Archive for August, 2010

Aug/27/10//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

Movement Time

Six weeks from now, on October 10, 2010, is sponsoring a global work party to spread and deepen awareness about and inspire further action around our growing climate challenge.  This grassroots movement is spreading at a time when most governments and businesses seem inexplicably stymied about how to make fundamental commitments toward shifting unsustainable behaviors.  And it feels like we are on the edge of a tipping point, perhaps spurred by this summer’s record breaking heat wave and dramatic weather events in places like Pakistan and Russia.  So consider signing up for or hosting a local event if you have not, and take a moment to read this call to action by co-founder Bill McKibben following the failed climate bill in Congress – “Get mad and then get busy.”

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Aug/26/10//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

The Power of What Isn’t

“The Uses of Not”

Thirty spokes
meet in the hub.
Where the wheel isn’t
is where it’s useful.
Hollowed out,
clay makes a pot.
Where the pot’s not
is where it’s useful.
Cut doors and windows
to make a room.
Where the room isn’t,
there’s room for you.

So the profit in what is
is in the use of what isn’t.

-Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

It was the afternoon of the second day of the three day training and I noticed that the coffee cake still looked pretty much as it had on the morning of day one.

“Sure does look good,” said one of the participants, now standing beside me.

“Not good enough to eat, apparently. ” I responded.

“Oh, I think everyone likes having it here,” she said with a grin.

“To look at?” I asked.

“To resist!” she replied, with a distinct tone of satisfaction. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/20/10//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

“A Vision”

If we will have the wisdom to survive,
to stand like slow-growing trees
on a ruined place, renewing, enriching it,
if we will make our seasons welcome here,
asking not too much of earth or heaven,
then a long time after we are dead
the lives our lives prepare will live
there, their houses strongly placed
upon the valley sides, fields and gardens
rich in the windows. The river will run
clear, as we will never know it,
and over it, birdsong like a canopy.
On the levels of the hills will be
green meadows, stock bells in noon shade.
On the steeps where greed and ignorance cut down
the old forest, an old forest will stand,
its rich leaf-fall drifting on its roots.
The veins of forgotten springs will have opened.
Families will be singing in the fields.
In their voices they will hear a music
risen out of the ground. They will take
nothing from the ground they will not return,
whatever the grief at parting. Memory,
native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its possibility.

- Wendell Berry

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Aug/19/10//Curtis Ogden//Facilitative Leadership

Portrait of a Facilitative Leader

Erich Jarvis is a neurobiologist at Duke University and a specialist in bird songs and calls.  He was raised in New York City, attended the School for the Performing Arts (where he was an accomplished dancer), and went on to study birds while a student at Hunter College and Rockefeller University.  His ongoing research suggests that birds are more intelligent than we give them credit for, and Jarvis hopes that his focus on the complexity behind bird songs will lead to therapies for human beings with speech problems.

There are those in the scientific community who have objected to Jarvis’ and others’ assertions about avian intelligence, in part because the terminology used to describe a bird’s brain had long emphasized its primitiveness. This is precisely what Jarvis set out to change a few years ago.  He took it upon himself to pull together colleagues from around the country and across disciplines to collaboratively rename parts of the avian brain. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/13/10//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

Squirrels and Shiny Objects

Had you visited the IISC Cambridge offices a couple of weeks ago, prior to our staff putting all of our belongings in boxes and pink (yes pink) crates in preparation for our move, you would have seen a piece of paper on my computer stand with the following word in bold letters:


This has been my mantra for the past year, and there is is increased urgency around it these days, not simply because that paper is now sealed in some box on its way to Boston’s Seaport.  With so much in flux (including our move), with so many possibilities and so much to be done out there, with so much information flowing through the various channels into which I am tuned, I can easily find myself getting distracted – “Oh Look, A Squirrel!”.  And I know I am not alone.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/12/10//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

I Despair, Therefore . . .

“The seeds of Reunion are sprouting everywhere. That which was hidden for millennia is coming to light. Soon, fertilized by the detritus of our decaying civilization, the sprouts will mature, bloom, and bear fruit. Our job is first to receive them, then to spread them everywhere and to guard and foster them with every ounce of our love.”

“Three Seeds” by Charles Eisenstein

It’s awfully hard to read the news these days, especially if one is tuned in to the scientific and environmental communities:

“Northern Hemisphere Temperatures Shatter July Record

“Declining Phytoplankton Another Sign of Climate Catastrophe

“Climate Change and Illegal Logging Could Wipe Out Rainforest Wildlife by 2100″ Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/11/10//Linda Guinee//Sustainability

Thoughts on My Bike

This is our last week in the Cambridge office – as of Monday, we’ll have moved to South Boston, in the Seaport area.  Most of the IISC staff have been driving to work over the years we’ve been in Cambridge (with a few taking the bus or riding bikes).  Once we’re in our new office, we’ll be switching to most of us on public transportation or on bikes.  It’s good news for the planet!  I’m looking forward to shrinking my carbon footprint.  Thought you might enjoy this video!

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Aug/10/10//Gibrán Rivera//Collaboration, Featured

The Power of Conversation

In this 10 minute video, Jack Ricchiuto, a friend of IISC’s, successfully distills the four conversations that build community and gives us a glimpse into the shadow conversations that keep us from success.  Evidently influenced by Peter Block, Ricchiuto is part of a wave of organization and community builders that have been inviting us to look at our work from a different lens.

Jack names the following four conversations with power: Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/06/10//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

Attitude is Everything

Picking up from where I left off yesterday, I want to share some additional insights gleaned from my tour of Lauren Chase-Rowell’s permaculture garden and land.  Something else that struck me was when Lauren said that beyond her training and intuition as a master gardener, “attitude is everything.”  Illustrating this statement with stories it became clear that while she is incredibly skilled in her craft, Lauren’s psychological and emotional approach take it all to another level.  In essence, permaculture starts with your self.

Channeling Lauren, I offer these three attitudinal guidelines for your consideration and application to your social change/leadership efforts, especially those geared towards leveraging the potential of systems and collective intelligence: Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/05/10//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability


Lauren's Garden

Last week I was in the presence of a master.  For more than 25 years, Lauren Chase-Rowell has skillfully and intuitively cultivated the land around her house in Nottingham, NH to the point that it exists in great harmony with the beautiful farm house, people and fauna occupying that space.  Lauren is an ecological landscaper, organic farmer, and permaculture design teacher.  Her home, Dalton’s Pasture Farm (not pictured above), is a vibrant classroom and testament to the possibility of practicing earth-centered living.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/04/10//Linda Guinee//Love

Are You Being Lazy Enough?

This is a re-post of a post from last summer, just as I returned from a sabbatical – seemed appropriate in the beginning of the lazy days of August… in hopes that we will all have some Lazy Days …

About ten years ago, I spent three weeks at Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery in Southern France. The time there was primarily spent in silence – with long periods of sitting meditation, walking meditation, and even working meditation. (No surprise, I struggled with over-working during working meditation!)  One of the practices at Plum Village is that each week, everyone takes a “Lazy Day”.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Aug/03/10//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Social Innovation

Web of Change – Part 2

Web of Change - Innovation and Collaboration to Transform our World

Lots of anticipation around this year’s Web of Change!  I am on the facilitation team as well as one of the hosts for the event.  Hosts have been asked to launch this year’s conversation through a series of thought pieces that will be posted on every week until our convening begins.  I have the honor of launching our “WOC Thought Bomb Series,” with the following reflections on “Paradigm Next and the Intersection.”  Click here to read, and please do share your responses!

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Aug/02/10//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Networks

Transcend Organizational Constraints

Collective Leadership

This is a very exciting time for those of us who are working to apply the logic of networks to the work of social change.  Our ideas are gaining traction as more and more experiments start to point towards success.  Life online, the viral nature of meaningful stories and our human desire for deeper connection all serve to confirm our intuitive understanding of life in a network.  However, as we step into this paradigm shift, as we start to approve of these ideas, we still have to contend with the constraints of the organizational and funding structures within which we currently work. Read the rest of this entry »

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