Archive for May, 2011

May/31/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured

Three Levels of Conversation

Julie Auger’s post to Rethinking Complexity speaks directly to our central concerns here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change . What do you think? How might this inform your organizational strategy? Read the rest of this entry »

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May/27/11//IISC//Social Innovation

How do you feel (About Art)?

How Do You Feel (About Art)? from svanes on Vimeo.

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May/26/11//Curtis Ogden//Social Media

Getting Listiki With It

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I am just getting familiar with this new tool that is still in beta (the creators would appreciate any feedback about it). Wondering what applications you may see to collaborative social change work. I am imagining polling people in a system for key resources, ranking the best sites to hold a convening, possibly doing something related to stakeholder identification . . . . And while you are pondering this, check out Kare Anderson’s list of collaboration related sites and books, add to it, or create your own.

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May/25/11//Curtis Ogden//Liberation

Elephants on Strings (and Other Mind Tricks)

A friend recently relayed the following story about how some baby elephants are tamed, for cirucuses and other forms of work. As part of its training, the baby is tied it to a steel stake in the ground, strong enough to prevent it from breaking free when it tries to do so. Eventually, the elephant will give up and stop trying to escape.  I imagine that this is not the complete story, but keeping with this trajectory . . .  At a certain point, the trainer can replace the steel stake with a smaller wooden one, despite the fact that it would never hold the elephant if it tried to break free.  An elephant trained to believe that the stake is strong will not try to break loose and run. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/23/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured

What to do about Doomsday?

This evening, I’m joining Samantha Tan, Maria and Greg Jobin-Leeds in hosting a Walk Out Walk On book party with our friend, co-author Deborah Frieze.  I appreciated Deborah’s take on this past weekend’s rapture madness – the following is from her blog post on the topic – Doomsday comes and goes. How come we keep falling for it? Read the rest of this entry »

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May/20/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Love vs. Sentimentality

“To show compassion for an individual without showing concern for the structures of society that make him an object of compassion is to be sentimental rather than loving.”

- William Sloane Coffin

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May/19/11//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Inside

Feedback and Favoring Truth

“Our ability to live in reality is essential.

But that takes some training.”

-Robert Fritz

If you have followed this blog in the past week and a half, you know that the IISC staff completed an intense and valuable retreat last week, focused on issues of power and privilege as they manifest in our organization and connect to the ways that we show up and are perceived in the world beyond our walls.  Last time I blogged about this event, I mentioned my take-away about the challenge and importance of embracing paradox.  With a week’s worth of time now to reflect, I am happy to report that the conversation continues internally among staff, and I for one am seeing movement.   There is plenty of dialogue about how to keep the momentum going, to maintain and firm up our hold on the individual and collective truths we accessed last week.

It turns out that one commonly shared insight about staying on track was, drum roll please . . . Read the rest of this entry »

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May/18/11//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Social Media

Infectious Action

I’ve really been enjoying reading The Dragonfly Effect, by husband and wife team Andy Smith and Jennifer Aaker. Having just recently shared the opening powerful story about Teams Vinay and Sameer with my wife, I was delighted to see this slide show come up via Twitter (how appropriate). Take a look (don’t be intimidated by the number of slides, you can move through them very quickly). It’s also a great example of how to tell a story with PowerPoint. Curious to know what thoughts and possibilities this inspires in you.

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May/17/11//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

The IOU Project

I’m keen on redefining my relationship with “stuff.” I think it is an essential aspect of truly being in movement.  Consumerism is at the heart of the challenges we face as a humanity.  When was the last time you watched “The Story of Stuff?”

I have no intention of becoming a monk, so as long I have to buy some stuff, why not be as conscious as I can about it?  A BIG reason why I like this IOU Project.

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May/16/11//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

95% Failure

Photo by: vincentevanpig

I was just talking to a scientist friend of mine.  He told me, and I quote, that “unfortunately, in science, we fail 95% of the time, we inch along towards a breakthrough.”  There is a lot of good talk about failure lately, but I don’t think I had ever heard it this way before.  When I heard him say that I felt like I wished it was a widely known fact. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/13/11//IISC//Inspiration

Sung from the Soul

“I write because I am a Black woman, listening attentively to her people”.- Maya Angelou, 1984

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May/12/11//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Positive Leadership and Sustainability

A couple of weeks ago I was an enthusiastic participant in our sister organization Interaction Associate’s most recent offering in their LeaderLens webinar series.  The featured presenter was Erik Gregory, a specialist in positive psychology.   With roots in the theories and practices of Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Erich Fromm, positive psychology focuses on the study of human strength and virtue, rather than pathology.  This includes looking at what explains resiliency, courage, optimism, and hope, even in the most daunting of circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/11/11//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Inside

Embrace Paradox

Coming off of a couple of powerful days exploring power and privilege in the internal life and external work of the Interaction Institute for Social Change.  So much still to process, and one of my immediate take-aways was our facilitators’ invitation to embrace paradox in the form of different perspectives and experiences, intentions and impacts, stated and espoused values.  As one of our process agreements for our time together stated – “All of us, individually and collectively, embody paradox- identities, beliefs, and experiences that seem to contradict each other.”  As has been stated elsewhere on this blog, and more elegantly by my colleague Gibran Rivera, the invitation is to hold apparent contradictions and tension long enough for something new to emerge, that moves us down the evolutionary path.

I leave you with the words of Gunilla Norris, from her book Sharing Silence, that came our way via OpenSource Leadership. Read the rest of this entry »

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May/10/11//Gibrán Rivera//What We Are Reading

Design for Serendipity

I am thoroughly enjoying The Power of Pull: How small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion.  Here is a quote I just read:

“Shaping serendipity requires bringing together three elements:  environments, practices, and preparedness.” Read the rest of this entry »

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May/09/11//Gibrán Rivera//Collaboration

As Inside so Outside

Here at IISC we are fond of quoting Bill O’Brien’s adage that “the success of an intervention is directly proportional to the interior condition of the intervener.”  Personally, I strive to turn this quote into a way of life.

I believe that this also holds true at other levels, that the success of an organization, its effectiveness in the world, is directly proportional to that organization’s interior condition.  This Monday and Tuesday, the Interaction Institute for Social Change will be tending to its own interior condition.

I am proud to say that all of our staff will be working with Gita Gulati-Partee of Open Source Leadership and with Maggie Potapchuk of MP Associates on Power, Privilege and how these play out in our organization.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

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May/08/11//IISC//IISC:Outside

Happy Mothers Day

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May/05/11//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Keep Connecting the Dots

Connected Citizens: The Power, Potential and Peril of Networks from Knight Foundation on Vimeo.

Thanks to the Knight Foundation and the Monitor Institute for this wonderful report, which helps to put networks more firmly on the social change map and in the minds of funders.  Check out the full report here and/or listen to a webinar on the subject by clicking here.

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May/04/11//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

Steps to an Ecology of Change

I love great writing, and for that reason always look forward to reading the newest issue of the Whole Thinking Journal from the Center for Whole Communities. The most recent issue can be found here, and features beautiful and thought-provoking pieces from my Whole Measures co-trainer Mistinguette Smith, former Ruckus Society Executive Director Adrienne Maree Brown, and CWC board member Tom Wessels, among many others.

I wanted to spend some time here reflecting on the Wessels article in particular, “Resilient Communities: An Ecological Perspective.”  Tom Wessels is a natural historian, a professor at Antioch University, and a keen observer and student of the landscape of New England.  He is also a proponent of understanding the dynamics of various kinds of complex systems, from eco-systems to organizations, as a pathway to knowing what constitutes more sustainable behavior.  Read the rest of this entry »

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May/03/11//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

Bin Laden and Networks

Photo by: Morningstar3

Osama Bin Laden is back on the headlines.  We can find many lessons about networks in our struggle with this man and the ideology of terror that he came to represent.  When talking about networks I often refer to The Starfish and the Spider, the excellent book by Brafman and Beckstrom that has now become a sort of Tea Party organizing manual.  No matter what we think about Bin Laden, Al-Queda is more of a starfish, an organization that is “headless” while having many legs.  On the other hand, the Government of the United States is most definitely a spider, an organization has one head controlling its many legs.

If Bin Laden had been a leader in the traditional sense Read the rest of this entry »

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May/02/11//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

An Emerging Network

Photo By: CTRC
The following was originally written as a guest post to the Leadership Learning Community Blog

I’m currently engaged in a number of network building efforts, each different in scope and scale, all focused on leadership and collaboration.  My work with the Barr Fellows is one such effort.  I have been working closely with the 2009 cohort of fellows and will be working closely with the 2011 cohort.  I am also working on the effort to integrate all four cohorts into a Barr Fellows Network; a leadership network that can significantly affect social change in Boston. Read the rest of this entry »


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