initiative taking

Community meeting, October 2011

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Until one is committed there is hesitancy,
the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth
the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans:
the moment you definitely commit yourself, the Providence moves.
All sort of things occur that would never otherwise have occurred.
A whole stream of events issue from the decisions,
raising in your favour all manner of unseen incidents and meetings and material assistance,
which you could never have dreamed would come your way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic to it.”


A fellow community member and I facilitated a community meeting on initiative-taking at Hoathly Hill. The meeting was designed to get a picture of initiative-taking as Hoathly Hill.

In answer to the first question, What initiatives have you taken part in or appreciated at Hoathly Hill?


In answer to the second question, What principles should underpin initiative-taking at Hoathly Hill?

  • Any initiative should benefit the whole community either actively or by its presence rippling outward (this should also be extended beyond the boundaries of HH and have its benefit reaching outward)
  • an initiative should come from the deeper impulse within someone, it should not be motivated on a surface level or for personal self interest.
  • An initiative should be pioneering and necessary.
  • it should be exemplary, something that shines like a beacon – this ties in with the rippling out effect.
  • it should have the support of the community and the community should be consulted on the stage of the journey to fruition.
  • A leadership initiative is worth supporting by its very nature of encouraging leadership within the individual.
  • The initiative taker must be ready and resourced and sufficiently skilled to follow an initiative through.
  • there was some discussion about whether an initiative should avoid controversy, and what happens if it causes conflict, we talked about personality clashes and about seeing the long term.
  • An initiative brings new energy to the community and that can only be a good thing, far better than apathy. And that new energy may well shine a light on the shadows that are lurking within, but that shadow side is there anyway and the initiative is just bringing it to the fore, so therefore that is to be welcomed. The trouble comes from holding that all safely so that personal pain and hurt is minimised.
  • Any new initiative helps those involved grow.
  • The community as whole can also be an initiative taker. If there is something that everyone wants then one person or a group can bring that to fruition on behalf of the community.
  • Any initiative taking needs to be met/welcomed with a positive outlook from the outset.
  • We appear to be a place at the moment where negativity can surround and kill an initiative from the very beginning.
  • Initiatives / Businesses that make a profit are not necessarily a bad thing. Money is meant to move and flow and as long as the money is not hoarded it will circulate and can be spent on the initiative/ or further initiatives.
  • There also conversely seems to be a suspicion within the community about voluntary work or things given for free.
  • Our relationship with money needs clarity and work.
  • There was concern expressed that we are not following through initiatives we have already started. (There was then some discussion about the green electricity initiative and why it seemed to have gone quiet along with acknowledgment of the enormity of such initiatives and how much work they involve and the time they take)
  • There was concern around new initiatives around the land whilst not properly caring for the land we’ve got.
  • There was talk about the opposition to initiatives and how that initial negativity must come from a fear place.
  • Instead of being fearful we need to be open, allowing initiatives to flow.
  • We cannot see the long term. We do not know if an initiative will benefit us or not. We can not see what will be best for the community.
  • Introducing too many steps/or a process in relation to how an initiative must be brought and how it must proceed is a creativity killer and will stifle many ideas.
  • Initiatives must be allowed airspace.
  • It is written in the constitution that we must support each other’s initiatives. This is not being observed.
  • We need to revisit the aims and intentions of Hoathly Hill, and see what the common aims of the community are NOW.
  • We talked about differentiating between community orientated initiatives and personal initiatives that fulfill individual destinies. This distinction will help the decision making process.
  • How do you start with an initiative? Clarifying your intention, making sure it has a resonance within the community. A committed person/group leading it who has a strong intention, tenacity and support can see it through.
  • A need for a forum for sharing initiatives when they are ready to be shared, to sound out ideas.
  • It was asked why some initiatives have not got off the ground?
  • The answer that we kept coming back to was because they lacked support and that they were met with negativity/fear.
  • There are hidden personal antipathies that play a large part in how initiatives are received.
  • There needs be a gesture of supportive attitude.
  • There needs to be non prejudiced/ non judgmental listening.
  • We should accept and see what comes of it.
  • There was discussion around fear. To look at ourselves and ask ‘how fearful am I’? How much is my first reaction just my own fear?
  • We must try and see the initiative taker’s point of view? We should still be free to question or constructively voice our concerns because through that the initiative may became better, if there is clarity around what the concerns are and where they are coming from.
  • An apparently completely crazy idea might turn out to be very important ( we cannot see the future).
  • An initiative is one person’s responsibility. The community’s job is to understand and support it.
  • Not allowing any ‘crazy ideas’ is far more destructive and one crazy idea that does manage to get followed through and actually does turn out to be crazy!
  • The spirit of the initiative taker is killed if the idea is squashed too early.
  • We talked about doing some visioning work. What would we like to see at Hoathly Hill?
  • We spoke of the level of commitment to initiatives. How much can one person take on? when is it appropriate for more that 1 person to lead an initiative?
  • There is a state of transition in the community at present. Many new people have come with new energy and new ideas. We need to look at what Hoathly Hill is now? HH is 40 years old next year and is a very different place to what it was in 1972. We need to revisit what it is and what we want it to be.
  • Initiatives are killed in the gossip outside the community meeting. Ideas should be able to be brought to a meeting and discussed fully so that there is no need for gossip afterwards. We need to look at Community meetings, as part of this general re-evaluation, and see how they are run and whether they provide adequate space for full discussion etc.
  • If you are committed to seeing something through it is possible to ride the negativity but this is not an ideal situation.
  • It is the initiative taker’s responsibility to inform the wider community by putting it on the agenda etc. they must take that responsibility.
  • We must cultivate a culture of unselfishness and support.
  • We must be open and trusting.
  • We must let the creative spirit within the individual flourish.
  • If one has the ear to the ground, one can be in-touch with what the community needs right now, these are the initiatives that work best.
  • It comes down to listening with openness.

In answer to the third question of possible next steps:

  • We need to do some community trust building and find ways to do this. It was noted that the ‘resolution group’ is looking at this as one of the strands of its work too. (There was a reminder that the resolution group’s meeting are always open to everyone to come and participate).
  • There needs to be a coherence as to the common purpose of the community.
  • We need to be inclusive so that our common aims can bring in those who at the moment are on the fringes/ feel marginalised.
  • A discussion of what is Hoathly Hill now, forty years on, is needed.
  • Envisioning / A visioning workshop