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January 27, 2010

Collaboration as Art

I’ve recently seen a few videos that have made me think about whether collaboration is a “natural” thing. (I tend to run from this kind of thinking – usually finding discussions of what is “natural” or what is “human nature” ways of making room for all kinds of human constructs.) My brother recently shared this video of Bottlenose Dolphins working together in what’s called “mud ring” feeding:

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January 26, 2010

Don’t Get Yourself Isolated

Only Connect

I was intrigued by the title of Mark Danner’s recent opinion in the New York Times, “To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature.”  And I could not help making a connection to the recent “Che” movie I just watched.  The Cuban and Haitian revolutions took place during very different historical periods, but both victories were a refusal to accept destiny as prescribed by the ruling world order of their time.

And each time the dominant world order responded with the same strategy – a policy of isolation.

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January 26, 2010

Don't Get Yourself Isolated

Only Connect

I was intrigued by the title of Mark Danner’s recent opinion in the New York Times, “To Heal Haiti, Look to History, Not Nature.”  And I could not help making a connection to the recent “Che” movie I just watched.  The Cuban and Haitian revolutions took place during very different historical periods, but both victories were a refusal to accept destiny as prescribed by the ruling world order of their time.

And each time the dominant world order responded with the same strategy – a policy of isolation.

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January 22, 2010

The Generation Gap

Having just come off the holidays, when family members are likely to be gathered around as captive (and hopefully not tortured) audiences, we experience those stand-out moments of the highly anticipated and often dreaded….intergenerational conversation.

And if you’re like me, you realize that although these conversations on issues we care about  are often hard, emotionally charged and possibly frustrating Read More

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January 21, 2010

Alignment vs. Innovation?

Two Paths

|Photo by jaybergesen|http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaybergesen/232023995/|

As it turns out, the practice of brainstorming has something of a bad reputation, though you wouldn’t necessarily know it from its prevalence in many well meaning groups and organizations. Research has shown that bringing people together to start brainstorming ideas yields fewer ideas overall, and fewer novel ideas, than having individuals first go off and think on their own and later compile their lists. The reason is that group think and social pressure can tend to tip and narrow group brainstorms in certain directions that rule out “out of the box” thinking. Furthermore, there is a tendency for many groups to want to come to agreement about certain ideas, preferring a sense of group cohesion and victory, over pushing one another and risking conflict and hurt feelings.

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January 20, 2010

Do You Have a Vision?

It’s the beginning of a new year, and all the treadmills are occupied at the gym. It’s hard to find any space in the locker room because so many people are set on establishing a new healthy routine for 2010. I’m not a new year’s resolution person, but I am thinking about fresh starts, renewed commitments to be good to myself, and shifts in the projects I’m going to put my energy towards. At IISC, we’ve committed to a new strategic direction for the next three years. Perhaps you’ve been mapping out your personal workplan for 2010 or doing some beginning of the year reflection with your peers, about how you want to work together this year to achieve progress on whatever social justice project you’re working on.

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January 19, 2010

Thoughts from MLK Day

Having attended a community MLK Day celebration and listened to several radio programs today, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re missing the point about the meaning of Dr. King.

One student, to his credit, spoke of Dr. King’s opposition to discrimination and linked that to what he saw as injustice in our present day health care system. No one should be discriminated against – and everyone has a right to access health care. Right on! This young man got the point. But, sadly, he’s the only young person I heard today who spoke of justice or attempted to connect Dr. King’s legacy to current day justice issues. I heard several other middle and high school students say things like, “No one wanted to resist Jim Crow until Dr. King gave them inspiration,” or “He opened the doors for hope and then people walked through.”

Not quite. Read More

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January 19, 2010

Refresh Your Resolution

Martin Luther King has been on my mind over the last few days.  I’ve been contemplating his prophetic voice, and how every age needs its prophets.  I’ve been contemplating the relationship between his belief that “the vision of where we’re going is the reality we have to claim,” Joseph Campbell’s work on the power of myth, and @EmergentCulture’s recent tweet proposing that “we need a new myth for our time, a story that will serve us as we encounter a time period unlike any before.”  It is all coming together in ways I’m not fully ready to define. Read More

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January 15, 2010

King Day Reflection: Haiti, Katrina & Our Values

martin_luther_king_jr

|Public Domain|http://publicdomainclip-art.blogspot.com/2009/01/dr-martin-luther-king-jr.html|

Haiti. I’m sure I’m not the only one who watches with profound sadness at the loss of life and devastation by way of natural disaster and makes direct comparisons to the Hurricane Katrina tragedy and its blow to the precious people of New Orleans.

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January 14, 2010

Changing the Conversation

Protest

The photo above was sent to me by my father, who is also the photographer.  In fact, he is also the sign maker.  This statement currently sits by the roadside in front of my parents’ house in upstate New York.  When I asked what sparked this action, he wrote:

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January 13, 2010

Introverts in Meetings

I recently read an interesting New York Times article by Nancy Ancowitz that a friend sent me about the ways that extroverts are privileged in meeting processes and work environments.  It’s something we talk about at IISC as well. What are the ways that we can design and facilitate meetings so as not to privilege extroverts over introverts – or people with different learning styles – or people with different abilities or aptitudes?

There’s a lot known. And there’s a lot still to discover. Much of generic group process (if not attending to these kinds of things) favors those who freely express ideas in groups. Day-long or multi-day meetings can be great for extroverts, who get energy being in groups – and challenging for introverts, who need alone time to recharge and process internally. Introverts will participate more fully if given time to consider material ahead of time.  Extroverts tend to be exactly the opposite – or can quickly scan something in the room and go. Brainstorming is a natural thing for extroverts (who are comfortable putting forth ideas without necessarily knowing how fully “cooked” they are), but not so much for introverts (who tend to want to spend internal time thinking through an idea before putting it out).

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