Me'Lea Connelly

Me'Lea Connelly
Learning Log

Me'Lea Connelly

Report date
November 2018
Fellowship term
24 months
Learning log 1

Only having been a Bush fellow for six months, I still consider myself to be very new. I'm not sure when the shock and newness of this fellowship will fade but I can tell you its been a slow process for me. My learning journey has been shaped by my body of work, my identity (both realized and manifesting) and my community. In my body of work, I have been challenged to look deeper into what leadership means, both in the context of building a cooperative economy and in being pushed into the role of a Charismatic Leader. In building a cooperative economy, leadership is about developing space and facilitation for collective works, work that is created and moved by the whole and not the individual. Building cooperative space means creating the infrastructure and environment for cooperative works to thrive. This work requires cultural alignment, relational alignment, shared needs and shared a vision for addressing needs. The facilitation of cooperation is building the infrastructure for cohesive operation within a collective space. Structure for all of these things must be made with the greater good in mind, not considering how one might gain greater access to resources or benefits but to establish a culture of equity and fairness. It truly is a rote selfless venture properly fueled only by sincere love for the collective and a vision for its future.

Holding this level of leadership is, conversely, is a work requiring deep self-love and awareness, strict adherence to boundaries and a healthy balance between work for the people and quality time with family and friends. Losing one's identity is a great fear when the label of a charismatic leader is thrust upon you. Once a community has identified a charismatic leader, the expectation shifts from the collective to the culture we have been programmed to accept as normal. A community will volunteer its agency and power then yield it to a leader with little to no structure for collective movement building. This pivot is an example of how we must work towards a greater evolution of our behavior matching our intelligence. Without this maturity, we many times drag capitalistic cultures into an environment made for cooperative and collective movement. Being placed in the category of a charismatic leader can be stifling and these demands can manipulate the intentions of a selfless leader towards becoming all self-sacrificing if one is not careful.

The balance in bringing my full self to the work and holding some of me back for myself, my family and loved ones have been the most enlightening element of this experience. I've learned how to nurture my own leadership without letting it eclipse the whole of who I am, nurture other parts of myself without placing value only on areas others deem valuable. It is answering the call and mandate to lead a movement but not allowing that call the dictate your identity.

In all these things the journey has taught me that when change is what we are seeking, it comes and is constant. Change not only comes in ways we work toward but in the winding roads towards a vision of a new world. These changes are disrupting, startling, saddening, maddening but necessary and now I have come to expect and embrace them. Acclimating to this landscape of constant change has forced me to create buoyancy in my personal life, caring for my self and most cherished relationships just as much as I care for the movement, provides a stability that no change can interrupt or destroy and ultimately, carrying this legacy into a new, ideal reality is the most powerful contribution I can make.