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Thanksgiving: A Time to Link Personal, Civic and Corporate Activism

This week I received a reprieve of sorts.  A short personal scare had me contemplating canceling my upcoming trip to India, Vietnam and Cambodia.  Thankfully, participation is no longer in question.  As we prepare to travel to SAP TechEd Bangalore and review the list of activities we shall engage in shortly, I’m struck by the thought that it is quite a privilege to share 3 of these major community events with you, the members of SDN and BPX.

Coincidently this trip will begin on the US holiday of Thanksgiving this year and it seems as good a time as any to catch one’s breath, take stock, and yes, be grateful.

Since a very sizeable number of our community members don’t celebrate the North American Thanksgiving holidays I wonder if the idea of a harvest festival resonates.  A few weeks ago we took our family’s hosted exchange student with us for an outing to a local farm where seasonally there was an amazing abundance of fruits and vegetables. We, who are blessed to live with plenty, were stuck by the variety and quantity of produce available to us for picking, eating and enjoying.

Nurturing a community is rather like cultivating a garden.  For those here who weed, hone, plant, and even harvest, the analogy is obvious.   Having worked and lived on a collective farm I see many similarities.   I find many receiving what they need in terms of knowledge, support, and camaraderie and many giving those same elements to others here, generously and willingly. 

So rather than focus on the shortcomings, I’d like to take this moment to acknowledge the wealth of goodness that can be found in this, our community.  I salute the dedication and passion of my co-workers, colleagues, peers, friends and associates here.  Look around you and you can see many busy seeding and encouraging.  Community days are blooming and despite or perhaps because of the global nature of our community, people work to bridge cultural differences and reap the benefits of collaboration.  Last year’s plantings are bearing fruit. Going to India will feel more comfortable, more familiar because of the connectedness created here virtually which extends itself to the face to face encounters and also extends from last year’s attendance. For me it will be a personal journey from Munich’s Oktoberfest to colorful Bangalore (quite a contrast) and then on to Vietnam and Cambodia for a month’s travel and a bit of distance from all things BPX.

Of course, there will also be stark reminders of instances where there is less than abundance.  If you are reading this blog you most probably are in the economic category of those who are privileged.  But I’d like to think the privileged here are not unaware of those less fortunate.  In fact, what I observe is that there is a very active group of SDN and BPX individuals who strongly care and address needs of those that are less privileged or underserved.    It seems that even some of the strongest critics here are usually motivated by a deep concern and caring.  That appears to be a hallmark of folks that choose to participate.  And I’ve been pleased to see how in my own organization (SAP) as well as the organizations of our community, there is encouragement to engage in civic activity and volunteerism, beyond our day jobs. Example are found here in  SAP Feeding Knowledge and a truly moving example is exemplified in the beautiful description of journalist Charlotte Otter, who writes of one exceptional SAP employee’s personal civic contribution

My thoughts before leaving are these: it would be my fondest hope realized to not only support an environment to help bridge IT and Business, culture with culture, community with community here, but also make meaning out of our work engagements and find some way of sharing the abundance we are so blessed to enjoy: be it knowledge, experience or copious harvest fruits.  I’d like to hope that we can find ways to link personal activism with corporate activism.

In that spirit, I’m displaying my community cares banner and taking this upcoming break from work to contemplate how to reconcile vocation with further civic engagement.


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      • Thanks, Ignacio.  I’m also imagining 2008 to be a year of global projects.  As we grow it will be interesting to see how we keep bonds and unify cultures and norms.
    • Thanks Nigel.  Folks like you inspire my generation.  I hope my 16 year old son, who is accompanying me on this journey, will be charged to be a doer rather than an observer. We’re off with very little communication gear so this will be a fascinating experiment to see how long we can stay offline!
    • It will be an honor.  Please find me at the BPX Knowledge Table of the clubhouse from November 28-30.  I’ll be a permanent fixture where participants generate the content and buzz.
  • Great post Marilyn … and I think you are speaking for many of us. Building and participating in a community is, despite our best efforts, never something entirely easy. It does take commitment and energy. And leadership. But the rewards can be profound.

    I am looking forward to 2008. SAP Feeding Knowledge is a great initiative and I hope that many others see it that way too. Never before have we been able to, as individuals and as members of a community, been able to take actions that can create change. We now understand the power and potential of aggregating small actions. And as the SDN and BPX communities can count on some of the brightest minds of our time, I trust that even a small percentage of our efforts and time can  be focused towards something greater than one, on their own, could dream of. 2008 could be that year.

    Oh, and thanks for pointing out Charlotte’s web(site). Brilliant.

    • By looking at your personal blog Gavin, I gathered you are actively engaged in many forms of volunteerism and community work.  Yes, small acts of kindness and small groups aligning can bring about enormous changes.  I’m counting on you to be a mover and shaker in our SDN/BPX community as I know you are externally.