1st Edition

Learning to Lead Together An Ecological and Community Approach

By Jane Riddiford Copyright 2021
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    Never before has there been such strong recognition of the importance of community-based green spaces to local communities and urban redevelopment. This book is an autoethnographic account of the challenges and breakthroughs of learning to lead together. The interwoven stories provide first-hand, evocative examples of how an ecological and community approach to organisational development and urban regeneration helped shift the business as usual paradigm. It will help you identify and step beyond individualistic and ‘heroic’ notions of leadership, and will inspire you to find your own way of embracing natural and shared authority.

    The book focuses on the experiences of developing an environmental education charity in London; Global Generation. It shows how action research, nature practice and storytelling has successfully grown shared purpose, trust and collaboration, both within Global Generation and in the wider community.

    The style and structure of the book reflects the participatory approach that it presents. The author, Jane Riddiford, deliberately challenges the norms of authorship, which is shaped by the dominant Western narrative – objective, authorless and ‘othered’. This book goes beyond this narrow framework, combining different styles of writing, including traditional and autobiographical storytelling, diary entries and co-writing. Along with practice accounts of what happened, challenges raised and lessons learned, each chapter will also include other people’s descriptions of their experience of being involved in the process.

    The Story of How this Book was Written

    1. An Inner City Forest

    2. From Rooftops to Developers Land

    3. Leading as a Way of Being

    4. I, We and the Planet

    5. A Cosmic Story

    6. Encounters with the High Priests

    7. Listening to Land

    8. Growing a Paper Garden

    9. In the Jaws of the Corporate Dragon

    10. From the Heart of an Oak Forest

    Appendix 1 – Opportunities for Your Own Inquiry


    Jane Riddiford co-founded Global Generation in 2004. She has more than 30 years of experience in setting up and running environmental, arts and educational projects within urban communities in New Zealand and the UK. Her doctoral inquiry focused on leadership framed within stories of ecology and cosmology.

    "This is that rare thing: a book that is poetic, practical and profound. Jane is an activist, educator, and scholar, but above all, she is a born storyteller with a great story to tell: one of hope in troubled times; of collaboration and inclusion; and of leadership based on love and determination. This account, which is both intimate and sweeping in scope, offers us all inspiring and generative ways to live more creatively and harmoniously with ourselves, each other and with the planet." - Geoff Mead, PhD author of Telling the Story: The Heart and Soul of Successful Leadership

    "Can we navigate our lives with openness and creativity whilst integrating tensions and divides? These are questions this book powerfully and eloquently answers. Jane’s story entwined with Global Generation’s journey, demonstrates the collective weaving of a vibrant community cloak around otherwise lifeless urban spaces. This is a compelling, richly layered account with deep resonance for our times." - Jane Myat, GP / family physician, Midnight Kitchen inhabitant 

    "A beautiful oak tree of a book, full of passion, persistence and clear accounts of how nature can bring a diversity of people together. The writing reveals the magic of a unique blend of can-doism and patient community based regeneration." - Roger Madelin, CBE Head of Canada Water Development, British Land

    "Jane Riddiford’s Learning to Lead Together is a compelling discourse on leadership, colonialism and ecology in the context of a community-based educational charity and against the backdrop of the cosmic story from which we all arose and in which we all participate. Part autoethnography, through these pages she shares generously from her own history and writes with a distinctive and resonant voice that is reflective, practical and epic. As a professor of theoretical physics with a keen interest in the mythological, it is gratifying for me to see that the story of our universe can be put to service in this way. During these difficult times it is a relief to see that there are individuals out there focusing on what is most important and Jane’s uplifting book is valuable food for thought." - Jonathan Halliwell, Professor of Theoretical Physics, Imperial College, London

    "This book by GG’s founder and co-director, New Zealander Jane Riddiford, is an account of her learning to lead collaboratively through the evolution of this work. The reader must from the start understand what Jane means by ‘leadership’. She is not interested in leadership as command and control, but leadership as ongoing collaborative inquiry. ‘Remembering who you are’ is key. Jane’s roots are in the pioneer culture of New Zealand: her not-so-distant ancestors participated in the clearing of forest to make space for sheep. From this, she holds a romantic relationship with the pioneering, ‘can do’ spirit of New Zealanders; while also aware of the shadow of opportunism that stripped the land bare. Jane—I should say I have known her and her work, although not closely, for many years—shows both sides. She is charismatic, inspirational, full of ideas and initiatives; and deeply collaborative, respectful of the contribution of others. She shows how her cultural conditioning and colonialist background lead her to think very carefully about talking too much and taking control. Yet while placing a primary value of inquiry will not stick to this too rigidly: leadership is a dance between collaboration and individualist endeavour. This book is treasure trove of ideas, practices, and inspiration for anybody involved in ecological and community development." - Peter Reason is a writer.On Sentience, with artist Sarah Gillespie, is available at http://peterreason.net/OnSentience.html