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  • Christine Spottiswood

Three Years of AB Seed

This November we celebrate three full years as a formal collaborative. It’s essential to recognize all the work done by the ecosystem members in the years leading up to the formation of AB Seed and I invite you to read more here if you haven’t yet.


I’ve been involved with AB Seed since its inception in November 2019 and I am honoured to spend my days as Project Lead. I mean that genuinely, working alongside the Steering Committee, working through our challenges, and taking moments to revel in the successes has been some of my most meaningful work to date.


Many who have spent time in a zoom call with me have heard me use at least one of my many favourite analogies or sayings. This work is complex and often hard to describe and I have learned that a few key catchphrases can keep us grounded, like a mantra or an affirmation. So to celebrate our 3rd year, I bring to you “Christine’s Four Favourite Phrases”.



If It’s Simple We Are Doing Something Wrong

(Inversely, if it’s complicated we are doing something right!)


It’s been an adventure, and we have navigated the nuances and challenges of collaborative work over the years. Someone recently referred to AB Seed as a “Complex Collaborative” and I took it as a compliment. We take joy in being comfortable with the messy unclear work and muddling our way through it. While it can be difficult when we are in the thick of it, it’s incredibly rewarding when we make it through.



Building a Car While We Drive It

(A.k.a. building an airplane while we fly it.)


Sometimes this work feels a little like that horse carnival game where only one person has a water gun and needs to get all the horses to the end at the same time. We can’t just take one horse, move it to the end, and then start on the next horse (an analogy within an analogy!). Collaboratives are a whole different ball game, and it seems an impossible task to figure out how they work together without actually doing the work together. Each is unique and needs to figure out how to work together, and so we are often in a position where we are figuring out our governance and process of how to do the work at the same time we are doing the work itself.



Wildlife Rehabilitation, Not a Sanctuary


As an ecosystem-building project, we aim to ensure we are supporting the ecosystem. Our goal is not to solve the problems of the ecosystem, but instead to bring the ecosystem together in a way its members are supported to build a strong ecosystem together. To help us keep this in mind when we consider taking on a project or task, we always do so with the end goal of releasing it back into the ecosystem and maintaining our role as a convener.



We Don’t Know Where We Are Going, but We Know How to Get There


This phrase helps us remember to follow the energy, and to go into this work without a preconceived idea of what the solution, or even the problem is. We have the strength of a collaborative at our disposal, if we focus on leading by convening, and remain open to the destination, I feel strongly we have the tools to get there. I read once the idea that when we get on a raft to float down a river we can’t see the destination, and if we could it would likely make for a very boring river trip. Sometimes we need to get on the raft and trust the destination we want is waiting down river (yet another analogy within an analogy).

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