Whilst in Wales last week i visited a friend who has recently bought a farm down there. It’s a smallholding really, the remnants of an estate sold off and subdivided over the centuries, but today, as well as the 16th century (and decidedly damp) farmhouse, they hold around fifty acres of land, including a long strip of the river.
I kayaked up the river to the rapids, over swirled and eroded rock formations, past a sinkhole maybe two metres wide, rubbed away by water and stone, winter storms over hundreds of years. And i wondered if they felt like they owned this land. Or simply held it.
Ownership is a tricky construct: we may own something legally, but not the idea that it represents. We may own an idea, that consists of nothing more than thoughts. We may own a space, but not the sense of community that inhabits it. We may own a contract that binds us together, but we do not own the trust, pride and belief that make it work. We may own the bricks, but not the idea of ‘home’.
And we may own an Organisation, but not it’s culture.