Archive for April, 2011


Creating Forever

“Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another”.- Toni Morrison

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Apr/28/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Will to Meaning

Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor, author of Man’s Search for Meaning . . .

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Apr/27/11//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

Taking Stakeholders Seriously

“Stakeholder” is a big word in our practice at IISC. When it comes to our collaborative change work, we take  stakeholder analysis very seriously, in certain situations spending a few days to complete this critical task. The aim is generally to surface the names of those groups and individuals who as a sum total will help to ensure that we have the system represented in the room. What this means is pushing people, at times, into uncomfortable places to consider typically unheard voices and those they have outright resisted inviting to the table but without whom they could not hope to make the kind of change to which they aspire.

Typically we engage in a conversation with our clients and partners that asks them identify, in the context of some given change effort, those whose stakes are defined in the following ways: Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/26/11//IISC//Social Innovation

Laughter, Joy and Friendship

Photo By: Eletrificado

The following blog post was authored by Meg Campbell for the Huffington Post.  Meg is among the 2009 Class of Barr Fellows.  A remarkable educuator, Meg’s understanding of human connection in spaces of learning and transformation is consonant with our approach here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/25/11//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration

Experiment with Empathy

We are wired for connection.  You give us the internet and we turn it into the largest web of connections that has ever existed.  Each of us has mirror neurons, “neurons that mirror the behavior of  another, as though the observer were itself acting.”  Empathy is our highest capacity – the vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.  Our highest levels of development come with a heightened capacity to see and experience truth in other perspectives and at other levels. Read the rest of this entry »

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Si se puede…

Un pueblo unido, jamas será vencido“….

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Apr/21/11//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

Multi-Sensory Engagement

We are big believers here, at IISC, in pulling on all of the senses and our full selves to create engaging experiences that bring out the best that people individually and collectively have to offer for the sake of social change.  Often meetings and convenings only scratch the surface of our many sensibilities, as if we were simply brains on sticks, without bodies, without hearts.  Subsequently much is lost that we may not even be aware of.  As Kare Anderson writes,  “Even apparently small physical experiences make a big emotional and even learning difference.”

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Apr/20/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Distant Hill, Under Our Feet

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,

Going far ahead of the road I have begun.

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;

It has its inner light, even from a distance –

And changes us, even if we do not reach it,

Into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;

A gesture waves us on, answering our own wave . . .

But what we feel is the wind in our faces.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

The older I get, the more I think I understand these words by Rilke.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Woman of Courage

Photo by: The Howard University Library

“I am sick and tired of being sick and tired…”

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Apr/18/11//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Barr Fellows in Vieques

Photo by: i-loot-i

I write from vacation in Puerto Rico, my place of origin.  I am amazed by the fact that I left when I was 12 but the place still feels like home – in a very deep way.  I’m on vacation after facilitating a retreat for the Barr Fellows Class of 2009 in Vieques, PR.  It was a phenomenal experience, certainly for me but most importantly for the Fellows.

I have witnessed the significant deepening of relationships among these fellows since they first came together as a cohort during on our learning journey to Brazil in June of 2009.  We have had a number of retreats and events since, some as a class, some with the larger network of Barr Fellows.   At this mid-way point through their three-year process (though their being part of the network has no formal end), it becomes absolutely moving to witness powerful shifts towards greater possibility. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/15/11//IISC//Social Innovation

Alliance for Climate Education

ACE Assembly Trailer from ACE Space on Vimeo.

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Apr/14/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Power of Words

Words and the way in which we order and convey them can have tremendous power.  This has been driven home by a variety of experiences and stories.  There was the environmental conservation effort that was having a hard time bringing certain stakeholders under its umbrella until it began offering others the opportunity to join a movement to “preserve quality of place.”  Then there was the effort to intervene on the behalf of some of our depleted fisheries that began with a slogan more or less about about “saving fish,” and that only ended up bringing key players into the fold when it shifted to being about “ensuring that we can fish forever.”  Engagement is a science and an art form and the importance of our word choices is not to be underestimated.

What experiences have you had with the power of words in the pursuit of social change?

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Apr/13/11//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Inside

Seeing, Being, Doing Whole

Throughout the past couple of years readers of this blog have seen some discussion about the tensions that exist between those working on individual behavior/spiritual change and those striving for structural transformation.  The point has been made that both are necessary.  The fact remains that we often find ourselves in rooms with people who are essentially on the same side of the issue, but engaged in “tactical sectarianism” (thank you, Adam Pattantyus), arguing about whose approach is best.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/12/11//Gibrán Rivera//Liberation

Form follows Function

Photo by: Phoester

I was inspired to write this post after reading and seeing the pictures on this post on Bureaucratics:  A  Global Portrait of Red Tape

Bureaucrats get a bad rap.  Which is not always fair.  They do serve an important purpose.  If you’ve been to Singapore, you find they can be so efficient it is almost exciting.  However, I do think it is important to take a critical look at organizational form.  We have to pay attention to the way we structure ourselves when we aim to do things together. Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/12/11//Gibrán Rivera//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Black and Brown: Break it Down Agenda

One of the coolest agendas we have designed, this one for our Black and Brown Break It Down convening.

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In the Spirit of Ella…

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Apr/07/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

We Are All Connected

WWF – We Are All Connected from on Vimeo.

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Apr/06/11//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration, Featured

Collaborating by Numbers

While designing a board retreat with a client a number of weeks ago, I got some push-back when I suggested that we break into smaller groups at a certain point in the agenda.  “That seems a bit contrived,” was the comment.  I responded that having a group of more than 15 people discuss matters as a large group for several hours was not going to be an enjoyable or productive experience for everyone.  “Plus,” I added, “people will get a chance to know one another better.”  My rationale was accepted, but how I wished I had a much more snappy and scientific response at that moment in time.  I know intuitively when it makes sense to keep people together or break them up, and of course there are myriad options for organizing people.  So what are some practical guidelines for choosing how to segment wholes? Read the rest of this entry »

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Apr/05/11//Gibrán Rivera//What We Are Reading

Walk Out Walk On

I have devoted most of my life to the quest for justice, the path has been beset by victory and loss, hope and frustration.  I often find myself contending with a deep awareness that too many of us – including the radicals and do-gooders that I count among my friends – including my own self!  All of us seem to be stuck in a paradigm that has reached a dead end.  And yet it is all we know.  And so we give our hearts and our passion, our energy and life force to a process that often seems doomed.

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Apr/04/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Facilitative Leadership, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice Work

Fundamental –noun: a basic and necessary component of something, especially an underlying rule or principle

Last week, Gibran and I led the workshop, Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice Work.  The workshop builds on IISC’s work over the years to apply the best of what we know about collaboration and group process to the specific work of advancing racial justice. We pushed ourselves to distinguish what was truly fundamental from all of many powerful concepts and skills we could have included. We settled on exploring three questions:

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