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  • A Member of the Loyal Opposition

    Lughnasa                                              Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    Today members of the guide discussion group meet with Katherine Milton at the museum.  We’ve had specific concerns around continuing education and requested this meeting to discuss them with the head of the department that includes Art Adventure, Collection in Focus and Docent programs.

    I had this in mind the other day when I wrote about complainers.  Instead of figuring out how to stamp down or stamp out complainers, organizations should welcome honest critics, often the only source of straightforward critique most institutional denizens ever get.   Too often cloaked in a self-justifying cloud of hopes and projects, all folks who work within large organizations of any kind, be they corporate or non-profit, run the risk of filtering evidence through their own biases, unintentionally slanting and weighting feedback.

    That’s not say, of course, that every outside critic has the truth, but it is to say that the probability of unbiased feedback rises if it comes from folks whose lives are not intimately entwined with the institution.

    My hope is that this process will establish clear channels for guides (all volunteers) and their representatives, that it will open the museum to the voices of that cadre of folks who most often interact with the museum’s public, and that the result will be improved education and resources to the end of excellent tours for museum patrons.

    At the Woolly meeting last night we focused on gratitude, especially for those who had touched our lives in a formative way.  I admitted, as I’ve written here before, that I’ve held at a distance folks who would mentor me. (with one unsuccessful exception, Phil Johnson) “I have an oppositional personality,” I said, “Though none of you may have noticed that.”  Everyone chuckled.

    It’s not a surprise to me that I’m involved with this effort.  My ear hears the frustrated, the unheard, the fearful and my heart always aches to make them heard and felt.  Mom and Dad, in different ways, both reached out to the avoided, the uncared about and did it in spite of considerable institutionalized opposition.  I suppose that’s why this feeling has an instinctive feel, something taught before language and learning.

    We all have our peculiarities, our deep inclinations, this happens to be mine.