Archive for October, 2012

Oct/31/12//Curtis Ogden//Your Experiences

Practicing Wholeness

On Sunday, Gibran Rivera and I facilitated a workshop at Connecting for Change/Bioneers by the Bay about change practices for a networked world.  Another way of thinking about what we were exploring was to put it in terms of “practices for wholeness.”  Part of our premise was and is that we are suffering from a worldview that leads with and to fragmentation and fixity.  This is part of our inheritance from the industrial age that strives to understand through division and an associated mindset that believes we can make a separation between observer and observed with no associated impact.  For certain tasks, of course, it makes sense and is possible to divide, diagnose and put back together.  But this does not make sense, nor is it possible, in the case of complex living systems.  Furthermore, we have gotten ourselves in a bind because our habits of thought have led us to thinking that the divisions and categories we have created are in some sense primordial.  And so we are hard pressed to believe, or remember, that what we do to our “environment” or “others” we do to ourselves! Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/30/12//Gibrán Rivera//Featured, Structural Transformation

Stay Open

Our paradigm is our lens on everything.  It is how we make sense of reality.  For example, a deterministic paradigm is a lens that makes you see everything in terms of cause and effect.  It gives you a mechanistic lens with which to make sense of the world.  Determinism can be a really useful perspective – one way of looking at things – but it becomes a problem if it is your paradigm – THE way in which you look at things.

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Oct/25/12//Curtis Ogden//Featured, Networks

A Network Speaks . . . of Value

At the second Vermont Farm to Plate Network Convening two weeks ago, my colleague Beth Tener and I facilitated a conversation about the value the nearly 200 people in attendance see the network adding to the food system.  From where they sit, what do they see net work enabling that they have not been able to accomplish in the “old way”?  Here’s a taste:

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Oct/23/12//Gibrán Rivera//Structural Transformation

What is School For?

“If it’s work we try to figure out how to do less, if it’s art we try to figure out how to do more.”  Regular readers of our blog know that we are big fans of Seth Godin here at IISC.  And if you’ve been to anything I’ve trained or facilitated you have probably heard me rail against the dominance of an obsolete industrial paradigm.

In this video, Godin asks “What is school for?” and he clearly points to all the industrial trappings that are badly limiting how we educate our young – even in “high performing” contexts.  We are in the middle of a significant paradigm shift, and this is one of our most important questions.


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Gross Organizational Happiness

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

Over the past several years, there has been a great deal of international focus on the notion of happiness. While there are many definitions of happiness, here is a composite of my favorites: “emotions experienced when in a state of well-being that range from contentment to intense joy.”

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Dear Friends of IISC

The following is a message from Ceasar McDowell, the new president of the Interaction Institute for Social Change.

Dear Friends of IISC,

Ten years ago when I was going through a critical stage in my life, a friend asked me what I would consider to be my dream job.  My answer was pretty simple.  I wanted to lead an organization whose primary work was to design processes for complex collaborative efforts aiming at advancing social justice, equity and democracy.  I wanted to do this in an organization where issues of power, privilege and race were central, not only to the work we did in the world but in how we engaged with each other to do that work.

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Oct/17/12//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

The Butterfly Story

At the closing of last week’s Vermont Farm to Plate Network Gathering, my colleague and friend, Beth Tener of New Directions Collaborative, shared the following beautiful story and metaphor from the evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris.  In it is the invitation that we both feel net work offers – to not simply engage in new superficial ways of working, but to let it take hold of us in shaping a new “genome” for human awareness of and interaction with living systems . . .

A caterpillar can eat up to three hundred times its own weight in a day, devastating many plants in the process, continuing to eat until it’s so bloated that it hangs itself up and goes to sleep, its skin hardening into a chrysalis. Then, within the chrysalis, within the body of the dormant caterpillar, a new and very different kind of creature, the butterfly, starts to form. This confused biologists for a long time. How could a different genome plan exist within the caterpillar to form a different creature? Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/16/12//Gibrán Rivera//Networks

More Resonance than Persuasion

I came up as an organizer.  I approached that work by working hard to persuade others that change was possible.  I then proceeded to illustrate the type of change that we could work on.  It is important and dignified work.

But as I came to understand networks I found myself doing a lot less persuading.  I’m not just seeking to build a critical mass.  I’m seeking to make critical connections.  Emergence bursts forth from these connections.

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Oct/15/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Featured, Structural Transformation

What is Good Work?

“No good work is ever done while the heart is hot and anxious and fretted.” Olive Schreiner

I couldn’t agree more! We’re fond of a related quote that “The success of an intervention depends on the interior condition of the intervener.” Bill O’Brien

I know that it’s hard for me to do good work when I’m fretful, exhausted or feeling insecure.

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Do the (extra) work

The following post is reblogged from Seth’s Blog. Short and simple , yet full of wisdom.  We hope that it will enrich your life and much as it has ours.

Do the extra work not because you have to but because it’s a privilege.

Get in early.

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Oct/11/12//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Networks Simplified

Having spent significant time on this blog and in the field focusing on the complexity of network building, I thought I might bring it back to something much more basic and intuitive.  Fundamentally, building networks is about building relationships.  I am reminded of Nicholas Christakis’ research on the spread of physical and mental health in social networks.  Here is something he found – if we are happy, those one step removed tend to be 15% happier.  Those two steps removed are likely to be 10% happier.  And those three steps removed are about 6% happier.  Beyond that, there is much less impact.  But the point is clear, how we are matters, not just for ourselves, but for others.  To whom and how we are connected also matters.

Be the change you want to see.  Connect for that change to go beyond “me.”

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Oct/10/12//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Network Tipping Points

Image from |Isaac Mao|||

A couple of weeks ago I put the following question out into the Twittersphere – “What leads to tipping points in networks for social change?” While I did not get any direct responses, I had a number of people say they were curious to hear what answers came back, and then my own brain was activated to look for movement towards greater impact in the networks with which I am involved in various ways.  I also have been in touch with other network capacity builders about their observations.  Clearly there is no silver bullet for rendering networks more effective, but there are some key ingredients and rites of passage that seem to come up in most.  Here is what I’ve seen and heard:

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Oct/08/12//Gibrán Rivera//Inspiration

We are in the Process

If you are a regular reader of our blog you have been part of our ongoing conversations on evolution.  I like to remind my clients that the big bang is not a one time event, that the bang is still happening, and that we are actually in it!

Yes, we are in the process of becoming.  Aligning ourselves with this idea can ground our efforts in a process that began 14 billion years ago.  Talk about a change in perspective!  Our own becoming conscious is integral to this evolutionary process.  So what will we do with this consciousness?  It’s a powerful way to think of movement, of progress, of development.  I loved this video, because it literally helps us to SEE it… with our own eyes, and on any given night.

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Oct/08/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Structural Transformation

How to Design Culture

The following blog post was reblogged from Emergent By Design.  We hope that you enjoy it as much as we did!  

*Our source was initially and inadvertently omitted. We apologize for the mistake.  

I’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of organizations over the years that want to shift their culture to become more diverse, inclusive and equitable. The article we are posting below is about changing culture in general. What specific applications do you see for shifting organizational culture toward greater diversity, inclusiveness and equity?

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Oct/04/12//Curtis Ogden//Inspiration

What is Your Thread?

I’ve found myself gravitating more and more to this poem, sharing it with others often in the context of system change work.  In these times of flux on so many fronts, the good news from my perspective, is that we are being asked to loosen our grasp on the myths of fixity and solidity that no longer serve us.  On the other hand, letting go can be very disorienting.  With so much changing, what can we count on?  What guides us through?  What is the thread that you follow? Read the rest of this entry »

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Oct/03/12//Curtis Ogden//Networks

Network “Doing”

“It’s about redefining ‘doing.’”

- Carole Martin

A question that has come up across a lot of the network building and advancement work with which I’ve been involved lately is one form of “What constitutes ‘doing’?”  I would say that it is a fairly predictable pattern that people come together to launch the network, eager to take action to increase local food production and/or food access, to restructure the education system for more equitable outcomes, etc., and they pretty quickly discover that there is some foundation building they need to do first.  This work includes building trust and relationships and establishing some common expectations, goals, processes, and indicators for their collaborative efforts.  After a while, another pretty predictable dynamic occurs when people who often identify themselves as “activists” and “doers” start to ask, “When are we actually going to DO something?!”  And then we see the classic tension emerge between what often gets labelled as “talking vs. doing” or process vs. action.

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Oct/02/12//Gibrán Rivera//Spiritual Activism

Spirituality and Citizenship

I recently had the privilege of engaging in a public dialogue with Amy Edelstein, senior teacher of Evolutionary Enlightenment.  We were brought together to talk about the relationship between active citizenship and active spirituality.

The very idea of citizenship emerges in the context of a trajectory, a movement from less freedom to more freedom.  There is something aspirational in it, it is supposed to help us move towards an unfinished project – an ideal.

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Oct/01/12//Cynthia Silva Parker//Inspiration

Finish Each Day

Years ago, Bob Moses of the Algebra Project gave me some feedback I response to my request. He said “You have to make peace with the fact that there’s more to do than you can get done.” I’ve been trying to make that peace ever since!

What helps you to “finish each day and be done with it?” What gets in the way?

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