Saturday, October 27, 2007

"If you can't stand the heat, . . . "

I love the plain-spokenness, and bluntness of Harry S. Truman. I've been pondering the phrase I'm alluding to in my post title, about hot kitchens, which has stuck around because it's a brilliant little metaphor. Truman used to say to his cabinet appointees, "I'll stand by you, but if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."--a perfect thought for the cut-throat environment of Washington DC presidential and national party politics. Kitchens get hot--& especially would his non-air conditioned, Southern world. Commercial kitchens tend to run the stove and ovens all day, so they can really get hot on a daily basis, even if there's a/c. Washington DC was and is today like a massive commercial kitchen in the most frantically busy restaurant in town.

I'm not a DC politician: I'm a mom and a former waitress and 4-H member who's spent a lot of time in kitchens, and a professor who's worked in a variety of professional environments. I can stand quite a bit of heat--I've been at the center of controversies in my own institution and come out fine--maybe stronger, even. And let me be clear: I'm not asking every session of Council to end in a group hug.

But I would like us to consider: We're a small kitchen. Do we have to run the stove and the oven all the time? Does our kitchen really have to be this hot, this unpleasant? Is the heat rising because it has to, in order to do the work we must do, or are we just pushing the heat up out of habit?

Maybe if we spend a little time focusing on how and why we are acting in the kitchen, we can save a little energy AND make it a better work place for everyone to be--Council, staff, and villagers from a variety of perspectives.

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