kubadalisha mawazo

by Community Forests International on August 28, 2013

kubadalisha mawazo: Swahili, to put your mind in someone else's head. To share minds and change each other.

Jeff used this word during a brainstorming session the other day as we all excitedly discussed some future possibilities for CFI. I asked him to write it down for me because I think it is a more powerful word than “brainstorm” to describe what happens when people sit down together and share openly. It takes a pretty high degree of vulnerability to share your ideas and be open to change, and everyone here - Daimen, Estelle, Dale, Zach and Jeff – is a master at this.

As I wrap up my last couple days at Community Forests International, I find my heart is full with gratitude at having had this window of time to be able to gain an understanding of the goings-on at CFI, to meet the warm and friendly people behind the organization, and to get to join in and help with some of the projects myself. I’ve been inspired. CFI has become a home to me, and my co-workers have become my older siblings. They’ve been a shining example to me of what it means to be committed and compassionate, and they have regularly tried to make me pee myself laughing. I figured out why they are inspiring to me during the staff retreat and visioning session about a month ago. As individuals, the CFI staff are normal, ordinary people. They enjoy having a good time with friends, they love their families, and sometimes they have to clean up dog vomit during important meetings (cough cough, Dale). The magic happens when you stick them together. As a group, they change the landscape in front of them, and thoughtfully and intentionally shape the communities and spaces they are a part of. And I think they are equally shaped and moved by their experiences and through the actions they take and the people around them. They have collectively made a long-term commitment to reconnecting people to the forests that sustain them. They have a strong sense of duty to show that it is possible to positively impact the way communities are structured. “We are not giving up on the land, and the land is not giving up on us.” What does it mean to be inspired? To have life breathed into you? There’s not much point in being inspired unless the feeling leads to a shift in thinking and behaviour. My experience this summer has definitely changed me – I got what I wished for (and more). I’ve gained hope that as a normal, ordinary person, I too can find my place in the world and in some way contribute to long-term positive change. But now the hard work begins as I process what I’ve learned and figure out how specifically it will shape where I go and what I do, and who I am. All I know now is, I have a new family, which means I will have to come back.

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