Tag Archive: curiosity
January 7, 2019
“That which counts, can rarely be counted.”
Image by garlandcannon, used under provisions of Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
In a couple of articles that have been re-cycling in different social circles, the reminder is offered that tipping points for social change do not need anywhere close to a majority of actors.
A few years ago, scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute explored what it takes for an idea to spread from few to many, for a minority opinion to become the majority belief. According to their study, the RPI researchers said that the answer is 10%. When one in ten people adopt a stance, eventually it will become the dominant opinion of the entire group, they say. What is required is commitment.
More recently, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of London conducted an experiment that suggests that for activists to achieve a tipping point around change, 25% of a given population is required. They published their study in the journal Science.
Of course there are complicating factors, including the fact that there are often competing factions each vying for their own 10-25% and with social media and disinformation campaigns, confusion can rein and commitment may require an additional degree of diligence. Nonetheless, we might take more heart in the power of the few.
And this is clearly not just about numbers and counting.
November 20, 2017
“We know that there is no help for us but from one another, that no hand will save us if we do not reach out our hand.”
– URSULA K. Le GUIN
Image by Stephen Bowler, shared under provisions of Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.
A note on the quotes below (and the Le Guin quote above): I am grateful for the beautiful piece by Evan Bissel, “Frames for Life, Liberation and Belonging,” which appears in the Othering and Belonging Journal. This piece lifts up some central elements of an emerging and humanizing narrative for our times, with focus on themes such as transition, liberation, belonging, commons, interconnection, abundance, sacred, curiosity, play, and place. I strongly encourage readers to check it out, to sit with the piece and let it soak in, and to share it.
This post follows the thread of a conversation that has been evolving across events I have been involved with the past few months, and a bigger and broader conversation that is clearly informing it. This is certainly not a new conversation, but there seems to be a renewed or perhaps more public vigor to it, at least in multi-racial and multi-generational social change groups and initiatives with which I have been involved.
It has cropped up in a network leadership program where a discussion about the difference between working for equity and working for justice pointed in the direction of the need to pursue liberation, and not simply inclusion and accommodation in fundamentally harmful systems. Read More
September 13, 2016
Think like a network, act like a node.
At IISC, we continue to emphasize that networks, not organizations, are the unit of social change. Part of the reason for this is that networks at their best are able to leverage what are known as “network effects.” These effects, as described by Madeleine Taylor and Peter Plastrik, include the following:
Rapid Growth and Diffusion
Through its myriad nodes and links, as well as the ongoing addition of participants and new pathways, a dense and intricate network can expand quickly and broadly. This can be critical for spreading information and other resources and mobilizing actors in ways that organizations simply cannot achieve.
April 22, 2015
The following is a slightly modified post from a little over a year ago. In recent months, the notion of putting care at the center of “net work” – to ground it, make it real and people accountable – has surfaced a number of times and strengthened. The original post included the phrase “the empathic turn.” Since that time I’ve come to see “caring” as a more appropriate word, rather than “empathy,” as it evokes for me not simply feeling but action. This re-post is inspired by the activists and thought leaders who are about to gather in Oakland, CA for the “Othering and Belonging” Conference, hosted by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.
In an essay that I continue to revisit, the poet/essayist/novelist/farmer/ conservationist and champion of sanity, Wendell Berry, talks about what he calls “the turn towards affection.” Having spent many years reflecting on and pushing back against the unfortunate demonstrated human capacity to despoil landscapes and demonize “the other,” he takes a strong stand for both deep rooted connection and . . . imagination:
“For humans to have a responsible relationship to the world, they must imagine their places in it. To have a place, to live and belong in a place, to live from a place without destroying it, we must imagine it. By imagination we see it illuminated by its own unique character and by our love for it.”
In other words, by his assessment, imagination thrives on contact, on an intimate form of knowing that is not simply intellectual, but intimate and holistic. For Berry it is only this kind of knowing that can lead to truly “responsible” action.
Others, past and present, hold the truth and power of this kind of fuller bodied knowing to be self-evident, in environmental conservation and social justice efforts and in what it means to be a responsible human. Professor john a. powell writes in his book Racing to Justice:
“There is a need for an alternative vision, a beloved community where being connected to the other is seen as the foundation of a healthy self, not its destruction, and where the racial other is seen not as the infinite other, but rather as the other that is always and already a part of us.”
March 12, 2015
“We add value to society-at-large when we dare to connect.”
This week I was in a conversation with someone who asked me what the difference is between “networking” and “network building.” I’ve been asked this before, and certainly do not purport to have the right answer, but it became an opportunity to deepen the conversation that has been evolving in my work and head about what it means to develop potential through and in networks. Here is what popped to mind as a response, actually in the form of a series of questions
Are you thinking about others?
February 28, 2014
“In principle, empathy can override every rule about how to treat others.”
-Frans de Waal
Photo by Vamsi Krishna
Yesterday’s post considered the importance and power of the empathic turn in networks-as-change, to ground people in deep connection with living realities, for the sake of greater imagination, justice, resilience and responsibility. Taking cues from experience and the work and studies of others, here are some thoughts for how to cultivate radical “affection” (to quote Wendell Berry) in networks:
- Go beyond abstraction to interaction – go to and meet in real places, explore them, consider how life happens there (see for example Story of Place and Heart and Soul)
February 21, 2014
This post is the third in a three part series exploring the question, “Can collaboration be learned?” Part 1 and Part 2 appeared the last couple of days. This is an edited email exchange between Alison Gold of Living Cities, Chris Thompson of The Fund for our Economic Future, and myself. When we last left off, Alison had posed a series of questions about identifying and cultivating the will to collaborate.
On January 27, 2014 12:33 PM, Curtis Ogden wrote:
Alison, I really like your questions and feel like they would be great to take to a wider audience. I will say that I am profoundly influenced by Carol Sanford’s mentoring in all of this, and the belief that personal development is key to evolving our will, moving from a more self-centered perspective to “other” perspective, to understanding the symbiotic nature of different levels of systems. Read More
December 13, 2012
|Photo by Melissa Wiese|http://www.flickr.com/photos/42dreams/518103211|
I was so grateful when Laura Moorehead, Director of Training with the Institute for Civic Leadership, shared this reading from Margaret Wheatley at the close of my time with this year’s ICL class. From my perspective, there is much wisdom here, and the words do a very nice job of summarizing much of what IISC was there to share and discuss regarding leadership, networks, and collaborative change . . .
There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about Read More
March 14, 2012
“If you don’t understand your role in contributing to the problem,
you can’t be part of the solution.”
– David Peter Stroh
This post is a slightly edited version of something I wrote for the upcoming State of Opportunity convening in Michigan. My colleague Cynthia Parker and I have been working with the Council of Michigan Foundations staff and membership to design this gathering, the focus of which will be philanthropy’s role in increasing social equity in the state. We are looking forward to facilitating the proceedings on March 27th.
The quote above comes from a systems thinking expert with whom we’ve partnered in our collaborative change work here at the IISC. We’ve found it to be a powerful way of introducing the idea that the complex systems (education, health care) that many of us are trying to change to yield better and more equitable opportunities and outcomes are not “out there.” Rather, to rift on the old Pogo saying, when we have truly seen systems, we understand that they are us! Read More
November 4, 2010
|Image from Pegasus Communications|http://www.pegasuscom.com/course_preview/gettingstarted/whyiceberg.htm|
Systems thinking is in the air. This past weekend I was delighted to have the opportunity to teach an introductory course on the topic with John McGah of Give Us Your Poor. Together we took 17 graduate students in the UMass-Boston MSPA program through an intensive and interactive look at the world through the systems lens. Even before we got things rolling on Saturday morning, the pre-reading (Donella Meadows’ Thinking in Systems) had provoked two people to say that they were already seeing the world differently (and more clearly). By the end of our 36 hour romp, which included guest presentations by David Peter Stroh and Paul Plotczyk, students were saying that all public sector employees, nay EVERYONE, should be required to take a systems thinking course. All of this enthusiasm comes just a week in advance of Pegasus Communications’ annual systems thinking conference here in Boston, which has a focus on “Fueling New Cycles of Success.” I am very excited to attend, and look forward to building upon the wisdom I’ve gleaned thus far about surfacing and living with systems (human and otherwsie), which includes these gems: Read More
May 20, 2010
|Photo by woodleywonderworks|http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/2223340202|
Last Thursday my IA colleagues Ashley Welch and Andy Atkins and I teamed up with David McConville of The Elumenati and Ned Gardiner of NOAA to take a group of cross-sectoral leaders and thinkers on a unique journey. This trip included a visit to the outer edges of our universe, passing through our solar system, galaxy, and neighboring galactic bodies. Then, out of breath, we zoomed back in to take a new look at our planet Earth through the lens and visualized overlay of data about our terrestrial home – warming trends, population density, biodiversity and traffic patterns. Welcome to the GeoDome!
March 4, 2010
|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.