Who Would Have Thought They Would Be Collaborators?

by | Feb 6, 2019 | Formation, Reflections, Systemic change | 1 comment

Who would have thought that they would ever be collaborators?

Unsuspected possibilities for collaboration

Creative collaboration benefits many constituencies!

I doubt whether the following would ever have thought they had anything in common…  but they did.

  • Shopping mall management
  • Shoppers
  • An energy company
  • A housing project for the homeless
  • Vincentian Fathers repurposing their property
  • Vincentian Volunteers associated with the local cathedral
  • Local municipal officials
  • And… a bicycle company

Last week Famvin presented an article that seemed to illustrate the possibilities of creative collaboration. It got me thinking a bit deeper about the collaboration involved. Intrigued, I followed up.

The story in its barest outline of how members of the Congregation of the Mission in Turin, Italy,  were able to partner with a novel service of an energy company and a cross-section of other groups and citizens.

EnerCasa Co-op has come up with an idea of harvesting energy from shoppers pedaling on a stationary bicycle, multiplying their output 2500 times to give energy to local non-profit organizations, associations and charities in their service area. On a rotating basis, they set up shop in major malls in their service area. Shoppers volunteer a portion of their time in the mall to ride bicycles and a homeless shelter profits. In short – an idea worth imitating!

You need not understand the Italian to get a sense of how such a project works.

What do you get when creative Vincentians put together the above ingredients? You get an effective way of raising consciousness about the needs of the homeless and the power needed for a homeless shelter.

What if…?

What if each of us in our own branches, or better yet,  collectively, were to contact our local power companies with such an idea? For all we know, they might see it as a chance to create some good will. We all know Vincentian non-profits who have to pay power bills. We will never know whether they can be helped unless we try.

Remember… part of Vincent’s genius was that he was humble enough to ask others to help and was adept at involving others in what he saw needed to be done. He found his strength in accepting his limitations.

Trying collaboration is a challenge that may bring no reward other than of knowing we tried… but it may also succeed in opening some doors. And who knows, maybe we will meet some folks who may open up other kinds of doors for us!

Some 70 years ago I remember hearing a wise lumber salesman encourage my father, a young entrepreneur when he had not gotten the job to build someone’s kitchen cabinets. “Richard, look at it this way. Now one more person knows you are in business!”


  • Have we ever really thought about how collaboration might lead to working smarter?
  • Have we ever gotten out of our comfort zone and looked around for collaborators?
  • Have we ever thought of asking people for help as a way raising awareness to what we do?


1 Comment

  1. Sr. Roberta Feil

    Great idea!!! Try to collaborate with local gyms and fitness centers to install similar energy producing bikes/or treadmills for their Spin Classes and fitness station bikes.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This