Creating a welcoming and inclusive organization
I would like to tell you a story of passion; one filled with emotion, enthusiasm and commitment. The Landscape Ontario provincial board of directors has all three. Collectively, they have hundreds of years of life and work experience. They have committed to volunteering for everything from schools, places of worship, community-based organizations, senior programs, and firefighting services, to lake and biosphere associations, botanical gardens, Canada Blooms, and many other diverse opportunities. Their knowledge base is outstanding and on top of that, they commit to the success of Landscape Ontario.
The LO board serves the membership and this is particularly important when difficult topics arise. Board members from across the province bring their individual backgrounds, experiences and influences to contribute to something much larger than themselves. Whether they choose to disrupt the proverbial apple cart and affect change, or go along with the general consensus of the group, they must put personal feelings and attitudes aside and focus on the values and needs of the members and sectors they represent when discussing difficult topics.
I recently watched a webinar where the speaker, Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, executive director of the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) mentioned three elements that strengthen an organization: authenticity (looking inwards to self), agility (seeing opportunities and overcoming roadblocks), and emotional intelligence (reading the people; what it is to co-exist).
These three elements allow for a diversity of conversations to happen in a safe, respectful, trusting environment directed by Landscape Ontario’s strategic plan and mission. These conversations allow for action to take place in order to transform the organization. Sometimes, board level discussions must then filter down and take place at the sector groups and chapter board levels in advance of a final decision at the board level.
This happens sometimes with a funding issue, a bylaw change, or when a particularly difficult or complex motion is put forth at the board level. The board’s directors essentially ask for directional clarity from their chapter boards and/or sector groups. More often, the board has the hard discussions and through these conversations thoughtful, important decisions are made for the betterment of Landscape Ontario and its large membership. As discussions happen, the board becomes unified in its direction.
At times, the board can veer off course, but with guidance they are able to re-focus on the goal of ensuring a sustainable future for Landscape Ontario. There will be stumbles, but more importantly, there will be successes. The Landscape Ontario provincial board of directors is strong and committed to governance and moving the organization forward in a cooperative, cohesive manner.
As we look inwards, it will allow the organization to move forward to continue to fulfil its mission: “To be the leader in representing, promoting and fostering a favourable climate for the advancement of the horticulture industry in Ontario.”
The board of directors drives our organization forward and believes the future of Landscape Ontario is worth defining as an inclusive, diverse and welcoming organization.
I welcome your comments and questions.