Archive for November, 2011

Nov/30/11//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

Evergreen Collaboration

I have been very excited to hear about what is going on in Cleveland, not to mention how it is serving as a model and inspiration for other cities in this post-industrial age, including Springfield, Massachusetts and various communities in my native Michigan. What do you take and make of this? How might the efforts and aspirations of Evergreen inform your collaborations?

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Nov/29/11//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration, Liberation


“Stamp [the facilitator] jumped up and down. Her voice was hoarse from three hours of yelling. ‘Everyone is beautiful!’ she shouted. ‘Everyone is awesome!’

That’s some hard core facilitation.  I am struck, profoundly affected by, what is happening in our country.  I am inspired.  I am moved.  I have a deep sense of resonance.

“[T]he point of Occupy Wall Street is not its platform so much as its form: people sit down and hash things out instead of passing their complaints on to Washington. ‘We are our demands,’ as the slogan goes.”

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Nov/28/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Busting the Binaries

I’ve thought a lot about how either/or thinking reinforces hierarchies of oppression. As Tema Okun recounts in The Emperor Has no Clothes, “Inherent in western culture is the very act of defining ‘us’ in ways that claim superiority over an opposite and increasingly threatening ‘them.’”

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Nov/23/11//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

Occupying Experience

Poetry is what you find

in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God

in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.

-Elizabeth Alexander (From “Ars Poetics #100: I Believe”)

Let me start by saying that I am well aware of the inherent irony of posting a piece with this title in the blogosphere and furthermore tweeting about it to my “followers.”  That said, I offer this in the same spirit of the saying, “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha.”  In other words, thanks in advance for reading/sharing, and then let’s get back to the work of being our own lights.

As I turn thoughts to this week’s holiday, I am thankful for so much: for health, for family, for friends, for the opportunity to do the work I do, where and with whom I get to do it.  And I am also grateful to be living in these uncertain, trying, and exciting times.  If we would believe history and the views of certain amateur and professional philosophers, we might see our current circumstances as the makings of a great age and evolutionary leap forward. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/22/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Inspiration

A legacy of Excellence

The Interaction Institute for Social Change remembers Margarita Muñiz, educator, leader, champion- as well as one of our beloved Barr Fellows.  The following is reposted from the Boston Globe column written by Yvonne Abraham.  We could not have said it better.

How do you turn an abandoned school in a crime-ridden neighborhood into a gleaming beacon drawing children and grateful parents from across the city?

The answer is Margarita Muñiz.

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Leadership Transition

IISC Senior Associates gathered this morning to prepare for our future in this leadership transition-We began with this poem….

“You know that the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest?”

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Nov/21/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Liberation

Council of Elders stands with #OWS

The Acting Steering Committee list reads like a who’s who among U.S. civil rights and social justice activists: James Lawson, Vincent Harding, Dolores Huerta, Nelson Johnson Joyce Johnson, Mel White, John Fife, Phil Lawson, Arthur Waskow, Grace Lee Boggs, Joan Chittister, George Tinker, Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Bernice Johnson Reagan, Marian Wright-Edelman.

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Nov/19/11//IISC//Facilitative Leadership

Occupy Boston Summit


IISC is proud to be supporting the facilitation of todays summit!

Speak Up — Add Your Voice — Join The Conversation

Where is our movement headed?

What opportunities and challenges are we facing?

How do we think creatively about the future?


Quincy School
885 Washington Street, Chinatown

A 15 minute walk from Dewey Square
or Orange Line to Tufts Medical Center

Planning to come? Need childcare or translation? Want to volunteer? Let us know!

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Nov/18/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

You Are Not Alone

“Many people need desperately to receive this message: ‘I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about . . . . You are not alone.’”

- Kurt Vonnegut

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Nov/17/11//Curtis Ogden//Social Media

8 Tools for New Possibilities

I’ve really appreciated recent conversations with my colleagues Melinda Weekes and Gibran Rivera about how the use of on-line technologies is not just about the technology, but the new possibilities that they reveal for interaction and creation in both in person and virtual spheres.  I’ve been impressed by stories about and personal experiences of some of the social media tools out there that show how they are able to help us supplement, extend, and innovate around collaboration for social impact. And I’m enjoying playing with some of these in my various client engagements.  Here are a few tools for new possibilities, and I’m eager to hear what experiences you have had with them, as well as other ones not mentioned here, that have helped you realize the greater potential of collaboration and collective intelligence.  Thanks to Matthew Dryhurst at Craigslist Foundation and the Working Wikily team for a number of these leads! Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/16/11//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

Community Pride and Flash Mobs

I’m feeling some Michigan pride, in the midst of some important work with the Council of Michigan Foundations and the ongoing economic struggles of my home state. And I’m even more impressed after seeing this video, which was produced by the community of Grand Rapids after it was named earlier this year as one of America’s cities in greatest decline by Newsweek magazine. A local visionary, artist, and rabble rouser pulled the community together to film this show of solidarity in ONE TAKE! There is a story here, about collaboration, about collective leadership, about what it takes to galvanize people. Check it out, and watch the whole thing if you can. It gets better and better.

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Nov/15/11//IISC//Featured, Inspiration

We are the 99%

You can’t evict an idea who’s time  has come.

We are the 99%.  We are everywhere.

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Nov/14/11//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

Many is Better than One

“While conventional views of power and authority seem to indicate that you should co-opt and capture other tribes, you can often achieve more by freeing your own people to maximize their vision alongside yours.”

- Seth Godin

In today’s world of mergers and acquisitions and nonprofit consolidations, I was struck by the conclusion of Seth Godin’s recent blog post.  I read it as yet another argument for the power of networks and decentralization.  There is so much good work to be done in this messy world of ours – why do we wish we could consolidate it under a single leader or strategy?

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Nov/11/11//Curtis Ogden//Social Media

Love and Social Media

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Nov/10/11//IISC//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion

Id B. Wells

Ida B. Wells was an African American journalist, newspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites. She was active in the women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, establishing several notable women’s organizations. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician, and traveled internationally on lecture tours.

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Nov/09/11//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Shaping the New Alternatives

A few months ago I posted a piece entitled “Negativity and Self-Limiting Advocacy,” which seemed to get a lot of play in the 2.0 sphere.  The gist of the entry was that negative mindsets limit our view of possibilities and can wall us off into tried and not so trustworthy ways of being and doing on the social change front.  John Hagel, author of The Power of Pull, posted the entry below on his Edge Perspective site this week, which extends this conversation to thinking about how our responses to the prevalent uncertainty surrounding us have a lot to say about our future economic and ecological well-being. I really appreciate his focus on narrative, especially on the heels of attending New Ventures West’s introductory course on integral coaching, and I am excited to think more about how we can co-create new and liberating narratives and “platforms” that bring into being the regenerative future that is waiting to emerge more fully.  I would also add to Hagel’s assessment at the end by suggesting that beyond young people, there is much hope and wisdom to be found in those who have been most marginalized by the dominant culture and yet have found ways to walk in and hold onto two worlds, to survive and to thrive.  And to take note of and learn from the wisdom of life.

Cognitive Biases in Times of Uncertainty

We live in a world of increasing pressure and uncertainty, driven in large part by digital technology infrastructures. These marvelous infrastructures bring us unprecedented connectivity and opportunities to better ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/08/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured

The Story of Us

Last Friday, I had the privilege of facilitating Alta Starr’s Funder Briefing on New Paradigms in Organizing for Social Transformation.  It was a rich event.  Organizers, funders and capacity builders from across the nation came together to explore their work at the intersection of personal transformation and systemic change.  The field is definitely shifting!  We are seeing progress and experimentation towards a more holistic approach to the quest for social justice.

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Nov/07/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Tema Teaches

Last week, Tema Okun of the dismantling RacismWorks, spoke about her new book, The Emperor Has no Clothes-Teaching about Race and Racism to People who Don’t want to Know at an event hosted by Community Change (see their website for a video of the talk) in Boston.

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Marisa Rivera-Albert

Marisa Rivera-Albert is the former President of the National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and leadership development of Hispanic Women. Before coming to NHLI, she Rivera-Albert worked in higher education as Special Assistant to the President for Diversity and Community Relations at Black Hawk College in Illinois, she managed the Hispanic Program for Educational Management and the Learning To Lead Program for Hispanic students at Western Illinois University, and she served for the U.S. Information Agency and the U.S. Embassy in Panama. Marisa Rivera-Albert is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, has a B.A. in Communications from American University and a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Western Illinois University. She is also a graduate of the Harvard University JFK Executive Programs, the Center for Creative Leadership Institute, the Texaco Management Institute, the Gallup Leadership Institute and the Mexican American Solidarity Foundation. She is a Board member for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia and for the U.S. Committee for UNIFEM- United Nations Development Fund for Women. She is a frequent keynote speaker on women’s issues, Hispanic Affairs, multicultural and leadership topics.

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Nov/02/11//Curtis Ogden//Collaboration

The Special Sauce

“I just wanted to tell all of you that I feel truly honored to have played even a small part in what transpired today. In fact, I would go so far as to say you are the best, most fun, most highly evolved group of humans I have ever worked with.”

This is not the kind of email you get everyday.  It comes from one of the participants in the process design group of a state-wide food system building effort with which I have been involved for the past year and for which I am the lead designer and facilitator.  To be clear, the purpose of this post is not to blow my own horn.  It would be outrageous for me to take credit for something the size and complexity of which goes well beyond my individual talents and contributions.  Rather, I am very eager to explore what stands behind this comment, as it reflects a commonly held feeling that something special has been going on with this initiative and group since it was initiated and led up to the launch of a Food Policy Council last week. Read the rest of this entry »

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Nov/01/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Learning Edge

Entering the Field of the Future

Last week, Melinda Weekes and I participated in the Presencing Institute’s Global Presencing Forum.  It was an excellent experience at the edge of social innovation.  It was great to be in the presence of Otto Scharmer and Peter Senge (see Scharmer’s reflections here).  And even better to in the company of a global community of people seeking to advance social technologies that can actually address the challenges we face.

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