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October 20, 2010

Letting Music Go Free

stephaniejpeg

Is it ok to brag about one’s clients?  It better be!  I’m so proud that I have done work with Community Music Works!  The front page of today’s Boston Globe highlights the power of letting music go free.  Our First Lady just bestowed the National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award to Community Music Works, just a month after its founding director, Sebastian Ruth was awarded the McArthur Genius Award!

I’ve been doing more and more work with arts organizations lately – events like Creative Change and groups like the Arts and Democracy Project.  I’ve been seriously considering the role of the arts in our quest for social transformation, and I have to agree with my future wife, Samantha Tan, who is an artist herself – “We’ve exhausted out left-brain approach, linearity found its limits and the problems that we face are now calling on our full self, art is the way.”

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October 19, 2010

Movement is Not Hierarchical

catalyst

Part Three of a Response to Malcolm’s Missive

See Part One and Part Two

I’ve said a word about my point of agreement with Gladwell, and then a word about my first point of disagreement, I will wrap up this series with my second point of contention – Gladwell’s apology for centralized hierarchy.  The popularized story of a civil rights movement “run” by a few male leaders and a few national organizations is actually offensive to the rich history of a diverse and decentralized movement that provided an ecology through which the notion of civil rights could thrive. Read More

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October 14, 2010

Power and Emergent Change

Power

|Photo by Aristocrats-hat|http://www.flickr.com/photos/36821100@N04/3896331106|

Peggy Holman is the co-author of a book that I consider to be one of the bibles for my work here at IISC – The Change Handbook.  This wonderful resource was also required reading for a graduate course I taught on organizational and community change models at Antioch New England.  Building on this essential tome, Peggy has recently authored another book that I look forward to diving into more deeply – Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval Into Opportunity.  Her exploration of how to engage chaos in social systems and bring about greater coherence is certainly timely and in line with much of the conversation you see on this blog.

In a recent post of her own, Peggy highlights an interesting comment that appeared in a review of her newest work.  Read More

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October 12, 2010

Strong-Ties Weak-Ties

RPR

Part One of a Response to Malcolm’s Missive

“The revolution will not be tweeted” – No sh*t Sherlock!  But let me start with what I did like about Malcolm Gladwell’s annoyingly limited article.  Revolution can only happen in the real world, it is neither virtual nor abstract.  Revolution can only be measured as actual, successful and good when it has a real impact on increasing people’s capacity – people’s power – to determine their own destiny.  A true revolutionary act, the sort of revolutionary act that re-defines power relations, will always be a risky endeavor – power most often has to be taken, for it rarely ever surrenders itself. Read More

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October 8, 2010

Patterns for Change, Part 2

Pattern 2

|Photo by James Cridland|http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/613445810|

Picking up from yesterday’s post, the question I left off with was how do change agents identify and work with patterns in complex human systems where control and predictability are elusive.  This is where Holladay and Quade offer up Glenda Eoyang’s CDE Model.  This model names three different conditions that change agents can analyze and work with to shift constraints within a system so that it can achieve more optimal fit with (and thrive in) its environment.  Below are an explanation of these conditions and examples of what can be done to either tighten or decrease constraints in the direction of more organized or unorganized surrounds. Read More

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October 7, 2010

Patterns for Change Part 1

landscape-diagram

|Graphic from Human Systems Dynamics Institute|http://www.hsdinstitute.org/about-hsd/what-is-hsd/faq-tools-and-patterns-of-hsd.html|

What do you do when you cannot control or predict?  For many people I’m sure this question raises just a little bit of anxiety.  After all, having some sense of autonomy and mastery is reported as being key to our mental well-being.  And yet increasingly we find ourselves in complex and changing situations that are beyond our grasp and where the outcome is very much uncertain.  Of course this is not the case with everything.  Some of our work falls within the ordered realm.  But how do we work outside of this tidy zone? Read More

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October 6, 2010

Going Wide and Upstream

I’m writing this post from St. Louis where I’ve been working with a team from Conservation International to facilitate a meeting of their Business and Sustainability Council.  This three day convening is focused on sustainable agriculture and has featured presentations from content experts including Dr. Jon Foley from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, who offered the short video above to summarize “the other inconvenient truth” we face around feeding a growing population against a backdrop of stressed water and land resources.  As the clip indicates, the challenge of sustainably feeding a global population of 9 billion (projected by 2050), if doable, will only be accomplished through extensive collaboration.  Furthermore, it is going to take going beyond many of the either/or debates (local vs. global, GMOs vs. organic) to embrace a full spectrum of strategies.  In other words, it’s not about finding a silver bullet, but rather the “silver buckshot.” Read More

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October 1, 2010

Malcolm's Missive

Malcolm Gladwell has certainly whipped up something of a firestorm, at least among social media and network enthusiasts.  In a sense, his timing couldn’t be better as this very morning IISC staff gathers with some very bright and committed network building thinkers and consultants to take our ongoing conversation about networks for social change the next step, with some practical application in our collective sights.  I expect, and hope, that some of the energetic on-line conversation Gladwell has inspired in our community will continue during this in-person gathering.

In case you missed it, the author of The Tipping Point published a piece in the recent New Yorker entitled, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” Read More

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October 1, 2010

Malcolm’s Missive

Malcolm Gladwell has certainly whipped up something of a firestorm, at least among social media and network enthusiasts.  In a sense, his timing couldn’t be better as this very morning IISC staff gathers with some very bright and committed network building thinkers and consultants to take our ongoing conversation about networks for social change the next step, with some practical application in our collective sights.  I expect, and hope, that some of the energetic on-line conversation Gladwell has inspired in our community will continue during this in-person gathering.

In case you missed it, the author of The Tipping Point published a piece in the recent New Yorker entitled, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” Read More

1 Comment
October 1, 2010

Malcolm’s Missive

Malcolm Gladwell has certainly whipped up something of a firestorm, at least among social media and network enthusiasts.  In a sense, his timing couldn’t be better as this very morning IISC staff gathers with some very bright and committed network building thinkers and consultants to take our ongoing conversation about networks for social change the next step, with some practical application in our collective sights.  I expect, and hope, that some of the energetic on-line conversation Gladwell has inspired in our community will continue during this in-person gathering.

In case you missed it, the author of The Tipping Point published a piece in the recent New Yorker entitled, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted.” Read More

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September 29, 2010

Start With the (New) Whole

Essence

|Photo by Vincepal|http://www.flickr.com/photos/vincepal/2806832762|

I recently did work with an organization that had approached us with an interest in designing a retreat during which staff would consider options for embracing climate action and environmental organizing strategies as part of their efforts moving forward.  In one of our early planning calls, I asked how this new direction made sense given where the organization had historically focused its resources (affordable housing, open space advocacy, community beautification), and the response was a very thoughtful, “That’s a good question.”  Furthermore, I asked if there was anything they were planning on letting go of.  Again, pregnant pause and . . . “That’s a good question.”  And so began a very fruitful conversation, the upshot of which was an opening segment of the retreat that focused on developing a coherent frame for the organization that could more easily and sensibly integrate climate and environmental work. Read More

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