Posted in Inspiration

April 10, 2014

Making Space for Kindness

‘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?

1 Comment
March 18, 2014

Engaging Hearts and Heads

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.

Please register today for the Facilitative Leadership for Social Change  workshop Mistinguette Smith will co-facilitate April 22-23 in New York City.

3 Comments
March 6, 2014

The Take and Give of Living Systems

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.

Leave a comment
February 13, 2014

Silly Stuff Matters

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!

1 Comment
January 31, 2014

Pete Seeger, 1919-2014

“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!

Leave a comment
January 30, 2014

The Human Scale

“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

Leave a comment
January 29, 2014

The Longest Journey

The Longest Journey

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

3 Comments
December 23, 2013

Inspiring Movement Moments of 2013

The following blog post was written by our friend Julie Quiroz  at The Movement Strategy Center.  We hope you enjoy it at as much as we did! 

Remember this spring, when the Associated Press finally dropped the I-word, and youth of color defeated prison-to-pipeline policies in Los Angeles public schools?

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?

Read More

Leave a comment
December 2, 2013

Ask Not . . .

JFK

|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!

Leave a comment
November 27, 2013

At This Table

Kitchen Table

|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

Leave a comment
November 22, 2013

…and sometimes it's just hard

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

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.

Read More

1 Comment
November 22, 2013

…and sometimes it’s just hard

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did and don’t forget to join the conversation! 

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.

Read More

1 Comment