Titirangi Storyteller

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Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

Shooting Skaties

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Skaties-1I’ve been hankering to shoot skateboarders for the last while. Went down to Victoria Park in the Auckland CBD yesterday and gave it a go. Reasonably happy with the results, though I am certain there’d be substantial improvement if I went again.

Maybe next weekend…

Skatie-13Skaties-3 Skaties-7

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

11/08/2014 at 10:17 pm

Not Afraid of the Dark

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17/06/2011 at 12:58 am

Friendship, ah friendship… hmmm

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Best friends

Best friends forever

Some time back I wrote a piece on friendship and those kitschy, gushing emails drenched in puppies and kitties and pastels that end up in my Inbox rather often. At first they annoyed me just a bit – after all, I’m not a puppies and kitties kind of girl. But after a while, I realised they meant someone was thinking nice thoughts about me, and that was rather lovely. I may not forward them on, but I usually thank the sender.

Culturally, I think we look at friendship the same way we look at romance – every time out, it’s for keeps, everlasting. And the reality is that few romances and probably as few friendships are solid enough to go the distance. Which doesn’t mean you don’t have a great season together. But they’re not the stuff of lifetime relationships.

Quite often it’s work friends or neighbours – you shift jobs and houses and you mean to stay in touch, but you naturally drift away. The season is over, no hard feelings. Or without doing it intentionally, you just drift away from some people, even after you’ve known them ten or more years. It’s sad when that happens, but the silver lining there is you can often reconnect as if there had never been a down-time.

I don't like you anymore.

How can I say this gently? I don't like you anymore.

What about folks you’ve been friends with for a year or so, and you realise you don’t know why you’re friends? At first they were great fun, but you don’t enjoy their company anymore. They may be hard work with little return, bad tempered drama queens, or simply dull, uninteresting.

I had a friend (now former) tell me I was a bore because of my obsession with pizza. It seemed odd at the time, but I in retrospect, our friendship had passed its use-by date for both of us and that was the one thing she could put her finger on. I could come up with a laundry list of her faults – but she had them when we became friends – they weren’t the problem. We’d just moved past each other. (And I am now very circumspect in my discussion of pizza…)

Proper New York Pizza

Proper New York Pizza

Lace Sky

Like the last ray of sunlight grasping at the fading day, we must let go of a friendship that is over...

The dilemma is that you don’t truly dislike them – if you did, no problem with terminating the friendship. You just don’t like them anymore. You don’t want to give them your time, listen to their dramas, be understanding when they fly off the perch, hear about proper New York pizza one more time.

This is where I want a nice, warm kitschy email that says, “Gee, we’ve had some real good times, and essentially, I think you’re a decent human being. But now that I’ve got to know you really well, I realise I don’t like you very much. Can we call the friendship off?”

Surely we could come up with something mildly funereal, delicate, sensitive yet to the point? Why does everything seem slightly sarcastic? Why are endings so bloody hard?

No wonder we hide and dodge the whole thing and end up stuck with the odd friend we don’t like at all. We need a roadmap, a plan, a course of action – a path to follow to get it right. And I think we do need to do it right, find a way to get these people out of our lives where we can. There’s not much we can do about family. Or coworkers. Or neighbours. We may have to manage toxic relationships throughout our lives.

Cats have friends, too!

Friendships – close, casual, distant, intimate or a 3 hour plane ride long should enrich our lives and bring us joy, support us through tougher times. Like every soppy, sticky, cloying friendship email spells out in detail – friendship is an amazing human treasure. Let’s keep it that way!

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

31/05/2010 at 11:29 pm

Tongue tied

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It's a puzzling world

Lately I find I haven’t got much to say. Partly I blame the weather. We’ve  entered the rainy season, aka winter.

It’s dreary grey, coldish, dampish, darkish. Wet.

The rain shuffles in – a distant roar, gaining volume and momentum as it thunders down on the coloursteel roof, pelting the windows and somehow, my heart.

When it passes, there is the drip drip drip off the eaves – Chinese water torture. The house is damp, dampening my bones and my flesh and my spirit. 94% humidity – how much oxygen is left in the air? If breathing is hard, thinking is harder.

“There are only two mantras, yum and yuck, mine is yum.”
Tom Robbins, Still Life With Woodpecker

Somewhere in the world, right now, there is a perfect sunset.

The Straits of Malacca, 2009

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

26/05/2010 at 10:35 pm

Engagement & Disengagement

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Acapulco cliff divers – 100% engaged

No, there are no big announcements in my family lately (though I suspect I could start some rumours that would only get me into trouble.)

Nor am I thinking about meetings – something I can use as an excuse to get out of something I’d rather do less; “I’d love to come, but I have a previous engagement.” Always makes you sound like your diary is full of intriguing appointments, when the reality is it’s a dental appointment or the cat needs her stitches out.

These days I’m thinking of engagement as involvement, passion, dedication, interest… How can you engage people? What pulls them in? What inspires them to commit to something – a cause or an organisation?

This is spurred in part by a two-day workshop I just did on public participation. It’s something I have always been fascinated by, and generally pretty good at it. But I’ve mostly operated on instinct – the reality is, community involvement is a veritable social science!

There really was a one big WOW moment – where something clicked in my brain. Something I hadn’t been able to get a handle on it – and there it was. This little triangle to my left just about got my heart pounding.

I’ve been very troubled over the last several years by the emergence of what can only be described as a culture of hatred. Differing political views once spawned debate; occasional heated arguments with family members who were either too liberal or too conservative, depending on the prevailing tide; and passionate but tempered editorials in the media. It seemed normal and healthy.

There are too many factors at work in our rapidly evolving culture to point the finger at one as the cause (not everything is the Internet’s fault.) And yet, there is something happening that is luring otherwise reasonable people to attend hate rallies and spout obvious lies and venom about the ‘other side.’ It’s mostly the right wing, but the left has its share of haters as well. I can grok (understand is far too generous a word for it) why they do it… but I just couldn’t get a handle on how they could manipulate ordinary people into embracing hatred.

Piggies with immutable positions

A-ha! When you talk to people – the first thing you will get is their position – on anything. Positions are usually black and white. Underpinning them are our interests, our motivations, what we want. ‘I’m against the road. It’s going through my back garden.’ Underpinning that is our values. If this person values privacy, stability and tradition – we gain an understanding of his position. It may very well be intractable – but more likely, if the person also values reason and cooperation – there are solutions, steps that can be taken to mitigate the situation. I am sure this is obvious… it’s how engagement works – you dig until you find the underpinning values, and then look for common ground, find ways to get at least part of what everyone wants and needs.

What the haters are so very good at is keeping people completely focussed on their positions. People being people, like things simple and easy and reinforced. Disengagement may not be pretty, but it’s easy. I’m worried.

There is no society without cooperation and respect for differing points of view. Even if we seem extremely different, once we dig, we find we are far more alike than we are different and want essentially the same things out of life.

Comprehending it all is one thing – but how can we stop the haters? How do you begin to engage people who have turned off their minds?

Just pondering…

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

09/05/2010 at 1:54 am

If Kali were a tree

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I’ve recently developed a fascination for Kali – the Hindu goddess of…  hmmm… Just what is she the goddess of? Depends who you talk to as there seems a bit of confusion, even among Hindus. She runs the gamut from annihilator to earth-mother.

One man I work with turned a bit pale when he spied a small brass statuette a couple of centimetres tall blue-tacked to the top of my monitor. According to him, a goddess of destruction had no place in a government building and especially not in a Transport Department. We work with serious machinery doing dangerous work.

I suppose he has a point, but I was thinking more of the transition our local governments are going through, turning seven mini empires into one SuperCity. (With Auckland’s massive 1.4 million residents the victims of this inevitable evolution.) While I am optimistic that after five or ten years the outcome will be positive, at present it is rife with to-ing and fro-ing, rumours, whispers, half communications and unclear statements. For example, it’s hard to imagine we really needed to change the access cards to all the buildings NOW because they are no longer supported by the manufacturer. Looks to me like someone has decided the organisation has to be prepared for massive redundancies, and there may not be time or opportunity for niceties such as turning in passes. I could be wrong. It’s happened before. But that’s how it seems to me. I’m not a conspiracy theorist – but that doesn’t mean they’re not conspiring… It would be great to point a finger at one or two culprits – but even the culprits are in the same leaky, rocking boat.

Enter Kali – we need a goddess to take hold of this chaos and supervise it, keep the whole thing manageable – even as it remains as dangerous as ever. It then begs the question as to who will be her Shiva? The new SuperMayor? Or SuperCEO? Or if she is a force of Eternity, then perhaps we will have to wait for Father Time to settle her.

In the meantime, I think this tree may be Kali’s arboreal incarnation – dancing wildly, vicious – and if those green streaks were red – the whole thing would be damned bloody.

I keep a little Ganesha on my desk. Just in case.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

18/02/2010 at 10:58 pm

Back to Dreaming

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Oslo - 84 gull2009 has been the year of dreaming. I wrote about it early on and updated a couple of times. It probably started with the book, The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly, which I commented on back in January in a post called New Year’s Dreams. At the time, and even now, I’m not hawking it as the greatest thing since sliced bread – yet, it got me thinking about dreams. I dutifully made a list of 100 dreams of my own. That was surprisingly easy compared to some folks who’ve also done it. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer.

But a funny thing has happened this year with these dreams… they’ve evolved. Sort of like I opened a can of worms only it’s not worms but a million silken strands waiting to be woven into precious fabric. And once I have the fabric – I can do anything I desire with it because there is the magic of dreams embedded in the fibres.

Oslo - 79 gullWhat does that mean? Well, I just started getting ideas about things I could do and then doing them. And I discovered how willing other people are to share a dream.

Even five years ago, the idea of being on a social committee filled me with horror. Planning a group event brought on a minimum of three sick days. But I am fortunate enough to work in a place where staff are really encouraged to pursue their dreams. And somehow, without planning it, I formed a social committee of my own and together (because it definitely isn’t all my doing) we’ve been pulling off event after event. Yet,  I work for a large organisation with over 2000 staff, so the stuff I’ve been organising for my little group of 90 is small potatoes.

One of the problems of an organisation this size is the silo mentality, where people identify with and are protective of their group, and other groups or divisions are ‘other.’ And ‘other’ is never a good thing. But how do you reach that many people? You couldn’t have events that large – and even if you tried, you’d still get folks clustering in their own silos. You need to mix them up in small groups, so they get a chance to talk to each other – but it has to be about something other than work because work already divides them!

Oslo - 47 gullsSo I got the idea of forming clubs. Things people are interested in outside of work. I’m in the midst of piloting six of them, which again, couldn’t possibly happen without the buy-in, belief, participation and hard work of a lot of other people. And they’re working. I should be blogging this! It’s an incredible thing to watch, and even more incredible that it was just an idea that I had that I decided to try out.

Surprise, surprise – I’m co-facilitating the photography club. Had our second meeting today – people are excited. Our next meeting is a speed field-trip, dashing down to the Auckland waterfront at lunchtime, shooting for half an hour – and then getting back together and seeing what we all come up with. I’m excited!

Oslo - 78 gullsI expect half the clubs will survive and the other half, well, maybe not. It’s not about 100% success, it’s about succeeding where you can, where it fits, where it works.

And keeping on dreaming and just doing what you dream of, making it happen, being the change. It’s scary and wonderful and one of the best things I’ve ever done. And while it’s bloody hard work, it’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had.

Written by Titirangi Storyteller

09/07/2009 at 10:32 pm

Posted in communication, dreams, time, work

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