loren Eric Swanson: April 2007

Monday, April 30, 2007

If I had a Million Dollars

I just got off the phone with Casey Yorman of North Coast Church in Vista. This past weekend 5,400 folks from North Coast Church and their multi-site venues cancelled their weekend service to do their "Weekend of Service." Obviously the community and church were pretty excited. Casey said the thousands of workers were tired but had huge smiles on their faces. Working on over 90 projects they conservatively contributed over a million dollars in community engagement, working in schools, non-profits etc. Many kudos to Casey and the North Coast leaders who chose to make a difference.

Church members fan out to tackle community projects
By: SCOTT MARSHALL - Staff Writer

NORTH COUNTY -- Kids visiting the Boys & Girls Club in Oceanside on Monday will be "wide-eyed" when they see the transformation that took place this weekend as part of one church's massive community service project that spanned North County, a club official said Saturday.Paul Paopao, 38, director of operations at the club, was on hand Saturday morning as members of North Coast Church added a mural depicting children to a formerly plain wall just inside the door of the club, scraped old paint off the walls to prepare for a new coat throughout the building, and worked on other projects.
"You're just, like, speechless when you see all the people coming in and volunteering their time," Paopao said. "They will never know in words how much it's appreciated, what they've done for us."
The North Coast volunteers were part of a team estimated to be 5,000-strong that split up to work at sites across North County for the largest community service event in the church's 30-year history. Volunteers from the church are scheduled to work today as well.The church, which typically attracts 6,500 people each weekend, is not having regular services this weekend, but instead is "doing the work of the ministry" through the community service project, said Larry Osborne, 55, the lead pastor.North Coast congregants were expected to work on 92 major projects, including painting and landscaping at Washington Middle School in Vista and Claire Burgener Academy in Oceanside, and full-scale home renovations in Escondido and Vista for women and children fleeing abuse.At the Oceanside Boys & Girls Club, Krista Christensen, 46, of Vista, stood on a ladder Saturday morning painting portions of the mural that fellow North Coast member Bob Busick had drawn on the wall in pencil.Christensen said she volunteered for the church's service event to be an example to the children and let them know people care about them."It's just important to give back to let people out there know there are people who really do care and are in it for the right reason," Christensen said. "It's important to be of service and give back. It does make a difference."Kathy Sampson, 51, and her husband, Greg, 56, who have owned a business in Oceanside for 30 years, served as "city leaders" for the community service project, helping to coordinate the work North Coast volunteers are doing in Oceanside this weekend."We just wanted to jump at the chance to go into all these areas and see what we could do to help out," Kathy Sampson said.She said meeting with people at different organizations who have dedicated their lives to working with children was "very humbling" and that the work North Coast was doing was "kind of small" in comparison.Osborne said serving others also may open doors for people hear about the faith of those who attend North Coast."Imagine a Jesus who just went out talking and never doing good," Osborne said. "You have to earn the right to be heard. I personally think you need to be serving people and to be telling spiritual truth."In Escondido and Vista, several hundred volunteers said they were doing just that as they helped renovate six of the eight homes run by St. Clare's, an Escondido nonprofit organization that serves as a safe haven for women and children who have escaped domestic violence.More than 100 women live in all eight homes, the neediest of which received full-scale makeovers that included everything from exterior landscaping to interior painting and room reconstruction. Of the homes being worked on Saturday and today, five are in Escondido and one is in Vista.Volunteers from the church also worked at St. Clare's headquarters, 2091 E. Valley Parkway in Escondido, where they were improving the program's class space with technology upgrades and more."To explain the depth at which these improvements have gone is almost impossible," said Mary Ferro, the director of community development and volunteer coordinator. "There have absolutely been miracles created."Ferro was part of a team of several dozen volunteers cleaning up a home in south Escondido. Workers of all ages and skill levels were painting, building furniture, and fully renovating two bathrooms in the five-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home."I have tears just trying to take in all of this," Ferro said, noting that they have estimated the volunteers will have put in between $300,000 and $400,000 worth of improvements at all six homes and the headquarters by the time the weekend is up.As the oldest house owned by St. Clare's, site coordinator Mark Clark said it was in desperate need of work.By the end of the weekend, he added, they hope to have repainted the entire inside of the house, put in new linoleum and carpet, installed all new appliances in the kitchens and custom-designed cabinets in the bathrooms, and added a few new pieces of furniture."I think that it's the single best idea that this organization has ever had," 24-year-old Jake Bales said, as he touched up paint on the hallway. "This is how we should be spending our time."-- Staff writer Shayna Chabner contributed to this story. Contact staff writer Scott Marshall at (760) 631-6623 or smarshall@nctimes.com.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Red Stilts--Are you having any fun?

At the last Leadership Community gatherings in Dallas and Big Sur, John Handy told the story of how he named his company "Red Stilts" (http://www.redstilts.com/). It's named after a Dr. Seuss book called "The King's Stilts." John tells the story below but today I got an visual application of a externally focused church team that still knows what it is to play at work. John told a story of the fun they had at Mattel...how one time, while a muckity-muck was on vacation, they drywalled, painted an weathered over his office door so when he returned to work, he couldn't find his office. This was Grace Fellowship Church's application towards their team leader.... (By the way, I don't want this kind of fun pulled on me....that included finding my cell phone within a Jell-o mold!

Red Stilts

I want to tell you the story about the statue of David. It has to do with implementation. It is 14 feet tall. It is in Florence. It is a very large piect of marble. it has been in florence for a long time. Many have tried to do something like this. People said it couldn't be done. Michaelangelo looked at the stone and decided that he could sculpt it. What he did was mark up the stone. At one moment he took a giant chisel and hit it hard. That was the moment of commitment. Following that the vision was unfolded with several hits on the chisel. This is encouraging to me. When I am on the edge of doing something huge, ubt you just need to make the first strike of the chisel. It all starts with that first strike. It is scary, but only you can do it ant you have to do it by taking a chance.
My card is red stilts. At mid career i had an experience. I was on a roll with my group. We were growing fast and flourishing. We went off on a big trip and innovating. I grouped people together and asked people what they thought about what was going on at Mattel. I heard fear. They were afraid of layoffs, and other things. I had reached the point of ceasing to have fun at my job. I wondered how I could figure it out. I could no longer see the passione on the faces of our people. My boys were 4 years old. I got home and Corrine told me that
The Kings Stilts. There was a king who was busy all the time. He had a kingdom with everything going for him but it was below sea level. Held back by dike trees. Misery birds pecked away at the dike trees. Patrol cats guarded the dike trees. The king looked forward to the end of the day when he would run across the kingdom in red stilts. He did it for himself. The people saw the happy king every day and concluded that the kingdom was in good shape because the king was at play. Jimmy Carter versus Ronald Reagan. Carter was a workaholic and worried all the time. Reagan seemed to spend a lot of time at his ranch fixing.
One of his uncles took the stilts away from the king, and put him back to work. The people began to worry again. The nephew came back and renewed the joy of the kingdom.
This same thing had happened to me. What I did was buy a bunch of the books and he gave them to everyone to read. Gave the assignment to read the book, written in 1932 and write up a book report and come back to talk about it. We decided to change the culture of the company to where they would make it fun. As leaders he challenged people to grab their own red stilts. Ford flathead engine driven motorcycle. He wanted to build it from scratch looking like 1940's technology. Build it from scratch. A bunch of folks at the company joined in on the effort. The hotwheels project was very excited about this project.
they then converted the design space and let each group design their own work space. Did it without permission. 1940 gas station with cars parked in it.
One group built a matrix set in their workspace.
One group built a treehouse to look like a 7 year old built it.
Find a way of injecting red stilts into what you are doing to show people that you are having lots of fun doing whatever you do.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Funny and Odd Signs in Asia

Wouldn't you think before publishing something someone would say, "Hey let me run this by my buddy in Cleveland."