A New Sense of Scale

I spoke to someone recently who, like many of us, is converting an in-person learning experience to a digital one. She was discouraged because one of her go-to local workshop leaders was uncomfortable delivering online.

My response: Why limit yourself to local?

If everyone has to participate in sessions virtually, you can access anyone, anywhere in the world. Exceptional talent is more available to us now than it has ever been. We don’t have to pay for travel, and some people’s calendars are more wide open than usual. Instead of starting automatically with those you’ve involved before, consider asking yourself who you’d most love to incorporate into your workshop design!

I have accessed yoga classes and improv classes and learning webinars from around the world over the past few weeks. Could I have done so before? Yes for a few but not all of them. And besides, I didn’t.

The same idea came up again when talking about value for membership in a local chapter of a global association. Geographically-specific events have ceased to have much meaning these days, since people can’t get together in person anyway. We discussed the opportunity to leverage that constraint, by making the entire global network available to members. (Ironically, it always has been – but we’re reaching farther afield in our contact lists now, aren’t we?)

But as a huge proponent of supporting local, it doesn’t sit entirely well with me.

So here’s the counterpoint: I am also seeing a resurgence in commitment to intensely local initiatives. I have a front row seat to watch my daughter’s new business, Guelph Box, flourish — and in doing so, it is contributing to keeping about 60 local vendors afloat and providing much-needed funds to local charities each week, while also giving volunteer drivers something meaningful to do and offering useful local products and a joyful surprise to now over 300 purchasers every week. Wins all around. I also see the local fabric being reinforced in relationships forged between neighbours who had previously never met, in people buying takeout meals to help nearby restaurants, in local leaders making themselves even more accessible to their constituents and in people participating in mobile birthday parties for strangers. I’ve had books and other gifts delivered to my door by shopkeepers in person. (“Hooray! The doorbell!”) I’m finding this resurgence in local connections energizing.

So let’s not think too small or too big. In your work this week, how can you leverage new-found access to world class quality while also doubling down in your support of your local socioeconomic ecosystem? I’d love to hear about it.

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