of course.)

It’s also nearly 5 years since I founded Thinking Practice out of a desire to carry on making change, exercising my passion and responsibility in very different ways. It feels like new chapters of that larger systems change may need to open in the coming months, as the general election slouches towards us, a very rough beast indeed. Those chapters will be written in many voices and styles I suspect. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to work with people making change, encouraging greater equality in culture, greater ingenuity. We need those ever more urgently. (And yes, greater adaptive resilience too.)

Anyway, I also noticed the Arts Counselling blogs were shorter than my Thinking Practice ones so I’ll just stop there, I think!