Archive for May, 2010

May/27/10//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Design Comes Back Around

“Good design is a renaissance attitude that combines technology, cognitive science, human need, and beauty to produce something the world didn’t know it was missing.”

-Paola Antonelli

The other day I was clearing out some file drawers at the office in advanced preparation for our impending move into Boston this summer, when I came across a 17 year old paper written by Interaction Associates founder David Straus.  This paper’s date times with the founding year of the Interaction Institute for Social Change and speaks to the longer historical roots of the Interaction methods that IISC and IA share.  As I read the paper, what struck me most was David’s very early recognition of the interconnections between design, thinking, and cognition.

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May/26/10//Linda Guinee//Structural Transformation

Building a Bridge

Based on the recent conversation we’ve been having here, I thought I’d re-post from last April.

For a while, I’ve been fairly unsuccessfully trying to create a space in my apartment that works both for my heart and for my head. My meditation cushion is there as well as my altar and poetry and spiritual books. It also has my desk, computer and bookshelves overstuffed with books and journals about power, white privilege, race, class, genocide, conflict and social issues. If I’m honest, it’s the most chaotic room in my apartment.

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May/25/10//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

Policy and Community


My recent post on the limits of policy elicited a very good conversation.  One of the things that became evident is that in some settings people are so focused on their personal development and their community life that they pay little attention to the issues of the day.  In other settings people are so focused on the fight for justice through policy change that they pay little attention to their own well being or to the hard work of building community. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/24/10//Gibrán Rivera//Collaboration

The Power of Conversation

In a recent post, Janice Molloy of the Pegasus Blog had an insightful way to illustrate the “Power of Conversation,” Janice says:

Where are new ideas born? While some develop through formal processes and innovation think tanks, throughout history, many of the most transformative notions have arisen from informal conversations over a glass of wine or cup of coffee in a café, living room, or neighborhood pub. In this way, sewing circles and “committees of correspondence” played a role in the birth of the American Republic, and debates that took place in cafés and salons helped spawn the French Revolution. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/24/10//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Poetry and Space That Matters

On the heels of a very rich Whole Measures training last week, along with a beautiful weekend spent largely outdoors, I have been reminded of the power of poetry and paying attention as means of creating individual and social shifts.  As part of our opening during last week’s training, we invited pairs to read a selected poem to one another, paying attention to any feeling they had in their bodies while doing so, and then speaking to their partners and then the whole group about the impressions with which they were left.  The exercise was a great illustration of how we can tap into the different dimensions of social space to open people to new ways of seeing, being, and doing, and to what really matters most.  So what better way to start off the week than with a little poetry that speaks to what is simultaneously obvious and often missed in our lives?
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May/20/10//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Learning Edge

Welcome to the GeoDome

Last Thursday my IA colleagues Ashley Welch and Andy Atkins and I teamed up with David McConville of The Elumenati and Ned Gardiner of  NOAA to take a group of cross-sectoral leaders and thinkers on a unique journey.  This trip included a visit to the outer edges of our universe, passing through our solar system, galaxy, and neighboring galactic bodies.   Then, out of breath, we zoomed back in to take a new look at our planet Earth through the lens and visualized overlay of data about our terrestrial home – warming trends, population density, biodiversity and traffic patterns.  Welcome to the GeoDome!

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May/18/10//Curtis Ogden//Facilitative Leadership

Vision, Microtrending

A couple of weeks ago, during a training with early childhood advocates from around Connecticut, an interesting conversation ensued about vision.   This was prompted by one participant’s comment that in this day and age, “There is no such thing as vision.  There is no such thing as magic or miracles.  People are cynical.  People just don’t respond to vision anymore.”  There was some immediate push back to this comment, and also some acknowledgment that vision may not be what it used to be, thinking of the old standards a la MLK and JFK.

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May/14/10//Curtis Ogden//What We Are Reading

Future Present

“A bright green future begins when each of us, today,              decides to live as if that future were already here.”

- Alex Steffen, World Changing

Many of us here at IISC were taken with Peter Block’s book, Community: The Structure of Belonging, and you have no doubt heard it referenced in other posts or ensuing conversations on our blog.  At this point our couple of office copies have been through many hands, bookmarked, underlined, and are readily referenced in work with partners and clients.  One of the most profound parts of the book for me is where Block makes the point that we often think of the future as this far off thing, and subsequently make our meetings and community gatherings all about planning for that eventuality.  What we miss is the opportunity to manifest a piece of that future now.

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May/13/10//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

Collaboration for Sustainability 4: How?

For the past few weeks, in a series of Thursday posts, we’ve addressed what it takes to tap the full potential of collaboration to shift to more environmentally sustainable ways of living and working.  We’ve explored the importance of bringing diverse systemic perspectives together and developing shared identities and values as a way of achieving greater ecological intelligence and commitment.  And as a friend of mine says, you can bring great groups together with the best of intentions and still end up with nothing or a mess.  So what else can we put into place to help ensure we reach the sustainable ends we seek?
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May/12/10//Linda Guinee//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Narrative and Power in Groups

This is the fourth in a series of postings about power and group facilitation processes, based on research from a few years ago.? Today’s post is about how power is built into group narrative.

As I was doing research, I came across a batch of work about narrative theory by Sara Cobb and Janet Rifkin (cited below).? Cobb and Rifkin researched how a narrative is constructed and what impact it has on the ultimate outcome of mediation sessions.? They found that the first story told tends to be privileged and “colonize” later stories told.? By framing the discussion to come, this initial story tends to narrow and define the direction of the ensuing conversation.? Later versions are generally tied to the initial story and thus are unable to be fully developed.? And the outcome of mediation is generally tied to the initial story. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/11/10//Gibrán Rivera//Social Innovation

Policy is Not Enough


David Brooks is making me think again.  This time he is pointing to the limits of policy.  Yes, he’s throwing stones at what is a sacred cow for change makers of all stripes – and I’m glad he is doing it.  As happens too often with Brooks, he gets dangerously close to cultural determinism, but it is by walking that line that he can manage to highlight some very important empirical patterns. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/07/10//IISC//Structural Transformation

Our Bodies Carry Our Histories With Us

(A re-posting from June 2009)

One of the blessings I’ve experienced in our social change work as process experts and professional facilitators is the exposure we get to have to various fields of social change work. Since last October, my colleague Andrea and I have had the pleasure of consulting with an amazing collaborative of stakeholders, the Springfield Health Equity Initiative, who have determined to build a plan to reduce the incidence of diabetes in the black and brown neighborhoods in the city of Springfield, MA. Even more boldly, these dedicated and thoughtful leaders have also chosen to take up an analysis for their work that incorporates how systemic, government sanctioned, racial discrimination has  played a direct role in creating the egregious disparities in health outcomes we see today among black and brown folk in the U.S., and regardless of class. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/06/10//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

Collaboration for Sustainability 3: Who?

“In dealing with complex problems, our ability may be bounded, but our diversity is not. Diversity – be it based on identity, training or vocation — may be our best asset.”

- Scott E. Page

In last Thursday’s post, we talked about the importance of developing a shared identity among stakeholders, and doing this early in a collaborative process, as a way of developing greater commitment to collective interests as well as bolstering the inclination to think about and act in accordance with more long-term risks and benefits. Clearly more needs to be said about the WHO that is engaged in this work and how this aligns with sustainability.

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May/05/10//Linda Guinee//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Where Does Power Come From?


More about power and group processes. There have been a mountain of books written about the “bases of power” and the “types of power”.  I’ve done some work to try to boil it down – and find thinking about this very useful in moving forward the conversation about how to address power issues in group processes.

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May/04/10//Gibrán Rivera//Social Innovation

A Two Stage Process

I’m a big fan of Kevin Kelly.  His latest blog post reflects on what he calls “Two Kinds of Generativity” and it has me thinking about the next phase of movement.  Kelly describes the evolutionary process of an innovation.  He speaks of the first stage as one that is “vague, incomplete and open to change.”  This first stage is appealing to the early adapters, “tinkerers, nerds, fans, and hacks who will make it do all kinds of things no one had thought of.” Read the rest of this entry »

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