Back from Sacramento: The Fall Retreat

Dec 11, 2012   //   by JohnH   //   Blog, Compass News  //  No Comments

Compass had our 2nd annual fall retreat up in Sacramento the weekend before Thanksgiving. Retreats are an exciting time where we can spend time together building community and talking deeply and broadly about the things which are important to us, so that we can all be a little bit closer to being on the same page. I was personally excited about being a part of envisioning some long-term goals for Compass. I’m always coming up with schemes, and the retreat serves as a place where everyone has come to think about Compass, and so schemes and thoughts are valuable rather than distracting.

We started off with a tradition, called “Story time with string”. When I read this on the agenda, I’m thinking to myself “Great, a corny community building activity.” But shame on me for doubting Joel and Josiah’s planning, because story time was fun and relevant to the goals of the weekend. We created the compass lineage using a ball of yarn, where people were passed the ball of yarn by the order which they had joined Compass. I learned about everyone’s histories as the yarn unraveled, and the connections which people had to one another, and the places where people had opportunities to work with one another made the history of Compass a much more coherent thing. It also made the story of Compass into a story of people. When we were done, the web of yarn was fun to play with, but it also doubled as a metaphor, partly for the breadth of our impact (when we move our yarn, everyone feels it), but also for the continuity of an idea that brings us all together.

That night, we got a chance to walk around Sacramento in the rain. It was some quality time with people who I rarely get to see in a context wich is not work related. Part of why I like Compass is because I like the people in Compass. Getting social time was really great. Dimitri gave us an awfully tricky puzzle with forks and cups that we failed to solve. I shook salt on many things. A good time was had by all.

The next day was packed with purposeful activities, and everyone was totally on board the whole time. If you’re a Compasseer, you can read about what went down on the wiki! What inspired me about the retreat was how many great, clever people are able to get together in one place and actually work to solve some really abstract problems. Diversity of opinion is really what makes this group wonderful to work with. I can be sure that there will be some level of disagreement about anything which comes up, and there will also be miscommunications when people who have very different conversational and mental types try to come to agreement. But through this, everyone gains a broader view on the issue or solution being proposed. No one owns the floor. No one gets left out. Somehow, sensibility trickles up from the chaos, and I attribute that to the cooperativity and sharpness of the people who are attracted to Compass.

Some of the things I’m most excited about which came to my attention that weekend are emerging collaborations with programs which are similar to Compass at other institutions, kick starting publication of a whole range of useful documents, and trying out a new team structure to help with internal organization. Being a part of Compass is a real pleasure!

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