Tuesday, March 3, 2021

An open letter to my "down under" friends and colleagues

The chance to present a plenary speech at the forthcoming “Collaborating Down Under” conference in Sydney was irresistible to me and I am greatly looking forward to it. The Australian collaborative practice community is showing the rest of the world how to do it in terms of mobilizing support for our work at the highest level of government, and I’m hoping to bring home ideas about how we might be able to get Obama Administration leaders on board in a similar way back here in the U.S.A.

I’m also delighted that I’m going to be able to work directly with many of you in a workshop format on the Monday after the Sydney conference ends. That workshop isn’t going to be a highly structured “I talk, you listen” kind of event. It’s meant for people who are serious about taking their understandings and skills to higher and more nuanced levels. This event aims to meet each participant at his/her personal growth point, and to move to the next level of competency and sophistication. It will include presentation of some new ideas that I’ve been working with in intermediate and advanced trainings, and also plenty of time for discussion and spontaneous roleplays of problems from participants’ own cases and practices.

Your colleagues have put together a great conference program. It’s sometimes difficult to be a prophet in one’s own land---and we all make the mistake sometimes of thinking that what’s taking place close to home is nothing special. In this case, you’d be making a mistake if thoughts like that have kept you from signing up for the “Collaborating Down Under” conference.

Take a look at how many speakers and workshop presenters are flying over to Sydney from the U.S. and Europe, and ask yourself why. It surely isn’t the money....all of us will be taking a big financial hit that we will be paying for out of our own pockets. We’re doing it because we all have the sense that this could be one of those events that we may look back upon as transformative, and we want to be part of it.

The big thing that is happening in the international collaborative world is that our movement has made the leap from aspiration to reality. We are at this point truly an international movement, and IACP is building new organizational structures to help link us as a 21st century global community. I believe this conference, like the European conference held in Ireland last May, may be looked back upon as one of the important building blocks in that process. For Australia’s collaborative community to be effective in shaping this formative global community in ways that serve the needs of Australia and New Zealand, it’s vital that you all show up, and make this a conversation that includes all important stakeholders.

I’ve had the privilege of working with many of you in training events in the U.S., Sydney and Brisbane (and in workshops in Aukland). I’ve seen an amazing growth curve over the time since I first began talking with collaborative practitioners from down under. You are bridging gaps, you are moving from old market share ways of looking at collaborative practice communities to a 21st century understanding of how to build a movement that can strengthen the quality of practice, educate the public about why collaborative practice matters, and increase the demand for collaborative services in a way that can benefit everyone.

The Sydney conference can be a place where that conversation takes wings. I’ve attended many collaborative conferences over the years. Each has been interesting and I learn at all of them, but only a small handful have been truly memorable, have changed my way of thinking about the world of collaborative practice. With enough engagement from the Australian collaborative community, I envision that this could be such an event. However, as they say in Las Vegas, “you must be present to win.”

Looking forward to seeing you all in Sydney—

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