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Margaret Jefferies

Project Lyttelton

Project Lyttelton (PL) is a community development organisation fostering hope and inspiration to create a sustainable, collective future for Lyttelton, near Christchurch. PL runs a farmers’ market, seasonal festivals, a community garden and children’s kitchen garden, and projects that support harbour resilience and meet energy needs through innovative community-based solutions.

1. Why do you do what you do? 

Because I see the state our world is in and it is calling me and everyone to make a difference, to be more conscious, and to act as co-creators.

2. What drives you to work for the good of the community/environment?

I have known from the time I was little that I would do what I see as important work — making a difference in people's lives. I love what I am doing with Project Lyttelton, so in some ways it is easy and natural.

3. Have you always been interested in making a difference?

Yes, from when I was quite small.

4. Did you come from a family where giving to the community/environment was important or encouraged?

Yes. I came from a clergy family. Being there for people was what was around me, in a strong sort of way. My father wasn't a doormat to be walked over, though. I learned stroppiness from him, and he taught me to bring my brains into a situation as well as my heart. I learned what being acknowledged creates inside you. I was deeply loved and my parents were always proud of me. They listened to me and valued what I said. I think all my siblings got the same sort of treatment.

5. What does giving mean to you and why is it important?

Giving to me is being able to share with others the skills I have. These may be in listening, recognising who people are in order to see their souls, or sharing my time and expertise in a gentle way.

6. How do you feel when you realise you have made a difference to someone else’s life/our country for the better?

I feel great at the end of the day if I can see that I have made a difference for our community. This is usually in the form of a meaningful conversation that has opened up an opportunity, so that together we have created something that is worthwhile.

I feel great at the end of the day if I can see that I have made a difference for our community. This is usually in the form of a meaningful conversation that has opened up an opportunity, so that together we have created something that is worthwhile.

7. Who inspires you? 

Lots of different people at different times have inspired me: writers such as Peter Senge, Ricardo Semler, Meg Wheatley and Frederic Laloux, or people I meet who want to explore deeper questions and help me to discover more.

8. Who have you learned from and what is one key thing they have taught you?

I received a common-sense piece of advice from a woman in Toronto regarding volunteers. She said, “With volunteers, now you have them, now you don't.” I have seen this happen over and over again. Other things take priority in their lives and they need to go. So I have learned to be excited and genuinely happy for them as they take their next step. I want all these people to have a good experience of volunteering.

9. What challenges have you faced along the way?

It has been challenging to believe in something strongly when the people I needed to help me get there can't see it, or give advice about something that they don't know much about. I believe strongly in the power of intent: the path will open up for me, the right people will appear, whatever is emerging is already there just waiting for me to pull it into form.

10. And what keeps you going?

I work intensely if that is what is needed at that moment. Then break — play the piano, work in the garden, go for a walk, be around people who love me, brainstorm ideas with people, and enjoy sharing a house with a superb cook.

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