Debra Swersky
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There was an e-mail scandal that broke out this week in one of the communities with which I am involved. Without naming names, pointing fingers, or providing specifics, I was sent the scandalous e-mail as an innocent bystander and had to wrap my head around how to reconcile the included allegations defaming a pillar of my community. 

The allegations were brutal. True or not, a mountain of legal work on both sides would be required to get to the bottom of each one of them. As a bystander, I didn’t know what to think. My heart was screaming for the person being defamed, the companies associated with the organization, and the people requesting justice. I could easily have put myself in each one of their shoes. But, luckily, I was an innocent bystander without a clue as to how to respond. (Don’t worry, I knew enough not to reply-all.)

Without a formal question for the small group at Wine Down this week I posed the question of recovery and fumbled my way through an unbiased description of the situation. I was battling the idea that the person, and subsequently the organization, being defamed by the allegations is/was a pillar of the community: a highly respected, prestigious, role model… how does the community recover from that?!

Individuals recover. Communities evolve. Pillars are made. 

The group brought me back to my purpose for engaging in the community. I didn’t involve myself in the community first and foremost because of the leader, the organization, or the prestige. I associated myself because of the individuals (and companies) that were involved… the actual community: “the group of people.” Recovery is not for the community. Recovery is for the individuals, specifically me. I joined the community to mentor, meet startup companies, and share my skills, resources, and knowledge with those that needed it most.

Though difficult for me to push the allegations aside, I spent some time this week recovering and reconnecting with those individuals (and companies) whose successes I have been able to contribute within the community. At the end of the day, my purpose for engaging in the first place remains the same and will remain the same regardless of the external circumstances and allegations. I hope to continue my contributions to their respective journeys in the new year… and I hope the rest of the community does too. 

As for my community’s pillar… it was built. And other pillars were built up around it over the years to bolster its efforts. It is my hope that the remaining pillars can sustain the added weight of the community and support the ones that may not have it in them to continue. I think they can. That’s why there’s always more than one pillar.

Debra Swersky