Archive for June, 2012

Jun/29/12//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Food Network Solutions

“Agriculture can serve life only if it is regarded as a culture of healthy relationships, both in the field—among soil organisms, insects, animals, plants, water, sun—and in the human communities it supports.”

-France Moore Lappe

Reporting in from the Food Solutions New England convening in Burlington, Vermont.  Exciting and challenging conversation happening here about how to knit individual state food planning efforts into a robust regional network that ensures greater availability of and access to “local” food.  As part of the proceedings, we have heard a very informative and inspiring presentation by Rich Pirog, now of Michigan State University and previously of the Leopold Center in Iowa.  Rich has been part of very impressive work nurturing regional food networks, profiled in a report that served as pre-reading for the gathering.

Some of the highlights from the report worth mentioning here are the implications raised for other regional food networks, including: Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/29/12//Marianne Hughes//Inspiration

Young at Heart

There is a lot of conversation in our sector about the generations…the boomers, the x’s, the y’s, the millenials now all working together. Someone recently mentioned they read that four generations can now be found in our organizations. This phenomenon is often presented as a problem to be overcome rather than an opportunity to be seized. In fact, combining the openness and technological know-how of youth with the patience and experience of older folks may finally be just the right ingredients for real social transformation.

As the founding Executive Director of IISC and the matriarch ( I am widowed) of my family, I am continually enriched and enlivened by the young people in my life. I have always found my children to be among the most interesting people I know; Kristen HughesJoe Hughes, Brendan Hughes, Christa Scharfenberg, David Scharfenberg.

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Jun/28/12//Marianne Hughes//Networks

IISC and the Paradigm Shift

It is early Easter Sunday morning before the ham and scalloped potatoes go in the oven but after sunrise and meditation. This particular holy day/holiday brims with meaning and metaphor about death and resurrection: the suffering and darkness that always precedes awareness and light, the old giving way to the new, the biblical nature of the times within which we live.

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Jun/27/12//Marianne Hughes//Featured

“Only Connect”

This famous E.M. Forster quote takes on new meaning in this age of quantum waves and particles, Twitter, and Facebook.  But the depth of what he was saying is timeless: connect with one another through old and new means to realize that we are one family, one world, one universe.

At IISC, we are committed to deepening our connections, fostering collaborative efforts, and learning together in service of social transformation.  And so it is that IISC is formally announcing the launch of our blog, as another way that we can connect and learn from you in our common quest to build a more just and sustainable world.

In that spirit, I want to share with you some of what we have been learning across the three areas that we believe are foundational to the work of social transformation: network building; diversity, equity and inclusion; and, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “the love that does justice.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/26/12//Marianne Hughes//Inspiration

Becoming a Hag

Today I am inspired to write about the hag. This is timely in that I am staring right into my 63rd birthday, born in 1946, the year that ushered in the baby boomers for better or for worse (depending on your point of view). It is also timely because like many others in the social sector, I am a founding executive director seeking to make room for the next generation of leaders (see future blogs) and challenged to re-imagine my continued contribution to social justice.

Not to be a caricature but again like so many of my cohort who were called to service by President Kennedy and came of age in the civil rights era, my life’s work was initiated as one of the first Vista Volunteers stationed in the border town of Laredo, Texas. It was there that I learned first hand about oppression, racism and injustice as well as hope, change and activism. I knew the work I wanted to do in the world. I was young then, not yet a hag.

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Jun/22/12//Curtis Ogden//Networks

New Solutions for a Connected Planet

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Jun/21/12//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Working With Emotional Charge

The following is a re-post from Dan Rockwell’s blog, Leadership Freak.  It is timely in that the past few weeks I have worked with a number of clients where questions about how to deal with difficult people and emotions have been on the top of people’s minds.  One of my first responses to these questions is to say that we should make sure not to leap to immediately making it all about the people.  As we like to say at IISC, often people problems are process problems in disguise.  And there is no denying that emotions can get high at times and that there are those people who seem to want to bring spice to what might seem to be the most bland of situations.  So what do you do?  Over to Dan . . . Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/20/12//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Growing Response-ability

Over the past couple of years, I have learned much from Carol Sanford, organizational consultant and author of The Responsible Business.  This includes a deeper understanding of the word “responsibility.”  Often this term has a burdensome association with it, as in, “with great freedom comes great responsibility.”  Here are a couple of definitions that come up when you Google the term:

  1. The state or fact of having a duty to deal with something.
  2. The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.

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Jun/19/12//IISC//Featured, IISC:Inside

Ode to Marianne

The following is a poem created by IISC staff members during Marianne’s last staff meeting. Each member was asked to think about a phrase or a word that first came to mind when thinking about Marianne. We love you dearly MH.

Loving mother to all who know her

Creates joyful spaces

So many possibilities and so much love

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Jun/18/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, IISC:Inside

On Transitions

For those of you who follow our blog or know IISC, you know that our founding Executive Director, Marianne Hughes, will soon transition out of her role. Today is our last staff meeting together with Marianne. We will mark the moment with ritual, celebration and a meal. We will invite our whole selves into the experience, just as we have been invited to bring our whole selves to IISC’s community and work over the years.

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Jun/14/12//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

Creative De-struction

“Society, community, and family are all conserving institutions. They try to maintain stability and to prevent, or at least to slow, change. But the modern organization is a de-stabilizer. It must be organized for innovation and innovation, as the great Austro-American economist Joseph Schumpeter said, is “creative destruction.” And it must be organized for the systematic abandonment of whatever is established, customary, familiar, and comfortable, whether that is a product, service, or process; a set of skills; human and social relationships; or the organization itself. In short, it must be organized for constant change.”

-Peter Drucker, “The New Society of Organizations” (1992)

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Jun/13/12//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

Fixing the Future

After attending the recent “Strategies for a New Economy” 2012 Conference hosted by the New Economics Institute, Cheryl King Fischer, Executive Director of the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, alerted me to this upcoming event and ongoing campaign . . . As they say, “There are places right now in America where communities are fixing the future.  Across the country, people have found new ways to work, new ways to create jobs…and new ways to be sensible about using the earth’s resources.  Fixing the Future is a journey of discovery, finding communities which are thriving in these difficult times.”

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Jun/12/12//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Learning Edge

Why Open Space

I’m a big fan of “Open Space,” I like trusting people who have passion.  I believe in the power of connection through self-organization.  It is too often that the most interesting conversations at the conference actually happen at the break or at the bar or at the after-party.  Let’s move what matters to the center!  Here is a helpful reflection by my friend Chad Jones.

Open space is a way to break up the mundane, old ways of conferences. Just as we are realizing that rote memorization does not work in the classroom, and education needs to be shaken up. Our meetings and multi-day conferences need strong winds of new ideas and currents of new ways.

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Jun/08/12//IISC//Featured, Learning Edge

Tending Time

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors.

Kim and I planted the garden a couple of weeks ago, and this year I decided to start from seed. What a miraculous thing! When I spied the first little green shoots poking up through the soil, I stood in awe and wonderment. How could it be that a tiny dry speck, when put in the ground and watered becomes a green and living thing in a matter of days? Wow!

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Jun/07/12//Curtis Ogden//IISC:Inside

Process Design and Bridging Fear

Fresh off of an offering of Pathway to Change to a group of leaders from across sectors in southern Massachusetts, and with another 3 day workshop on the horizon in San Francisco (July 24-26), I’ve been considering how the theme of fear often comes up in discussions about impediments and challenges to effective collaborative change work – fear of failure, fear of losing something, fear of the unknown.  And I’ve been more and more convinced by how important intentional, creative, and strategic process design is in building pathways through this fear.  This notion has been validated in the writing of Chip and Dan Heath, most recently in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard.  In a one page summary, the Heath brothers highlight the important three steps of: (1) directing our rational selves (what exactly are we trying to accomplish?), (2) motivating our emotional selves (what’s so compelling about that future destination? why can’t the current conditions continue?), and creating a clear path between where we are now and where we want to be. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jun/06/12//Curtis Ogden//Learning Edge

The Whole and the Particulars

The Three Goals

The first goal is to see the thing in itself
in and for itself, to see it simply and clearly
for what it is.
No symbolism, please.

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Jun/05/12//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation


Last week we started to take a look at Kevin Kelly’s take on the benefits of swarm systems.  We are wondering what are the implications for movement builders.  We looked at how important it is for us to be adaptable.

Kelly also says that swarm systems are evolvable.  He says that these are:

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Jun/04/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Inspiration

Creating Space to Perform

This is a re-blog of a newsletter article by Brian Fraser of JazzThink. I was particularly struck by the invitation to consider how we “manage our voice” in conversations.

“Fatima Amarshi, Executive Director of the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society that runs the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, began her spring appeal letter with this wonderful quote from jazz guitarist.

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