Saturday, June 25, 2011

Traveling With Compassion as a Criteria

Many people choose to travel the world in pursuit of great and famous sites and sights. I am much like that, also. But lately just traveling and sightseeing has not really been so attractive to me any more. What I want to do is to be challenged by what I see. I want to be immersed and fully participating in my travels. Otherwise, I feel the time is wasted.

I want to be able to tell a great compassion in action story. I want to be able to see something that really makes me think about what is special about the site where I visit. I also like to ponder about what it represents or how it relates to the transformation of human consciousness.

Many recommended famous places that are perused by visitors in thousands are great historical monuments dedicated to wars, fame and money. Generally, I am less interested in them.

I want to see the places and monuments that reflect compassionate actions. Something that has or is having a continuous effect in the changing human consciousness.

I am quite happy with small deeds. Lot's of small and less noticeable actions combined can contribute to the wellbeing of the humankind in a big way.

In the theory of apprehensive inquiry and strategic questioning it is determined that the questions have to be set up right to produce the desired results. It is better to start from the positive actions than try to fix the negative behavior. The positive strategic positioning will increase the positive result and outcomes.

My new blog at is my answer to the quest. It records where I have been searching. In the beginning I will go backward in time to the places I have already visited but will also collect new interesting places or stories in preparation for visiting more places.

I hope this will prove to be an enjoyable journey that will enhance our understanding of compassion in action. Please, check it out and enjoy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, June 17, 2011

Suomalaisuutta Australiassa monessa sukupolvessa

Artikkeli Toini Toivasesta ja hänen monessa sukupolvessa olevasta perheestään ilmestyi Australian Suomi-lehdessä perjantaina.

Meidänkin perheemme on ollut Toinin ystävä jo viidessä sukupolvessa. Hän oli yksi isoäitini parhaimpia ystäviä, vaikka heillä olikin ikäeroa melkein 20 vuotta. Äitini ja Toini ovat hyviä ystäviä.

Kun muutimme Australiaan 90-luvulla, asuimme Toinin alakerrassa ensimmäiset kuukaudet ja niinpä minunkin tyttärilläni on henkilökohtainen ystävyyssuhde Toinin kanssa. Se on niin vahva, että yksi vanhimman tyttäreni viimeisistä ja tärkeimmistä tehtävistä ennen Suomeen paluumuuttoa oli mennä Toinia tapaamaan ja tutustuttaa hänet uuteen vauvaan.

Suomalaisuus Australiassa on siis säilymässä vaikka se onkin muuttunut omaksi finnejen yhteisöksi, omine kulttuureineen ja käyttäytymissääntöineen. 'Suomalainen" suomalaisten itsensä määritelmänä australialaisten joukossa on tarkkaan rajattu tapa elää ja olla.

Monet niistä 20000 ihmisestä, jotka kuuluvat australian suomalaisten jälkeläisiin eivät ehkä identifoi itseään samalla tavalla, eivätkä siis kuulu joukkoon, ainakaan omasta mielestään. Monet tuntevat olevansa siinä välimaissa. suomalaisten joukossa vierata ja australialaisten joukossa suomalaisia. Toiset ovat 'unohtaneet' suomalaiset sukujuurensa ja mieltävät itsensä täysin australialaisiksi. Monet ehkä miettivät sitä, että missä se raja kulkee?

Kielen säilymiskysymys on tärkeä kriteria kun mietitään missä yhteisössä on mukavinta toimia. Toininkin viidestä sukupolvesta vain hän ja hänen tyttärensä, siis kaksi ensimmäistä sukupolvea puhuu suomea ja loput ovat vieraantuneita etnisestä yhteisöstään ja identifioivat itsensä australialaisiksi, joilla on suomalainen mummu.

Toini on kyllä ihanne suomalaisten mummojen joukossa Australiassa. Hänestä kannattaa ottaa oppia mummouden alalla muidenkin.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yksinäisen päivän runo

Tänä päivänä olen yksin
tänä päivänä yksin oon.
Tänä päivänä yksinäisyys vaivaa
se kelju tunne on.

Tänä päivänä olen ilman seuraa
vaikka seuraa tarvitsisin.
Siitä huolta ja murhetta, vaivaa
tulee minulle tuon tuostakin.

Yksin kun olen niin mietin,
missä kaikki mun rakkaimat on.
Miksi yksin olen jäänyt ja turhaa
tänä päivänä tarpoa on.

Minun kaikki on rakkani menneet
tuonne toiselle puolelle maan
ja ystävät läheiset ovat
kaikki kotonaan yksin, hekin vaan.

Vaikka yksinäisyys nyt mua vaivaa,
Ihan sairaaksi tehnyt se on,
Silti täällä olen ja yksin
minun täytyy olla kun
sitä yksinäisyyttä suurta
nyt pääse en pakenemaan.

En minnenkkään, enkä kuinkaan
ennenkuin minäkin joudan lähtemään
Sinne toiselle puolelle maailmaa.

Mielenkiintoista luettavaa yksinäisyyden tilasta ja lyriikasta:
Taimela, Sari (2007) Yksinäisyyden avaruus. Yksinäisyyskokemuksen tilat "yksin"-kirjoituskilpailun aineistossa.Lisensiaatintutkimus. Nykykulttuurin tutkimuskeskus. Jyväskylän yliopisto

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Notes from Partnering - Above and Below the Line – Workshop

Last week, I and 20 others were lucky to spend two fascinating days in a workshop about partnering fascilitated by Ian Dixon (Dixon Partnerships Solutions) and Max Hardy (Twyfords). They are specialists in engaging people in partnerships.

About a year ago they formed a successful trainer partnership and have since trained Primary Health Partnership Council members and their prospective partners around Queensland on how to set up partnerships and engage in meaningful and strategic conversations with each other. Through these conversations the eventual partners gain skills in creating, developing and sustaining productive initiatives that contribute to the health and wellbeing of their communities.

I was astounded that there is so much to learn about this. I found that there actually is a structure to building strong partnerships. The workshop proved to be a very enlightening experience. Until now I have just gone from the assumption that to form relationships and engage in conversations is human nature. But now I know that some are far better at it than others. Not only that but engaging skills can be sharpened and used constructively.

I have always been good at networking and have understood that building and maintaining relationships is a natural part of my work in the community. However, as a skilled engineer, Ian has dissected the process of building relationships. He has made it to a structured process that can be used to form and build strong and healthy partnerships that are productive until it is time to ‘move on’. Ian’s way of structuring the partnering course of action is very useful and practical. I am looking forward to applying the acquired learning to my daily work practices.

Ian and Max work very well together. They have combined their skills in workshop practice and can really engage participants. Max is the social worker of the duo.

In the workshop he facilitated the exercises around the partnership building by introducing us to such very useful relationship creating and building tools as ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ and ‘Strategic Questioning’. “Research shows”, he explained, “that the way surveys and enquiries are laid out affect the results.”

Well, we knew that, but it was a surprise to get to know that the very process of the enquiry affects ‘how we are’. It is better to enquire into positives of experiences than fix the problems with negatives.

We were introduced to David L. Cooperrider (2003) and Fran Peavey (1994) and their thought processes in enquiring about the positive in human experience and putting their questions in such a forward thinking way that it contributes to the desired outcomes. We then practiced our newly acquired skill in groups. It was a well-organised learning curve for us all. In just two days we came out with a highly useful practical skill set. We also met new people and formed new relationships.

For me, this is always the best part of the workshops I participate in, getting to know everybody, sharing experiences and stories. I am looking forward to receiving newsletters and connecting with my new prospective partners through work and through social media.

COOPERRIDER, D. L. & WHITNEY, D. 2003. Appreciative Inquiry: A Positive Revolution in Change, San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

PEAVEY, F. 1994. By Life's Grace: Musings on the Essence of Social Change, USA: New Society Publishers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Notes from the ‘Communities in Control Conference' in Melbourne, Part 2

The Main Conference, May 29-30

In hindsight, the first thing I can say about the ‘Communities is Control’ Conference, 2011 is that I am really happy about being able to have taken part in it. ‘My Community’ has done a lot of work in providing the Australian Not-for-Profit (NFP) Sector and particularly the community organisations with a conference that as closely as possibly strives to meet our current needs for networking and updates us about the changing climate on where we work today. Without this conference I would have had to go to great lengths in trying to find out about the burning issues that many organisations are facing today while reviewing the sector or our changing relationship with the different layers of Government.

Sitting two days in a conference with about 1000 other people from all over Australia, often engaged in conversations was not such a hardship at all and I am considered a conference pro.

The second thing I noticed when coming to register was the people who had come to partake in the conference. They seemed to be from all walks of life. So many different kinds of communities were represented. It was easy to start a conversation with anybody and everybody. In fact, one didn’t need to know anybody beforehand to make friends.

For a Queenslander and a student at the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Not-for-Profit Studies at QUT, it is quite interesting that I had to come to Melbourne to listen to Linda Lavarch talking about the Government’s aims in straightening up the tangle of regulations and laws in relation to the Australian Not-for-Profit Sector. She currently is a research fellow at QUT and also is the Chair of the Australian Government Not-for-Profit Sector Reform Council.

According to Linda, this Government, instead of just talking is ready for action in harmonising regulations, striving to cut the red tape and straightening out the prevalent problems of the NFP Sector.

The good news is that the Government has already installed the Office for NFP Sector. It will engage with the Sector as a whole with four working groups and look into:

• National Compact
• Harmonising legislation
• Reducing red tape
• National regulations

There will also be an overview of the definition of charitable organisation.

The other highlights for me on the first day were the Joan Kirner Social Justice Speech delivered to us from Brussels by Sharon Burrow, who is there as the General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). She strongly advocated the international work the unions are doing in highlighting the blight of many nations in their treatment of the workforce, particularly women. The role of ITUC was also highlighted in its role of advancing social justice and equality to the world’s workforce. As a Finn, I was delighted to hear that President Halonen from Finland might have a future leadership role to play in this after she completes her time as President next year.

As a Queenslander it was also interesting to observe the role The Hon. Joan Kirner, the former Victorian Premier and the current Community Sector Ambassador to Australia, plays in the whole conference, not only through the social justice oration but through the warm atmosphere surrounding her and her ease in striking conversations with different members of My Community leading people as well as all the invited speakers.

As a newcomer to the community sector conferencing in Australia, it is interesting to observe that we have here a person who is highly respected and has a huge impact on the way the sector is conducting its business. As a historian, I can only remember similar kinds of conferences that I have participated in where one particular person has had such an impact in the women’s liberation movement during the 1980’s where the huge ‘feminist legends’ were still taking part in the conferences. It is clear from the conference that Joan Kirner is one of the big runner-ups for women’s advocacy in the Australian context.

I also enjoyed Hugh Mackay’s speech on his just published book What Makes Us Tick? It presented 10 social desires that we as human beings are subject to and that affect our community. It caused huge lines afterwards at the stand where his books were sold. It can be said to his credit that he signed every one of them, even though mine was the second last and he was already standing up as the next session was starting.

Miriam Lyons was a little bit fast in her speech pattern for me to catch everything she was saying about the book called More Than Luck but she was very witty and I was absolutely delighted to observe her smile and the first thing for me, when I get home is to download the book as a free eBook on the Website.

The last delight on the first day was the Choir of Hope and Inspiration [previously the Choir of Hard Knocks]. We heard the first ever performance of their first musical which will be performed in September.

The second day went from strength to strength.

Phil Ruthven presented us with a lot of statistics and forecasts for the future. Basically he said that we are now at the height of our lives in what comes to health, life longitude, wealth and wellbeing and it is only getting better. There will be more wealth, longer life expectancy and more health. That is the upside; the downside is that there will be a lot of change.

But we do thrive on change as human beings anyway, so the forecast is good, if we take it as such and apply a healthy ‘grain of salt’ to our expectations.

His speech very much made me to want to live longer in order to see for myself if he is right in his predictions. Living to 100 just might not do it. To succeed, that means that I now have to make sure to apply all the possible new inventions in health and wellbeing which he forecasts to be many.

The absolute highlight of the second day was the launching of Advancing Women: Women and the Order of Australia and the speech made thereafter by Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Commissioner Responsible for Age Discrimination.

What has been the best part in the conference was meeting new friends. Even though we know that all the speeches will be online afterwards and that books can and will be bought the personal dimension of actually being there, participating in the discussions, meeting others, networking and starting to build those important relationships. There is nothing that can take away that.

It proves the point Hugh Mackay said about the desire to be connected. Through participating in this conference, we have strengthened our belief in grass roots communities and our conviction that people have power to influence change.

The conference organisers are very proud of the fact that with the help of Victorian Government funding and other sponsors, this conference has the lowest entrance fee of them all. That actually was reinforced time after time with conversations across the room as many told me that their boards did prefer to send them to Melbourne than pay an entrance fee in the nearer city, as counting together flights, accommodation and food with the entrance fee, the Communities in Control Conference still costs less than other competing conferences available during this month. Interestingly enough I was unable to find it on LinkedIn. Hopefully that will be amended next year.

Our new ties with the original ‘early bird’ group on Sunday held to the second day. It was nice to be able to say ‘good morning’ to people you know already and exchange experiences with them from time to time during the conference.

I also ran into friends from Queensland. There were many as a matter of fact. Observably, judging from the question times and counting the numbers, the Queensland participants to the conference were close to Victorian numbers.

All and all this was a very delightful conference experience, worthy of replay and recommending to others.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Notes from the Communities in Control Conference in Melbourne, May 29-30, 2011

Women Achieving and Flourishing

A Pre-Conference Seminar with Christine Nixon (Our Community & Women’s Leadership Institute Australia)

I am keeping my promise to report on my experiences at the ‘Communities in Control Conference’ in Melbourne. ‘Our Community’ has so far organised this conference for nine years but this year is my first time as a participant. It is really exciting.

My partaking was made possible with the kind support of Qld Health and Caddies Independent Minds, Drug and Alcohol prevention program for Youth-at-Risk which is funded with Qld Health CHIC funding. Already at the pre-conference seminar I was able to meet people who work with youth in other parts of the country.

From the start, it was a crash course in networking. As I was early to the seminar and did not know anybody, I needed to make friends and fast. Luckily for me all the other ‘early birds’ in our table were chatty and willing to share. Quickly we found that we all were keen users of the social media as a vehicle for networking. It gave a lively start to introductions all around.

By the time the official seminar started our table had found that we represented different States: Queensland, Victoria, Canberra, South and Western Australia and worked in a wide variety of services from fundraising and education to aged care and youth support services.

We established that we had all come to the seminar because we had been inspired by Christine Nixon’s work as a former Victorian Police Commissioner and as the Chief for the Victorian Bush Fire Recovery.

Previously, I had also been told by another participant that this particular seminar opened up a new area, namely leadership skills as a pre-conference seminar for ‘Our Community’. “Usually”, I was told, “the seminars have been about fundraising or grant writing.”

This one was particularly aimed for women and 120 of them turned up as duly invited to the seminar. It shows that there is a great call for this kind of seminar and that it was a good move on the part of the organisers. Each table had approximately eight places. They made a working group each.

At first we were introduced to ‘Chatham House Rules’ by our facilitator, Christine Nixon. They mean: ‘What is said in the room, stays in the room’. In her outline, she was adamant that the seminar would be a safe place for personal discussions and that respect would be shown to all participants.

First discussion:

Known achievers in female leadership.

We were asked who the female leaders we admired the most are and what qualities we think they could give us. Obviously Christine Nixon was high up there as an admired female leader.

I found it interesting that many people mentioned their local female council members and Mayors as most admirable. Obviously many also admired Joan Kirner. Not so many world leaders were mentioned apart from the Queen and Oprah Winfrey. Mostly, it is those near us like our own teachers and managers that make the deepest impact on us and so influence our future. Observably, I was the only one who counted in legendary feminist world leaders apart from Indira Gandhi, who was mentioned. No other historical leaders were mentioned.

Here is a summary of how an admired female leader looks like according to the seminar.


• Has lived the work and the family balance
• Has a belief system and a conviction
• Is authentic
• Is collaborative
• Is very respectful of others
• Uses a gentle form of influence
• Advocates
• Is compassionate
• Is resilient and determined but does not have to take on male traits to achieve it
• Translates ‘mothering’ as a leadership quality

Second discussion:

How to grow to become a good leader?

Christine outlined a woman’s possible pathway to a leadership role. In many cases she used herself as an example. It is why we went there, to learn from her experience as a for-runner for female leadership with heart in the tough male world of the Australian Police Force. In my observation she exhibited a quality of inspiring positivity which was recognised by the audience. We were hanging on her every word.

According to Christine, the early stages of leadership growth are shaped by the personal environment. The people around us influence us and show us the way. Often we just ‘go along'.

Very soon, though, an aspiring leader shows itself in the form of the development of direction and the show of resilience with the blending of values. ”A leader learns to lead” and soon has her own voice.

An ever growing leader blends her experience with reflection on her own and other’s behaviour. It is a tough thing to do, but the learning curve is worth the trouble. There is always a way to work through the tough parts. For Christine Nixon it is: “Layering the experience, having a go at it and learning from it.”

In the handout, we are recommended to read R. Kegan and L. Laslow’s (2009) book Immunity to Change (Harvard Business Press) as a practical source for good leadership strategy.

They say that a good leader:

• Reflects on their own and other’s behaviour
• Is able to handle contradictions
• Is flexible and can see both sides of the argument
• Leads to learn
• Makes sense of the situation at the time
• Selects, focuses and drives forward
• Is able to sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’
• Is openly ready to take on information and different points of view

Third discussion:

Managing people means ‘unlocking potential’

In this part we discussed the kind of managers we have encountered. On average it is found that each person has experienced two inspiring managers in her life. They are the ones we can ‘walk over hot coals’ for.


• Have strong rapport with us
• Have presented us with a safe environment
• Are worthy of our trust and respect
• Are empowered
• Care about our professional development
• Did what they say they do
• Show patience and humour
• Are inclusive

Mentoring is a way to enhance women’s leadership traits. It was highly recommended as a positive action. It ensures the continuity for female leadership. Emotional support is also recognised as important.

Christine highlights a survival strategy: “Don’t take yourself too seriously and focus on financial, physical and emotional wellbeing. Have a plan.”

Fourth discussion:

Focus on ourselves

We think about what barriers we face in achieving a leadership role. We find there are many:

• Being afraid
• Imagination
• Circumstances
• A limiting self-belief system
• Fear of success
• Lack of self-discipline

Christine asks us: “Has anyone ever told you that you are never going to amount to anything?” Many participants have experienced this. Many find it a constant struggle to overcome the barriers.

Christine tells us her favourite line on how to endure: “This is not a sprint, it is a marathon!” She has heard it from some wise person in her past as a comment. It pretty well reflects everyone’s idea about overcoming the huge barriers women in general still face in leadership roles is many work environments. I certainly see that as a long-time advocate for women’s and human rights.

Luckily this seminar has demonstrated that most of us can name an admired female leader more close to home. One we can learn from and mirror, if we are so inspired.

Concluding remarks

When Christine was asked about her management style, she said that she uses ‘the shared leadership model’. She also translates the ‘good parenting model’ of “I do not like that behaviour but I love you” in her leadership practice. She tells us she used ‘support and pressure’ model in order to get results as a Police Commissioner. As an example she tells us about working towards lowering the number of stolen cars in Victoria, or lowering the number of domestic violence cases. She tells us to think about “what is real” and to have ‘a sense of yourself.” It is really beneficial to think about who you are. It is also important to admit to mistakes.

About criticisms and those who want to put us down Christine advices: “Have a look at who your critics are.” There is a need to make a decision about the people criticising you, to decide if listening to them is beneficial for the direction of your future.

Lastly Christine quotes Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself because everybody else is taken.” This is good advice to us all.

To say the least, I enjoyed this seminar very much. It was a really inspiring experience and gave me a chance for reflection. Many fellow participants along with me liked the fact that we got the Certificate of Recognition at registration, right at the start. Only showing up was enough to be recognised.

I am really looking forward to reading Christine’s book. It is called Fair Cop and comes out in August.

Since this report is put on my blog a few days after the seminar, due to the Internet failure in my hotel, I can also report that I had many follow up conversations on this seminar. I had these conversations not only with the participants on my table but also with others, including men who the participants have talked enthusiastically to about the seminar. What did strike me the most was the accuracy of the proceedings that was recounted back to me.

It is very positive to know that the seminar had an effect beyond the day it was held.