By Alexis Potaman
Happy 2019! It’s January, so by now you have most likely heard that Eric Anderson has stepped down from his position as president of the Houston Oasis Board and that I have taken up the position. In my short talk following Eric’s “State of the Community Farewell Address” I said that I never considered being president until Eric mentioned it to me. That is true. I consider myself more of a “B-level” leader. Other people have ideas, and I find a way to make them work. Other people had the vision for what direction to take Oasis in and I worked to make that vision a reality.
Suddenly I was being asked to be the one to flesh out a vision. Of course, I had a loose, hazy vision of what I wanted to see in Oasis. I’m sure everyone has at least that. I knew I wanted Oasis to grow and I still dream of the day when we have our own building. But did that equate to a vision? After some encouragement from my husband Gosha, I started to feel that while my vision of the future of Oasis was still hazy, it would become clearer with time. Here it is immortalized in print forever on the internet: he was right.
During our interviews for the open board positions, it finally clicked. Hearing the stories of those we interviewed and where they saw Oasis in a few years, one word repeatedly came up: “Community.” My vision really is just that -- community. The Friday this blog post was due, Gary Williams’ post was published. The original vision for Oasis was to preserve the sense of community typically found in religion. In fact it was the aspect that needed to be preserved. Community has continued to be the enduring aspect of Oasis, a sentiment echoed during the end-of-year group discussion.
There are people here who strongly identify as atheists; there are people who identify as believers; and there are a lot of people who simply identify as themselves. The fact that we can all come together and find connection in our humanity is what makes us a community. We’re a community of human individuals, perfectly imperfect in our human experience, coming from all backgrounds looking for connection. To some of us, Oasis is the only place where we can truly be ourselves, where we can find a genuine connection with others, and where we feel like we belong. To others it may be where we find someone to just sit with us in all of our humanity. Whatever else Oasis is and whatever role it fills in your life, it is first and foremost a community.
Throughout the past seven years, Oasis has seen many changes. We have been through leadership changes, losses and new beginnings, and yet I know that the friendships and connections I have made here are some of my deepest connections. My vision for Oasis is to continue focusing on the community aspect and to make it a place where people can continue to develop and strengthen authentic connections, explore complex topics, and celebrate the human experience.
How do we continue to encourage genuine connections and strengthen existing ones? These are the questions I’m excited to tackle moving forward. While I never expected to be in this position, I know I have learned a lot about being a leader from my predecessors. We have a great board, fantastic volunteers, and an amazing community all contributing to make Oasis what it is today and what it can be. I’m looking forward to the future. We say it all the time, but Oasis really does have big dreams, and every single one of you is a part of it.