Archive for December, 2011

Dec/29/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Sustainability

People Power

The Black Mesa Water Coalition is an inspiring group of Navajo and Hopi young people who organized to protect the Navajo aquifer which was being depleted by coal production and transportation processes. They are a great example of people power, coming together and winning important gains for their community. And, they are an important reminder about the many ways in which Native people in the U.S. continue to face structural barriers to their own well-being. As we move the conversation about structural racism forward, I have to ask myself, as a black woman who grew up on land that was taken from the Wampanoag people, how can I be an effective ally?

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Dec/28/11//Curtis Ogden//Featured, IISC:Outside

A Year of Multitudes

As 2011 comes to a close, we here at IISC can look back on a year full of multi-stakeholder change work. I think I can speak on behalf of the entire team when I say that it has been our pleasure to contribute our process design, facilitation, and collaborative capacity building skills to a range of differently scaled social change efforts, linking arms with convenors and catalysts in a variety of fields.  These have included (to name a few): Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/27/11//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation


I’ve been reflecting on five years of work here at the Interaction Institute for Social Change.  As inside so outside.  My life has changed dramatically over the last five years.  And so has the world.  Seriousness about social transformation, commitment to the evolutionary process, a burning thirst for justice – a posture that demands sharp attunement with the present moment.

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Dec/22/11//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

40 Questions

“It is my working assumption that the following forty questions must be definitively answered before we may realistically discuss our respective philosophies and grand strategies. . . . ”

—R. Buckminster Fuller

Picking up from yesterday’s post, here is Bucky’s list of 40 strategic questions: Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/21/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Catching Up With Bucky

Clearly a man ahead of his time, R. Buckminster Fuller’s thinking seems to become more and more relevant.  His invitation is for us all to be comprehensive anticipatory design scientists, to engage in the “design science revolution.”

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Dec/20/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Got Racism?

We’ve been having a good conversation at IISC about ways to challenge and re-frame race discourse in ways that are truthful, loving, compelling, welcoming and so much more. Last week, I posted a video from Jay Smooth about shifting from a discussion about “being” to a discussion about “doing.” Let’s keep the conversation going.

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Fair Chance America

The following post is from Founding Board Chair, Thomas J. Rice.  It is a little longer than we  post, however, we hope that you will find it is rich in content and helps continue to challenge the way we think about various systems and movements.

Historian James Truslow Adams defined the American Dream when he coined the term at the depths of the Great Depression. What we seek is “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.” If there’s one thing we could all agree on, we have lost our way in this quest. And there’s no GPS to find our True North, or the way home.

Enter the Occupy Movement, a spontaneous cri de coeur from a millennial generation that feels betrayed and abandoned by the people and institutions they believed in. No American Dream for them. Their prospects are bleak, in no way better or richer or fuller than their parents. In spite of great effort and expense to move up and out, the millenniums are back in the nest, in serious debt from college  loans and working at some menial or dead end job with no health benefits.

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Dec/16/11//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration

Live Love

Here at IISC we talk about having three lenses for the work of collaboration.  One of those lenses is the lens of love.  I have worked and played with Anasa Troutman in all kinds of formations over the years, most recently as part of the same Networks and Decentralized Organizing Community of Practice.

I thought that her stance for Love is a very real call for those of us interested in the practice of social transformation.  What do you think?

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Dec/15/11//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Wanted: A Living System Blueprint

I have previously written in this space about a state-wide early childhood system change effort in Connecticut, for which my colleague Melinda Weekes and I are currently serving as the lead process designers and facilitators. For the past year, we have been engaged in a robust and somewhat emergent process of exploring some of the underlying systemic dynamics surrounding early childhood development and care in the state, and beginning to re-imagine that system, in all of its complexity as it holds the vision of nurturing whole children, from informal to formal elements, from grassroots to grasstops.

At this point, we are poised to think more deeply about what it would mean to create a “blueprint” for that system, acknowledging that this blueprint could never cover every component and dynamic in the system, nor would we want it to be static. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/14/11//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

Network Thinking

Last week, I had the opportunity to work with a cross-sectoral group of emerging and established leaders from around southern Maine through the Institute for Civic Leadership, an initiative IISC had a hand in establishing some 18 years ago.  For the past six years I’ve offered three days of collaborative capacity building entitled “Facilitative Leadership and Teams” to each successive cohort, and it’s been interesting to see how the offering has evolved over time.  Throughout there has been an interest in looking at how to leverage what is now an incredible base of 500 + individuals who have been through this leadership program.  And so this year we dived formally into network building strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dec/13/11//Gibrán Rivera//IISC:Inside

I’m writing an eBook

All right friends, it’s time.  I’m going to write my first e-book.  I’m going to do it in 30 days using the process outlined here.  Today is day 1.  I will be posting daily updates to my Facebook and twitter feeds.

I need your help.  I want to write about “teams, work and complexity,” I don’t have a title yet.  But it doesn’t matter what I want to write about if you don’t want to read about it!  The first two days of the process are about asking you for a topic.  See what copyblogger says:

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Dec/12/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Power, Equity, Inclusion

Goodness as Practice

Video blogger and hip-hop radio host Jay Smooth makes an eloquent case for understanding that being good does not require us to be perfect, and that learning to live with our imperfections is a way forward in contemporary race discourse. I’d share a few of his comments, hoping this will inspire you to find the time to listen to the whole talk.

“Are you saying that I am racist? How can you say that. I am a good person! Why would you say I am a racist?”

And you try to respond “I’m talking about a particular thing you said.”

“No, I am not a racist.”

And what started out as a “what you said” conversation turns into a “what you are conversation,” which is a dead end that produces nothing but mutual frustration and you never end up seeing eye to eye or finding any common ground…

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Dec/09/11//Gibrán Rivera//Networks


Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ve heard me talk about the Networks and Decentralized Organizing Community of Practice that I’m a part of.  I’m continually buzzing with inspiration from this very special node in the network.

Part of our process includes a “daily practice” that is offered each day by a different member of the community.  Jenny Lee, of the Allied Media Projects, recently offered this practice – she titled it “Murmuration.”  I invite you to share your reflections.

Even if you’ve seen it before, watch it again and think about the questions:

  • If another species was observing and analyzing the shape, rhythm, contours of our movements what would they look like?
  • What is the most breathtaking structure and form of movement that you can imagine our networks taking? What would be the most inner-working mechanics that structure?

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Dec/09/11//IISC//Featured, IISC:Outside

December Lens

Join Ashley Welch of Interaction Associates Wednesday, December 14, at 1 pm Eastern time, for a timely conversation with her colleague from the Interaction Institute for Social Change, Melinda Weekes. They will discuss Strategies for Designing Social Change, exploring ways leaders in any sector can succeed when leading change. 

Melinda is a senior consultant who works with foundations, NGO’s and community leaders. Recently she has been supporting Occupy Wall Street. As a former lawyer, gospel music theorist and ordained clergy person, Melinda brings a unique perspective to social change.

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Dec/07/11//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

What’s Your Piano Top?

“I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuities.

If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat may come along and make a fortuitous life preserver. This is not to say, though, that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top.

I think we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.”

– R. Buckminster Fuller

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Dec/06/11//Gibrán Rivera//Facilitative Leadership, Featured

A Real Workshop

“Knowing about a tool is one thing. Having the guts to use it in a way that brings art to the world is another. Perhaps we need to spend less time learning new tools and more time using them.” – Seth’s Godin

Reading Seth’s post on insight vs. tools made me want to create a real workshop – a learning space that is also a creative space, a laboratory for actual application.

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Dec/05/11//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Power, Equity, Inclusion


“In any given situation, what you are determines what you see; what you see determines what you do.” Haddon Robinson

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Dec/02/11//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Tactile Speech

Nikky Finney recently won the National Book Award in Poetry for her collection Head Off and Split. If you have not seen or heard her acceptance speech, it is to be seen/heard (if you go to the link, you will have to fast forward a bit through John Lithgow and Elizabeth Alexander). In so many poignant and wonderful ways, she reminds us that, as Audre Lorde once wrote, “Poetry is not a luxury.”

In the video segment above, Finney brings greater dimension (and a sense of history) to the creative writing and speech act, by describing her affinity for blackboards as a way of engaging in more visual and tactile ways with her craft. Her words remind me of what I think many of us at IISC love about visual facilitation and graphic recording in our collaborative capacity building work, of putting marker to butcher block paper, rather than simply or exclusively relying upon conversation, PowerPoint and/or video projected word processing.  Process design and facilitation is a contact sport.

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Dec/01/11//Curtis Ogden//Sustainability

Saving Our Tailings

One principle of living systems is that one person’s waste is someone else’s food.  This is how nature works, which is wonderful, and . . . unfortunately many of us are eating our own unhealthy waste in the form of industrial chemicals and other toxins, precisely because we seem to lack an overview of the cyclical nature of things.  On the upside, there are many ways that we could be much more efficient and even generate better health and greater wealth if we could think and act upon this notion of recycling and reusing waste.

This can include looking at how what is generally cast off as by-product might be used for creating additional value.  Read the rest of this entry »

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