My natural inclination is to shy away from the term organisational culture. It feels overused, fixed and appropriated by big business, a way to dictate and create sameness of opinion, a set of values for all to follow. However, at the same time, when asked what is of most importance to the running of Global Generation, I undoubtedly say that it is the people, how we work together, how we learn from each other, how we build trust first amongst each other and then how we expand this sense of community beyond into our wider community, creating a safe, open space for all.
I therefore go back to the roots of the word ‘culture’ to get meaning from it to help me understand how we are developing culture within Global Generation. The word comes from the Latin cultura ‘growing, cultivation’, ‘to tend, cultivate’ the soil, and later in the 16th Century arose cultivation of the mind, faculties and manners.
It is through drawing on the metaphors of the natural processes of the Earth, in which a healthy soil culture, means healthy plants, that Global Generation aims to develop a healthy culture. One which sits deep underneath the surface and helps inform how we work together as a team, as a community, as an ecosystem, as a family, and how we work with others.
How we develop this within Global Generation has been and continues to be a dance between being intentional and letting go, setting boundaries and going beyond boundaries, offering guidance and letting creativity emerge. Though it is invisible and can feel intangible, it has also been very deliberate.
We have over the years tried different things, and slowly some spaces and practices have stuck, others have dropped away and still others have metamorphosed into different iterations of the first intentions.
In trying to make the invisible more visible, yet not fixed and still an ever evolving process, here is an attempt at trying to capture some of these practices:
The garden at the centre - basing our work in the garden and linking our way of working to the patterns and rhythms of nature
Working in a connected way - across teams, across disciplines, which currently consists of youth educators, teachers, artists, architects, chefs, gardeners, carpenters, storytellers, action researchers and organisational change practitioners
Sharing meals together - sharing a home-cooked lunch together as a team is part of who we are, see Brigida’s account of this while she was carrying out her research at the Skip Garden here.
Space for reflection, individually and collectively - through practices of sitting still to start meetings to create space in all of us; weekly yoga sessions for staff and volunteers; fortnightly Engaged Philosophy sessions where we explore the values and philosophical underpinnings of our work, inquire and develop these further together; Away Days twice a year developed in response to the seasons and the times we’re in as an organisation; yearly Pertwood Camp staff weekend away, going back to the roots of our work and connecting to nature.