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March 4, 2010

Listening (& Learning) as an Ally

peace

|Photo by bitzi took his umbrella and left|http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitzi/193922475/|

My wife and I are wrapping up our annual winter vacation to visit family in Florida.  Each year this proves to be something of a spiritual practice for me, and this trip has been no different.  As wonderful as it is to slow down, un-hunch shoulders, and wear fewer layers, the focus of my practice tends not to be the natural surroundings and climate so much as what I find to be the challenging social environment.

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March 4, 2010

Listening (& Learning) as an Ally

peace

|Photo by bitzi took his umbrella and left|http://www.flickr.com/photos/bitzi/193922475/|

My wife and I are wrapping up our annual winter vacation to visit family in Florida.  Each year this proves to be something of a spiritual practice for me, and this trip has been no different.  As wonderful as it is to slow down, un-hunch shoulders, and wear fewer layers, the focus of my practice tends not to be the natural surroundings and climate so much as what I find to be the challenging social environment.

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March 3, 2010

Competing with Copyright

As technology continues to redefine our daily interactions,  it is becoming clear that we need to learn a new form of literacy and quickly. Even more important than literacy though is the need to critically analyze and comprehend the new language which we encounter. An overwhelming call at first, but one that is made easier when we begin to embrace exploration and collaborate with one another as we learn. Here is a brilliant little Ted Talk Lawrence Lessig gave in 2007 regarding copyright and creativity.

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March 2, 2010

Love, Freedom and Community

Part 2 of 2, go here for Part 1

Fire heart

|Photo by Photos8.com|http://www.flickr.com/photos/publicdomainphotos/3478886264/|

In her essay, hooks reminds us of the very purpose of struggle as Dr. King himself defined it: “the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption, the end is the creation of beloved community.” She herself states that “we best learn love as the practice of freedom in the context of community.” We are not alone in this struggle, and there is no aspect of freedom that implies the loosening of our accountability to one another, the call to accountability is actually heightened by freedom.

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February 25, 2010

Mission Affirmed

I want to thank Susan Wright of Wright Momentum for spurring on this post, which is in essence a response to a thoughtful dialogue we have had going for a few months.  My thoughts here are further inspired by a training my colleague Melinda and I did at the historic Penn Center on St. Helena’s Island in South Carolina, a site where the first school was built in the US to educate freed slaves.  It was also an important site for people to come together across racial lines to do strategy work during the Civil Rights movement.  Melinda and I had the good fortune to spend three days with the amazing Gulf Coast Fellows, a diverse group of grassroots leaders from Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.  Our time with the Fellows affirmed for me the strategic direction IISC has recently adopted.  Specifically, in considering the next three years (2010-2012), our IISC”s staff has collectively committed to concentrating more of our efforts around: (1) helping to build power and collaborative muscle at the grassroots, and (2) supporting social change work that bridges sectors and organizations (including building networks).

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February 24, 2010

Networks for Creating Change

philipbouchard

|Photo by Philip Bouchard|http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbouchard/2826560107/sizes/m/|

I just had the great fortune of spending seven days in Dakar, Senegal (and traveling back and forth to it). An amazing trip – and the two twenty hour travel days gave me time to really dig into the book “Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives” by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler.? I read it within the context of doing work in Senegal on a project that’s global in scope – and also thinking back to many of the other initiatives I’ve worked on.

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February 23, 2010

Love and Freedom

Part 1 of 2, go here for Part 2.

Heart Fire

|Photo by LadyDragonflyCC|http://www.flickr.com/photos/19646481@N06/4332176853/|

Love as the practice of freedom has been on my mind these days.  My good friend Cyndi Suarez, who is the co-director of Northeast Action, recently shared a bell hooks essay by the same title – I appreciated Cyndi’s e-mail:

“I was thinking today on just how much social change movements reflect the dominant culture.  I just finished rereading an old-time favorite essay by bell hooks and had to share it with you. I feel it is as pertinent now as when I first read it 15 years ago.  I wonder what would change if at least some of us focused on building love rather power.” Read More

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February 22, 2010

Freedom and Structure

In the upcoming edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, IISC gets a mention for our work with both Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and their Change Agent Project as well as the work we did with our client The Davis Foundation and their project Cherish Every Child. In each instance IISC partnered with our client by providing them a collaborative approach and architecture that scaffolded them in their pursuit of their collaborative goals.

P2C Diagram Blog

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February 19, 2010

Poetic Justice

One of my passions is related to what happens when two of my passions fuse together:  art and social justice.  I thought I’d share some justice-related poems, and ask you to share some of yours – artists (whether poets, musicians, painters, actors, dancers, or others) that inspire you, or movements for change you know of, in a social-justice-kind-of-way.

February is Black History Month, so I’ll share two poems of the great  Langston Hughes (b. February 1, 1902 – d. May 22, 1967).  A  poet, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist,  Hughes was one of the earliest innovators of a new literary art form: jazz poetry. The poems that follow reflect justice issues of his day. Read More

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February 18, 2010

Accentuate the Positivity, Take 2

Positive

|Photo by Reenie-Just Reenie|www.flickr.com/photos/flickrchickr/2589059730|

In a previous post I referenced the work of Marcial Losada, which indicates that elevated group performance is associated in part with a high degree of “positivity.”   Specifically, groups that excel in terms of innovation and productivity tend to be those where there is at least a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.  The importance of this ratio has been further highlighted by some other findings and experiences I have had working with community-based activists.

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February 17, 2010

Who Are We Affected By?

Connected

I’ve been reading, with great fascination, the book Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler — and I read a fascinating article in the New York Times yesterday morning about the rise of the Teaparty Movement across the US.  And I’m fascinated by the intersections.

I’d heard about Christakis and Fowler’s research a while ago – when they announced that things like obesity and love move through networks.  Upon closer reading, I’m fascinated that there are, generally, three degrees of influence.  That we are affected by our friends (one degree), by the friends of our friends (two degrees) and by the friends of their friends (three degrees).  Beyond that, there’s not much that’s measurable.  But at three degrees of influence, we are deeply influenced by a large number of people! And it’s who are in many ways local to us (though certainly that is changing). Read More

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