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Josh is applying systems change tools to support a resilient Benzie County.

Josh joined an international cohort of systems thinkers at Forum for the Future's School of Systems Change. The six-month learning journey took him to the UK and Russia in 2019, and empowered him to think differently about how to grow a hub for community resilience in Benzie. We caught up with Josh before he crossed the ocean to learn what he hoped to build with the support of this unique learning community.

You've spent three quarters of your life in Benzie. What's one story you'll share with the international cohort at Basecamp to describe the culture you come from & work in?

Since participants are from some of the biggest cities on the planet- Beijing, Buenos Aires, Paris, Melbourne, London, Berlin- I'll start with my experience owning businesses in Phoenix and Miami and THEN segue into my dunebilly lifestyle. I think Grow Benzie's story captures the ingredients of where I come from: clever folks, strong work ethic, playing outside, helpful neighbors, and meeting around a table full of good food. 

We see lots of metaphors in nature for the collaborative work that makes systems change possible. Where do you pull inspiration from in nature?

Honey bees! I've learned so much from bees after we started keeping hives at Grow Benzie a few years ago. Nowadays, we'll draw a picture of a beeyard to show how our space is the platform for other organizations (beehives) while we do the busy work organizing and connecting systems (pollinating). The metaphors are endless, even for newbies.

What do you plan to ponder while tapping into the resources at Basecamp? 

I just completed a Systems Practice course with a group of other community changemakers, and one of the outcomes is a system map for improving collaboration between organizations. One goal on this trip is to get feedback from these international experts as to how this particular map could apply to their own organizations. I also plan on gathering input about Grow Benzie's current model of connecting systems on a hyperlocal level, and our vision to develop the structure and process so we can connect sectors and replicate into other communities.