Last week, colleagues Andrea Nagel, Jen Willsea and I facilitated the workshop, Fundamentals of Facilitation for Racial Justice Work for staff at the Boston Public Health Commission. One of the most powerful parts of the workshop was an exercise where participants had to listen to a view with which they disagreed without opposing, fixing or leading the speaker to another viewpoint. Challenging, to say the least! It raised a great question about not just how, but when to listen without attempting to shift anything. Like many of the workshop participants, I struggle with this practice, particularly when the speaker’s views fly in the face of realities I see and history I know, or when the very act of listening seems to give comfort to views that diminish my humanity. The struggle brought me back to a classic essay, “The Art of Listening,” by feminist author Brenda Ueland.
Archive for October, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I (two gray-haired women) went downtown to support the youngsters Occupying Wall Street here in Oakland. The night was wet, but there were plenty of folks out with signs, songs, speeches and goodwill.
“We can only have honest, effective hope if the frame through which we see is an accurate representation of how the world works.”
– Frances Moore Lappe
With a warm welcome and opening offering of D.H. Lawrence’s poem “Escape,” Danny Martin and I launched into our session last week at the Bioneers by the Bay Conference entitled, “Belonging and Becoming: Practices for Regenerative Leadership.” The framing of our 90 minutes was the call to connect more deeply with the ways of complex living systems, to align ourselves more fully with life so that we might thrive as a human community.
During the first half of our session we took the poet’s suggestion to escape the “glass bottles of our egos” and access “unlying life” by engaging in some paired storytelling focused on the values that have guided us in our lives. This was our effort to cultivate a deeper sense of belonging in the room, and we were amazed to hear how much people took from listening to one another for even 10 minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
The following is a post from my friend and colleague Danny Martin, that appeared on his web page on Monday, following our joint workshop at Connecting for Change, a Bioneers Conference. Tomorrow I will extend this reflection with more details about our session and regenerative leadership practice.
So much to say this week but it all turns on the same theme of how to access the wisdom we need to move forward together into a more sustainable and just society. In a recent article about what he calls The New Economy Movement, Gar Alperovitz, a Professor of Political Economy in the University of Maryland, says that, instead of feeling confined to the binary paths of reforming the broken economic system or revolting to overthrow it, citizens are opting to create something new that will replace the current economic regime, making the old system obsolete in the process. He calls this third way ‘evolutionary reconstruction.’ Read the rest of this entry »
In A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink points to a set of right brain functions that are essential to creativity, innovation and effectiveness in our work and our world. Design and Play are two of these functions, and they are beautifully expressed in this fountain at the Detroit Airport. Enjoy the way the water dances, wonder at the way the paths of water are designed and synchronized. Let it reawaken in you pure delight and ask yourself how you can bring play more fully alive in your work for justice.
“We seem to have been living for a long time on the assumption that we can safely deal with parts, leaving the whole to take care of itself. But now the news from everywhere is that we have to begin gathering up the scattered pieces, figuring out where they belong, and putting them back together. For the parts can be reconciled to one another only within the pattern of the whole thing to which they belong.”
- Wendell Berry, The Way of Ignorance
Throughout the past few 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. Read the rest of this entry »
Talent thrives within diverse ecosystems. The straightforward and linear has given way to the complex and emergent. This is the nature of evolution. So it’s no longer about putting two and two together but about noticing patterns – it’s about sensing our way into the web of connection.
An emergent collaborative spoken word poem by IISC staff.
You find yourself walking
there’s focus and intention
in appreciation of each soul’s journey
an openness to what we don’t know
and ever surrendering to the confusion of conviction
unfolding, becoming, self-giving
you notice the beauty of all that’s connected
and then you think about love
it flows forth and around
and through play
you can hear it, you can see it
supports justice whether its for you or against you
binding us and guiding us
and suddenly your heart opens wide
so that you can listen fully, be present fully- right where you are
so that what is unimaginable is possible.
For the third year in a row, I am looking forward to presenting at the Connecting for Change conference, also known as Bioneers by the Bay, sponsored by the Marion Institute. The community of New Bedford, Massachusetts becomes the host and scenic back-drop to some amazing speakers, well known and not so well known, as well as presentations by an incredible array of people doing important work in our New England region. Read the rest of this entry »
More than one hundred Occupy Boston activists were arrested last night for acts of civil disobedience. We stand in solidarity with this local expression of the growing national effort to expose the economic injustices that have come to plague our democracy. Please contribute legal aid to Occupy Boston – donate here.
Ellen Ochoa is best known for being the first Hispanic woman astronaut, having made 4 space voyages, since being recruited by NASA, in 1991. But, she is also a noted inventor, with three patents for her work in optics, is a trained classical flutist and private airplane pilot
Offered to and gleaned from the Farm to Plate Network proceedings in Vermont:
- “For the human species to evolve, the conversation must deepen.” - Margaret Mead
- “‘The system’ is not out there; it is the way we work together.” - Yaneer Bar-Yam
- “Do what you do best and link to the rest.” – Jeff Jarvis
- “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family; whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” – Jane Howard
- “Networks invite us to focus on contributions before credentials.” – Gary Hamel
- “Transparency of information breeds self-correcting behavior.” – Thad Allen
- “When it comes to collaboration, it’s about trust.” – Tom Martin
- “If you don’t think that small things can make a big difference, you’ve never slept in a bed with a mosquito!” – Arianna Huffington
- “Discover a few vital behaviors, change those, and problems – no matter their size – topple like a house of cards.” – Kerry Patterson
- “I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there.” – Richard Feynman
Mr. Jobs was neither a hardware engineer nor a software programmer, nor did he think of himself as a manager. He considered himself a technology leader, choosing the best people possible, encouraging and prodding them, and making the final call on product design.
“Networks are not just about sharing the pie. They are about growing the pie.”
- Ellen Kahler, VSJF
It has been a privilege and an inspiration to spend the past two days working with my colleague Beth Tener and the amazing team at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) to help launch the Farm to Plate Network. Over 150 people came together to connect and take the conversation deeper around how they want to work together to double local food production in the state over the next 10 years, as a way of boosting economic development, increasing jobs, and ensuring that every resident has access to healthy food. A big rallying cry has been the devastation that Tropical Storm Irene wrought on the farming community. And as we learned from former Secretary of Agriculture Roger Allbee during a very enlightening presentation about the Great Flood of 1927, once again Vermonters responded in ways that have impressed those (including the American Red Cross) who came to help, with their self-organizing and neighborly efforts to get one another back on track.
In an encouraging speech to launch the proceedings, Governor Shumlin highlighted the challenges and opportunities that stem from the changing climate that is predicted to increase precipitation 20% in the state in years to come. “Our best days are ahead of us if we can pull together,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
I made it out to #occupywallstreet last Friday night. Here is how my experience unfolded:
1. Culture Shock
I’m into showers, they’re not. I’m in my mid-thirties, grew up in a working class Puerto Rican community and I’ve been yupified over the years. I didn’t see a lot of people of color and I wasn’t feeling the vibe. I wondered how people from my community could ever make a link to this crowd. I was welcomed to walk around, curiously browsing, checking out the scene, the art and the people.
“My heart is moved
by all I cannot save
so much has been destroyed.
I have cast my lot
with those who age after age,
and with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.”
I spent a couple of hours at Occupy Boston this weekend and a couple more hours on line reading about Boston, New York and the burgeoning movement in cities across the country. The issues in Boston are wide and varied, including student debt, unemployment, corporate “personhood” and greed, foreclosure prevention, and “deep green resistance.” Everything is loosely connected under the banner of the “99%” who want to “take our country back.”