Discerning CPA LA and Doing the Splits

You can’t give an enneagram type 7 such a list-like assignment and not expect her to answer it in list form. So, here we have it. Week one exploring goal setting:

Describe your goal, be specific.

I. (CPA-related). Gain clarity aboutthe opportunity and appetite for CPA in LA by the December holidays.

II. (Personal) To be able to do a split by 2020.

 List the benefits

I. Gaining clarity around CPA byDecember

  1. Building relationships with leadersin LA who are interested in the CPA model is beneficial to building myprofessional network, to giving me a sense of belonging to the city and county,and providing me with a deeper sense of purpose, meaning, and hope.
  2. Gaining clarity about theopportunity for CPA and in what my role could be in the coming year will helpme prioritize my time, commitments, and projections for the future.
  3. Gaining practice writing aneffective pitch is a transferable skill to many scenarios and will bebeneficial to me overall.

II. Splits

  1. Increases your flexibility.
  2. It’s an impressive party trick.
  3. If I achieve this goal by Decembermy sister will buy me a beer.
  4. The practice required to get thereteaches you patience, perseverance, and intentionality.

List the obstacles to overcome

I. Gaining clarity around CPA byDecember

  1. Time: Since I am embarking on this work while being employed full time, having a leadership position in my local congregation, and holding a deep commitment to safeguarding time for my personal and private life and relationships I will need to be intentional about how I work towards my goals.
  2. Sequencing: Some conversations may be more fruitful if they are timed after previous conversations. Unfortunately that can be hard to know. I will have to balance being discerning with not getting stuck or forsaking the good for the best.

II. Splits

  1. Consistency: I decided on this goal in early September but then given my recent move and the associated transition and hectic schedule I was not actually able to maintain consistent practice.
  2. Talking myself out of it: I’m deeply pragmatic and it’s easy to simply decide it isn’t a real goal because it isn’t as “important” or “worthwhile” as my more substantive career, relational or even physical goals. It’s “fluff” and therefore easy to dispense with, even though I decided I wanted to commit to it.

List the skills and knowledge required

I. Gaining clarity around CPA byDecember

  1. I need to know the California/LosAngeles market better, particularly what types of services are most promisingfor collective purchasing agreements.
  2. I need to know what I can reasonablycommit myself, Felipe, CPA staff, and potential future partners to in terms oftime and funding. Some of this I can clarify through personal discernment andhonest conversation, but some of it will be emergent.

II. Splits

1.  I need to know which stretches are most effective if getting to be flexible enough to do the splits. (Research done).

2. I need to know whether my body is actually physically capable of doing a split. Some aren’t. I won’t actually know until I’ve given it a good faith attempt.

Who will you work with?

I. Gaining clarity around CPA by December.

  1. Felipe, my CPA incubator small group
  2. Local leaders in LA I have gotten to know over the past year

II. Splits

  1. My partner, Justin and my roommate, Alyssa have both said they would try to encourage me by sometimes joining my daily stretches.
  2. I follow an instagram account dedicated to those attempting to do the splits.
  3. Now the CPA incubator #TeamTuesday know and can ask me at some point whether I’m doing it!

Develop a plan of action:

I. Gain clarity about theopportunity and appetite for CPA in LA by the December holidays.

  1. Write down a pitch to begin speakingwith faith and other institutional leaders who are potential partners forlaunching CPA in LA by the end of October.
    1. Get as much detailed informationabout CPA parameters from Felipe/Amy/Justin as possible this week.
      1. Email request them by Wednesday, set up “office hours” toFelipe
    1. Read through materials and create adraft pitch next week.
    1. Practice this pitch with Felipe inthree weeks and get feedback.
  2. Test this pitch with at least threeknown leaders before the end of the incubator.
    1. Receive feedback from pitch andmodify as needed
    1. Ask for leaders’ list of individualsthey recommend I speak with who are either already invested in this type ofendeavor, have important context I need if I am to move forward, or may beinterested in the model.
  3. Find at least 2-3 individuals whoare willing to put time into exploring the potential for CPA or something likeCPA LA with me in 2020 by the end of the year.

II. Splits

  1. Do each of the 5 key stretches to achieve a split everyday from 9:50pm-10pm.
  2. Set an alarm on my phone reminding me to do these Write down the 5 exercises and keep them visible in my bedroom
  3. Every time I come back from a run, make sure to do each of the 5 stretches for at least 30 seconds each.

Week 1 RS

I thank everyone who sent me questions for their agitation, mentorship and curiosity. Jonathan’s question struck me most deeply, asking about what about CPA I hoped would bring meaning and hope. I offer my answer to him as my overall reflection back on these questions, cognizant it doesn’t summarize the entirety of my synthesized wrestling with the questions I was brought, but wanting to share this vulnerable inner-work:

In terms of the sense of meaning and hope that CPA might be a vehicle for bringing and what resonates…
There’s some deeper context to that need (for hope and meaning) which I think is still within the spirit of this incubator to talk about (Sorry this is so dang long):

I started attending church (mostly) regularly for the first time this year after a five year hiatus. I grew up fairly evangelical (albeit with a French philosophical/social-justice-y bent) and at 18 had my first major crisis of faith after unsuccessfully trying to convert a formerly-orthodox-turned-secular-and-unbeknownst-to-me-settler Jewish teacher of mine in high school. I went to Eastern Mennonite University promising God I wouldn’t date anyone so as to remain focused on my central goal which was determining whether God was real and I ought to remain a Christian and to learn how to live justly in the world. (So you see, growing up has taught me, perhaps to my disservice, to make “SMART” goals) My time at EMU was many things, but I mostly stayed true to those two goals and by the end of my time had decided not only to stay within the Christian faith but to dig more deeply into it and try to live it out more holistically, but with a more anabaptist/liberation/eco/feminist theology bent that aligned with my vision of the world. Then I spent two years working closely with Mennonite churches and nondenominational churches in Colombia which were extremely evangelical, while most of my friend group came out as queer, and my distaste for the brand of Christianity grew exponentially. I was also deeply frustrated that much of the important organizing work I wanted to do wasn’t at the core of the self-interest and identity of the partners I was tasked with working with. Joining the IAF, I felt liberated in the ability to work only with those congregations and partners who had an appetite and willingness to show up for the work. And I spent so much of my time in congregations, and found such spiritual meaning and belonging in the community of leaders and the ceremony of political action rooted in values that a church service felt a little hollow in comparison, and needlessly narrow. So I stopped attending church then, and then traveled the world and interviewed change-agents in conflict and post-conflict contexts for 7 months, and then attended graduate school, during which time I again found community in students organizing for change. So why go back to church at all? And how is any of this related to CPA?

The truth is over the past several years, and to some degree even while organizing for the IAF — where the work was authentic and meaningful, but the scale of our impact so seemingly local and limited — I started to feel my sense of hope and courage erode and give way to both “cold anger” (a la IAF) as well as actual rage, and a twinge of nihilism with edges of hedonism. Going back to church was a pretty crude attempt at tapping back into the sense of community, the transcendence (at best) of worship, and the opportunity to take action based on values that I could find. But I’m again feeling like my one congregation is too limited a sphere and worldview in which to cultivate relationships and opportunities for action, and that to grow in hope and to practice courage means, at least for me, seeking opportunities to bridge and create new relationships and collaborations across groups. I’ve noticed I still don’t actually get much spiritually from Sunday services. But my small group, and the core team I’m helping build and get involved in faith-based organizing, those do. So in terms of meaning and hope, I think I’m hoping building CPA is a vehicle for participating in that work of bridging and imagining and creating together across groups that otherwise don’t have as much opportunity to engage. And it gives me a reason and way to be in relationship to people of faith whose values I connect with but whose ceremonies/cultures/natural meeting spaces I have a hard time feeling a sense of belonging to.

7 thoughts on “Discerning CPA LA and Doing the Splits”

  1. I am 100% going to demand pictures of your splits progress! Love it! And yes, that would kill at a party.

    I’m curious to learn more about the sense of meaning and hope that starting a CPA-style org would offer you. What is it about your background that makes you resonate with what CPA does? What part of CPA’s model do you find most inspiring?

    My sense after reading this an having brief conversations with you is that you have a strong mastery over the Resistance (e.g., you join calls at 7 am PST like a boss). adrienne maree brown says something like ‘there is always time for the right work’. How will you know if in the midst of a full-time job and full personal life and the splits (!) CPA is the right work?

    Like

    1. Thanks for the accountability! I have done my split stretches three times since posting, so, trying to stay in it. Haha.

      In terms of the sense of meaning and hope that CPA might be a vehicle for bringing and what resonates…
      There’s some deeper context to that need (for hope and meaning) which I think is still within the spirit of this incubator to talk about (Sorry this is so dang long):

      I started attending church (mostly) regularly for the first time this year after a five year hiatus. I grew up fairly evangelical (albeit with a French philosophical/social-justice-y bent) and at 18 had my first major crisis of faith after unsuccessfully trying to convert a formerly-orthodox-turned-secular-and-unbeknownst-to-me-settler Jewish teacher of mine in high school. I went to Eastern Mennonite University promising God I wouldn’t date anyone so as to remain focused on my central goal which was determining whether God was real and I ought to remain a Christian and to learn how to live justly in the world. (So you see, growing up has taught me, perhaps to my disservice, to make “SMART” goals) My time at EMU was many things, but I mostly stayed true to those two goals and by the end of my time had decided not only to stay within the Christian faith but to dig more deeply into it and try to live it out more holistically, but with a more anabaptist/liberation/eco/feminist theology bent that aligned with my vision of the world. Then I spent two years working closely with Mennonite churches and nondenominational churches in Colombia which were extremely evangelical, while most of my friend group came out as queer, and my distaste for the brand of Christianity grew exponentially. I was also deeply frustrated that much of the important organizing work I wanted to do wasn’t at the core of the self-interest and identity of the partners I was tasked with working with. Joining the IAF, I felt liberated in the ability to work only with those congregations and partners who had an appetite and willingness to show up for the work. And I spent so much of my time in congregations, and found such spiritual meaning and belonging in the community of leaders and the ceremony of political action rooted in values that a church service felt a little hollow in comparison, and needlessly narrow. So I stopped attending church then, and then traveled the world and interviewed change-agents in conflict and post-conflict contexts for 7 months, and then attended graduate school, during which time I again found community in students organizing for change. So why go back to church at all? And how is any of this related to CPA?

      The truth is over the past several years, and to some degree even while organizing for the IAF — where the work was authentic and meaningful, but the scale of our impact so seemingly local and limited — I started to feel my sense of hope and courage erode and give way to both “cold anger” (a la IAF) as well as actual rage, and a twinge of nihilism with edges of hedonism. Going back to church was a pretty crude attempt at tapping back into the sense of community, the transcendence (at best) of worship, and the opportunity to take action based on values that I could find. But I’m again feeling like my one congregation is too limited a sphere and worldview in which to cultivate relationships and opportunities for action, and that to grow in hope and to practice courage means, at least for me, seeking opportunities to bridge and create new relationships and collaborations across groups. I’ve noticed I still don’t actually get much spiritually from Sunday services. But my small group, and the core team I’m helping build and get involved in faith-based organizing, those do. So in terms of meaning and hope, I think I’m hoping building CPA is a vehicle for participating in that work of bridging and imagining and creating together across groups that otherwise don’t have as much opportunity to engage. And it gives me a reason and way to be in relationship to people of faith whose values I connect with but whose ceremonies/cultures/natural meeting spaces I have a hard time feeling a sense of belonging to.

      The part of the model I find most inspiring is thinking about the entire economy of the deals you are making — the well being of the workers being contracted, the value of the service to the clients, the quality of the relationships between coop members.

      Like

  2. I love that you are a 7 on the Enneagram!!! (I am a 1 and 1’s NEED 7’s… even though we often resist the fun!) I’m curious about how your 7-ness – fun-loving, joyful, good-humored, and adventurous are traits I associate with 7’s- shows up in your exploration of the CPA work? How does it propel you forward in this work?

    Like

    1. Hi Sheila! Your comment made me laugh. My partner is a 1 who when we first met told me he was a 2 and then decided a 9 and now it’s clear he’s a 1…..and I’m heartbroken. Haha, just kidding. (I just have always had a thing for 2s, but ultimately I do gravitate towards 1s)

      I think my 7-ness comes out in that, in order to make this incubator work for me (given that I’m fitting it in between my regular job, starting a core team at church, moving in with a partner for the first time, etc, etc) is for it to be a source of joy, curiosity, learning and fun. My 7-ness (I think) allows me to see it as something I “get” to do and to not take the stakes so seriously. To allow it to be a genuine exploration. Since we are the beginning of the journey here in LA I think that attitude is actually really helpful in staying fluid and open to this evolving as it will and not trying to be overly structured or prescriptive up front.

      It also allows me to post silly pictures of myself attempting improbable splits 😛

      Like

      1. LOL!!! Yes, a former housemate of mine, also a 1, was very frustrated when he learned that 1’s need to spend more time with 7’s precisely because of that freedom of exploration and not taking ourselves too seriously! 😉

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  3. Jessica, I love your goals!

    Do you have any (mission-aligned) partners that can help do the outreach? What would it take to get these partners on board? Do you already have a list of potential faith and institutional leaders? Is it worth creating a needs assessment to identify pain points? This could help you shape your value proposition.

    Regarding forming the group that can help shape CPA, what qualifications, skillset, or experiences do you think can make the group more effective. Lastly, I like the idea of tapping into your network’s networks.

    I look forward to hearing about your progress!

    Like

  4. Jessica: Great post! I mean the split goal with pics really drew me in right away. Your obvious energy and enthusiasm is going to bode well for LA’s next big coop. And I always love learning something new, especially new ways to think about how people learn (yup, I tend to geek out on education!), so I was excited to go learn more about enneagram typing…super cool, especially since at first glance, I expected it was going to be some way to measure split performance. Upon self-reflection already, I could probably push myself with the same questions I’m about to ask you: Why? As I read your post, I could feel the excitement and eagerness for the project but didn’t understand the why that might drive your work. I think when you articulate that for yourself, you will quickly move from building and gaining about an opportunity to manifesting what you really envision for your community (however defined). LA is a big, sprawling place (at least what I’ve seen in passing from driving some of those freeways), so how you define that community for yourself first may also prove more important to your long-term success and interest in a coop than who you know at present or meet in the near future. Always happy to find a little time to talk more offline: calendly.com/rydstrom. Best, Justin

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