Kate Tempest and this video were brought to my attention by Tom Kelly of the Sustainability Institute at UNH when he presented Tempest’s work as an “offering,” a ritual opening and closing we use in our meetings of the Food Solutions New England Network Team meetings. It was certainly apt as we were talking about what it means to “put ourselves out there” on various fronts, to enter new territory with one another as we collectively push forward the conversation about New England creating a more just and sustainable regional food system.
I appreciate Tempest putting herself out there in general as a young artist, and this particular poetic rendering of the Icarus tale that suggests the young ambitious man’s “fall” provides lessons for the collective advancement of those whose feet have not “kicked the clouds.” Celebrating boldness and reaching new heights . . .
‘The effect of positive emotions on helping others is stronger and longer-lasting than self-interest.”
– Wayne Baker and Nathaniel Bulkley
At times thinking about social change can get rather complex, and rightfully so. And it can be helpful to ground ourselves in some of the simpler (though not necessarily easy) and timeless principles and practices of gratitude, kindness, and generosity. This video, from a rather surprising source, speaks truth about the power of giving, recently validated by a study conducted by Wayne Baker and Nathaniel Bulkley, who are also creators of The Reciprocity Ring. Both the study and this video remind me of an ongoing line of inquiry I have with respect to networks for social change – How can we cultivate skill, will, and structure so that the natural impulse to give (and receive) can thrive?
How are you making space for kindness? What does this look like? Feel like? Sound like? What is the impact?
I’ve spent the last two days with twenty-three people who do the concrete, sometimes humble work of convening meetings, directing resources and evaluating programs. They came from far flung places, from Ohio and Illinois to Hawai’i, to explore how the tools of Facilitative Leadership can remake our work so that it awakens and nourishes our communities’ deepest desires. Working with them was like a peek into the future of what leadership can be.
There are lots of workshops that help leaders to learn about decision making; there are few that require a decision-making process to be informed by our hearts as well as our minds. This group seized the opportunity to engage both their hearts and heads to wrestle with tough practical questions: How can you do brainstorming that includes people who value reflection and introspection more than quickly generated speech?
They made space to speak tender truths that usually cannot be said out loud: How can we help our communities hold each other more accountable for achieving results without damaging the richness of our relationships, or abandoning our traditional cultural processes?
And they practiced creating the conditions for the people they serve–the people they supervise, their clients, their coalition members–to take responsibility for learning and working through these questions together.
It was an honor to witness how they showed up for each other in the workshop, as well as what they did and what they learned. Twenty-three new and seasoned facilitative leaders reminded me that the purpose of leadership is to show up as an agent of dignity and hope.
If another world truly is possible, I think I spent the last two days with the leaders who will guide us there.
This video makes it clear how wonderfully complex and interconnected life is. ‘Trophic cascades’ invite us to consider how changes in one part of a living system can change other elements of the system and the system as a whole. How did wolves change the behavior of rivers in Yellowstone Park? Check it out.
Thanks to my colleague Ashley Welch for sending along the link to this video while I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. It was a great quick boost and reminded me of how silliness matters in what can otherwise become very serious work. And laughter is a legitimate and effective practice for resilience and development.
Please share with us your favorite silly and/or laughter inducing media!
“My job is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right it may help to save the planet.”
– Pete Seeger
Pete Seeger, singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who championed folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 94. More about his extraordinary life here and in the above video from Democracy Now!
“Life comes when you give people a chance to contribute something.”
– Coralie Winn
IISC board member Jamil Simon brought staff attention to the film The Human Scale a few weeks ago during a discussion about building the capacity of cities to collaborate amidst growing demographic complexity and other social as well as environmental challenges. The film is screening this very evening in Somerville, Massachusetts.
From the film’s website: “50 % of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Read More
In our collaborative capacity and network development work at IISC, there is considerable complexity to hold. This can create quite a mental exercise for everyone involved – What is the system we are trying to develop/problem we are trying to solve? What are the contributing factors? What is our desired future state? Who should be at the table? What are the systemic leverage points and associated strategies? Etc.
This is necessary work, and it can become incomplete or rather one dimensional when it only taps some of our collective faculties. Read More
Or remember back in February when 50,000 people rallied in DC against the XL Pipeline? And then in October when the protests of 5,000 young people linked the pipeline, fracking, and the whole mess of fossil fuel development?
|Photo by Kyle Rush|http://www.flickr.com/photos/29096781@N02/3595829253/in/photolist-6tKyL6-6TjYr4-782X3v-782XV2-7q8PFS-7u5XGi-dx4sDx-fiYNSv-h9SFrn-h9Rr2o-h9RoPt-h9RpoK-h9Rsbh-8qR2uC-7NDpGo-ejtUcJ-dLRMB9-dS8otP-dSdXNY-dS8nop-dS8o6K-dLRNpb-aJ8zJv-ejLpgh-dKmixn-9Puxw4-8qMV6i-dLLep2-dktHij-dkEShK-9QAw9M-hUhofe-8zZSjL-7LGYPJ-bWQ7K6-8nREdc-8nUPrE-dsPBnf-dsPC1h-byFSTx-byFdTn-byFaJK-bkLgEL-bkLjDb-byF8Ug-byF6P8-bkLnAA-byFeqM-hE7ndt-dWmQMj-aE4heE|
Much has been written and said in the past month about President John F. Kennedy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. I think the one important gift President Kennedy gave the country was a certain hopefulness about what people could do at their best and what government could do at its best. Listen (starting at 36:30) to an excerpt from President Kennedy’s inaugural address, read by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. He enjoins the listeners to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” In these days of Washington gridlock and partisan gamesmanship, it’s a message we can stand to hear afresh!
|Photo by Ace Abendale Rothschild-Faber |http://www.flickr.com/photos/50809036@N02/5282577422/in/photolist-93NAe5-bATUbs-gV4zgZ-8pZXib-aajHgz-aaxd1T-bES8E1-aeZsVL-adC7oV-9ZbeNe-d6jhdm-aE8uVX-8ocwaF-a6Y5uR-7G2gQK-7Awvkg-93ruBR-bELXgv-8WABY3-8WxxEt-8E1NsT-8YsvVZ-93XFRM-bgKVuk-9JB9Ue-bdAYXM-d6jeZN-d6jePW-9hccxc-d6jh4s-8mraY5-dAkbkS-84LPQd-84HGNZ-84LPP7-9bALtz|
In the regional food system network development that IISC has been supporting, we have been making a habit of building certain rituals into our meetings. One is to invite offerings of various kinds to open and close meetings, an opportunity for people to share what matters most to them and bring more of what moves them to the conversation. The following poem has been making the rounds, and has become a favorite for some of the universals it seems to invoke. Wishing you all a deeply nourishing Thanksgiving. Read More
Recently, four friends of mine lost parents and siblings. Rockwood has had a few unanticipated challenges this year. The ripples of the 2008 recession are still affecting the nonprofit sector, and many organizations are struggling. The instability of our national government in recent months has made things very difficult for many folks.