Thursday 10 July 2014

Lunching in Cambridge and Eleanor Roosevelt

Lunch in the Master's Lodge at Emmanuel College, Cambridge today. Most agreeable, shame about the weather. One of ACEVO's brilliant regional events and this time hearing from Fiona Reynolds who is now Master of Emmanuel but known to us all in the third sector as the former CEO of the National Trust.

It was fascinating hearing Fiona talk about leadership and the challenges of implementing a vision and changing a culture against the odds and against the grain. She spoke about how she had worked to transform the NT culture of "closed arms conservation" to “open arms". Moving from “you shall not" touch, walk on grass, let kids shout etc to a welcoming and warm approach to people and places.

Fiona began her career in campaigning charities; around the need to protect the environment and countryside. She argued passionately about the importance of charity campaigning and the role we have played over the centuries. She reminded us all that this is the bedrock of what we do and it just rekindled my own determination to be robust at the challenges we face, whether that might be the Lobbying Act or the Charity Commission trying to make us define and account for the so called campaigning we do. 

A rather wonderful quote from Eleanor Roosevelt Shows just what we mean by the way in which citizens who come together to campaign enrich our democracy and how essential civil society is to us all.
“Where, after all do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home, the world of the individual person; the neighborhoods they live in; the school or college they attend; the factory, farm or office where they work...without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world."

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