Posted in Inspiration

October 26, 2009

PopTech Inspires

Every October in Camden, Maine, 700 remarkable change agents from across all sectors, issue areas and the world come together to share their breakthrough social innovations that they believe will build a just, sustainable and positive future. The gathering is hosted by PopTech a truly unique innovation network “known for its thriving community of thought-leaders, breakthrough innovation programs, visionary annual conferences and deep media and storytelling capabilities”.

This year’s conference was titled America Re-Imagined and again proved that while the media covers only catastrophe and great suffering there is a parallel reality, a great force, that is building, creating and innovating our way forward. The effects of this movement are seen everywhere and some of its most talented members can be seen and heard through the PopTech video link.

Take heart and enjoy!!!!

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October 14, 2009

See(d)ing the Whole

Thinking of the fall harvest, the other day I was picking through David Ehrenfeld’s essays in Becoming Good Ancestors: How We Balance Nature, Community, and Technology, when I came across an amazing story about a team of Russian plant biologists.  In the first half of the last century, Nikolai Vavilov, who is known as the father of modern crop plant protection, traveled far and wide, gathering samples of crop seeds from all over the world for his Institute of Plant Industry in what is now St. Petersburg.  His collection made him the chief preserver of global agricultural diversity.

Vavilov was an outspoken critic of Trofim Lysenko, the chief agronomist under Stalin who subscribed to a non-Mendelian approach to plant genetics.  Though Lysenko’s theories were later discredited, Vavilov was arrested for his criticism and imprisoned in a Siberian gulag.  In his absence (he eventually died in Siberia), and in the face of the German armies marching on Leningrad in 1941, Vavilov’s dedicated assistants scrambled to preserve the Institute’s seed collections.  They prepared duplicates of samples, shipped some to other parts of the country, and secretly planted others in nearby fields.  Ironically and tragically, several of these scientists died of malnutrition.  They literally chose to starve to death rather than consume the edible seeds that surrounded them.

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October 9, 2009

The Gift of Gratitude

A gratitude-heart
Is to discover on earth
A Heaven-delivered rose.

– Sri Chinmoy

The other day I shared with my colleagues an experience I had of a sudden feeling that came over me, during a moment within the hectic routine of a typical morning, in which I felt great peace and joy amid the flurry of my two young daughters, husband and me readying to launch into our day.  An intense feeling of love for my family and all those I am blessed to have in my life came over me, and seemed to emanate from the deepest fiber of my being out of nowhere. I was awe-inspired by this deep, unexpected, and unprompted feeling of gratitude.  I’m more accustomed to feeling moments of gratitude during or after contemplation, but because of its spontaneous onset and its lingering affects, I recognized it to be a great gift.

According to Dr. Michael McCollough Professor of Psychology at Southern Methodist University, when scientists began researching links between religion and good mental and physical health, their studies indicated that gratitude plays a significant role in one’s sense of well-being, as many of the world’s major religions acknowledge and convey the virtues of gratitude. Further study including the secular population showed that those who had a tendency toward gratitude were more likely to be happier and healthier than those who did not, whether they were religious or not. Read More

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October 2, 2009

The Vision Thing

Vision is up.  It’s everywhere.  President Obama has brought the fine art of visioning to the highest office in this country and is inspiring others to partake in his enticing images of an engaged and service-oriented citizenry as well as in becoming fellow storytellers of a preferred and more hopeful future.  Just the other day people I know who work in state government mentioned that they are seeing visionary language on Massachusetts state websites the likes of which were lacking prior to Governor Patrick taking office.  And many who have been laboring for years for a more just and sustainable world, sense the window of opportunity that has opened to audaciously put forth their intentions for, and commitment to, a reality that may have seemed unimaginable only last year.  Despite (or perhaps because of) the economy, boldness is in!

Which raises the question for me – what makes vision work?  I mean, what really makes it take?  For every group or person I work with who gets excited about personal and organizational visioning, there is another who sees the endeavor as being lightweight and fluffy.  “Where’s the beef?” they want to know.  Where’s the action?  How does intention become invention? Read More

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September 10, 2009

Strategy or Fluency

One of my favorite summer reads was the book Leading from Within, which is co-edited by Sam Intrator and Megan Scribner, both of whom have connections to Parker Palmer’s Center for Courage and Renewal.  The book is a collection of favorite poems selected by a diverse group of leaders in business, medicine, education, social services, politics, and religion.  Each poem was chosen because it provides guidance and support for these individuals’ work and lives, and each is accompanied on the left facing page by a short commentary that sheds light on the poem’s significance.

One of the contributors is Carla M. Dahl, a professor and dean at the Center for Spiritual and Personal Formation at Bethel Seminary.  For her poem, Dahl selected John O’Donohue’s “Fluent”:

I would love to live                                                                                                                      Like a river flows,                                                                                                                          Carried by the surprise                                                                                                               Of its own unfolding.

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August 24, 2009

Hope Born of Paradox

Eduardo Galeano is a man who really gets us to look at a new angle. And that is really what we need now right, new angles. New ways of thinking. New attempts at approaching the same problems that have plagued our history. A friend of mine tweeted this NPR article about Galeano’s current days, back home in Uruguay. It is short and sweet, and worth a read.

Galeano is famous for exploiting the beauty in contradictions, while at the same time being a forceful voice against injustice, poverty and war. One of his most famous writings entails the line, “Courage is born of fear, certainty of doubt”.  The article mentioned above, explores one of the short stories of history which Galeano recounts in his new book Mirrors. Read More

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August 10, 2009

Want To Be Inspired?

Who doesn’t? And who isn’t? We at IISC are inspired daily by those we cross paths with and all that we might read. And it is always wonderful to pass the inspiration along. Well, you might remember this video from a few months back, orginally posted by Marianne, a rendition of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” by Playing for Change.  Here it is:

But the song isn’t the great part right now. The great part is that Playing for Change will be on tour this fall in the United States and Canada! The will perform in many cities in the States, including our home base of Boston. I’m sure a few of the staff here will be attending. To see if they are playing by you, check here.

Inspiration often comes at times we least expect it, and most need it. How wonderful it must be to harness that energy and see it coming ahead of time.

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July 16, 2009

Come From the Heart

Remember this old song? I don’t. But I heard Garnet Rogers doing a version the other day on WUMB. The timing was quite something, as I was in the car on my way to the office and my return from parental leave, trying to hold on to the reality of my situation. And it’s been on my mind as I get ready to embrace and ease into another transition (just remember, 40 is the new 30). Click to listen to Guy Clark’s rendition.

When I was a young man my daddy told me
A lesson he learned, it was a long time ago
If you want to have someone to hold onto
You’re gonna have to learn to let go

You gotta sing like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ll never get hurt
You got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work

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