Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My

Not sure why, but I’ve got a thing for the Wizard of Oz. Not just because it’s a classic movie, but also because it conveys so much deeper meaning. 

As a result, Oz just seemed to fit like a ruby slipper when our team recently went searching for a retreat theme for our third flight of local ACE leaders who we had been supporting over a two year period to help their communities become more active, creative, and engaged.

As a theme it seemed to fit because, just as Dorothy was always looking for her ruby slippers, so too do many of our communities believe the fix for their communities is an external one. But, just as Dorothy learned she always had the power within her, so do the most successful communities learn they have wizards and resources within.

On their respective journeys to the Emerald City, we’ve seen how communities learn they have Dorothy’s kindness, her loyalty, and ability to build a team. They tap their Scarecrow brains and become more reflective, resourceful, innovative, and better able to apply intelligence to tactics for moving forward. They learn they have the heart of the Tin Man and reflect it in care, concern, and respect for others and, like the Lion, learn it’s okay to be afraid as long as they never let it stop them from having the courage to step forward and do the right thing.

As Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion learned, it takes a team utilizing the respective talents of each member to create the synergy and power in a community to create their own destiny and success.

Throughout our leaders’ final retreat, before they officially became alumni, we learned there were even more parallels between the story of Oz and communities.

For instance, one leader identified with Dorothy because she felt as if her work as a community leader was a journey with others moving in the same direction. In many ways making a commitment to take responsibility for improving the quality of life in her community was like taking the first step on that yellow brick road and a journey into the unknown. 

Another felt her team was at times a little creaky like the Tin Man, but ultimately became a well-oiled machine as the trusted relationships were solidified and progress was made.  Like the Scarecrow, another leader shared how she learned to trust in her own intelligence and intuition. Yet another suggested she was like the Cowardly Lion because she gained confidence and trust in herself as the result of working with others. Her courage grew and it became easier to do what she was capable of doing as a community leader. 

One leader said she often played the role of Glinda the Good Witch because she had to remain positive, see the good in everyone, and keep community stakeholders focused on the process. Another stressed the importance of process by suggesting she often had to be the wizard behind the curtain working quietly in a supporting role.

The theme of wanting to go home also made participants think about their own communities and how important it is to feel a sense of belonging and being connected to others. Just as with the story of the Wizard of Oz, their community building efforts were ultimately about the relationships with one another, and the process of learning, travelling, and growing together. And, just when they thought it would never work out - the path was too steep and there was just one too many flying monkeys coming at them - it suddenly all came together. And lo and behold, they found they were part of a community that felt just like home.

Posted on 09-25-11


Great article,  from someone who has experienced this journey it truly is a journey to the Emerald City, thanks for letting me be a part of it.

•Posted by Bonnie Ellis  on  10/03/11  at  10:59 AM

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