I currently have 50% more blood in my body than I did seven months ago. My heart is working almost twice as hard as it was pre-baby, pumping more blood at a faster rate. Even my lungs – which are highly compressed by my baby and its cocoon – are taking in 30% more oxygen than before. It’s no wonder that I get dizzy so easily, that walking a few blocks is challenging, and that at any given moment, I could put my head down and drop into deep sleep.
It’s hard, though, to remember exactly why I feel so strange. Because it’s not just that I’m cooking up a baby; it’s that the infrastructure of my body is fundamentally changed by his presence, which creates ripple effects throughout all of my systems.
Tonight, along with our consultant and planning team, I will be presenting our new, final (hopefully) strategic plan. This plan has been gestating just a little longer than a baby – ten months – and may also create fundamental changes in the Cultural Council. For my body, the changes are temporary. My baby-making organs will shrink down to their original size; my ligaments will eventually stop being wacky-elastic; my beach ball of a belly will deflate and (ye gods willing) return to some semblance of what it once was. Of course, my external life will be forever altered, with two little boys defining my life, love, and priorities from now on. But I will largely return to who I once was, if not emotionally, at least physically.
The strategic plan will have a different effect on the Cultural Council, if we do this right. As I’ve mentioned, some of it reflects who we have already become, some of it is aspirational, and some of it downright scary, with goals that will really stretch us. But my hope is that it forever moves the organization toward its best self. We plan to implement the plan’s recommendations in a smart and thoughtful way, put our resources behind it, and make intentional shifts that do not leave room to settle back into our current, more comfortable grooves. I suppose this is the challenge for any organization or program that alters its strategy – to make sure that the change is positive and lasting.
We’ve already had some significant changes in the past three years, and even more in the past several months. Some incredible talent and wonderful people have recently left the Cultural Council and transitioned on to the next great things in their lives. We will miss them and the wealth of knowledge and institutional memory that they brought to the organization. But I feel incredibly fortunate because our current staff team is just extraordinary. Whenever I walk into our front doors, in order to get to my office, I have to walk by every single staff member’s office, as we are almost all in a row with mine at the end. And as I walk, the closer I get to my office, the more jazzed and inspired I get. Each person I pass is so damn smart and funny and fantastic and talented – and they enjoy each other, and enjoy their work.
I count myself incredibly fortunate to be among such people every day. And I will call on them – and, of course, our equally fantastic board of directors – to contribute to making the necessary shifts that will allow us to be who we need to be in this community. Our collective “baby” – this plan that has taken us ten months to create, that made us (or at least, some of us) think differently and lose sleep and disagree and debate our values and ultimately brought us to consensus – will not dramatically change the world, necessarily. But it will give us permission to explore, create, and hopefully do great things within its boundaries and framework.
If all goes well tonight, and the plan is approved, tomorrow will be more than just a new day – it will be the beginning of the next 33 years of the Cultural Council’s life. It will take us some time to get the plan ready for publication, as well as to finalize the “Vision Video” that will be a new way to experience and understand the plan. But, soon enough, we’ll get it launched. And that’s not all. In the next several months, we’ll fully redesign our identity (including our logo, marketing materials, and how people visually experience the Cultural Council), redesign our website, and move to the Tannery Arts Center campus.
Fundamental changes, indeed. I hope my body eventually returns to something resembling its former self; I hope the Cultural Council transforms, in the best possible ways, for good.