One of my most fun times in the Forest Service was working on the Ochoco Pilot in the 80’s. My team recommended that the FS be able to write checks. It was a novel idea at the time (I am not making this up). Anyway, the quote from Tom Peters in my email below reminded me.
I was about to post a story this morning and realized that the author’s introduction would make more sense if the reader understood my original Folktales request.
Due to the wonders of the Internet, I was able to access Dave Iverson’s Ecowatch blog and found my original request.
WANTED: Stories That Depict Aspects of Forest Service Culture and Values
WHY: For a book about the culture of the Forest Service — past and present — as told through stories
Stories are important and powerful. As management improvement guru Tom Peters put it: “People, including managers, do not live by pie charts alone — or by bar graphs or three inch statistical appendices to 300 page reports. People live, reason, and are moved by symbols and stories.” (Thriving on Chaos, p. 506)
The stories that leaders tell, and their implied values, are shared widely through the official networks. My interests are with the values and cultural expectations that are shared informally among people not usually heard from — the folk tales that share some kind of message about organizational values and desired and undesired behaviors. I was fortunate to be steeped in such examples through many years of long drives in green rigs and lunches in the woods. By having a variety of such stories compiled, I hope that new people would be able to get a flavor for past and current FS culture — as experienced “on the ground” and from the heart.
Please consider sharing your Forest Service stories that illuminate aspects of Forest Service culture with me for the FS Folktales Project. I would also like a couple of paragraphs from you talking about what the story told you about FS values, and why it is/was meaningful to you. I plan to see what themes come across and arrange them by theme, with an introductory section for each group of stories. I plan to put out the completed work in book form and, hopefully in the future, on the Internet.
Ideally, I would like to have your name, the real names in the story, together with your region and the time period the story is from. I understand that, in some cases, you might not want to use real names and your privacy will be respected and protected. Stories are requested about the Forest Service — but they can be submitted by current employees, retirees, or anyone else who has a story to tell. Please try to limit the length of your story to about 2 pages, single spaced.
Perhaps we will also be able to see the different cultures and styles and to explore the values shared in common and those that are different — not through technical discussions or disputes over management practices, but by what kinds of stories we tell.
Some of the stories may be uplifting or morale building, like a Forest Service version of the series Chicken Soup for the Soul (Elk Stew perhaps?). If your story is humorous, or heartwarming, so much the better. If you have a story, please write it down or tape it on audiotape (videotape, even) and mail it to me at:
(my old home address)
My e-mails are … and S.Friedman:W01C on the DG.
Thank you for listening to this request. Please consider sharing your favorite stories as a gift from you to the Forest Service community and to others who want to learn about the culture of the Forest Service, and distributing this message far and wide..
Sincerely, and greenly, yours
To clarify my previous message about the Folktales Project:
This is not an “official FS effort”. That means that FS time should not be used. I am doing it as a volunteer, and that’s why my home address and e-mail are on the request.
I’m sorry if there was confusion- I wrote the same request for those outside the FS and retirees and guess I did not get specific enough for current employees.
The other clarification is that I am really interested in collecting stories and anecdotes that reveal some aspect of organizational culture, and please add your own reflections on what you learned about organizational culture from the story.
Thank you for your patience and stories.